What is Bonus Abuse at Online Casinos - How to Avoid

Ziv Chen

Updated by

Ziv Chen


Last Updated on 14th March 2024, 07:22 AM

What is Bonus Abuse at Online Casinos - How to Avoid

Bonuses are a great way for online casinos to attract new customers and keep existing players happy. They allow gamblers first to try casinos and games without obligation. But then bonuses also incentivise gamblers into betting their own money. In most cases, it is a win-win situation: players get free wagering funds while casinos acquire valuable paying customers. However, problems arise when players attempt to use bonuses to scam casinos.

While the overwhelming majority of casino players are honest, some punters attempt to abuse bonuses and make a quick profit without adhering to the bonus rules. Doing so is almost always in violation of online casino policies, resulting in accounts locked, funds confiscated, and even legal action.

So, what is bonus abuse gambling, how does it work, and how can you avoid it? Read our complete Casinos.com guide that contains everything you need to know about playing bonuses fairly at real money online casinos.

What Exactly is Bonus Abuse at Online Casinos?

Bonus abuse is the act of seeking out slots with bonuses and attempting to obtain bonuses illegally, redeem them multiple times, or withdraw bonuses without completing the casino's requirements.

Gamblers who engage in bonus abuse will hunt casino sites for the latest signup/welcome promotions and create multiple accounts, trying to claim the bonuses multiple times. In most cases, bonus abusers target no-deposit bonus that do not require providing back details. However, more daring and sophisticated casino bonus abusers will use fake IDs, stolen identities, VPNs and online payment methods to get around the casino operator's policies and Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements.

To clarify, not everyone who engages in online casino bonus abuse is a criminal mastermind. In fact, it is often regular players who think they are simply gaming the system and not doing anything wrong.

Casinos will often entice new customers in using free spins, and we’ve rounded up a couple of the best offers and will leave them below for you.

Types of Casino Bonus Abuse

Casino bonus abusers have several methods in their arsenal. If one trick does not work, the casino fraudster will move onto another to get more free casino money. Here are some of the most common types of online casino bonus abuse:

Bonus Hunting

Online casino bonus hunting involves scouring the internet for juicy online casino promotions. Bonus hunters will sign up to any casino site offering the bonus in the hope of using the bonus to land big wins. If they lose, they ditch the bonus and move onto another casino.

The idea is to hopefully land a big win on the high volatility game to create a buffer. With the funds generated from the big win, the hunter can fulfil the remainder of the wagering requirements with smaller bets.

Creating Multiple Accounts

Most online casinos allow creating only one account per person. This restriction is usually monitored by the unique IP address of the device/household used to sign up and redeem the bonus. A common way to trick the casino is to create multiple accounts from different IP addresses or a VPN. While the accounts appear to be for different users, they belong to the same player who can then claim attractive sign up bonuses multiple times.

Ignoring Promotion Restrictions

Every casino bonus comes with terms and conditions, a fine print that details the promotion rules, requirements, and restrictions. One of the most common limitations involves preventing gamblers from playing certain games with bonus money. Poker and blackjack are almost always excluded from casino bonuses because of their low house edge, which means it is harder for the casino to make money from the player.

Casino sites have cutting-edge technology to prevent players from redeeming bonus money against a restricted game. Still, sometimes bonus abuse involves looking to break promotion rules and restrictions and access low house edge games with bonus funds.

Multiple Bonus Claims

Casinos do not allow players to cash out a bonus more than once. In other words, a specific casino promotion will only be available to you one time in most circumstances. It is especially true in the case of welcome bonuses that are available only to new clients. Some players try to bypass casino server trackers and redeem a bonus multiple times.

The most common method is by creating multiple accounts. If successful, the player can trigger a bonus multiple times before the casino tracks them down.

Collusion Play Methods

Collusion is one of the bonus abuse gambling methods that are hardest to monitor and prevent. It involves two or more players working together to scam the casino. It could be a fraudster organising many players to sign up and forward them the bonus proceeds. Or it can be multiple players joining the same game table and collaborating to affect the game's outcome.

