Guide to welcome bonuses and free spins

Guide to welcome bonuses and free spins

The Best Things In Life Are Free (Bonuses And Spins, Obviously!)

We’ve all heard the expression, you don’t get something for nothing. But then again, as the title says, there’s also the best things in life being free. Yes, we know, philosophically speaking, they are referring to things like air, sunshine, and the joy on a baby’s face, but here at CasinoPlay, we’d like to point out that welcome bonuses and free spins are a beautiful thing, and that more than one interpretation can be valid. 

Of course, casino welcome bonuses and free spins aren’t, strictly speaking, FREE, but they certainly make up for it in sheer winning potential, and it’s all because online casinos really, really want you to play on their jungle gym and are even willing to give away the occasional freebie (terms attached) to cultivate that friendship. Want to unravel the mysteries? Well then, let’s dive in.

A casino is a casino is a casino, right? How different can one casino be from another? All they do is exchange money for chips, offer games, and then exchange chips for money.

Well, no. No story goes, “Once upon a time, everything was simple, everything was the same, and everyone was happy. The end.”

Every casino – both brick and mortar and online – is unique. Yes, there are similarities, both legislative and game based, but there’s no way to summarise all casinos with just a few simple sentences.

Luckily for you, we have taken the time and effort to really get into the foundations of online gambling: what makes it tick, how it works, what players can expect, and so much more. Here, we offer you all the in-depth guides to online casinos and gambling you’ll need. And we take that promise seriously, which is why we are constantly working to add more guides that cover every aspect of the online casino experience.

In this series of guides, you will find information about jackpots, variance and volatility, online casinos, casino bonuses, withdrawals and deposits, and more.

Why should you use guides?

Casino guides like these can really help enhance your online casino experience. For example, jackpot guides don’t just tell you what a jackpot is; they explain the various types of jackpot, how they work, how to play to win, where to find games with different jackpots, and even who the game developers are.

Casino bonus guides are another super useful way to figure out which online casinos will work best for you. We don’t only look at the types of bonus offered, but explain how they work, the hidden pitfalls to look out for, and ways to make the most of your wagering requirements.

You’ll find enough information here to keep you busy longer than a great game of poker, so dig in, and come out the other side a little more knowledgeable. And if there’s anything you’d like to learn more about that you don’t find here on CasinoPlay, let us know. Happy reading!

Welcome bonuses are the ‘bait and hook’ for pretty much all online casinos, so it’s no surprise that there are as many variations of bonus as there are operators. That said, there are a few generalisations you can make about them.

PS: we have a comprehensive guide on all types of casino bonuses – not just welcome bonuses – here. You should check it out.


Pretty much every online casino we know of, except for Jackpot casino, has a wagering requirement attached to the welcome bonus (and most likely to other bonuses, too). In brief, wagering requirements mean that you have to play for a certain multiplier of the bonus in order to qualify to cash it out. We have a detailed article on wagering here.

How welcome bonuses work

Step one to qualifying for a welcome bonus is to sign up at an online casino. The next step is usually to make a deposit and claim the bonus. Once you have done that, you can play at your leisure and, once the wagering requirement is met, take steps to claim your bonus.

How welcome bonuses are structured

Welcome bonuses, as we said, can vary but tend to follow similar structures. For example, many online casinos will offer welcome bonuses that are split into three tranches. You receive the first part of the bonus on first deposit, the second part on second deposit… you get the idea. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, however, and casinos are welcome to structure their bonuses as they please, as long as it is legal.

What welcome bonuses look like

The vast majority of welcome bonuses are financial. In other words, you receive a certain amount of money in your play account, based on the value of your qualifying deposits. However, not all welcome bonuses are purely money. Some offer a combination of bonus money, free spins, tournament access or whatever else the casino’s marketing geniuses can think of to provide players with a worthwhile incentive to join and play.


Before doing anything, like claiming the bonus, take the time to read through all the terms and conditions, especially those around wagering. Welcome bonuses usually come with a long list of rules and restrictions – aside from wagering. Sometimes you can only withdraw a certain amount and have to use the rest to play. Sometimes the withdrawal period can be lengthier. There may be additional documentation around withdrawals or claims, particularly for bigger amounts. None of these are necessarily bad, of course; they are rules in place to protect both the casino and you. 

However, if you haven’t bothered to read the terms and conditions before you join, don’t be surprised to find it’s a challenge to access ‘your’ cash. Remember that, even though you could walk away with a good chunk of money, a welcome bonus is designed to get you to join the casino and keep on playing.

Free spins are like the McDonald’s of the online casino games world. They’re easy to get, freely available in many formats, and a great way to fill the gaps. Free spins often show up as part of welcome bonus packages, and allow you to play certain online slot games, effectively for free. 


Free spins that form part of an online casino bonus usually come with their own wagering requirements, just like any other bonus, or some specific set of terms and conditions. Please make sure to familiarise yourself with these before claiming any kind of free spins bonus. 

How free spins work

Bonus-linked free spins usually work in much the same way as a deposit-type bonus – ie, when you make a deposit, you receive either a financial bonus, free spins, or some combination of both. The qualifiers are frequently the same, although casinos may offer free spins bonuses as standalone offers, or linked to other, non-deposit types of bonus. 

How free spins are structured

This will vary depending on the type of bonus that the free spins are linked to. For example, a welcome bonus could consist of two tranches of money bonus, and free spins as the final part. Or, you could receive a bonus 50 free spins alongside the financial part of the welcome bonus, each time you make a qualifying deposit.

What free spins look like

Free spins bonuses are exactly what they say: free spins of a slot game. Depending on the casino, the game provider and the promotion the free spins are linked to, these could be games from certain providers only, a specific game only, new releases, single-payline games only, or even all games… the possibilities are endless, depending only on what promotions and bonuses the online casino can imagine.


Terms and conditions – say it after us. Read the terms and conditions thoroughly before claiming or accepting any kind of bonus, including free spins. We are not saying that your preferred online casino is trying to pull a fast one; these are usually legal operators who have to abide by certain laws and financial standards. However, no two casinos will have the same set of terms and conditions, and it is important to understand the rules around any bonus you claim, for your own wellbeing. Even if the worst thing that happens is that you’re annoyed because you can’t withdraw bonus money in 24 hours, you could probably have avoided the frustration by just knowing the terms in advance.

Wherever there is an online casino, there will be some kind of bonus or incentive, and most of these will include a welcome bonus and likely free spins. If you’re looking for ethical, properly registered casinos, please visit our casino reviews for detailed information on SA’s online casinos.

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