Almost every online casino has some sort of welcome bonus to help try and persuade you to sign up and use their website rather than their competitors. With a little bit of thought and cleverness, we can take these new-player casino bonuses and convert them into withdrawable cash.
But before we delve into casino bonuses, let’s talk about sportsbook bonuses. Making money from them is known as matched betting, and if you have never done it before I strongly urge you to stop reading now and head over to my matched betting guide.
That is for two reasons.
- Matched betting is easier and is completely risk-free.
- Most websites that have both a casino and a bookie make you take the bookie’s bonus first. If you try and sign up and take the casino bonus you could forfeit that easy profit from the bookie.
If you’re still here, let’s talk about point 1. That’s right, unlike matched betting casino bonuses are not risk-free. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t be profitable and worth doing.
To show you what I mean, let’s first talk about how casinos make money.
How Casinos Make Money
Let’s say that we are playing a game of flip the coin, and because we’re fun people we’re also betting on it.
If we bet £1 a throw.
- I win £1 and you lose £1 if the coin comes up heads.
- You win £1 and I lose £1 if the coin comes up tails.
That is what we call a fair game.
There is risk – we could play 100 flips and I might lose money, or I might win money. But either way, it is just down to luck. Statistically, I am not more likely to win than to lose.
There is a 50% chance of me winning each throw, and a 50% chance of me losing each throw.
That is not what it is like in a casino.
Let’s change the rules slightly:
- I win £1 and you lose £1 if the coin comes up heads.
- You win £1.10 and I lose £1.10 if the coin comes up tails.
That is not a fair a game.
There is still risk – we could play 100 flips and I might make money. But I am more likely to lose.
I have a 50% chance of winning £1 and a 50% chance of losing £1.1.
That means that on each coin toss I expect to lose 5p.
We use this word “expect” a lot when it comes to making money from casino bonuses. It basically means the average profit from all possible outcomes.
Here is a very simple tree showing you how we worked out that expected loss of 5p.
(0.5 x £1) + (0.5 x -£1.10) = -£0.05
Please take a second to make sure that you fully understand why that is. If you can get your head round it then everything else should quickly fall into place.
Now let’s turn that expected loss into a percentage of the amount we staked. That number becomes what is called the house edge.
£0.05 /£1 = 0.05
So the house edge is 5% (0.05 means the same thing as 5%).
That means that in the long term I expect to lose 5% of whatever I bet. If we play 1,000 flips, I will have bet £1,000 and expect to lose £50 (5% of £1,000).
There’s that word expect again. It doesn’t mean I will definitely lose £50 (in fact I may be lucky and make money), but it means that on average I will lose £50.
Now we get a bit more complicated. The longer I play, the more likely I am to lose money. I am not going to explain the maths here (email me if you want to know) but, but over 1 coin flip my chance of walking away with a profit is 50%. The coin can either come up heads or tails. Over 100 coin flips my chance of making a profit has dropped to 31.7%, that’s almost a 1/3rd chance which still is quite high. I might decide that I’m feeling especially lucky and take that 1/3rd chance. But over 6,000 coin flips my chance of leaving with a profit drops only 1%.
That is how a casino makes money. If there are 60 people playing at your casino and each plays the coin flip game 100 times, then each person has a 31.7% chance of leaving with a profit. But as the casino is playing 6,000 total flips it only has a 1% chance of not making a profit overall. A pretty clever business model.
Now you can’t actually play our coin flip game in a casino so let’s apply this concept to two real casino games.
Roulette. Is a very basic game which almost everyone understands.
There are 36 numbers not including the zero. Of those 36 – 18 are red and 18 are black. The number zero is not red or black. Each time the wheel spins there is an equal chance that the ball will land on any of the numbers 0 – 36.
If you bet on red and it comes up, you win your stake back. So a £1 bet would win £1.
There is an 18 out of 37 chance of a red colour coming up. That means that you have a 48.6% chance of winning, and a 51.4% chance of losing.
Let’s draw that same tree we did earlier but this time for roulette:
(0.486 x £1) + (0.514 x -£1) = -£0.028
Once again we turn it into a percentage of the amount we stake to get the house edge.
£0.028 /£1 = 0.028
So the house edge is 2.8%. If you remember that means that over 1,000 spins at £1 a spin we expect to lose £28.
If you had the choice to play either the coin toss game or roulette, you would choose roulette as it has a lower house edge.
But roulette is not the casino game with the lowest house edge. That award goes to….
Blackjack. Forget card counting or anything you’ve seen in the films, your basic blackjack is the casino game with the smallest house edge.
There are many different rule sets for blackjack, and the house edge depends both on those rules and also on how close to perfect strategy the player is playing. But most games of blackjack have a house edge of about 0.5%.
Let’s just think about that, 0.5%. That’s so low! It’s the equivalent of playing the coin flip game with the rules:
- I win £1 and you lose £1 if the coin comes up heads.
- You win £1.01 and I lose £1.01 if the coin comes up tails.
If we played 1,000 hands of blackjack at £1 a bet, we would have staked £1,000 and expect to lose just £5.
How Casino Bonuses Work
Thank you for sitting through all of that. Now that the basics are out the way let’s talk about the juicy stuff. How we can actually make some money from casino bonuses.
Just like with matched betting, most casinos offer new players an incentive to sign up and play at their casino.
Unfortunately, unlike with matched betting, there is no way we can hedge out our bets. But we can use this knowledge of the house edge to turn things in our favour. Provided the bonus is good, we can expect to make money.
Let’s take a look at one bonus that is currently offered by William Hill on their live casino.
To get the bonus, we need to deposit £25 and then place a series of bets that total at least £200. When we have reached that target and we contact customer service, a bonus of £25 will be added which we are then free to withdraw along with whatever is left of our initial deposit.
£200 sounds like a lot, but after what we’ve learnt about house edges and blackjack it shouldn’t sound so bad. Remember blackjack has a house edge of 0.5%. Over £200 staked we expect to lose only £1.
This is what we expect to happen.
- We deposit £25 into William Hill Live casino.
- We place 200 £1 bets. At the end, we have lost £1 and have £24 left.
- A £25 bonus is added to our balance.
- We withdraw our balance of £49 (£24+£25).
- We have made a profit of £24.
But, there is risk. There is a chance we will lose more than just £1. There is even a chance of us losing more money than the bonus is worth. If we use up all of that £25 we would need to deposit more in order to finish the staking.
We don’t need to go into the maths, but in case you’re interested blackjack has a house edge of 0.5% and a standard deviation of 1.15.
That means that at a £1 bet size there is a 95% chance we will make somewhere between £7.75 and £40.25. But it also means there is a 7% chance of making a small loss.
That is the essence of making money from casino bonuses. You are simply moving the odds to your favour.
How doing the bonus works in practice
Great, we’re doing well. That’s the basic concept and theory done, let’s talk about the practicalities.
If you have followed my advice and already been matched betting, then you will already have an account at William Hill and taken advantage of their sports bonus. In the sports book offer terms is this line:
This offer is only available to new William Hill customers who open an account using a valid promo code
There is no such requirement in the casino bonuses terms and conditions. So do the sports bonus first!
Once we head over to the live casino. Deposit our £25 and open up the game we realise something that could scupper our plans. The minimum bet on blackjack is £3. While this doesn’t affect our expected profit from turning over £200, it does change the variance or, in other words, it means there will be a much larger swing on how much we expect to make
While this doesn’t affect our expected profit from turning over £200, it does change the variance. Or, in other words, it means there will be a much larger swing on how much we expect to make from the offer.
At the £1 bet size, we had a 95% chance of our profit ending in the range £7.75 to £40.25.
But with a bet size is £3, that range grows to -£2.38 and £50.61. Let me reiterate that the expected profit is still the same, it’s is just the range that if difficult. If you’re happy taking that slightly higher risk, then
If you’re happy taking that slightly higher risk, then The Wizard of Odds has a good strategy table to teach you blackjack. Just follow the instructions to play perfect strategy.
But if that range is too rich for your blood, we could take on a different game. Remember roulette? It has a higher house edge, meaning that we can expect to make less money. But it does allow £1 bets. If we take a look at the terms and conditions again, play on roulette is allowed, but we are not allowed to place bets that cover the board. So we cannot place bets on both red
If we take a look at the terms and conditions again, play on roulette is allowed, but we are not allowed to place bets on certain combinations that cover most of the board. So we cannot place bets on both red and black. If we could then we would be able to lock in a profit. But that’s OK, we can still bet on just red.
At a house edge of 2.8%, over the £200 staked we expect to lose £5.6. We have a 95% chance of making between £5.6 to £33.54. That’s a much tighter range than betting £3 a go on blackjack.
Ok. We’re ready to do the bonus for real. Let’s see the steps once again.
