Matched Betting is a risk-free method of earning money from Sportsbooks, but did you know that casino games can also be a profitable enterprise?
We all know the term “the house always wins”.
Well, not always.
There are ways to take advantage of casino bonus offers that give us players an edge. This article will tell you everything you need to know about making money from casino bonuses in the USA.
- What are Casino Offers?
- Types of Casino Offer
- How to Exploit Casino Offers
- How is Expected Value calculated?
- EV Calculators for Casino
- How to Find Casino Offers?
- Understanding Casino Terms & Conditions
- Types of Casino Games
- Taxes on Casino Advantage Play
What are Casino Offers?
Whilst there may only be a handful of casino operators in the USA, they are still fighting each other for your money.
They’re always looking to attract new customers, and keep their current customers gambling, so you’ll commonly see bonuses offered. For example, you can see BetMGM have an offer to match any deposit up to $1,000.
Which states have online casinos?
Online casinos have only been legalized in a few states:
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
Each casino will ask for proof of address in one of these states, so unfortunately it’s not possible to use a VPN to bypass these rules.
To find the latest list of legalized states, refer to Casino.org.
Types of Casino Offer
There are three different types of bonuses that are commonly seen for casinos, each of which comes with slightly different rules.
I will go into more detail about the rules and conditions with casino offers later in this article. However, it’s important to understand one lesson: always carefully read the terms and conditions. Online casinos are sneaky and might change their terms at any time, so it’s important to always read the T&C’s yourself.
Most casino offers come with ‘wagering requirements’. That’s an amount of money you have to bet before the bonus funds are made available for withdrawal. As an example, a 10x wagering requirement on $100 of bonus funds would need $1,000 to be wagered before a withdrawal can be made.
A free spin bonus provides you with a certain number of ‘free’ spins on a slot. Often, these are limited to a specific slot and are valued at the minimum bet for that slot. Commonly 10 – 20 cents per spin.
The winning from those free spins might be yours to keep, or they might be subject to more wagering requirements.
The most common type of casino offer, and the type already presented in the BetMGM offer above. A casino will provide a bonus amount of funds depending on how much a player has deposited (e.g $100 bonus when depositing $100).
Typically, these are presented as a ‘percentage’. The most lucrative offers might offer up to 200% deposit bonus, meaning a $100 deposit results in an additional $200 of bonus funds.
This bonus is almost always linked to some wagering requirements so you won’t be able to simply withdraw it.
You might also think about withdrawing your initial deposit and just playing with bonus funds, however the bookmakers can prevent this in a few different ways:
- Cancelling the bonus (and any winnings) if a withdrawal is made before wagering requirements are complete.
- Merging the bonus funds with your initial deposit and applying the wagering requirements to your deposited cash as well.
- Using your initial deposit cash balance before using the bonus funds.
No Deposit Bonus
This type of casino bonus is fairly self-explanatory. Some casinos offer a bonus to players without requiring any form of cash deposit.
However, no deposit bonuses often come with incredibly high wagering requirements meaning it’s very difficult to withdraw any of the bonus as cash.
How to Exploit Casino Offers
You might be wondering where the secret trick is. So far, I have only explained how difficult it is to extract profit from casino offers due to wagering requirements.
This is where I introduce the magic of Expected Value (EV). It’s the core concept behind casino advantage play.
Expected Value is simply the amount of money you’d be expected to win if you were able to repeat an offer an unlimited number of times.
That means if we have an offer with an EV of $10, we’d be expected to win an average of $10 from infinite attempts. However, the reality is that we only normally get one attempt at an offer.
Therefore, casino advantage play is not risk-free. You can definitely lose your entire deposit and any funds associated with the offer.
Expected Value tells us that we’ll make a profit on average, over many attempts. We must take part in multiple casino bonus offers to make it more likely we end up in profit.
How is Expected Value calculated?
The calculations for Expected Value are quite complicated, with quite a few variables including:
- Bonus Amount
- Wagering Requirements
- Return to Player (RTP)
- Bet Size
- Slot Variance
Return to Player is the amount of money any casino game would be expected to provide from $100 bet on that game. For example, if a game has a 95% RTP then the average gambler who bets $100 on the game will be left with $95.
You can see that bet size has a big effect on the end result by thinking about two different players on Blackjack, which has a RTP of roughly 99%.
- Player A bets a single hand of $100.
- If they win, they will have $200
- If they lose, they will have $0
- Player B bets 100 hands of $1.
- They are likely to win just under 50% of hands and end with $99.
- A majority of players will finish with $75 – $125.
Each player has wagered the same amount of money, but the variance changes significantly depending on the bet size.
