The golden rules of casino bonusing

Rewards have been at the heart of casino offerings since day one. In land-based properties, regulars and VIPs alike are presented with incentives to ensure that they keep coming back and keep playing. Rewards and compensations might vary from a free buffet to a private jet, but the principle is the same. In the online world, bonuses have become de facto tools to acquire, retain and reward casino and sports players.

In today’s competitive landscape, the long-term value of rewards and even their place in a progressively responsible sector are being challenged. However, whether for market competitiveness, rewarding loyalty, big wins, or omnichannel play, bonuses remain a vital and continually evolving feature of the iGaming industry. And it is likely they will be used, in various shapes and forms, for many more years to come.

So, what are the golden rules of casino bonuses in an increasingly competitive marketplace? Read along and discover how the right fundamentals can serve your business needs, and how a flexible and ever-evolving bonus system can work in your favour to encourage your customers to play and stay in the safest possible environment.

#1 – Think further than simply free spins

Casino-specific bonuses come in all shapes and sizes, and there is much more out there that just granting some free spins. For example, for loyal players who either regularly log in or frequently deposit, bonuses can also come in the form of exclusive competitions and content, draws, offers, rewards and potentially huge prizes that new or “less loyal” players might not be able to access.

For higher-volume recreational player engagement and potential reactivation, several brands have also begun to introduce branded, no-deposit/single-spin big-prize mechanics with the chance of winning large cash sums. In addition, the majority also get the opportunity to win a variety of low-stake bonuses such as scratch cards, three-to-five free spins, a low-stake free bet or a smaller cash prize. This then allows them to further engage with games and the brand at no cost to them and with the potential they then re-deposit.

However, free spins remain a main pillar of bonuses that players will always enjoy. You just simply have to find ways of combining them with complementary promotional elements. Try mixing a deposit-match bonus with free spins and engagement levels are likely to go higher, especially as the reward can be drip-fed over a few days.

Also, the number of free spins you grant can be set according to the amount the player deposits. Thanks to this type of feature, operators will be able to incentivise larger deposits, but also to reward players with smaller deposits. Learn how the BonusEngine system helps you do this and much more.

There are plenty of opportunities for operators that choose to go further than simple free spins. Let’s revisit some of the casino bonus types we discussed in our iGaming bonuses series and see some examples of how you can build no-cash and deposit-based incentives with free spins.

No-cash incentives with free spins

Free spins are versatile iGaming classics that seem to never fade as a valuable activation driver. Getting in the game a tool such as the BonusEngine system empowers you to start planning campaigns across numerous vendors, which brings on stage countless vendor-specific free spins features.

To name just a few, we have mini-games with a configurable randomised number of free spins, bonus-feature spins, or additional complimentary free spins on small win amounts.

An even more exciting feature can be configuring endless spins, going until reaching a win target so that the player doesn’t leave empty-handed and with a bad user experience.

Go beyond selecting just the number of free spins and tailor rewards to include only certain games, or a specific bet value per free spin, or involve the player in the customisation, allowing them to pick the number of spins vs spin bet value within a defined budget.

A wagering requirement on winnings is optional, and it can be restricted to any games, any bet, any product, independently of the restrictions on the free spins.

Deposit-based bonuses with free spins

A deposit is the most common form of triggering a promotion, often used as the foundation for new player acquisition. It follows that one of the most frequent types of reward involves conditioning free spins with a certain deposited amount. For example, the player can deposit €20 and receive 100 spins, with the option to invest another €10 and receive 200 spins.

A matched-deposit is also often used to attract new players or build loyalty with existing ones, incentivising large deposits in the process. The casino brand will grant to the player a (capped) amount equal to their deposit.

To make things more interesting and stand out from the competition, you might also choose to throw in some free spins, resulting in an attractive 100% matched deposit bonus plus 30 free spins.

Use BonusEngine to condition this trigger in the best ways you see fit, choosing to correlate the number of free spins with the player’s deposit amount, deposit history or even used payment method.

#2 – Fully control campaigns to ensure a smooth onboarding

As many experienced casino managers will tell you, it doesn’t matter how good your bonus offer is if you don’t have the right onboarding strategy, platforms and tools to attract, convert and retain players.

Swift and frictionless onboarding with easy registration and deposit, ensuring you are compliant across multiple regulated markets, is key to preventing customers from leaving your site within the first few seconds of their customer journey. Today, players do not just expect a seamless entry into a brand, they want the experience to start as soon as they hit your landing page.

An increasing number of operators now opt to cater to Gen Y/Z audiences with a solid reward system powered by gamification tools and techniques. Players get incentives to subscribe to emails, make a first deposit or play a certain number of games to unlock bonuses from the outset.

To achieve this, you need advanced configurable bonus tools that allow operators to fully control a reward campaign’s numerous parameters. Ideally, you should be able to specify who and when to target, which products and bonuses to cover and their contribution. Also, real-time management and reporting tools enable you to instantly spot and apply any necessary changes.

To make sure your bonuses serve your purposes, you can get a full campaign overview with BonusEngine’s bonus management features. Two key elements are the system’s integrated management dashboard and real-time reporting.

The dashboard can be fully personalised with widgets, to provide a complete picture of your campaigns’ KPIs, 24/7 performance monitoring, and the ability to immediately spot trends that require attention.

