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When looking for a suitable casino, one of the things you’ll most likely be looking for, and coincidentally one of the things that online casinos will promote most aggressively to draw your attention and hopefully registration, is the welcome bonus. Welcome bonuses in online casinos come in various forms like first deposit bonuses, multiple first deposit bonuses, free spins, loyalty points, alternative method payment bonuses or a combination of these. While it is a widely advertised element there are many online gamblers who don’t fully understand what this bonus actually is. In this article we’ll focus specifically on the first deposit bonuses and rewards that you’ll receive, while also explaining some of the terms and conditions around them.

Firstly it’s important to note that any advertized amount is an amount that defines extra (bonus) playing credits. So, for example, if you were to deposit $100 at Platinum Play Casino, and claim your 100% bonus of $100, it means that you’ll have $200 to play with in total, and this is what will appear in the playing credit amount. Nowadays, your own deposit playing credit and bonus play credit are kept in two separate accounts so that it can be managed easily. In general funds from the bonus amount will only be used once your own deposit play credit has been exhausted.

The bonus funds are to serve as playing credits and can only be withdrawn if you’ve played the minimum wagering/playthrough requirement and if it exceeds the initial amount, that is, you’ve won money using the bonus credits. Each casino has its own wagering requirement (see table) – with our example Platinum Play has a 30 times bonus wagering requirement. This means that before we’ll be able to withdraw any winnings that we’ve made with our bonus we’ll need to wager 30 times the bonus amount, which in our case is $3,000 (30 x $100). Some casinos calculate this wagering requirement on the sum of the deposit and the bonus and not all type of online casino games contribute the same percentage to the wagering requirement. Usually slots offer 100% contribution with table and card games offering considerably less towards the wagering requirement. You should also be sure to claim your bonus within the set period for which it is valid. Each casino has further conditions around their welcome bonuses, so we advise that you personally read through it to ensure that you’re are fully clued up and have the clear expecations.

Other than this initial playing credit bonus quoted in dollars, some casinos offer additional free play credits on certain games. The free play is often restricted to an hour or with some online casinos, if you’re lucky, 24 hours. To withdraw any winnings from free play time, wagering requirements usually apply to these too. Some casinos also award free loyalty points on signing up for the first time – this is a great way to get you started on a program which rewards you each time you play. In our list you’ll be able to find casinos who offer these free sign-up loyalty points.

With the trend in alternative banking methods like e-wallets, prepaid vouchers and e-checks growing considerably, online casinos are also lining up to offer you an extra first sign up bonus if you use certain alternative banking method brands. Each online casino has different brands with which they run these bonus offers, so see their banking sections to confirm which method will score you extra playing credits.

After comparing a number of the welcome bonus offers of online casinos fit for Canadian players, we’ve discovered that in general the offers are not highly differentiated, with an industry standard seemingly starting to develop amongst reputable brands. With that said, the level of welcome bonus being offered gives a strong indication of what sort of future benefits and ongoing support you’ll receive from an online casino or casino group, as you continue to invest your entertainment dollars with them.

On the balance of scales, after taking into account the percentage of first deposit bonus, wagering requirements and additional benefits like free play, loyalty points and alternative banking method bonus, Platinum Play is one casino that stands out as having provided the most comprehensive welcome package around. With the industry becoming ever more competitive and other casinos constantly upping their game, be sure to check back for the latest in online casino news tailored for Canadian players.

Happy gaming.