In a bid to extend a player’s entertainment experience, online casinos usually offer some kind of sign-up bonus to new players making their first deposit — a fairly standard form of marketing that players have come to expect. The casino is essentially giving away money in return for a commitment from the player to wager a certain minimum amount. But make no mistake, while the gaming industry may be full of big-hearted individuals, casinos are not charities, and thus there are requirements in place to ensure that the player cannot simply waltz off with the bonus money intended for game play in the casino.
Casinos usually choose to restrict certain games from fulfilling the wagering requirements, and they’re amply justified in doing so. Before these rules were in place, players could bet equal amounts on red and black in Roulette, or on the ‘pass’ and ‘don’t pass’ in Craps, which allowed them to meet the wagering requirement without putting much (or any) money at risk. So, online casinos enacted this rule to ensure that the bonus money went to people who actually wished to play, not to bonus hunters* simply looking to cash out through a loophole.
Which bring us to PlayNow.com…
Playnow is offering an awesome one-time $100 Deposit Bonus, with wagering requirements as follows:
“The wager requirement is to wager $100 in cash (cumulative) on any PlayNow.com eligible casino game prior to 11:59pm October 5th, 2010 once the deposit requirement has been met. Bets made after October 5th or before the deposit requirement has been met will not be counted toward wagering requirement.”
Couple things to note here…
First of all, the wagering requirement amount of $100 is fairly low compared to typical online casino requirements (also referred to as “rollover” or “play-through”). The $100 rollover on a $100 bonus at PlayNow is basically a 1-time rollover on the bonus amount. Many online casinos require anywhere from 20-time to 40-time rollover on bonuses… and usually it is 20-time to 40-time the bonus PLUS deposit amount – not just the bonus amount.
Smart online casinos studiously calculate these wagering requirements when devising deposit promotions so that they can offer players the most entertainment value while at the same time ensuring that bonuses are used as intended. It’s sort of like the “buy one get one free” deal at the shoe store. You can’t buy a pair of shoes, get the free pair, and then return the original purchased pair to get your money back and keep the free pair. The shoe stores aren’t fools.
We can’t say with absolute certainty that PlayNow are a bunch of fools, even if their previous exploits suggest they’re serious Three Stooges fans. It is entirely plausible that Playnow intended to offer this bonus with super liberal wagering requirements because they’re just very generous people… with taxpayers’ money. ‘It ain’t like it’s our money, right, Moe? Nyuk nyuk nyuk…’
Secondly, Playnow.com have obviously spent some quality thinking time (we’re guessing a whole coffee break) identifying the set of games that meet the wagering requirement, as well as those that do not. Clever folks that they are, PlayNow made sure to leave Roulette and Craps off the eligible list, presumably for the reasons stated above. Well done, lads.
Interestingly, they have left Blackjack on the eligible list. Blackjack is a super popular game, so most players would not look kindly on making it restricted. But the low house edge on Blackjack, combined with the low rollover requirement on the bonus itself, makes for easy bonus hunting fodder. Still, I’m sure these clever PlayNow boffins are fully aware of this but have reasoned that it’s in line with their super generous bonus strategy.
But, uh, hang on a moment… PlayNow has left Baccarat and Sic Bo on the eligible list? Uh… don’t both of these games offer near “risk-free” wagering on opposite bets? For example, if I — or any currently registered PlayNow player who might be reading this — wanted to fulfill a $100 wagering requirement, I could hit the Baccarat table, place a $50 wager on Player AND a $50 wager on Banker. I can’t lose, and I’ve fulfilled my $100 wagering requirement on one round of Baccarat. The worst that could happen is that the Banker wins, and I pay a $2.50 commission (about what you’d pay at a white-label ATM), but I still make my wagering requirement and out pumps my sweet, sweet money! At least, it’s mine NOW.
For the record, we think BCLC was very smart for being the first jurisdiction in North America to embrace online gaming so openly, but very very dumb for not availing themselves of some of the experienced local talent that could have helped them avoid these technical snafus. After all, former BC resident Calvin Ayre made a lot of these same mistakes himself when he first launched the tech companies that ultimately grew into the Bodog empire — of course, that was a decade and a half ago when the industry didn’t actually exist yet, so there were no experts to consult and no roadmap to follow and thus it was only natural that they’d end up taking a few wrong turns, but we digress…
Honestly, we don’t know what’s worse, the fact that PlayNow incorporates such inept bonus strategies, or the fact that we’re making these observations via a European-based proxy server – something we’re technically not supposed to be able to do, given Canadian law prohibits government lottery corporations from soliciting business outside their provincial borders.
But perhaps we’re leaping to conclusions, here. Given their utterly blemish-free past performance, it’s possible that the cunning minds at BCLC are fully aware of this super generous bonus strategy. It’s possible that they’re so convinced of the super fast, thoughtful design and overall fan-fucking-tasticness of their site that PlayNow’s players will never ever ever want to pull their money out.
Or monkeys might suddenly fly out of my butt. After all, anything’s possible, right?
* Bonus hunting (also known as bonus bagging or bonus whoring) is a type of advantage gambling where turning a profit from casino bonus situations is mathematically or technically possible.