Playthrough Using Large Bets

Some online casino bonus abuse involves using the free money to place a hefty wager on a game that could pay out big. It would potentially give the player a massive payout even if the win is unlikely to occur. Casinos do not like bonus money to be used in this way as they see it as a break in the good faith contract between the casino site and players.

Saving Bonuses

Once a player redeems their bonus cash by fulfilling the wagering requirements, casinos prefer that they spend the funds as quickly as possible instead of saving bonus money and combining it with funds from subsequent promotions. While it is not fraudulent, it is a form of bonus abuse to the casino.

Casino Bonus Abuse Examples

One of the most common ways bonus abusers attempt to scam casinos is by creating multiple accounts with different email addresses and payment methods. Most casinos will offer the most attractive bonuses for the players' first deposit and a less generous reload bonus for subsequent deposits.

For example, a casino may offer a 100% deposit match, up to C$1,000 on your first deposit. But a 50% match, up to C$500 on your second deposit. If you would claim the maximum bonus allowance using a single account, you will be able to claim a bonus as follows:

  • Make a first deposit of C$1,000 and receive C$1,000 in bonus money (C$1,000*1.0).
  • Make a second deposit of C$500 and receive C$250 in bonus money (C$200*0.5).
  • For a total deposit of C$1,500, claim a total bonus of C$1,250 (C$1,000+250, from the first and second deposit, respectively)

However, opening two separate accounts will allow you to claim the first deposit bonus twice. In this case, you will be able to claim a bonus as follows:

  • Make a first deposit of C$1,000 and receive C$1,000 in bonus money (C$1,000*1.0).
  • Make a second deposit (where the casino believes it’s a first) of C$500 and receive C$500 in bonus money (C$500*1.0).
  • For a total deposit of C$1,500, you will be able to claim a total bonus of C$1,500 (C$1,000+500, from the first and second deposit, respectively).

In the example above, a bonus abuser will scam out of the casino an additional C$250 in bonus money by creating multiple accounts and tricking the casino into thinking he/she is two different players.

How Do Online Casinos Find Bonus Abusers?

If you have read this page up to this point, you may be thinking there is no way for casinos to stop some types of bonus abuse. However, the reality is online casinos have become exceptionally good at detecting and stopping bonus fraud. Indeed, the industry has come a long way in recent years, and bonus abuse gambling is becoming less frequent.

Below are some of the tactics casino sites use to stop bonus fraud:

  • Track IP Addresses: As the first line of defence against online casino bonus abuse, tracking an IP address is essential. Without using IP tracking tools, the casino would have no way of knowing if a player has signed up for multiple accounts. It is not water-proof because it does not prevent the player from signing up from another IP address or using a VPN.
  • Wagering Requirements: Back in the early days of online casinos, bonuses did not have wagering requirements. Yes, it sounds unbelievable to modern online gamblers, but that was the situation when online gambling just started. In this Wild West of iGaming, people were able to abuse bonuses and get free cash easily. Since then, casinos developed wagering requirements, which essentially mean you must spend bonus money multiple times before you can withdraw it as cash.
  • Ban Specific Countries: Some countries in the world are hotbeds for casino bonus abuse. It is unclear why this is the case, but a lack of regulation in some jurisdictions means it is easier for players to abuse the system. Casino operators actively ban countries that tend to have more bonus abuse. Admittedly, this is hardly good news for honest players in those countries, but it helps protect the casino.
  • Monitor Betting Patterns: Many online casino bonus abuse involves getting creative with betting, such as making big wagers or using volatility arbitrage. To overcome this problem, casino sites track betting patterns of players to look for abnormal activity.
  • Limit Qualifying Payment Methods: If someone has just successfully abused a bonus and got some free and easy money, the first thing they want to do is cash out the winnings as quickly as possible. Some payment methods allow for faster withdrawals than others, most notably e-wallets. Casinos will often prevent players from using these methods for casino bonus offer deposits and withdrawals.

How to Avoid Bonus Abuse When Gambling?