For real-time reporting, BonusEngine provides operators with an overview of each bonus campaign performance across 30 output aggregations, a full breakdown and the status of bonus wallets granted by a program, such as cashed-out, lost, forfeited and expired, and the net result of the entire campaign.

#3 – Reward loyalty, create engagement, and build personalised journeys

Get the basics right. We’ve seen countless brands use great acquisition bonuses but forgetting the fundamentals of long-term engagement and losing large numbers of players as a result. To start off on the right foot, try first segmenting your players and targeting each group with a specific mix of rewards. One way to go about this is to create segments based on which stage customers are at within their lifecycle.

Here is where triggers enter the scene: they can be used to set off rewards connected to player actions such as deposits, transfers, claims, or events. Therefore, pinpoint specific actions per group of players and set rewards to be triggered accordingly.

For instance, you can choose to engage players with a certain game that makes them eligible for a bonus, and where the trigger is simply the actual game launch, and they are involved in taking the decision that will reward them and less likely to stumble across the trigger. On the other hand, a trigger by login grants the user a reward potentially without them being aware of the criteria or the reward that it triggered.

The recently added BonusEngine Game Launch trigger lets you create and set any type of bonus to be activated once a game is launched by the player. As the operator, you can use this trigger to:

  • Introduce a new game with a very soft target for the player to reach: “We are confident you like what you will see, and we’d love for you to give it a spin, but we reward you simply for opening the game”.
  • Create targeted promotional campaigns, linking the reward with a specific action, e.g., launching a game from a specific category. You can create a journey to give the player an idea of the selection of games. For instance, if they open any table game, then a slot game from and so on, they get a reward at the end of this soft journey.
  • Extend the scope of your reward: players can be rewarded with free spins for new game releases and a fantastic way to have them sample new content.

To allow an increasingly refined customisation of bonus campaigns, BonusEngine also allows you to exclude or include casino games based on their attributes. Thanks to this feature, you can match your bonuses with game parameters such as game category, channel, game brand and RTP, to obtain the best ROI. Games registered after the bonus creation can also follow the set of rules you establish for your promotion.

Loyal players can also receive various rewards such as loyalty bonuses, including extra free spins or deposit bonuses, and VIP schemes where real-money bets accumulate VIP points that can be used across different areas or prizes.

Ensure your platform allows you to offer a multitude of bonus types for acquisition, gamification, retention, or reactivation. Via BonusEngine, you can take control of the gamification process with a wide selection of tools such as tournaments, challenges, leaderboards and mission-based achievements. With gamification, players can be rewarded both financially and enjoy a more engaging journey in the process.

Personalisation, as we have already seen, is essential to today’s new generation of players. This can be done across a multitude of layers when it comes to bonuses: from the old-fashioned birthday bonus (as long as you get the right date!), event and seasonal tournaments around Christmas or Halloween for players who celebrate and love festive or spooky slots, or more behaviour-based bonus targeting individuals and/or segments of players who regularly return to daily jackpot games, for instance.

Players today expect their journey to be just that, theirs, and you must have the tools and techniques in place to cater to that demand.

#4 – Monitor costs and potential problematic behaviour

The ability to identify both these areas in real-time is increasingly crucial. Cost control has always been a vital element of bonusing, so you will need to ensure your platform technology can deliver across several key areas.

It will need the capacity to include and/or exclude and set contribution levels for all games across all verticals. At the same time, you will also find it beneficial if the system contains widgets that give a complete overview of your bonus campaigns’ KPIs and health, including distribution of completion status, such as the ratio of cleared bonuses versus lost bonuses. This is a great way to spot whether a campaign’s terms are too “soft” or not.

Other “must-haves” features include full control of bet conditioning and allowing operators to exclude blacklisted bonus abusers and tackle undesirable betting patterns, while still rewarding the valued player segments.

Cross-wallet and seamless betting is also a vital feature allowing for cross-bonus wallets and real wallet wagers and ensures there are no interruptions when players place bets.

Be it the first deposit or additional deposits, brands can also let their bonus promote the most cost-efficient payment methods. The Trigger by Deposit option in the BonusEngine platform now features the option to condition the bonus on the payment method, which brings several business advantages:

  • Promote the most cost-efficient payment methods by linking them to your bonus campaigns.
  • Use payment methods as a key indicator for bonus hunters and discourage bonus hunters by excluding from the bonus the payment methods they usually prefer.
  • Create joint marketing campaigns with payment providers and give something extra to players they send your way.

To summarise

Bonusing and rewarding players are here to stay and remain among the crucial elements of any successful casino offering. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, where customer experience is key, following the golden rules, getting your strategy right, and leveraging a solid bonus platform is more vital than ever. Great tactics and a best-in-class bonus platform are at the heart of successful brands. And remember:

  • Think further than simply free spins
  • Fully control campaigns to ensure a smooth onboarding
  • Reward loyalty, create engagement and build personalised journeys
  • Monitor costs and potential problematic behaviour

Once you have these elements in place, you will be in full control of your bonusing capabilities from one central system serving bonuses across your content. And, with real-time visibility of your activities, you will be able to optimise your reward strategies at any given point.

Read all the articles in our series on iGaming bonuses here.

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