Modern-day casinos have come a long way since the days of the American saloons, the Italian gaming villas and the famous Ridotto in Venice.  Saloons were prominent in New Orleans, St. Louis, Chicago and San Francisco – big cities that hardly ever sleep.  At American saloons, travellers would find everything from conversation to food to a game of cards.  Money was soon wagered on the games of chance, and thus the casino industry was born.  Games of chance have been around for as long as mankind itself, but became a prominent and even sometimes lucrative pastime since the early 1600’s, according to written records of events.

Playing cards and other games at these saloons – and later casinos in own right – was an opportunity to socialise and interact with others, and travellers embraced this on long and lonely journeys. Casinos have always gone hand in hand with a strong social element, and the positive impact of casinos on social as well as economic development is one that has often been understated.  Modern-day casinos are often developed to function in the same operational space as a hotel, restaurant and general recreational area – with availability and convenience being key.

Large casinos are often located a distance away from major population centres, and situated within a resort setting – often turning these casinos into popular tourist attractions and creating a pleasant breakaway setting for players who want to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Gambling as a concept includes a large range of activities, including sports betting, bingo halls, scratch cards, slot games, table and card games, etc.  Gambling is an enjoyable form of leisure and relaxation, and its activities are pursued for a variety of reasons: in order to socialise, to relax, to get the adrenaline flowing and of course, to win real money.  Besides all of the obvious perks associated with physical land-based casinos, the rise of online casinos brought along with it a whole new world tailor-made convenience.  As well as catering to the varying gaming needs of players from all avenues of life, online casinos introduced an aspect of excitement to the world of online gambling that has become the centre of player satisfaction:  online casino bonuses.

Bonuses: The Psychology Behind Something for Free

The psychology behind receiving something for free is one that has been studied with great intensity in many disciplines of business research.  The chance of getting something – anything – for free, is one that isn’t easily resisted.  Crowds of people are more than happy to queue for hours on end at the prospect of receiving something without having to actually pay real money for it.

An interesting aspect that seems to widely govern the psychology behind receiving something for free, is that people remain cynical of everything that seems too good to be true.  Something for free – with absolutely no strings attached – always seems to good to be true, and people are cautious of this.  People generally want to be able to determine a good reason for any giveaway.  Be that as it may, receiving something for free activates a rather unique and magical response in humans – one that is very different from say, a successful outcome in a business transaction.

The typical online casino bonus caters to all our needs at once: something is offered and received for free, and is generally limited to the confines of the player having to perform a certain task in order to reap the benefits thereof.  Online casino bonuses are generally made subject to a minimum wagering requirement, i.e. the bonus amount that is made available to the player must be wagered a specified number of times (usually on a pre-selected range of games), before it can be cashed out to the player’s personal bank account.

Players do not experience this as a negative restriction, but rather as a justification as to how the casino is able to extend a free benefit to all players without running completely out of pocket in the process.

Finding the Balance

Receiving anything for free certainly also affects our everyday habits.  Whilst the typical welcome or sign up bonus is great for incentivising new players to sign up and start playing, casinos also understand the value of retaining regular clientele.  Hence the importance and significance of bonuses tailor-made for returning players.  The lure behind ongoing bonuses is much more complex than the elementary idea of being rewarded for long-term loyalty.

Many solid and impartial research studies have shown that the prospect of receiving something for free in future greatly affects our proposed routine and everyday habits.  We subconsciously move in the direction of a proposed positive outcome or promise of a future positive benefit.  The mere knowledge that we may be rewarded in future for a current activity, will prompt us to engage in that particular activity.  This, in its simplest form, makes up the basic psychology behind online casino loyalty programs.  The mere knowledge that we will be rewarded in future incentivises us to engage today.

The Lure of the Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs and VIP programs are utilised with great success by land-based casino groups as well as online casino administrators.  Casinos heavily invest money and resources in loyalty programs in order to secure long-term relationships with players, instead of relying merely on once-off participation.

Players are generally able to take advantage of the bonuses associated with online casino loyalty programs in two ways – by means of personalised invitations by the online casino based on the player’s spending and wagering history, or by means of a selection made by the player on the online casino’s user-interface, relating to the player’s bonus preferences.

Personalization of rewards is a great tool that has been utilised increasingly more effectively over the last couple of years.  Players want to experience that they are noticed and their habits and business valued, as opposed to being just another number on a mass-email spam list.  Personalization is the key to making a player feel valued, and not merely just another hand adding a penny to the purse.