An understanding of the relevance of free casino chips must be put into its proper context: are the offers of the free chips coming from honest online casinos?
The first online casinos opened 10 years ago, and now there are hundreds that can be found online. Estimates vary as to the number of people who gamble online, but recent estimates suggest that a figure of around seven million worldwide would not be too far out. Taking that into account, and with a further estimate of more than $12 billion spent in online casinos alone (not including physical land-based casinos), offers of free casino chips may understandably be seen as something of a drop in the ocean.
Add to that the question of whether or not these free chips are being offered by honest online casinos, and we enter an area worth some study or serious research.
Firstly, let us consider what these free casino chips are really worth to the individual online casino player. Free casino chips are of four main types:
No Deposit Bonus. This is simply free money. Honest online casinos will offer free casino chips with no strings attached, simply to attract people to play at their virtual tables. There will sometimes be minor strings attached. For example, the casino may ask for credit card details up front. Always read the terms.
Matching Deposit Bonus. This is where the house will match your deposit. Often this is done in multiples. For example, a 200% bonus will mean that if you were to deposit $100 then the casino would add $200 in free casino chips to your account. LSM99 Very nice! Especially useful for new players starting out.
Uncashable Bonus. This is the so-called ‘sticky’ bonus. This can never be cashed, but its usefulness lies in that fact that it stays in your account and enables you to use the bonus account to ‘leverage’ higher wagers. These free casino chips stay latent in your account simply to allow you to do things which you otherwise could not.
Loyalty Bonus. This is exactly as it sounds. All honest online casinos, and offline ones too, want to keep hold of their good returning customers, and will offer loyalty bonuses, including free casino chips, as a result.
Remember that online casinos can afford to do this because they simply do not have the overhead that their brick and mortar land-based counterparts have. Equally, there is no excuse for an online casino NOT to be honest for exactly the same reason. They can offer free casino chips AND be an honest online casino in circumstances where their physical equivalents would find the financial burden impossible.
So how do we go about identifying which are the honest online casinos and which are not? Well, a lot has changed since the earliest online casinos set up shop in their offshore locations in 1996. Self-regulation (at best dubious) led to accreditation of bodies like ECOGRA (E-Commerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance). Look out also for evidence of good customer care, positive feedback from online casino forum members and decent helpline facilities. The more honest online casinos will offer (will actively boast) 24 hour live chat and live email support as well as toll-free telephone help. Does it have a mailing list you can join to keep in contact with the latest tournaments and special offers? Trust lies at the heart of any subscription process (or people would not subscribe) so that in itself is a good indicator of an honest online casino.
Transparency of accounting systems is another good indicator of honest online casinos. When testimonials are published make sure that it is from more than a set of initials, and make sure they have a state or country. Free casino chips may be ‘virtual’ in concept, but they are used by real people!