In the early days of Internet gambling, online casino bonuses were big and the number of internet casinos was small. Wagering requirements were low and there was no such notion as bonus hunting. Such a concept did not exist, although a few smart players quickly discovered how to profit handsomely from bonuses.
Online casinos that offer no-deposit or match bonuses with very low wagering requirements and without limiting players to specific games were easy prey. Mass bonus hunting was almost non-existent, mostly because the Internet itself and online casinos were quite new.
Serious bonus hunting began in Denmark. Several Danes figured out how to milk the online casinos. It was simple: you made a deposit of $100 and you got a $100 bonus. You would make a few low-risk wagers and then withdraw $200 or more. It was an easy and sure way to make a profit.
You’d get your deposit back on your credit card in several days and the winnings would come by check in a week or two. Bonus hunters would click from casino to casino, open new accounts and get bonuses. By registering at a few casinos a day, one could earn a good return on investment at very low risk. Fantastic!
A relatively small number of Danish bonus hunters were not a huge threat to the casinos, but when Danish TV aired a program about online casino bonus hunting, thousands of Danes decided to get some easy money. Lots of clubs, sites and forums for bonus hunters emerged after that TV program and a wave of Danes overflowed online casinos.
I spoke with one Dane and he told me that during this “casino-rush” he visited more than 200 casinos! Multiply this by thousands of participants and it’s easy to see how casinos lost millions of dollars. No wonder they no longer tolerate bonus-hunting.
Online casinos struck back by implementing a number of measures to stop bonus-hunters:
- Some casinos closed doors for Danes, other canceled bonuses for them,
- Casinos greatly increased wagering requirements,
- Casinos introduced «sticky» bonuses (you can not withdraw bonus amount at all),
- Casinos forbade risk-free bets (e.g. simultaneous bet on red and black) or games where such bets are possible (Roulette, Baccarat, Craps), and
- Casinos disallowed games with low house edge (Blackjack and Video Poker) to fulfill wagering requirements.
Does it mean that bonus-hunting is dead? Not at all! It’s just become much less profitable for those who aim to cheat the casinos. It is estimated that there are currently well over 2,000 online casinos in operation. All of them are vying for your business. And they entice you by offering bonuses. As long as the competition is fierce, bonus hunting will be part of online gambling.
Full version of the article was published in «Casino Games» magazine December 2003.