Enjoy real money casino games with free bonus cash.

As more states regulate online casinos, the competition between the brands heats up. This fire gives you more opportunities to take advantage of no-deposit bonuses.

These bonuses are usually small amounts of cash you get for registering an account, typically $10-$30 at state-licensed casinos. Outside of the regulated states, there are offers at sweepstakes casinos.

This page explains how to avoid common pitfalls with no deposit casino bonuses. You’ll find an overview of how they work, terms and conditions to look out for and how to parlay your free play into a bigger casino bankroll.

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The basics: How no deposit casino bonuses work

Here’s an example to explain how these bonuses work from Golden Nugget Casino in New Jersey. You’ll find that many other offers are similar.

This deal is for $20 free for simply registering, and is open to anyone 21 years or older who is inside the state line.

Here is how to claim this bonus:

  • Register your account: Use bonus code PLAY20 to claim your no-deposit bonus. The casino adds the $20 to your bonus account.
  • Complete the wagering requirements (20x for slots and 100x for other games). You have 15 days to do so.

Once you complete the playthrough, the bonus cash is considered cleared and is available for withdrawal or real-money play. If you hit an early win, then the playthrough should not be a problem. Note, many casinos have smaller playthrough requirements.

No-deposit casino offers are only available to one per person and per household, which is to prevent an enterprising player from signing up accounts for their entire family.

Playthrough requirements for no deposit casino bonuses

Every casino will have some wagering requirement, which is necessary to stop people from simply withdrawing the bonus money as soon as they receive it.

After all, the spirit of the offer is to let the casinos showcase their slots and games.

The best offer credits you the money with a one-time playthrough. These deals sometimes have terms and conditions to ensure the offer is not abused. For example, you might need to deposit money before withdrawing any free-play winnings. You might also find a cap on the amount you can win.

Standard playthrough requirements are between 5x and 20x on free play. This means that a $20 bonus will require you to make between $100 and $400 in wagers before it is cleared.

Choosing slots with a higher return-to-player (RTP) percentage will increase your chances of profiting from your no-deposit bonus. Realistically, the wagering requirements mean you’ll have to hit a win quickly.

Table games have a lower house edge, assuming you play a perfect strategy. To balance this, casinos either exclude them from the bonus or use a higher wagering requirement.

Note: Making low-risk bets like covering both odd and even on a roulette table will be explicitly banned.

Best games for no deposit casino bonuses

Most casinos stipulate that their free money bonuses are for slots only. They do this by either excluding table games entirely or adding a very high wagering requirement (or low weighting) for those games.

While you could go for a low-volatility slot with the highest RTP, this does assume your only objective is to clear a few bucks of your bonus and withdraw it. Some people enjoy this challenge, though most of us will be looking for some entertainment — along with a shot at a big win.

If you do want to eke out some free money from these bonuses, you should check the “Information” tab on many slots.

These usually have a terms page, which details things like “malfunction voids all bets” and so on. Within this, you will find the RTP, which is the average payout over millions of spins.

A slot with 96% RTP or higher is considered very good, and a slot below 93% RTP is very poor. Most games will be within this range.

You should also choose games with the lowest variance, which means avoiding games with big progressive jackpots and multiple bonus features.

For those looking to use their bonus money to go big or go home, there are still some crucial factors in choosing a game.

Again, the lower the RTP, the better. Volatility is not such a bad thing; for that shot at a big win can make playing with the casino’s money all the more exciting.

Live dealer table games are often not a part of no-deposit bonus offers. Even where you can use them, the higher minimum bets make them unsuitable. Software-based table games have such high playthrough requirements that you’ll need a lucky run to make them pay out.

Video poker does not work well for clearing free-play bonuses. Casinos understand that the house edge for these games are low when players use perfect strategy. This leads them to weight video poker low or ask for a high playthrough requirement.

You can use bingo and keno to clear your no-deposit bonus money. The problem here is that the house edge for these games is often very high. While you might get lucky and score a big hit, the chances are that your free-money bankroll will not be big enough to last.

Terms and conditions: Things to watch for

As long as you stick to legal, regulated casinos, your no-deposit welcome bonus will be a genuine offer.

While the terms are not as important as for deals at unregulated, or gray market operators, it is still worth taking the time to understand the rules.

No player wants to score a nice win on a slot with bonus money only to find that his or her win is void for some easily preventable infraction.

Here are the key things to look out for:

  • Time limits: Some casinos have bonuses which expire in less than a week, while others give you a full 30 days to complete your bonus-clearing play.
  • Caps on wins: If you strike it lucky, you’ll want to ensure that your free play does not come with a limit on what can be won.
  • Playthrough: This topic has been covered at length above, and varies widely between casinos.
  • Deposit to withdraw: Some casinos ask you to deposit before any cleared winnings can be withdrawn. While you might get an additional bonus on this money, it takes away from the “completely free” nature of the original offer.
  • Banned or zero-weighted games: Low-risk bets are often banned and can cause your bonus to be voided. Games, including craps and video poker, are commonly excluded from counting toward your wagering requirements.

If you check the terms and conditions at any regulated casino and are still unclear on the rules, we recommend getting in touch with the customer support team.

It is better to check first before you take a bonus than to find out you have messed up when you withdraw.

Other ways to get real money casino bonuses

The best thing about these no-deposit offers is that you can start a bankroll that you can use for even better deals later.

