The rationale behind requiring slot players to deposit a minimum amount of money is to increase the likelihood that they will play long enough for the slot machine to exert its statistical edge against the player. Even the loosest slots tend to have a house edge of at least 2%, which over time can amount to a lot, and slot manufacturers are by no means required to be that generous. Of all of the games that casinos offer, slot machines are by far the most profitable for them, but they do not get to be that way if it becomes too easy for a player to simply come and go without giving a machine some sustained action. Actually, most slot players feed much more than the minimum bet into the machines when they play, and comps (at land-based casinos) and Welcome Bonuses and loyalty rewards programs (at online casinos) provide plenty of incentive.
When you play slots in a land-based casino, each machine has its own designated minimum bet clearly indicated. At some machines, this amount will be as little as 1 penny; at others it will be much larger, like $5, $25, or even $100. Keep in mind that the minimum coin is exactly that, and on multi-payline machines, it will activate one payline only. Also, when you do hit a winning combination, the amount you will be paid increases with each additional betting unit, up to the machine maximum, and jackpots on many machines do not pay a simple multiple based on number of coins bet, but reward those who make maximum bets with much bigger payouts. In other words, a particular machine might accept 1 to 5 coins per spin, but you are only eligible for the top jackpot if you bet the 5 coin maximum. If you choose to bet 3 coins instead, you would still win, but you would not win close to 3/5 of what you would have won on a 5 coin bet. Even penny machines can become expensive and a far cry from costing a penny per spin as a result of the strong inducement to bet multiple coins and multiple lines.
Furthermore, most people playing land-based slots do not plan on stopping after a single spin. It is far more common to find a particular machine you want to play, sit down, and feed enough money into the machine before you even start playing to let you keep playing uninterruptedly for a period of time. For example, many players will put one or more $20 bills into a quarter (25 cent) slot machine) or a $100 bill into a dollar slot machine. That assures them of enough ammunition to keep betting multiple coins numerous times. The credit meter will keep going up and down depending on whether the last spin was a winner or a loser. The wins keep the player in action for a while without having to keep feeding more money into the machine. Of course, as you win, you are free to take out your winnings or you can quit and take all of the remaining money at any time, but in all probability you will be reinvesting at least some of your winnings back into the machine, hoping to win more.
One instance when you do not have the option to withdraw all of your money at any point you wish is if you receive a voucher for free play. Let’s suppose the voucher is for $25. While you can release your winnings on that part of the $25 you have already wagered, you will have to wager more before being able to lock up more money. You cannot suddenly decide, after risking only $10 of the $25 and losing it, to quit and walk away with the remaining $15. These machines do not work that way.
Online slot games, unless you choose to gamble for play money only rather than for real money, also require a deposit. However, before you can play any game, including slots, for real money in an online casino, you must be a registered player and make a minimum deposit into your account. Usually the minimum deposit is miniscule, typically $10, $20, or $25 (i.e., barely enough ammunition to keep you occupied for an hour). However, at least one online casino, aptly named 5centcasino.com, will set you up as a real money slot player for as little as a penny.
Where most online casinos get you though is by dangling a carrot called the Welcome Bonus. The Welcome Bonus, like the term suggests, is for new players only. Each casino hopes these potential regular customers will see it as a personal welcome, reinforcing the belief that it would be worth their while to play only there and not somewhere else. The more you deposit into your newly opened account, up to a specified maximum, the larger your bonus will be. Sometimes the bonus is offered all at once, in conjunction with the first deposit on day 1, typically a 100% match though it could be either less or more. Other casinos have a staggered bonus, which may be potentially bigger in its entirety than one given out all at once. However, you receive only part of it with the first deposit, then additional components of the bonus when you make your second deposit, and sometimes third and fourth deposit.
Usually there are strict time limits that a new player will be given about how quickly the qualifying deposits need to be made for each component of the bonus. For example, a player cannot wait two or three months to make a second deposit and expect to get the second part of a Welcome Bonus. It is not unusual for a casino to require two, three, or four separate deposits all within the first week of play.
But wait–no online casino would be able to stay in business long if it were simply to give out all of this bonus money to new slot players without expecting something in return. That something is the predetermined wagering requirements, which each new player is made aware of, also known as the playthrough requirements, which must be met, exactly as stipulated, before any associated winnings, or the deposit and bonus themselves, become withdrawable.
Of course, any player has the prerogative to decline the Welcome Bonus and simply use the deposited funds to play any game as much or as little as he or she wants and have unrestricted access to all deposits and winnings. However, most players accept the Welcome Bonus because it does boost their bankroll for gambling, at least temporarily. It also lulls them into the false sense of security that the casino is giving them something for nothing.
There are major differences between one online casino and another, not only in the amount of the Welcome Bonus, but in the terms and conditions. The best ones are those with wagering requirements based exclusively on the bonus (e.g., 40x the bonus). Once the required wagering has been completed, any winnings, the player’s deposit, and the bonus itself all become available for withdrawal.
The second best type of bonus will probably have a lower multiple, but it is based on the bonus and the player’s deposit combined, so the total amount of wagering required may be greater. In addition, the casino will require you to bet with your own deposited money first before using the bonus for wagering. Again, once all the required wagering is completed, your winnings, along with whatever you have remaining from your deposit and bonus are all available for withdrawal.
The least desirable type of bonus not only requires wagering both the bonus and deposit the specified number of times, but when all is said and done, the casino takes the bonus back! If you play in a casino that has this so-called “sticky” (non-withdrawable) bonus, once the casino takes it back, your account balance will go way down. So guess what-another deposit will be necessary in order to keep playing at anywhere near the level of play prior to the bonus having been abruptly taken away. The casino will be more than happy to let these conditions continue indefinitely with more sticky bonuses with playthrough requirements in the form of “reload” bonuses. These bonuses are very risky for your bankroll.
It is also important to note that not all games count equally in meeting Welcome Bonus associated wagering requirements. Most games count minimally or not at all. However, slots almost invariably count 100%. So the money that you use to fund your initial play, supplemented by whatever match bonus your deposit qualifies you for, really acts like a slot machine deposit. You probably won’t go through all of it on day 1 (although you could), but whatever you have left will sit there, waiting for you to pick up where you left off until you have demonstrated sufficient play to be allowed to withdraw it.
By the way, many online casinos also tempt new players with so-called “no deposit’ bonuses. These bonuses are described as “absolutely free” and “yours just for signing up” with “no deposit required.” The catch is that in order to withdraw any winnings (which will probably also be restricted to a small amount like $100), the bonus needs to be played through a large number of times like 50x. But the bonus is only $10 or $20, so there is no way you will have enough money to meet the wagering requirements without making a deposit!