Sticky Online Casino Bonuses – Are They a Rip-off?

Hand Holding Mobile Phone, With Bonus Offer on Screen, Online Casino
Many online casinos use impressive welcome bonuses to draw new players. Some even offer deals worth thousands of dollars.

You may immediately be attracted to such offers due to their sheer size. But be forewarned that these deals may not be exactly what you think.

The biggest online casino bonuses are usually “sticky,” which work somewhat differently than expected. They can be severely disappointing if you’re not prepared for how they work.

Obviously you don’t want to be misled by a sticky bonus. Keep reading as I cover more on what these offers are, how they compare to regular welcome bonuses, and their pros and cons.

What Is a Sticky Bonus?

A sticky bonus is a deposit bonus that can’t be withdrawn. This offer is only used to generate winnings that can be cashed out.
Cartoon Man Carrying Giant Money Bag

You’ll be able to withdraw your winnings after meeting wagering requirements (a.k.a. playthrough). Wagering requirements are either listed as a multiple of the bonus, or multiple of the bonus plus deposit.

Here’s an Example:

  • You deposit $100 under a 300% match offer.
  • You now have a $400 bankroll ($100 + $300).
  • Wagering requirements are 25x the bonus plus deposit.
  • 400 x 25 = $10,000 must be wagered.
  • You can withdraw your winnings after meeting playthrough.

Sticky bonuses break down into two classes, including a phantom and expiring bonus. A phantom sticky offer is one that disappears as soon as you cash out.

Here’s an Example:

  • An online casino is offering a 400% match sticky bonus.
  • You deposit $200.
  • You qualify for an $800 sticky bonus.
  • Your total bankroll is now $1,000 ($200 + $800).
  • You win $50 by the time wagering requirements are met.
  • You’ll be able to cash out the $50 in winnings, plus regular winnings.
  • Anything left over from the bonus, however, will disappear when you cash out.
An expiring sticky bonus can’t be withdrawn either. However, it remains in your account once you do cash out.

Here’s an example of an expiring deal:

  • A casino is offering a 300% match bonus.
  • You deposit $50.
  • You now have $200 combined ($50 + $150).
  • You win an extra $75.
  • Your total funds are now worth $275.
  • You can withdraw $125.
  • The remaining $150 (bonus) remains in your bankroll.
  • These funds can be used to keep generating winnings until they’re lost.

Of the two types of sticky bonuses, the phantom variety is most common. These are featured at casinos run by major software providers like Microgaming, Playtech, and RTG.

Phantom sticky bonuses look very attractive due to their large match percentages. You may get a 300% or 400% match bonus on your deposit.

Guy on Cell Phone Reading Contract
Of course, you’ll want to thoroughly read the T&Cs before jumping at these offers. I’ll cover more on the terms behind a sticky bonus later.

Sticky vs. Non-Sticky Bonus

The big difference between a sticky and non-sticky bonus is that the latter can actually be cashed out. A cashable bonus allows you to withdraw a lump sum once you’ve met playthrough.
Weighing Scale
Here’s an Example:

  • A gaming site is offering a 100% match bonus up to $200.
  • You deposit $150, thus making you eligible for a $150 bonus.
  • Wagering requirements are 40x the bonus.
  • 40 x 150 = $6,000 must be wagered.
  • You can withdraw the entire $150 after betting $6k total.

Many gamblers like non-sticky bonuses, because they’re less complicated to understand. You get to withdraw an exact amount of bonus funds upon satisfying T&Cs.

Of course, the drawback is that you can’t win any more money than what you’re qualified for. If you deposit $100 under a 100% match bonus deal, then $100 is the most that you can earn.

Common Terms on Sticky Bonuses

I mentioned earlier that phantom sticky bonuses are the most common throughout the industry. But you won’t see these offers referred to with the words “phantom” or “sticky.”

Instead, online casinos refer to these deals as “not cashable” or “for wagering purposes only.” If you see either of these terms, then you’re dealing with a sticky bonus.

Such offers are combined with your deposit to give you a larger bankroll. I covered several examples before on how these deals boost your starting bankroll.

The main term to understand behind sticky bonuses is that you can’t cash out until meeting wagering requirements. Otherwise, all extra winnings that you accumulate will disappear along with the phantom bonus.

Playthrough is another Important aspect that you want to take into consideration. Lower wagering requirements allow you to earn bonus winnings faster.

Certain games may also offer reduced contributions towards playthrough, or be excluded entirely. High-paying slots (97.0% RTP and above), table games, and video poker games are often in the reduced contribution category.

You’ll be restricted from making bets worth over a certain amount too. Casinos don’t want you placing one or more huge wagers for the sole purpose of collecting bonus winnings right away. You’ll also be subject to time limits on both claiming the bonus and satisfying wagering requirements

You often need to visit your account and claim the offer within 3-7 days. Casinos usually give you between 30 and 180 days to meet playthrough.