Ultimately, these factors feed into the Expected Value of an offer which tells us whether we have an edge over the casino.
An example of Expected Value
Let’s take a scenario where we have a $100 bonus with a 2x wagering requirement (we need to wager $200 to make our bonus withdrawable).
We choose to play a slot that has an average RTP of 96%.
When we play through $100, we are expected to have $96 in our account balance. After playing through another $100, we would be expected to have $92 in our account balance. At this point, those $92 would be withdrawable as we have met the wagering requirements.
In this scenario, we are incredibly likely to walk away with a profit.
However, keep in mind that $92 is the average winnings expected if we repeated the offer an unlimited number of times. In reality, we might find ourselves winning far more, or even losing our full deposit.
EV Calculators for Casino
To check whether an offer has a positive expected value, it makes sense to use a calculator as the math can get quite complicate
Unfortunately, there aren’t many good EV calculators publicly available.
This calculator from YesBets is one of the best I’ve found. If we plug in the numbers from our BetMGM offer using a slot with a 95% RTP using $10 spins, here’s what it looks like:
This suggests that we have a 60% chance of taking a profit from the offer, with an Expected Value of $307.
What would happen if we change our bet size to $1 per spin (that would be 15,000 spins)?
You can see that our chances of making a profit from this offer have jumped up to 99%. Essentially, we are very unlikely to lose any money with $1 spins.
However, our Expected Value has dropped a bit. We are likely to win $222.
How often should you expect to bust out?
‘Busting out’ is when bonus funds run out before the wagering requirements are complete. In this scenario, your remaining funds are usually unlocked for withdrawal. However, it’s important to check if the wagering requirements apply to both your deposit and bonus.
The chances of busting out depend on the size of your bets, the wagering requirements, the RTP, and the variance of the casino game.
You can reduce your chances of busting out of offers by reducing your bet size and using games with a higher return to player.
In my experience, you are looking for a balance between the amount of time required to complete the offer and reducing your risk of busting out. Nobody wants to wager $15,000 in 10 cent spins. Even using autoplay, that’s still 150,000 spins.
How to Find Casino Offers?
Casino offers are not particularly elusive. Most online casino operators publicly advertise their offers to potential new players.
However, each offer comes with a unique set of terms and conditions. This means the optimal strategy to extract a profit might not be very obvious.
That’s why services like ProfitDuel exist. They search out all the available casino offers, review the terms and conditions, calculate the expected value, then present back the optimal strategy for extracting profit.
ProfitDuel makes the process of matched betting quicker, simpler and more profitable. They provide useful tools for identifying the best bets, along with a growing community of members who can help you whenever you get stuck. We've been a member since they first launched.
- Easy to use bet-finder tool.
- Detailed guides for beginners.
- Facebook and Discord communities.
- Highly lucrative casino offers.
Understanding Casino Terms & Conditions
I’ve participated in hundreds of casino bonuses across multiple continents, so I’ve spent many hours reading and trying to comprehend their terms and conditions.
Whilst they’re often written in ‘legalese’, it’s critical to read through the fine print to make sure you don’t fall foul of a crazy rule.
A wagering requirement is how many times you need to ‘wager’ (bet) your bonus before it becomes withdrawable as cash. These are usually denoted as ‘x1’, ‘x10’, ‘x20’ etc.
Check the terms carefully to see whether your wagering requirements apply to just the bonus or apply to both the deposit and bonus (often seen as d+bx10 for a 10x wagering requirement on deposit and bonus).
Let’s take a scenario of a $100 deposit for a 50% bonus, leaving us with $150 in our account.
|Wagering Requirement||Betting Required|
As you can see, the wagering requirements have a significant impact on our chances of being able to withdraw winnings from any offer. As a rule of thumb, any wagering requirements above 20x make it very difficult to find a positive Expected Value.
Game Contributions and Eligibility
To make wagering requirements more complicated, some casino games only contribute a limited percentage towards the wagering requirements.
Here’s an example from the BetMGM offer we’ve been discussing:
If the wagering requirement was 20x, playing Blackjack would effectively make the wagering requirement 200x. Whilst Blackjack has a very high RTP, it’s not high enough to make it worth playing through this wagering requirement.
Casinos can also restrict certain slots or games from counting towards the wagering requirements at all.
Order of Funds & Sticky Wagering Requirements
When you get a deposit bonus, the funds will often display in your account as an ‘available balance’ (your deposit) and a ‘bonus balance’. Different casinos have different rules around which order these funds are used, and whether they are both tied into the wagering requirements.
Let’s look at the BetMGM offer:
The second bullet point is critical here. The wagering requirements will stick around as long as any money remains in your account.
