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One of the biggest drawcards to Microgaming online casinos is that they offer great bonuses and promotions to their players as an incentive to join in the fun.
The objective of offering bonuses to players is to get them so enamored with what the site has to offer that they will return for more once they have redeemed the bonus.
Casino bonuses come in various forms. For example, the casino will offer players a certain amount of free chips to start off with, which can be used to try out the games and software.
Online casinos, however, are aware of casino bonus abuse, ie. when a player takes advantage of the casino and gets free money from the casino without much effort, and then walks away.
Of course, players may be wondering whether this isn't the objective of a casino bonus in the first place - to get free money without risking any of their own money. As such, there is a fine line between what is constituted enjoying a casino bonus and what it means to abuse a bonus.
It is important to read the rules and conditions of every single bonus you consider redeeming at an online casino, as you don't want to be branded a casino abuser, and you will want to be able to withdraw your winnings in the long round.
Online casinos usually make it very clear in their terms and conditions that only one bonus per household is allowed to be claimed.
Take, for example, the terms of 32Red.com's welcome bonus: "This promotion is strictly limited to one new player per household even if there is more than one computer retained at the address," reads condition number seven. "The identity of a user will be determined on the basis of all or any combination of the following: name, mailing address, e-mail address, IP address, credit/charge card number, computer, and any other form of identification which may be required."
Online casinos will collect information from your computer such as your IP address, as well as the serial number of your hard drive and other non-private information in order to ensure that you cannot sign up for another casino account through the computer using a different name.
Of course, those who are determined to trick the system can, and possibly will, find ways to circumvent these precautions such as putting up IP blockers, however the chances are that the online casino will find out and simply blacklist you. As generous as the bonus offers are, it's not worth being kept out of great sites for earning a few extra dollars free.
While online casino bonuses are generous and, in most cases, worth redeeming - especially if you intend spending time at a certain site, you need to understand that the online casino will not simply hand out free cash without getting something back in return. To 'earn' the rewards, you will need to meet what is known as Wagering Requirements (sometimes shortened to WR).
Wagering Requirements are essentially demands by the casino for the player to wager a specific sum of money on certain games before the bonus will be paid out.
Let's take, as an example, a casino bonus offer of a '100% first deposit bonus up to $100'. The player can deposit $100 and claim the maximum sum of $100, however he or she needs to examine the Terms and Conditions regarding the Wagering Requirements. If a 20 X requirement is listed, it means that no matter whether the player wins or loses, no part of the bonus can be withdrawn until the free cash (ie. $100) has been wagered through at least 20 times.
Some online casinos also require that the initial deposit also be bet through 20 times (or how every many times specified) in the terms and conditions.
Although you will find the phrase 'bonus abuse' in the terms and conditions of the vast majority of online casino bonuses, the actual phrase could actually be a bit of a grey area. It is normally left up to management to determine whether or not a player is actually abusing the bonus rewards, especially when it is not a very blatant case.
For that reason, you will want to take cautionary steps to prevent the casino from calling you a casino abuser, and at the same time make sure that if you are sure of your innocence, that you have a channel of dispute.
One of the biggest complaints among players is when they fall foul to something called the playing pattern review.
The meaning of this term is best understood through the text of terms and conditions of a typical match bonus found at an online casino: "Before any withdrawals are processed, your play will be reviewed for any irregular playing patterns e.g. playing of equal, zero margin bets or hedge betting, which all shall be considered irregular gaming for Sign-Up Bonus Play Through Requirement purposes. Other examples of irregular game play include but are not limited to, placing single bets equal to or in excess of 30% or more of the value of the bonus credited to your account until such time as the wagering requirements for that bonus have been met."
"The Casino reserves the right to decide in its sole discretion which activities constitute "irregular play" for Sign-Up Bonus Play through Requirement purposes from time-to-time and to withhold any withdrawals where irregular play has occurred to meet Sign-Up Bonus Play through Requirements," it is explained.
In the example above, the restrictions are well spelled out in the terms and conditions of the bonus, which means that players know what to avoid. However in some cases, it is not so clear and players are not aware that they are doing something which may constitute prohibitive. Some casinos simply won't say that players are not allowed to double up on video poker, for example, with bonus money.
To avoid falling foul of the playing pattern review, we suggest that you read through the terms and conditions very carefully, doing a search on the page for terms such as 'playing pattern', 'bonus abuse', 'account closure' and 'forfeit'.
Another good idea is to email the casino first and ask what type of restrictions there are on bonuses so that you are not second-guessing the restrictions.
Many casinos have what is known as a 'manager override clause', which means that the manager has the last word in any decision regarding bonuses. If you have the restrictions put down in writing, such as how much you are allowed to bet per spin or hand without being accused of bonus abuse, you will be able to tackle any problems you may come up against more successfully.
There are a few steps you can take to avoid being branded a casino abuser by the online gaming site.
It is true that some rogue online casinos will use the term 'bonus abuser' against you for having a reason to not pay you out your winnings. This is a rare but unfortunate occurrence, and one you will definitely want to avoid.
If you want to ensure that you at least have a channel to dispute a charge that you are a bonus abuser, make sure that the online casino has sound customer support (preferably live chat for instant assistance).
In addition, you will want to make sure that the online casino is licensed with a reputable gambling jurisdiction so that your dispute charges do not fall on deaf ears.
You can take the security level a step higher by checking to see if the online casino carries an industry standard seal such as eCOGRA's Safe and Fair seal. This allows you to use the consumer-watchdog group as a channel to settle any disputes with casinos that are part of eCOGRA.
Online casino bonuses can be very rewarding and could go a long way in keeping you entertained for many hours at your favorite sites. However, make sure that you enter into a bonus contract as you would any other legal contract. Check the terms and conditions and make sure that you keep your end of the deal, especially when it comes to potential casino bonus abuse.