There’s an aura of mystery surrounding exactly what bonus abuse is. Some affiliates have dealt with losing depositing players due the operator claiming they were bonus hunters. So what exactly is bonus abuse and what do affiliates need to know about it?
Casinos use bonuses in multiple ways to attract more play to their games. There are deposit bonuses aimed to acquire new players as well as rewards bonuses designed to motivate existing players to keep playing.
Almost all forms of online gaming bonuses have “play through” requirements listed in their terms and conditions. Casinos design these requirements to make sure that a player wagers a certain amount of action before they have the green light to cash out their bonus money. This protects the casinos from an onslaught of abuse from players who show up to grab the bonus and leave.
Crossing the Line
So when does an action by a player legitimately cross the line into the territory of “bonus abuse”? The scenarios might not be as numerous as you’d imagine.
As “rmeeuwsen” points out in a bonus abuse discussion on our forums, a player simply using optimal strategies to derive as much value as possible from the bonus is not abuse.
If a player finds that a bonus’s terms and conditions make it mathematically profitable for them to make static-sized bets in low house-edge games in order to exploit a known statistical outcome, that is not bonus abuse. The player may have been opportunistic with the structure of the casino’s bonus, but they should not be flagged for bonus abuse.
True “abuse” occurs when the terms and conditions have been explicitly violated. For example, if a player creates multiple accounts to take advantage of a slot machine “free spin” promotion, they should be flagged for bonus abuse as a result of violating the terms and conditions.
When Casinos Screw-Up
Sometimes the only entity casinos have to blame for a bonus through which players profit is themselves. When a casino sets low wagering requirements on their bonuses, players may be able to exploit them to earn a statistically expected profit by wagering the minimum on a low house-edge game like blackjack.
Bonuses are a tricky balance for casino operators. They want to entice players into action without exposing themselves to savvy bonus grinders or alienating players through impossible wagering requirements.
When rogue casinos decide to invalidate a player’s winnings by tagging them for bonus abuse, it should be of concern to affiliates everywhere. For this reason, it is important to communicate with your affiliate manager when a player is tagged for bonus abuse. Make sure the casino’s definition of “bonus abuse” is reasonable.