This line of thinking involves winning some money with the free play, withdrawing it, and then using it for deposit bonuses later. These are often a lot bigger than the initial free-play offers.

Here are the other ways that legal online casinos can boost your bankroll:

  • Matched deposit bonuses: Most casinos will match your first deposit at 100%. If you deposit $100, you will have $200 for play. There are playthrough requirements for these bonuses, which the casino releases into your real-money account in increments as you play.
  • Reload bonuses: Even after that initial free play and the matched bonus has gone, you can often get a reload for a future deposit; however, the percentage match and size of these bonuses will vary. You will often find casinos have reloads aimed at specific game types, even regularly scheduled on different days of the week.
  • Free spins: A common promotion is to offer a small number of free spins on specific slots. This promotion is typical for new slots, or simply an incentive for deposits. You’ll usually need to complete a wagering requirement for the cash you win with your free spins.
  • Comp or loyalty programs: Just like in live casinos, online casinos offer comp schemes that vary in complexity. Some give you flat-rate returns in the form of bonuses for the points you collect. Others have tiers, where your benefits increase alongside your level of play.
  • One-off promotions: It pays to bookmark the promotions pages of all the online casinos in your state. Promotions change quickly, and taking advantage of them will give your bankroll a regular boost. These can be tied to holidays, new games, or only as a way to get old players to come back.

As you gain experience with taking advantage of the different casino bonuses, it can pay to find a fast and effective deposit option.

I recommend an e-wallet like PayPal or Skrill. These can be used to securely move money between whichever casino has the best promotions at that moment. This will also keep gambling transactions off of your regular bank statement.

There are also free-play offers and deposits at the different state-regulated sports betting sites and online poker rooms to take advantage.

No deposit bonuses at sweepstakes casinos

Outside of the states with regulated online casinos, you can play at sweepstakes casinos, which cover almost every state (except for Washington, D.C.) offering a workaround via sweepstakes gambling laws.

Chumba Casino offers $2 for new players for solely registering. This takes the form of “sweeps cash,” which you use to play casino games (mostly slots). If you win, then subject to a wagering requirement, you can exchange your sweeps cash for money to withdraw.

This type of casino works by treating every spin of a slot or hand of blackjack as its own small sweepstakes contest.

It can’t allow purchases of chips for real-money play. Instead, players purchase gold chips, which are for entertainment only. The casinos give you a gift of sweeps cash, depending on how many gold chips you buy.

While these no deposit casino bonuses are small, they are a great way for players outside of the regulated states to check out some innovative casino slots.

No deposit bonus offers in New Jersey

While we wait for the first Pennsylvania casinos to go online, New Jersey is one of two states with regulated online casinos.

There are a lot of big brands active in this market, which means residents of the Garden State have a lot of no deposit bonus offers available.

Here are some of the best current deals:

  • $30 free at Virgin Casino: The iconic Virgin brand is partners with the Tropicana Atlantic City for its online casino. New players get $30 with bonus code 30BUCKS. What I like about this offer is the industry-leading one-time playthrough requirement. If you like what you see at Virgin NJ, you can also take advantage of the $100 loss-back on your first week’s gambling. There is also a V*Points loyalty scheme, plus plenty of regular player promos.
  • $25 free at Caesars NJ: Another iconic brand, and this time a $25 free-play offer. Use bonus code PLAYFREE25 to claim this deal. Again, only a one-time playthrough requirement if you use this bonus for slots and you have 30 days. There is also a 100% matched-deposit bonus up to $300 available with a low 5x wagering requirement on slots.
  • $20 free at the Golden Nugget: While the playthrough on this offer might be higher than some, the selection of 600+ games and quality of the site will more than makeup for this. You have 15 days to complete this bonus, which is claimed with bonus code 20FREE. There are plenty more bonuses to follow, including a matched welcome bonus of up to $100.
  • $25 free at Borgata Casino: Use bonus code FREECASH to get the $20 free play offer at the Borgata online casino. This offer is for slots only and has a one-time wagering requirement. The matched welcome bonus also has a one-time playthrough. This is a 100% match, up to $600, and needs only $600 in wagering to clear the full amount.

Know your customer checks

Regulated, legal online casinos have to protect their players. They ensure that minors don’t gamble, plus allow people with gambling problems to self-exclude. There is also a responsibility to deter fraud and money laundering.

If you want to take advantage of no-deposit casino bonuses, the casino operators will need some backup documents from you. This ensures you are at least 21 years old, and prevents issues with one person taking multiple bonuses.

Players who enjoy the safety of regulated online gambling generally welcome these checks. After all, without them, online casinos would probably not be possible.

You can prepare for these checks by having proof of ID (with a photo) and address ready. If you take a picture of these and get them prepared to send to different casinos, you’ll be in a great position to take advantage of all the no-deposit offers out there.

If you do make a deposit, you’ll also be asked for some proof of your deposit method. This could be a picture of your credit or debit card. You are welcome to black out all except for the last four numbers.

Responsible gambling

If you believe you have an issue with gambling addiction or compulsive behavior, then you’ll find information to help you on the websites of all the regulated casinos.

There are tools in place, as well as links to local charities and organizations that can assist. Those tools include the ability to set time limits, deposit limits (daily, weekly or monthly), time outs from the site or even permanent self-exclusion.