Sticking it Out-- Sticky Bonuses and Non-Sticky Bonuses at Online Casinos

Online casinos often entice players with large sized bonuses, luring them to the gaming tables with promises of extravagant payouts. Some of these bonuses are entirely legitimate and come without any strings attached, while others are a little more tricky—or as they say in the industry, “sticky.” A sticky bonus isn’t necessarily an illegitimate or false promise, but it does come with fine print and strings attached, and isn’t generally something that can be cashed out. Understanding the differences between non-sticky (or traditional) and sticky bonuses at online casinos and the variations of the sticky bonuses themselves—is an important element of being an informed online gamer. Protect yourself and your investments by understanding precisely what you’re signing on for, and the exact nature of the bonuses you can expect in the venues of your choice.

Explaining the “Sticky” and the “Non-Sticky” (or Traditional) Bonus

Sometimes called a phantom bonus, the sticky bonus is essentially a bonus awarded to a player, but which the player is unable to cash out. In contrast to a traditional bonus, which is an amount added to a player’s account, and which can be cashed out along with the rest of the player’s balance, a sticky bonus will seem to disappear from the balance if the player tries to withdraw that balance. The terminology comes from the idea that a sticky bonus does indeed “stick” to the player’s online account, even if the player moves to withdraw the other funds from that account.

The bonus itself is often proffered as an incentive for a new player to sign up as a gaming member of a casino, with the bonus being deposited in the new player’s account upfront. For a player who intends to stay and play, there’s not necessarily a disadvantage to the sticky bonus. The additional funds give the gamer more wagering money to initiate their play, and if there are initial losses, those losses aren’t so hard on the player when they didn’t all come from the player’s personal pocket. In addition, the sticky bonus is often given in a much larger amount than a traditional cashable bonus—which makes sense if you consider that the casino doesn’t have much to lose in offering money-for-play which is guaranteed to stay within that casino’s gaming system.

Limitations on Sticky Bonuses

The sticky bonus is one that looks great as part of a player’s account balance, but may not be accessible to a player in all the ways that a traditional bonus would be. The sticky bonus itself cannot be withdrawn from the casino account, although the player can cash out any winnings earned with the use of the sticky bonus as wagering money. The bonus may have been offered as an incentive to draw a gamer to play at that casino, promising an upfront deposit of the bonus when the player establishes the account. If the player only places a few wagers and decides to back out and cash out, however, that bonus will disappear.

In some cases it’s a simple matter of self-protection for the casinos, which wanted to forestall the ability of players to take advantage of the proffered bonuses by signing up (without the intention of actually playing or staying) and then turning around and leaving with the extra money provided by the bonus. In other cases, the sticky bonus might be a little shadier in its application, if the online casino uses the promised bonus as a lure without informing players of its parameters, or if the casino makes it virtually impossible for the players to claim and use the promised bonus. The legitimacy of the sticky bonus depends heavily on the respectability of the establishment, which is an issue a player can investigate (before investing) with a little online research in gaming forums where players and affiliates share their experiences with various online gaming establishments.

A few sticky bonuses come with terms that you’ll be able to cash it out after a pre-established amount of wagering, in which case you eventually can take that money home with you as well. But even if the terms don’t provide for eventual cashing out, the bonus itself can be used as seed money for wagers and games that can garner some cash you can take with you. It’s in your best interest to know what the terms are, no matter what the terms of the bonus you accept from a casino. Read the terms and the fine print, and find out in advance if there are circumstances under which the casino could claim your winnings or your cashing out of a bonus to be invalid. Studying the terms will help you avoid any action or situation which could void your bonus payment—and in some cases might lead you to realize that the bonus itself isn’t a legitimate offer. One of the most common complaints against “rogue” casinos is their nonpayment of bonuses, usually “justified” by the casinos in question by citing the fine print of their terms regarding bonuses. Protect yourself in advance from this kind of frustration by knowing precisely what terms are tied to your own bonus.

Some sticky bonuses have an “expiration date,” meaning that they will remain in your playing account until the designated date, at which point the bonus funds will be erased from your balance. If the bonus also includes terms which allow a player eventually to cash out the bonus after reaching a minimum number of wagers, the expiration date is designed to encourage gamers to engage in that amount of play before the expiration date wipes out the possibility of cashing out the bonus. Other sticky bonuses will remain in the account indefinitely, while still others will disappear from the player’s balance as soon as the player makes their first cash withdrawal from the account. Clearly this is intended as a disincentive for players who are considering removing their own money from the system, encouraging them to keep their funds in the account to avoid losing their access to the bonus money which can still be used for wagering. Good bonus offers always can be found at JackpotCity Casino.

