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Bonus Fun or Bonus Fraud? Explained & Avoided

More than free money, here's my take on casino bonuses

Free games, extra money! Online casinos love giving players bonuses to join and play. These are like gifts to try new games and have more fun. But some people try to trick the system to get more than intended. 

This "bonus abuse" hurts everyone, the casinos and other players who enjoy fair games. Let's learn about bonus abuse and how we can all play by the rules to keep online casinos exciting.

Online Casino Bonuses

Online casinos can be very competitive. They are generally well-liked by players and, to draw people in, they have numerous types of bonuses that ensure your experience is not only worth it but great. Here are some of the most popular types:

Welcome Bonus

This bonus rewards new players who sign up and make their first deposit. It usually has a time limit to claim and meet wagering requirements. Many casinos may also require a bonus code to activate it.

An example of a Welcome Bonus:

"100% Match Bonus Up To $200 + 50 Free Spins"

  • 100% Match Bonus: The casino will match your first deposit amount by 100%, up to a maximum limit (in this case, $200). So, if you deposit $250, you'll only get the maximum bonus of $200.
  • + 50 Free Spins: In addition to the match bonus, you will also receive free spins that you can use on specific slot games chosen by the casino.

Reload Bonus

Existing players who have deposited at least once can often claim Reload Bonuses. These promotions vary by casino, so always check the terms and conditions.

Here's an example:

"Weekend Boost: 50% Reload Bonus Up To $100"

This bonus encourages players to top up their accounts over the weekend. Let's break it down:

  • 50% Reload Bonus: The casino will give you an extra 50% on your deposit amount, capped at $100.
  • If you deposit $50, you'll get an additional $25 bonus, for a total of $75 to play with. However, if you deposit $200, the maximum bonus you can receive is $100.

This bonus is only valid for deposits made during a specific timeframe, like weekends.

Cashback Bonus

Cashback bonuses offer a safety net by refunding a portion of your losses.  This can extend your gameplay and potentially reduce risk. Here's an example:

"Weekly Cashback: 10% Cashback Up To $50"

Let's say you wager $200 and win $100 in a week. Your net loss would be $200 (wagers) - $100 (wins) = $100.

  • With a 10% cashback bonus, you'd get $100 (net loss) x 10% = $10 in bonus funds.
  • However, the maximum cashback is capped at $50, so you'd receive the maximum $50 credited to your account.

Free Spins

Free spins are a fan-favorite bonus since they allow you to play real money games without spending your own. They're also an excellent tool for trying out new slots. This casino promotion is a free spin bonus or can be accompanied by another offer. 

"Free Spins Bonus: 50 Free Spins on Starburst" 

The casino provides 50 free spins on its website to all qualifying players who fulfill this promotion's requirements. These can only be played using the designated slot game "Starburst." 

Key Considerations:

  • Free spins have expiry dates usually and may come with playthrough conditions.
  • Generally, they are allocated to selected slot games by a casino.

Bonus Abuse: Exploiting the System

As online gambling booms (expected to reach $100 billion by 2024), casinos face a growing challenge: bonus abuse. This refers to players manipulating casino bonuses for unfair advantage. Here are some common examples:

Multiple Accounts

Fraudsters create multiple accounts to claim the same welcome bonus repeatedly. Let's see how it works:

A casino offers a 100% deposit match bonus, up to $500 for new players. A bonus abuser wants to maximize this offer.

  • They create two accounts with different email addresses and payment methods.
  • They deposit $500 in each account, claiming the maximum $500 bonus each time.

Account 1:

  • Deposits $500 and gets a $500 bonus.
  • Meets wagering requirements and withdraws the initial $500 deposit + winnings.

Account 2:

  • Deposits $500 and gets another $500 bonus.
  • Meets wagering requirements and withdraws the initial $500 deposit + winnings.

The abuser effectively doubles their initial deposit without risking any of their own money through creating multiple accounts.


This involves exploiting differences in bonus terms between casinos to guarantee a profit. Imagine two casinos offering similar welcome bonuses:

  • Casino A: 100% match bonus up to $500 with a 30x wagering requirement
  • Casino B: 100% match bonus up to $500 with a 25x wagering requirement

A bonus abuser might notice the lower wagering requirement at Casino B and use it to their advantage.