While most bonus abusers are aware of their actions, some gamblers may be participating in online casino bonus abuse without realising. If in doubt, you can avoid the casino flagging your account for bonus abuse by avoiding the following actions:

  • Placing large bets with bonus money: Do not make big wagers on games that work towards your casino bonus. While there is nothing legally wrong with seeking high volatility games to win big, casinos tend not to like players doing this with bonus money.
  • Signing up to an online gambling site twice: This is a big no-no. You are only permitted to have one account with a specific online casino. If you want to enjoy multiple online casino bonuses, consider signing up to several sites instead of creating more accounts on one.
  • Fail to check the Terms and Conditions: Properly reading the casino's T&C's is easily the best way to avoid casino bonus misunderstandings. Here is where you will find information on bonus restrictions and rules.
  • Fail to understand the wagering requirements: An essential part of the bonus Terms and Conditions are the wagering requirements. The casino's Terms and Conditions will always have detailed information about the wagering requirements, which are the number of times you must wager the bonus amount before it is eligible for withdrawal. Read these carefully and understand them.
  • Play irregularly: Casinos will flag strange betting patterns, and your wagering could lead to the site not paying out your bonus money. Read the Terms and Conditions to understand the casino's position on betting irregularities for the promotion.
  • Only make deposits with bonuses: If you are a serious, well-intending customer of the casino, don't condition your deposits on bonuses alone, as this may flag you as a bonus hunter. Once the casino notices you make deposits regularly, it will most likely contact you to offer generous bonuses to reward your loyalty. Also, check for any VIP and reward programs that often carry lucrative promotions and benefits.

Why is your Cash Out Delayed Due to Bonus Abuse?

If your online casino has stopped you from cashing out your bonus due to suspected bonus abuse, the operator should inform you of the situation. It is worth noting that bonus abuse costs casinos millions of Canadian dollars each year, so some operators are very cautious. It means they could sometimes flag your account even if you did nothing wrong.

With that in mind, if you haven't done anything wrong, the casino will usually release your funds after a short investigation. You may be required to chat with the support team to verify your identity and possibly provide documents such as a statement of the payment method you use or proof of address. If all is in order, you will have your funds released quickly. However, if the casino finds you abused its bonus, you will likely have your account locked, balance frozen and be banned from using the site again. For the worst cases of online casino bonus abuse, you may be reported to other sites and blacklisted or have legal action taken against you.

Arbitrage and Matched Betting

An arbitrage will involve placing wagers on contradicting outcomes or events to cancel risk. There are various types of arbitrage that a player can use to abuse bonuses. It can include betting on both teams to win a game with different sets of odds or using your casino bonus to bet on two casino game outcomes that are mutually exclusive. Another type of this system is volatility arbitrage. When a player signs up for a casino site and plays low volatility games to meet the wagering requirement of the bonus, using this method, the player can churn their money if they trigger a big win on the low volatility game. They then use some of the winning funds to complete the wagering requirement on high volatility games.

Can you Fight Back Against a Bonus Abuse Accusation?

If you feel an online casino has wrongly treated you over a false accusation of bonus abuse, there are steps you can take. Firstly, it is always essential to play at a licensed casino. Misunderstandings where the casino falsely accuses you are much less likely to happen at a fully regulated casino licensed by a body like the UKGC.

Before going any further, the first step to resolve accusations of bonus fraud that you believe are false is to contact the online casino. If your chosen site has a live chat function, speak to casino staff, and plead your case with them. Make sure you request a chat transcript, or follow up on email. Either way, it is important to have these conversations documents. Sometimes that will not work. So if you believe the accusation against you is unjustified, reach out to eCOGRA or other independent governing and arbitration bodies that protect the rights of online casino players.


Meet The Author

25 Years
Ziv Chen
Ziv Chen
Writer Writer

Ziv Chen has been working in the online gambling industry for over two decades in senior marketing and business development roles. Ziv writes about a wide range of topics including slot and table games, casino and sportsbook reviews, American sports news, betting odds and game predictions. Leading a life full of conflict, Ziv constantly struggles between his two greatest loves: American football and US soccer.

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