History of Deposit Bonuses

Let's be realistic: Land-based and online casinos are in business to make money and can't do that without customers. Betting on the web, entertainment available since the 1990s, continues to gain popularity with loosening gaming laws, creating previously unseen numbers of platforms from which players may choose. While this is fantastic for gamblers, casinos hoping to stay in business in what is, after all, a competitive market must distinguish themselves; the quickest way to do that is to offer bonuses, whether deposit or otherwise.

Before jumping into where deposit bonuses originated, we should explain how they work. When reading about promotions on casino or third-party sites, bettors should remember that language counts. Casinos will match and often increase players' deposits when they claim a promo. However, these funds, and frequently the associated deposit, are not immediately available for withdrawal; bettors must meet playthrough or wagering requirements on the funds to cash out. Understanding what the bonus rules are will save aggravation later on.

Once Upon A Time

Anyone who has ever taken their wagering to the web is familiar with the concept of deposit bonuses, but that doesn't answer the question of where they came from in the first place. Casino bonuses, an integral part of betting online, have been part of the user experience all along, but the deposit bonus specifically has some fascinating origins. Although deposit bonuses can take multiple forms, the most common involves matching a player's contribution, or deposit, by the percentage advertised in the offer. Alternatively, gamblers funding real-money accounts may receive other perks, like free spins or chips, and these promos predate typical matching deposit offers. Below, check out our real-world examples of promos in the early days of online casino play versus how they appear today.

  • In 1997, new casino registrants may have received 50 free spins for signing up. Betting real money, or even making a deposit, was still sketchy at this point.
  • In 2009, depositors were eligible for match bonuses with heavy wagering requirements, while new users may or may not have received a signup gift. Instant play was becoming a reality.
  • In 2016, the introduction of HTML 5 to the iGaming industry improved the playability of games, creating a higher demand for online casinos. Deposit bonuses with more competitive wagering requirements appeared.
  • In 2023, the emergence of promotions with incredibly low, or even non-existent, playthrough requirements became the norm. Today's players can grow and bet a bankroll, frequently withdrawing proceeds instantly.

Why Did Bonuses Change?

The early reputation of online casinos is, frankly, terrible. Still, the legalization of gambling in many locales -and better jurisdictional management where it is legal- have made such platforms as reputable as their brick-and-mortar counterparts. And despite the problems that existed for early real-money online casino players, there were a few times when exploitative bettors put the platforms to shame, which led to the tightening of bonus terms. Understanding the history of casino bonuses is the key to making them work today. Bonus abuse was as prevalent a pastime as the games for early online gamblers, which is why promotions are so restrictive today.

The Bottom Line

Deposit bonuses have been around nearly as long as online casino gaming itself, and they're perfectly safe to accept for users who understand the terms of the offer. While inadequate bonus practices in the past have left many prospective real-money players uncertain, the normalization of gaming for cash online has also legitimized the experience, making it more reputable. Check it out for yourself today.