Here's how it might work:

  1. Deposit $500 at Casino A, getting a $500 bonus (total balance = $1000).
  2. Meet the 30x wagering requirement at Casino A (wagers totaling $15,000 = $500 x 30).
  3. Deposit $500 at Casino B, getting a $500 bonus (total balance = $1000).
  4. Meet the lower 25x wagering requirement at Casino B (wagers totaling $12,500 = $500 x 25).

Regardless of the bet outcomes, the abuser ends up with $1,000 at each casino, effectively profiting $500 by exploiting the different wagering requirements. This is a form of bonus abuse.

Fraudulent Identities

This involves using fake or stolen information to create multiple accounts and claim bonuses repeatedly.


This is about collaborating with others to unfairly exploit bonuses, like a group of players in a multiplayer game sharing information to manipulate the game in their favor, violating fair play.

Consequences of Cheating

While some bonus abusers may view their actions as strategic or savvy, online casinos typically consider such behavior unethical and may take measures to identify and penalize those involved. Bonus abuse can lead to consequences such as:

  • Forfeited Bonuses- Any money you win using bonus funds obtained through cheating may be confiscated.
  • Account Suspension or Ban- Casinos have the right to ban players who engage in fraudulent activities.
  • Legal Action- In extreme cases, casinos might pursue legal action for financial losses incurred due to cheating.

Preventing Bonus Abuse

Online casinos face significant challenges from bonus abuse. To combat this, they deploy several measures to detect, prevent, and mitigate fraudulent activities:

KYC Processes

  • Identity Validation- Players must submit identification documents such as a passport, driver's license, or national ID card.
  • Address Verification- Players may need to upload utility bills or bank statements as proof of address.
  • Payment Method Confirmation- Ensure the payment methods belong to the account holder to prevent fraudulent activities.

This way, by having stringent KYC procedures, casinos can prevent multiple registrations by the same individual and take very few risks of fraudulent activities.

Restrictions on Specific Payment Methods

  • Phased Withdrawals- Implement staged withdrawal processes to manage risk.
  • Verification Checks- Additional steps for withdrawals associated with bonus offers.

Fraud Detection Software 

Setting Wagering Requirements 

Ensure players must wager the bonus or combined deposit and bonus multiple times before withdrawing winnings. Different games contribute differently to these requirements.

Bonus Disputes and Accusations

Sometimes, disagreements arise between players and casinos concerning bonus eligibility. Here's how to address these situations:

  • Choose Licensed Casinos- Playing at reputable, licensed casinos significantly reduces the chances of misunderstandings concerning bonus terms. Licensed casinos operate under clear guidelines ensuring fairness for both players and the casino. These guidelines often include established dispute resolution processes.
  • Contact Casino Support Directly- Always initiate a conversation directly with the casino's customer support team. Explain the situation calmly and provide details about the bonus in question. Be respectful and request clarification on the specific issue. Maintain documentation of your communication, like chat transcripts or emails.
  • Review Bonus Terms- Carefully review the specific bonus terms and conditions associated with the offer. Many online casinos provide players with easy access to their gaming history, which can help illustrate compliance with the bonus terms.
  • Independent Dispute Resolution (Optional)- If you're still unsatisfied after contacting the casino and reviewing the terms, consider reaching out to an independent dispute resolution service specializing in online gambling. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) providers can mediate the situation and provide a fair and impartial resolution.


Maximizing Rewards, Not Fraud

Bonus abuse disrupts the fun and fairness of online casinos for everyone. While the battle between casinos and abusers might continue, advancements in AI offer a powerful tool for mitigating this issue. AI-powered detection methods will significantly reduce abuse opportunities, creating a fairer environment for all players.

However, ensuring a healthy online casino ecosystem goes beyond technology. Responsible players who understand bonus terms and play within the rules are equally important. Additionally, strong industry regulations and licensing requirements further prevent abuse and protect players.

By working together, online casinos, players, and regulatory bodies create a thriving online casino environment where fair play and genuine wins are the norm. We value responsible gambling here at GameChampions, so we've curated a list of reputable casinos with generous bonuses you can safely enjoy.

About the author

Angel Cabal

Ex-soccer player for Real Oviedo Football Club and long-time casino enthusiast with a profound understanding of the iGaming industry. I'm constantly on the lookout for the latest bonuses, leveraging my 10+ years of expertise to maximize your gambling returns.