What is a welcome bonus?
A casino welcome bonus is an offer that online casinos use to entice players to join and deposit money at the casino. The welcome bonus can include a no deposit bonus, such as a certain amount of “free money” to play with, free spins, a deposit match bonus, a combination of these, or other variations.
A bonus welcome package is the combined sum of all bonuses that are offered when you sign up and make your first deposit or first few deposits. Sometimes, the welcome package can include not only a no-deposit bonus but also up to several deposit bonuses. Some casinos even offer special VIP bonuses for high rollers and big spenders.
The first-ever online casino was powered by none other than Microgaming, and it went online in 1994. That’s roughly 100 years after the first physical slot machine was invented. Microgaming is still a major player today, giving countless indie developers a voice on their Quickfire platform.
The welcome offer is usually heavily promoted on the casino site, but you always need to check the terms & conditions (T&C) to determine how good the welcome bonus really is.
What types of welcome bonuses are there?
There are many different types of welcome bonuses out there. However, you’ll typically get a no deposit welcome bonus for signing up with the casino, followed by a deposit match bonus. The no deposit sign-up bonus usually consists of a given number of free spins, or a small amount of free money that you can use on certain games.
Free Welcome Bonus No Deposit Required
The no deposit welcome bonus is the most attractive part of the welcome package since you can win real money without risking anything from your own pocket. Not all casinos offer such a free bonus, but when they do, there are usually certain limitations as stated in the bonus terms and conditions.
When it comes to free money offers, as mentioned, you may be limited to which games you can use it on. Generally, the casino will allow you to play slots and less so on table games. If you are fortunate enough that you are able to play for an extended time with the casino’s money or you have some big wins, the amount of winnings you will be able to keep is limited to a nominal amount. In order to withdraw any winnings, you can expect that you will need to make a deposit first and then wager your winnings and possibly the deposit amount a certain number of times before being allowed to withdraw.
Free Spins No Deposit Bonus
A free spins no deposit bonus is a very popular form of no-deposit bonus. As the name implies, you are awarded a certain number of spins on a range of slots or possibly one particular slot. The free spins are usually limited to a denomination size. For example, the offer may be 100 free spins, but it is limited to £1 per spin. So in essence, you have £100 to play with. It would obviously not make sense for the casino to allow you to have 100 spins of £10 each.
A great tip before using the free spins is to try the demo version of the slot game you intend to play so that you have a grasp of the concepts and the game before staking any bonus money. You certainly don’t want to use all the free spins bonus just figuring out how to play.
No deposit bonus regulations
There was a time when casino welcome bonuses were more or less the same for any country and jurisdiction. Those days are long gone, and regulators are now heavily involved in all aspects of the industry. Particularly, the UK has been affected by this regime, with regulations that specifically target the no-deposit and free casino bonuses.
Casinos aimed at UK players cannot use the word “free spins” anymore, so words like “bonus spins”, “cash spins” or “extra spins” are often used instead. To claim a free spins welcome offer in the UK, you’ll have to go through a complete account verification first. After that, you’ll be allowed to use your slots welcome bonus.
In addition, UK casino operators are forced to pay 15% general duty on all free spins offered, or even on discounted spins. For this reason, the once-popular promo offer has been declining in recent years. A good thing for players is that casinos in general, and UK casinos in particular, have to be very clear about all bonus conditions and state all restrictions and limitations upfront. The UK is not the only market that is facing stricter regulations, countries like Sweden have changed recently in that regard too. Swedish casinos can offer the welcome bonus only once, and slots come with a 3-second delay between spins.
How to evaluate if a welcome bonus is good?
The first thing you should know is that a welcome offer does not necessarily reflect good or bad on the casino. There are very good casinos out there that rely more on their reputation than on hyping up a welcome bonus. It’s always best to evaluate the big picture, before committing to a specific casino.
Do you know?
Many casinos offer lucrative loyalty programs, where you′re rewarded with different bonuses and special offers the more you play.
That being said, you should always evaluate any casino welcome package thoroughly, before signing up for it. Having tons of experience doing exactly that, we’ll give you our best advice here. You can use the following bullet points as a checklist when you’re skimming through the bonus T&Cs (a pro tip is to use the CTRL + F search function to save time):
- Time limits - Most bonuses, and especially the no deposit welcome bonus, come with a strict deadline. This can be anything from 1 hour to 30 days, so always check carefully to be sure.