- Go to the Live Casino section on William Hill website.
- Check the terms and conditions of the bonus. Make sure they haven’t changed.
- Make sure you have £0 in your account and then deposit a fresh £25.
- Open the Live Roulette game.
- Place £1 on either red or black and spin. Repeat 200 times.
- Monitor your number of bets on a piece of paper so that you know when you reach the £200 total bet point.
- Once you have made 200 £1 bets, then go to live chat and ask for your bonus.
- Voila! Once the casino bonus is credited you can withdraw it and your balance. Easy money.
After all that explaining, the actual steps were very simple. But we had to go into the details because it will enable you to look at more advanced offers and take advantage of them as well. Now you understand what ‘expected profit’ means you should be able to look at the terms and conditions of other casino bonuses and work out if there is any ‘expected profit’ to be made.
Which brings us on to the hardest part of making money from casino bonuses.
How to Find Good Casino Bonuses
You can only do that William Hill Live casino offer once, so to continue making money you need to find some more offers. You can do this in exactly the same way as you would when sports matched betting:
- Search and contribute to the forums.
- Look through casino terms and conditions manually.
- Pay for a service that finds offers for you.
Now before we talk about the merits and disadvantages of each one, a word of warning.
We have only scraped the surface of how to take advantage of casino offers.
There are hundreds of offers out there and they all have their little intricacies and quirks. Be very careful, especially when you first start. Until you get some more experience it can be very easy to miss something when reading the terms and conditions and coming up with a strategy.
For that reason, I strongly suggest either: paying for a service that provides tutorials for the first 10 or so offers you do, or getting involved in a forum and asking them to help hand hold you.
My two favourite paid for services for casino bonuses are:
Profit Accumulator is the oldest, most popular and most expensive service. They have the widest range of opening account offers. Profit Squad is newer and slightly cheaper. They stand out for me because of their great calendar of daily offers which includes both sports and casino bonuses.
If you decide to sign up to a forum, there is really only one choice – The Gambling Times. It costs £4.99 a month but has a really great community. I have been a member there since January 2009 – that’s 7 years! There are other forums but they tend to be very advanced and unforgiving for new members.
I’m going to stop now before I go into too much detail. By now you should understand the concept of expected profit and therefore making money from casino bonuses. You have a step-by-step guide to tackle your first bonus and you have plenty of resources to help you research and find new offers.
- My review of the best paid for matched betting/casino bonus services. These sites find the offers for you and provide detailed walkthroughs, for a price.
- The Wizard of Odds has strategy tables and house edge information on most casino games.
- A detailed step-by-step guide to making money from sports bonuses – matched betting.
- A paid for service (£22.99 a month) where they research and find all the currently available offers for you. Each offer is provided with step-by-step instructions on how to make as much as possible.
- My summer betting diary where I made £250 a week throughout the summer holidays.
- The longest running most detailed diary I have found. Unfortunately it stopped a few years back, but it is still very helpful. He made £57,467 from just risk free offers.
- The best matched betting and casino bonus forums.
What happens if I lose all of the £25 before completing the wagering requirement??
This is a very real risk and is also the reason why there is a chance of losing a small amount of money while completing the wagering requirement.
What you need to do is to deposit more money and finish the betting.
I hear people talking about ‘sticky’ bonuses or doubling up. What does that mean?
You should really join a forum and start asking people there. You are getting into some quite complicated areas with the potential to lose some large amounts of money if you make a mistake.
But in short: A sticky bonus is one that you can never withdraw. You can only withdraw the winnings. This means that the tactics we spoke about earlier don’t work. Doubling up is a technique to make money from them. You basically bet the whole bonus on red on roulette. If the bet wins you withdraw the winnings. If you lose you’ve lost the bonus which you couldn’t withdraw anyway.
What are the house odds of some other casino games?
- Baccarat – 1.06%
- 3-card Poker – 2.01%
- Craps – 0.34%
- French Roulette (you get 50% of your stake back if it lands on 0) – 1.35%
- American Roulette (two 0s) – 5.26%
- Slots – 3-10%. Average is about 5%.
Can I card count online blackjack?
No, you cannot. Card counting relies on the contents of the remaining cards changing as the rounds go on. In online blackjack the cards are shuffled every hand so the contents don’t change. You can do it with live blackjack – but I believe they shuffle regularly to make it more difficult. I have never tried.
I have a question that is not answered here?
Drop me an email at email@example.com and I will do my best to get back to you.