What Is Bonus Hunting And Why Should You Avoid It?

We often speak about bonuses here at CasinoPlay, what they are, where you can get the best ones, what you should look out for, all that stuff you need to know before you hit that ‘redeem coupon code’ button.

Bonuses are great for first-time visitors to online and mobile casinos. They give you a chance to test out the casino and the games without having to put down or lose your own money. This goes for new players in the online gambling world as well as for experienced players who are visiting a new casino for the first time.

They can also be rewarding incentives to stick with a casino if the daily, weekly or monthly bonuses are a good deal, or if you are being well-rewarded for your VIP or loyalty status.

But there are group of online gamblers who tend to abuse the bonus system in an attempt to ‘cheat’ the system into paying them out with little risk to their own bankrolls.

This is called bonus hunting – and it can backfire quite spectacularly.

What is bonus hunting?

Bonus hunting is when players sign up to a lot of different online or mobile casinos to get as many welcome bonuses and play bonuses as possible. They then use these bonuses to try and win as much money as they can without actually betting any of their own cash. With no bankroll at risk, these players think that they’ll be able to walk away with a tidy profit.

Bonus hunting seldom works out that way.

Why is bonus hunting bad?

‘Bad’ might not be the correct word, ill-advised would probably suit better.

Bonus hunting comes with some severe risks to the player. The standard thinking is that bonus hunting will give a player a better edge over the house and this may have been true in the early days of online casinos, but it really has changed.

In the early days, online casinos would offer big bonuses with low wagering requirements. An example would be a player redeeming a bonus for say R1,000 and have a wagering requirement of 25x. The player would choose a high RTP game, say 98%, and could be expected to walk away with a good profit. In the 98% RTP game, the house edge would be 2% and the player would statistically expect to lose 2% every game. R1,000 multiplied by (100% – 25 x 2%) = R500.

The player gets to cash out R500 without putting a cent down.

The modern online and mobile casino world is wise to these shenanigans and has put a ton of Ts & Cs in place as well as upping the wagering requirements to put a stop to this.

Now it’s far more common to see wagering requirements sitting in the 40+ range rather than the low 10s to 25s. You will also see a lot stricter conditions list than before that make sure you play selected games, can only withdraw selected amounts, and will suffer severe penalties if you’re caught out.

The risks to bonus hunting far outweigh any potential rewards and so can be considered a ‘bad’ choice for serious gamblers.

But there are still players out there who think they have what it takes to outsmart the online gambling world for a quick buck. They are referred to as bonus abusers.

What is considered bonus abuse?

  • Creating multiple accounts

You will notice when you read the terms and conditions of use at any online or mobile casino that there is a very specific line about only one user per household or IP address and only one bonus allowed to be claimed by that household or IP address.

This is to stop players opening a number of accounts using different email addresses and details to grab as many bonuses as possible.

It’s a very beginner sort of bonus hunting strategy and one that the casinos WILL notice very quickly.

  • Not meeting wagering requirements

We always urge players to make sure they’ve read and UNDERSTAND the wagering requirements before they claim the bonus. By far the biggest source of complaint against casinos is from players who have tried to cash out their ‘winnings’ without fulfilling all the necessary wagering requirements.

It’s the fastest way to have your winnings cancelled and confiscated so please make sure you meet all the wagering requirements before trying to withdraw anything from your casino account.

A lot of bonus hunters and bonus abusers seem to think that the casino won’t notice if they sneak out before the wagering requirements are met but, come one, everything is computerised and digital and the software knows exactly what needs to be done and when so don’t even try!

  • Reclaiming bonuses

Once again, this would seem like a no-brainer to avoid and yet there are still those players who seem to think they can get away with claiming the same bonus multiple times.


  • Big bets with bonus money

Big bets mean big wins, right? Not always. Big bets can also mean big losses and somebody or some programme taking notice of your behaviour.

This is another reason why bonuses have dropped in value over recent years – to counter the bonus abusers who go all in and large hoping to hit a huge win. Nowadays you will find smaller bonuses but often spread out over two or three different deposit or play times.

  • Trying to play non-eligible games

This is especially prevalent in the free spins category. Often a casino will dictate which slots are eligible for free spins and the player needs to stick to that game. If you try to play on another slot you run the risk of having all your free spins and your winnings cancelled.

This can also happen when the casino has a list of games that can or can’t be used to fulfil the wagering requirements. Different games have a different weighting when it comes to completing the wagering requirements, and some games are excluded completely. Always check which games the casino is offering along with the bonus.

So, should you avoid bonuses completely?

Not at all. Bonuses can really help you get a feel for games and casinos. Use them to try out new things and practice on different games. Just avoid being caught in a bonus abuse trap.

The same goes for signing up at multiple casinos. Maybe you have a favourite casino that doesn’t offer a certain game, so you sign up with a different casino to play it. It’s all good. But signing up at two or three or five casinos is a bit different from serial signings at dozens of casinos.

The algorithms can pick up who is doing what, even at unaffiliated casino, and abusers tend to start exhibiting the same behaviour across multiple casinos which, in turn, trigger a red flag that can and will be shared. The industry is very strict when it comes to abuse, not only to protect the individual casinos but also to protect the industry as a whole and the players who put their trust and money into it.

What’s the worst that could happen?

What you must understand, especially in this digital world we live in, is that everything is linked. If one casino finds you abusing their bonuses or rules, or one game developer notices a pattern of abuse, you can be sure the news will spread and you may find yourself locked out of the entire industry.

Apart from a global ban on playing any of your favourite online casino games at any online or mobile casino is the risk of financial penalties. Say you do happen to win a big jackpot. If you are found to be in violation of the Ts & Cs or are proven to be a bonus hunter or abuser, you will have all your winnings, all your bonuses and even your own money in your account confiscated.

How do I avoid being a bonus abuser?

It really is very simple: follow the rules.

  • Read, understand and respect all the casino’s Ts & Cs
  • Make sure you read and understand all wagering requirements
  • Play the game for the fun of gambling, not to make a quick buck

At the end of the day, online casinos are here to bring us entertainment not wealth. You may be one of the lucky ones to hit a big jackpot but chances are you’re more likely to be one of us: a player who just enjoys the excitement of games of chance.

So play the game for fun, don’t try and con the casinos out of easy money. It’s a multi-billion-dollar industry and trust us, they know exactly what they are doing – and what you are doing too.


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