- Game/slot restrictions - A no deposit bonus, be that cash or free spins, will usually be limited to a single slot, or a small group of slots. Deposit bonuses are far less restricted, but certain games are usually forbidden due to exceptionally good theoretical return to player (RTP), for example, blackjack.
- Free spin value - Before you claim a free spins welcome bonus, always check the actual value of each spin. There is a big difference between a 10p spin and a £1 spin, for example.
- Max win / cashout limits - Bonuses and especially the no-deposit kind, usually come with max win limits and/or cashout limits. Many free spins welcome bonuses are capped at a £100 max win (or max cashout).
- Minimum deposit – Usually, in conjunction with the next point, there is often a minimum deposit amount you will first need to make before being able to claim your winnings.
- Wagering requirements and contribution - With very few exceptions, you’ll always need to wager the welcome bonus a certain number of times before whatever money remains become truly yours to withdraw. The wagering requirements are usually hovering around 35x, and you also need to check how much specific games contribute to the wagering.
Since there are so many casinos out there to choose from, it can be hard to get a good overview. We’ve compiled a list of licensed and regulated casinos below, with their respective welcome bonuses and no-deposit offers:
Always check both the general casino Terms & Conditions, and the specific bonus T&C, before you commit to an offer. Reading boring T&Cs can be both tricky and time-consuming, but we have guidelines on this page to help make it a breeze.
Best Casinos with Free Welcome Bonus United Kingdom September, 2021
Finding the best casino welcome bonus
We have a unique and highly flexible sorting and filtering system in place, and this makes it easy for you to quickly find the type of casino and welcome bonus you’re looking for. You can sort based on country, max win, wagering requirements, game types and more. In addition, you can sort the casinos by free spins amount, bonus cash, bonus percentage, or the SlotCatalog overall recommendation, to name a few.
If you want to get even more specific, we offer a Bonus Compare Tool you can play with. This allows you to compare all aspects of casino welcome bonuses, down to every last detail. All the heavy lifting has thus been done for you upfront, and this exciting tool allows you to narrow things down exactly as you want it.
In addition, you can also check out the Bonus Meters feature. All our listed bonuses come with a visually engaging scale for different attributes, making it that much easier to get an overview. The “best-to-worst” scales display things such as the number of free spins, deposit bonus percentage, wagering requirements and much more.
How to claim casino bonus?
To claim a no-deposit bonus, you simply need to register with your personal details, such as name, country, and email. Players from the UK will need to complete some additional verification steps, before being granted access. Once you are registered, you can then start trying the casino “from the inside” and use the free spins welcome bonus to play some slots. If you’re happy with the experience, you can claim the matching bonus part of the welcome package by making a deposit.
When taking up the initial no-deposit bonus, the process might vary slightly from casino to casino. With many online casinos, you can simply head over to the allotted game and start playing with the free spins or free money. However, some casinos may require you to enter a promo code first, so be sure to check any instructions. This is also very important when it comes to activating any additional welcome package offers where you need to make a minimum deposit with a promotional code.
Is the welcome bonus cashable or non-cashable?
This depends on the Terms & Conditions for each casino, as well as the specific terms for the bonus in question. It can be annoying to wager through a full bonus, only to learn that it’s a “sticky” non-cashable bonus. It’s, therefore, best to check this upfront and be sure what you’re getting into. Here are the main differences:
- Cashable bonus - can be withdrawn together with any winnings, after you’ve met all necessary requirements (wagering and so forth).
- Non-cashable bonus - cannot be withdrawn, however, you can still withdraw any winnings from it. The bonus amount thus remains sticky in your account, until it’s been used up.
What are welcome bonus wagering requirements and limits?
Any casino welcome bonus will usually need to be wagered a certain number of times before you can make a withdrawal. This ensures that the casino is not simply giving away free money and that players will spend time testing the games on offer using the welcome bonus. How many times you’ll have to play through the bonus amount varies between casinos and bonuses, but it’s usually between 10 and 70 times. To learn more about what is wagering or playthrough, take a look at the FAQs further below.
The most common wagering requirement is usually around 35x, but this number is not all you need to focus on. It’s equally important to check if you need to wager only the bonus amount, or both the bonus amount and your deposit. It’s better to have a bit higher wagering requirement on the bonus amount only, than a slightly lower wagering requirement that also involves your own deposit.
Welcome bonuses: Most popular games
Certain games tend to be used more than others to promote online casinos, and Starburst is a good example of a slot that is widely used in promo offers across many different casinos. Check out all popular welcome bonus slots in the list below: