I saw a post in an online gambling forum ask the following question: “Is it possible to win at online casinos without using the bonuses?”
I’d contend that it’s not only possible to win at online casinos without using the bonuses than it is to win at them with using the bonuses. And in this post, I’ll explain why.
Having More Money Doesn’t Make You More Likely to Win
It sounds counterintuitive. After all, if you have more money to gamble with, wouldn’t you almost assuredly have a better chance of being a winner? And don’t the online casino bonuses put more money into your bankroll?
Your ONLY hope of winning money at the casino is to buck the odds, and that’s only likely and/or possible if you get lucky in the short run.
And yes, online casino bonuses do put more money into your bankroll. But they come with strings. And those strings are called “wagering requirements.”
In other words, you’re required to place a certain amount of wagers before being allowed to cash out. That’s the biggest and most important of the terms and conditions attached to these bonuses.
How Do Wagering Requirements Work at Online Casinos?
Let’s look at a hypothetical online casino bonus offer. You get a 200% signup bonus on your first deposit, and the maximum bonus is $2,000.
This means if you sign up for a real money account and deposit $1,000, you get an additional $2,000 in bonus money added to your account. You now have $3,000 you can play with.
Another tactic you might try is to stick to games with a low house advantage like blackjack. The casinos are on to that trick, too. They either don’t count wagers on blackjack toward your wagering requirements, or they count those wagers at a discounted rate.
Also, they require you to place a specific number of wagers before you’re allowed to cash out. This might be as much as 35x your deposit plus bonus (or more). This means you must make wagers in the amount of $105,000 before you’re able to cash out. And usually, you’re required to make these wagers on a slot machine.
Let’s assume you’re playing a slot machine for $3 a spin. This means you’d need to make 35,000 spins before being allowed to cash out any money you have left.
If you assume an average playing speed of 500 spins per hour, that’s 70 hours of play. For people with jobs, it’s going to take a little time to clear that bonus.
How much money will you have left after making 35,000 slot machine spins?
Let’s assume that the game you play has a house edge of 5%. That wouldn’t be unusual for a slot machine game at an online casino. Your expected losses on $105,000 in action are $5,250.
Since you started with $3,000, chances are, you’ll lose your entire stake before clearing your wagering requirements. You’re not guaranteed to lose that money. You could always buck the odds. But the longer you play, the closer your results will usually get to the predicted results.
What Can I Do About These Bonuses?
Here’s the thing about casino bonuses—you don’t have to claim them. You can just deposit money and ignore any bonuses. This gives you the flexibility to wager as little as you want and cash out. This means that if you get lucky early, you can just cash out.
Keep in mind, this is a longshot, but it’s certainly possible.
Is It Possible to Win at Online Casinos? Aren’t Their Games Rigged?
I write mostly for an American audience because I’m an American gambler. And in most states, if you want to gamble at an online casino, you must do business with some kind of offshore casino. Many of these offshore casinos operate online only.
Legitimate online casinos adhere to strict regulatory requirements just like traditional land-based casinos do. These licensing authorities are located in a completely different legal jurisdiction, like Antigua, Barbuda, for example.
The amount of oversight these bodies provide is questionable. The regulatory bodies that exercise the most oversight don’t allow their licensees to offer real money gambling to United States players.
Also, if you live in one of the states which has legal, regulated casinos, you have little to worry about. These casinos are run by large corporations that have strict government oversight from within our own borders. They have no incentive to offer “rigged” games. They’d go out of business and risk prosecution.
For the most part, you don’t have to worry about the casinos offering you games that cheat. They generally offer fair games with the same odds you’d find in a traditional Vegas casino.
What you do need to worry about, especially if you’re dealing with offshore online gambling, is the possibility that your withdrawal won’t get processed or won’t get processed in a timely manner.
Spend some time on some online gambling forums and look for the complaints there about online casinos. You’ll find that they’re almost always complaints about having trouble cashing their money out of the casino.
How do you avoid this kind of problem?
How to Avoid Problems When Withdrawing Money From an Online Casino
You can avoid a lot of problems withdrawing money from a casino if you spend a little time investigating reputations before depositing money there. Try to find some reputable, honest reviews that seem like they were written by real people.
Here’s an expert hint, too: Most online casino “reviews” aren’t real reviews. They’re just thinly-disguised sales letters written by webmasters hoping to earn a commission by referring players to the casino.
These should be easy to spot. They’re overwhelmingly positive. And even if they’re well-written, they don’t seem like something a real person would write.
You can also take a hint from the nature of the reviews on the site. If a website has 10 online casino reviews, and every one of those reviews is overwhelmingly positive, there’s a good chance that the site is just shilling for the casino.
Even sites with lengthy online casino blacklists might be just shills for online casinos. When the blacklists consist of no more than a bunch of no-name casinos that aren’t even live on the internet anymore, you know that you’re not dealing with a real “watchdog” at all.
This means paying attention to which games count toward your wagering requirements.
Also, don’t behave in the manner of someone who’s looking to just make a quick buck from the online casino. What does that look like?
That might be someone who fulfills their wagering requirement to the penny. Use a little camouflage if you don’t want to look like a dope. Make some more wagers than just the minimum required.
How Can You Maximize Your Odds of Walking Away a Winner?
One way to improve your odds of winning is to stick with online casino games that have a low house edge. And since the games with a low house edge don’t count toward your wagering requirements, this will mean passing up on the signup bonus.
I suggest mastering basic strategy in blackjack. With perfect basic strategy—which is easy to learn, by the way—you can reduce the house edge to less than 1%. That’s as low a house edge as you’ll see at almost any casino, really, which will provide you with your best chance to walk away a winner.
Also, if you want to maximize your odds of winning, avoid the games with the highest house edge. Keno is a sucker bet with a house edge of at least 35%, and sometimes, the house edge is as high as 50% in keno.
Slot machines are a bad bet, too, unfortunately. And to add insult to injury, slots don’t even tell you what their house edge is. You don’t even have the information you need to calculate the house edge. My guess is that most online slot machines have a house edge of at least 5%, but many probably have a house edge of 10% or more.
Another option for a low house edge game to play is video poker but watch the pay tables. The low house edge is for the games with the most favorable pay tables. You also must play with close to optimal strategy to enjoy that low house edge, too. Video poker’s not for the faint of heart.
Sure, it’s possible to win at online casinos without using the bonuses. In fact, it’s usually more likely. But the casino always has the odds in its favor.
Just because it’s possible doesn’t mean it’s likely.