Regarding Casino Bonuses:
Choose the casinos you patronize based on their reputation, quality and selection of games, customer service and comp programs (comp programs are the 'frequent flyer" bonuses given to loyal customers and have no wagering requirements once recieved). All online casinos offer bonuses!
If you accept bonuses, carefully read the Casino's Wagering Requirements (and anything else there is to read), before you begin to play. Be sure you understand.
If you don't understand - and it can be a challenge just to get through it, never mind understand it - call or e-mail the Casino's customer service and ask them to explain it to you. Don't feel embarrassed if you need to do this - they get a lot of calls and e-mails asking for clarification. (Not as many as they should - gambling forums are full of complaints from people who simply didn't understand the wagering requirements, and erroneously thought they were being cheated).
You must play by the rules of the Casino. If you don't take the time to read everything before playing, you may unknowingly break a rule and find your account frozen! Although these little misunderstandings can eventually be cleared up (emphasis on eventually), you can save yourself a lot of grief by educating yourself. And remember, just because you know all the rules and requirements of one casino like the back of your hand; don't assume other casinos have identical rules. They don't.
If, despite having played by the rules and meeting your wagering requirements, you find yourself having a dispute with the casino, try to settle it with Casino Management before you start making the gambling forum rounds. If you aren't able to reach a settlement or agreement with them, take your complaint to The Interactive Gaming Council.
The Reason bonus requirements have become so convoluted, confusing and, in some cases, two edged:
In the beginning generous online casino bonuses were plentiful and good, with a lot less fine print than you'll find today. In fact, the casinos practically gave the happy gamblers money just to join their merry casino. And everybody was happy. The casinos had customers, and the customers got free money with which to wager.
But it didn't take long before a new and disturbing breed of gambler emerged. True gamblers they were not. This new breed of gamblers was called bonus hunters by polite folk. (I won't mention what the not-so-polite folk call them) They would run and frolic from casino to casino, gathering up all the money the hapless casinos were giving away and not stay to play. The casinos grew fearsome. "What can we do to stop the merry band of bonus hunters from taking our money?", they anguished. They didn't want to alienate their loyal gambling customers, but they couldn't give away money for nothing and stay in business. The free money was intended to entice loyal and good gamblers to play and stay at their casinos.
Eventually "Wagering Requirements" were introduced. For the good and honest gambler, it really didn't make a difference, however, as the requirements grew more and more difficult for them to understand.
Which brings us to the year 2004. Online Casinos still offer generous bonuses to entice players to play. This money is genuine, it is a gift to you, but it does have some strings attached. The reason is obvious: to prevent people from signing up, taking the bonus money and cashing out. These strings are to protect the casino and are necessary because far more players try to scam Casinos than the other way around!
Lets look at this from another angle: If you go into a computer store and see a rebate offer of $100.00 for a certain computer, you have to actually buy the computer in order to qualify for the rebate. The computer manufacturer would go out of business in no time flat without this requirement. The same thing applies for online casinos - they would be out of business in no time if they didn't require that players actually spend some time playing at their casinos before giving them a cash-out which includes their free bonus money.