That means it’s possible to lose all of your money with this promotion. It’s high risk, high reward.
Other casinos might opt to use your deposit before your bonus funds, so you won’t even start getting through the wagering requirements until your deposit is gone. It’s advisable to avoid any offers with strict terms like this.
If you do happen to lose all of your deposit + bonus, always double check that the wagering requirements have been deactivated from your account before making a new deposit. Some casinos see any new deposits as being included in the previously active wagering requirements.
Individual states might have slightly different rules based on varying legislation between states.
Some states have strong consumer protection on bonus offer than others, which can sometimes result in some promotions not being made available at all to users with some states.
Always search the terms and conditions for your state’s name and check any specific requirements.
Most casinos will apply the bonus to your account automatically when you make a cash deposit, usually through an opt-in checkbox during the deposit process.
However, some casinos will require you to enter a promotional code. Check the promotion carefully and make sure your deposit will qualify for the bonus.
Most casino bonuses don’t stay in your account forever. Many have relatively short time periods of between 7 – 14 days where the bonus funds are valid and the wagering requirements must be completed in this time.
All casinos will have a condition limiting bonus offers to 1x per individual. Due to licensing rules that require proof of identity, it’s very difficult to circumvent this restriction.
Most offers will also have a limitation of being available only once to a household as well. This means you may not be able to open accounts in both yours and your spouse/partner’s name.
Types of Casino Games
Excluding social wagers between friends, a lot of people have never gambled before. If that’s you, this guide likely seems very complicated.
Fortunately, casinos are actually very simple. Most of them offer just three different types of games, each of which behave slightly differently.
Slots are a game of pure chance, whereby a player selects their preferred bet amount and spins a set of reels.
It’s important to recognize that slots can be very varied and have evolved far from the original 3-reel BAR & 7s slot. They now have a wide variety of reels, win lines, symbols, and even special bonus rounds.
In fact, there are thousands of different slot games available. Each has a slightly different theme and behaviors.
To extract value from casino bonuses, it’s advised to use a slot that has a high RTP, without a jackpot, and low variance. This is because the extremely slim chance of winning the jackpot is included in the RTP, so a low variance slot without a jackpot will pay out smaller winnings more regularly. You’ll be less likely to bust out.
Most people have heard of traditional casino games like Blackjack & Roulette, which are joined by games like Craps, Baccarat, and Poker as table games at a casino.
Blackjack is the perfect game for working through wagering requirements due to its high RTP (99%) and incredibly low variance. Whilst you’re unlikely to win large amounts playing Blackjack, you’re also unlikely to lose a large amount.
Blackjack is also the ideal game for non-gamblers because there’s a ‘perfect’ strategy to earn the 99% RTP. You just need to follow exactly what is recommended in the following table, which depends on your cards and the dealer’s hand.
It’s a shame that some offers severely limit Blackjacks’ contribution to wagering requirements, so definitely check the terms & conditions carefully.
Table games can be played as either standard ‘slot’ mechanisms where you can play at your own pace, or live table games where you bet on a live dealer being streamed from a casino.
A virtual sports game is when you can bet on a sport like Soccer, Horse Racing, or NFL, with completely made-up teams and players. The game provides you with the odds of each outcome and you place bets on those outcomes.
The game then plays out in front of you and provides a randomly generated result. There is no skill involved in picking the right team, it’s a game of pure luck.
Whilst I count these games as being part of the casino, I would heavily advise against using virtual sports when working through bonuses. They often have a terrible ‘return to player’ compared to the other alternatives including slots.
Taxes on Casino Advantage Play
One last very important aspect of casino bonuses to mention is taxes. Unfortunately, all gambling winnings earned in the USA are taxed at both the federal level and state level.
This means you need to declare any winnings in your yearly tax return. To enable this, all online casinos will provide a summary of your gaming activities in January – February every year.
If you win more than $1,200 from one spin, or more than $600 on a Live game with a payout more than 300x your wager, the casino will provide a W-2G form and automatically withhold a portion of your winnings.
Federally, the standard tax on gambling winnings is 24%. At a state level, this varies significantly, and you should check the rules specifically for your state.
Managing tax related to gambling can be a challenging activity for American residents. I highly recommend deferring the preparation of your taxes to a licensed professional.
To read more about how gambling winnings are taxed, I recommend this article from PlayUSA.
About The Author
David has been matched betting for over 10 years, with experience profiting from bonus bets in the UK and Australia. He's made over $30,000 from just a couple of hours each week and funded travel across the world. He struggles to understand why matched betting isn't more popular when it's the perfect side hustle.