Bonus hunting can be defined as signing up at multiple online casinos in order to collect sign-up bonuses and cash out immediately when the minimum wagering requirements are fulfilled. This phenomenon has arisen because of the very intense competition in the online casino industry where all online casinos offer large sign-up bonuses to new players. Most people sign up at online casinos because they enjoy playing casino games and hope they can end up with more money than they started with. For bonus hunters, it is all about the money.
A bonus hunter picks out profitable bonus offers, plays on games with a high payback percentage and cashes out immediately after fulfilling the minimum wagering requirements. The bonus hunter will most likely have lost some of his money due to the house edge when he has fulfilled the wagering requirements. But if he chooses to play profitable bonus offers, it is also most likely that he will have a part of the bonus money left along with the original deposit. In other words, the player will be able to withdraw more money than he deposited. If this procedure is copied to a large amount of casinos, the players can end up with a nice profit.
An example of a profitable welcome bonus from a bonus hunting perspective is a 100% Match Bonus up to $100 with a wagering requirement of (10 x Deposit + Bonus). After receiving the bonus, the player has $200 in his account and has to wager (10 x $100 + $100) = $2000 before he can make a withdrawal. Let’s assume that he wagers the $2000 on a Blackjack variation with 99% payback. After wagering $2000 he should now on average have won ($2000 x 0.99) = $1980. The players account would now contain ($200-$2000+$1980) = $180. The original deposit plus $80 of the bonus money.
There are also bonuses that are not profitable from a bonus hunting perspective. If we change the bonus to a 100% Match Bonus up to $100 with a wagering requirement of (15 x Deposit + Bonus) with low house edge games like Blackjack, Video Poker, Casino War and Roulette excluded, then things look a lot different. The player now has to wager (15 x $100 + $100) = $3000 and the wagering must be done on games with a relatively high house edge. Let’s assume that the player wagers $3000 on games with a combined 95% payback. After wagering $3000 the player on average will have won ($3000 x 0.95) = $2850. The player’s account would now contain ($200-$3000+$2850) = $50. The bonus is gone and so is half of the deposit. As the two examples illustrate, bonus hunters have to analyze casino bonus offers thoroughly in order to decide which ones are profitable. The profitable bonuses should be played, the unprofitable should not.
In the early days of online casino gambling, wagering requirements were much lower than today and no games were excluded to clear these wagering requirements. When I started playing in 2000, it was not unusual that the wagering requirements were (4 x Bonus + Deposit) on a 100% match sign-up bonus. These offers were very attractive from a bonus hunting perspective and thousands of players hunted for bonuses with no intention of ever playing more than what they needed to clear the wagering requirements. The amount of bonus hunters exploded and online casinos had to take action against bonus hunting in order to stay in business. Since then online casinos have dramatically raised the wagering requirements, introduced the concept of Sticky Bonuses and excluded play on games with a low house edge (Blackjack, Roulette, Video Poker etc.) in order to fulfil the wagering requirements.
These measures have not necessarily decreased the amount of bonus hunters, but they have made bonus hunting much less profitable than it used to be. Today the gain from bonus hunting is quite low, especially when you compare the profit to the time spent. It is very time consuming to make the necessary research and analysis. First you have to find casinos with attractive bonus offers. Then you have to thoroughly read the Casino T&C’s and Promotion T&C’s to find out which games you can play in order to reach the wagering requirements. Given the wagering requirements and the games that can be played, you then have to make a calculus of weather the offer is profitable or not. If the bonus offer is profitable, then you can sign up at the casino and start playing. All these actions take time and effort. Hunting a bonus at an online casino can easily take several hours.
On top of that bonus hunting is not as risk-free as many bonus guides will like you to believe. As more and more games have been excluded to reach wagering requirements, bonus hunters are forced to play on games with a higher element of risk. The likelihood of losing your deposit and bonus is far greater when you play on Slots and Keno as opposed to games like Blackjack and Roulette where the average winnings and losses are small. This sort of risk is not the only one bonus hunters have to worry about. In their hunt for profitable casino bonuses, bonus hunters might sign up at rogue casinos who unlike the Best Online Casinos refuse to pay out winnings or offer rigged software. Loosing money to rogue casinos can seriously undermine the bonus hunter’s profit. Bonus hunting will continue as long as online casinos use large bonuses to attract new customers, but the golden age of bonus hunting has ended.