Playing with a Sticky Bonus

The bottom line, when it comes to strategizing your play with a sticky bonus, is that although the bonus itself can’t be cashed out and “taken home,” any winnings you earn while using it are yours to keep (minus the amount of the sticky bonus itself, which will stay put and “stuck” to your account balance if you withdraw the rest). Say you place a wager composed in equal parts of your sticky bonus and a matching sum of your own money which you’ve deposited for play. If you lose your wager, you’ve really only lost the out-of-pocket amount you deposited (or half the value of that wager). If you win your wager and double your balance, you’ve actually added cashable funds to your account! The sticky bonus itself can’t be withdrawn, but all the rest of your earnings are yours to keep, so you can use that sticky bonus to increase your own cashable account balance when you play successfully. There are online analyses available for those who like to dissect their own play, offering advice for how best to maximize the effectiveness of a sticky bonus and its properties, so if you’re a researching type of player, you may enjoy those strategic breakdowns. Or if you’re more of a recreational better, just consider that you have this extra amount with which to place your wagers, and go for it.

Another possibility with the sticky bonus is the consideration that even if you do choose to cash out the remainder of your account with a casino, in some cases the sticky bonus remains in your account and accessible for playing purposes. Even if you’ve decided that a particular casino isn’t the venue where you’ll be choosing to deposit your money and conduct your gaming, you have nothing to lose by continuing to play with the balance that remains of that sticky bonus. You may end up with some additional funds you can cash out, and in any case you’ll have the advantage of enjoying some extra gaming at no actual expense to yourself. This isn’t an option with every casino’s sticky bonus, as some of them have terms specifying that the sticky bonus will disappear from your account whenever you make your first withdrawal of cash funds. Clearly these types of terms are established in order to encourage players to keep their own money in the system (and to wager with it), so once again, you’ll want to be aware of the specific terms of your bonus before taking any actions that might affect it.

Playing with a Traditional Bonus

The traditional or non-sticky bonus is considered by many players to be “real” money, as opposed to the “phantom” sticky bonus. In truth, though, even the traditional bonuses come with strings attached, and because the casino has a greater vested interest in the eventual fate of the bonus funds (which, unlike the sticky bonus, may be taken out of circulation from the environs of that casino), casino rules actually may clamp down even more tightly on the traditional bonus payouts. Most traditional bonuses come with an upfront requirement that a certain amount of wagering or play must be completed before the bonus itself can be cashed out. The bonus funds can be used within the casino for wagering, but aren’t accessible to the player to cash out until those minimum requirements are met. Additionally, there may be restrictions within the casino on which games can be played with the bonus money. The sticky bonuses tend to be given freer reign, and can generally be applied to any game in the casino, but the traditional bonuses are limited to a smaller number of venues. A player should keep in mind these limitations with respect to the minimum wagering requirements needed to keep the funds; if the wagers which will “count” toward that minimum are limited in their scope to a certain few games, the player should consider whether those specific games will be a satisfactory place to focus their play while working to earn their way to keeping the bonus.

Traditional bonuses may be awarded in several installments; for example, an online casino might offer to match a player’s first few deposits, or to add a pre-set amount of bonus along with each of those first few deposits. Clearly a casino’s motivation with this kind of offer is the desire to entice players to continue adding their own funds to the gaming account, but clever and strategic players can turn these bonus offers to their own advantage.

As with the sticky bonuses, it’s absolutely critical for you to read and understand the fine print and terms of the bonus your receiving, particularly if you’re strategically planning to use (and eventually cash out) that bonus. Know what pitfalls could result in the prevention or denial of your claim to cash the bonus when the time comes, and reassure yourself that the online casino with which you’re dealing has an upstanding reputation, particularly with regard to timely payouts and prompt customer service responses to inquiries. It may be the top “scam” practiced by rogue casinos, the apparent immobility of funds when a player makes the request to cash out the bonus and winnings from a player account. Players get left in a limbo of sorts, not receiving their funds and not hearing back from the casino’s customer service staff in response to inquiries or complaints. This is not an experience you should fear at the established reputable casinos—but it’s one of the reasons why it’s important to make sure in advance that the casino you choose is, in fact, among the reputable establishments that deal straight with their clientele.