Many gaming sites also place a cap on how much you can win from a sticky bonus. For example, you might only be able to cash out winnings worth up to $300.

Of course, every online casino can differ with regard to terms and conditions. You always want to read the T&Cs anytime that you’re dealing with a new gaming site.

What Are the Advantages of Sticky Bonuses?

The biggest benefit of a sticky bonus is that you start off with a much bigger bankroll than usual. This is especially true when dealing with a 200% match percentage or higher.

Here’s an Example:

  • The bonus deal is a 400% match up to $800.
  • You deposit $100.
  • You receive a $400 sticky bonus, thus giving you a $500 bankroll.
You can lose lots of money in the beginning and not have to worry, because much of it will be from the bonus offer. If you win, then you can capitalize even more thanks to the bonus winnings.

Another cool thing about sticky deals is that you can use strategy to boost your chances of success. After reading the T&Cs, you can get an idea on what kind of strategy to use when pursuing bonus winnings.

For example, you can bet as close to the maximum amount allowed under the T&Cs. if you’re only allowed to wager up to $25, then you can bet between $15 and $25 to meet terms faster.

Here are a couple of examples on strategies you can use to maximize a sticky offer:

High Limit Baccarat Online Casino Game

  • You deposit $50 under a 400% match deal.
  • This leaves you with $250 total.
  • You put the entire amount on a single baccarat wager.
  • Your bet is successful and you now have $500 total.
  • You can meet playthrough through smaller, safe bets afterward.

Meet wagering requirements with large bets

  • You deposit $100 under a 200% match offer.
  • This leaves you with $300 total.
  • You win an additional $100, giving you $400 total.
  • The max bet when meeting playthrough is $50.
  • You bet $50 every time until satisfying wagering requirements.

These are just strategies that I whipped up as examples. You may tailor your own plan based on your risk tolerance and the casino’s T&Cs.

The first strategy gives you an excellent chance of earning bonus winnings as long as the bet is successful. You can then place manageable wagers afterward to meet playthrough.

But you also risk losing everything on the first wager. Additionally, some casinos may deem an all-in first bet as bonus abuse.

The second strategy is also fairly risky. However, it at least keeps you from risking everything all at once.

Downsides to Sticky Bonuses

Sticky bonuses might give you a chance to win more money than a non-sticky offer. But these deals also present a greater risk too, because they don’t guarantee anything.

You only get to cash out what you win from the offer — not the actual bonus itself. If you lose everything before meeting wagering requirements, then you walk away with nothing

Here’s an Example:Non-Sticky Sticker, Bright Green

  • You deposit $100 under a 200% match sticky bonus offer.
  • You start with $300 total.
  • Wagering requirements are 30x the bonus plus deposit.
  • 30 x 300 = $9,000 must be wagered.
  • You lose the entire $300 bankroll before satisfying playthrough.
  • You don’t get any bonus money and must deposit to play again.

A non-sticky bonus, on the other hand, at least gives you a realistic opportunity to win bonus money even when you’re not doing very well.

You may deposit $100 and only wind up with $50 after satisfying playthrough. But at least you end up with something thanks to this cashable bonus.

The other big drawback to sticky bonuses is the fear of the unknown. You have no idea how much money you’ll truly be playing for, unlike with a cashable offer.

Some players find it exciting to go after a variable amount of bonus winnings. But you may instead prefer the comfort of knowing exactly how much you stand to win through a non-sticky bonus.

One more potential downside is the disappointment that can follow upon cashing out. Assuming you’ve read everything up to this point, then you have a good understanding on sticky bonuses.

Unfortunately, not everybody reads the T&Cs associated with these offers. They’re then devastated upon withdrawing and finding out that the bonus disappears.

Again, you personally shouldn’t have a problem with this. But many gamblers have been crushed after discovering that sticky bonuses can’t be withdrawn.


Should You Still Go for a Sticky Bonus?

You don’t have to ignore sticky bonuses in favor of cashable ones. They can be just as good as cashable bonuses under the right circumstances.

But you want to have a good idea on how they work before pursuing them. After all, sticky bonuses are misunderstood by a large portion of gamblers.

The first thing to know is that these offers can’t be cashed out. You’ll only be able to withdraw winnings from them after satisfying playthrough.

These bonuses also include other common terms and conditions. Winnings, bets, and game contributions can all be limited with sticky bonuses, just like with many other types of bonus deals.

Sticky offers do have some inherent advantages over cashable bonuses. First off, they allow you to start with a much bigger bankroll. These deals often feature high match percentages on your first deposit ranging from 200% to 400%.

Sticky bonuses also give you the ability to win more money than most cashable offers. Your winnings are only limited by any restrictions that a casino imposes.

Your personal preferences may weigh into whether or not you want to pursue a sticky bonus. For example, you might not like the thought of playing for an unknown amount of winnings — or none at all.

But then again, you may love being able to win hundreds of dollars through a small deposit. Sticky bonuses are definitely exciting if you’re willing to roll the dice.