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Reducing bonus abusers – a quick how-to guide

When bonus abusers strike (and they will!), it's not just short-term damage you need to worry about, but the very real threat to the long-term stability of your business. But with Operators relying on bonuses to drive sustained growth, what’s the solution?

Always on the lookout for ways to take advantage of bonus offers, bend the rules, and exploit promotions to maximize their gains, bonus abusers are the proverbial pain in the backside of every online gaming operator – at last count (2022) 71% of operators had reported an increase in promotion abuse.  When bonus abusers strike, it’s not just short-term damage you need to worry about; the sector is currently losing a whopping 15% of annual gross revenue to bonus abusers. But what’s the solution when bonuses play a vital role in long-term growth? Simple; reducing the number of bonus abusers. How? Read on! 

First things first; what is a bonus abuser? 

Put simply, a bonus abuser is an individual who actively seeks ways to exploit promotions and manipulate the rules to maximize their gains without engaging in fair gameplay … Generally speaking: 

  • Bonus abusers deposit and bet the minimum amount to unlock bonus offers 
  • They create multiple accounts to take advantage of welcome bonuses, often in breach of terms & conditions  
  • They use a lot of bonus cash, but not their own – and end up costing more 
  • They stop playing and churn once they have used the available bonus 
  • And they primarily interact with a brand only when a bonus is available  

But by identifying your bonus abusers and creating a bonus abusers-specific marketing strategy to communicate with them, you can reduce the number of bonus abusers you’re dealing with.  

Let’s take a closer look. 

Identifying bonus abusers 

You can find out all about identifying bonus abusers over here, by looking at the model we created for one of our clients. In the meantime, the following are key elements worth keeping in mind (remember, your CRM, as always, is your starting point!): 

  • Utilize technology: Leverage tools and technologies that can help identify patterns, anomalies, and potential bonus abuse. These tools can analyze vast amounts of data to flag suspicious activities and provide insights to aid detection. 
  • Track IP Addresses: Look out for multiple accounts associated with the same IP address – it could indicate potential bonus abuse. However, remember that shared IP addresses among family members or people residing in the same household should be considered to avoid false positives. 
  • Analyze Betting Patterns: Watch for players who consistently place maximum bets, make high-risk wagers, or exhibit unusual patterns that indicate they’re solely focused on meeting wagering requirements rather than genuinely enjoying the game. 
  • Review Withdrawal Activity: Take a close look at withdrawal requests, especially if they’re made shortly after claiming a bonus. Large and frequent withdrawals without a corresponding level of gameplay could be a red flag. 
  • And keep an eye out for collusion or suspicious player interactions: If you notice players consistently playing together or engaging in unusual betting patterns, it’s worth investigating. 

Marketing to bonus abusers 

Once you’ve identified your bonus abusers and flagged them in your marketing data, it’s time to focus on the marketing side of things. To get you started, here are a few best practices that, over time, should help lower the number of bonus abusers: 

  • Set clear bonus rules: Define clear and fair rules for bonus usage and ensure that these are communicated to customers. Explain the purpose of bonuses and make it clear that they should be used for genuine gameplay enjoyment, and encourage players to play within their means and avoid any sneaky tactics; by setting the right expectations, you’ll keep things fair and fun. 
  • Segment audiences and target groups to exclude users from bonus campaignsBy analyzing and categorizing your player base, you can identify segments more prone to bonus abuse. By excluding them, you protect against financial losses and maintain fairness for genuine players, but it also helps tailor promotions, allocate resources efficiently, and maximize marketing impact. 
  • Limit bonus amounts and frequency: Implement restrictions on the amount and frequency of bonuses offered to customers to reduce the incentive for abuse. 
  • Personalized feedback and support: Implement a strategy to provide personalized feedback to players who engage in bonus abuse. Instead of punitive measures, offer guidance and support on responsible gambling practices. By highlighting the negative impact of their actions and suggesting alternative approaches, you can potentially steer them away from abusive behavior. 
  • And provide alternatives: Instead of solely relying on traditional bonuses, offer alternative incentives to customers who may otherwise be tempted to abuse them. Consider implementing cashback programs, where players receive a percentage of their losses back as a reward, and develop robust loyalty reward programs that offer exclusive perks, personalized offers, and VIP treatment to loyal and genuine players. By shifting the focus to long-term player engagement and rewarding loyalty, you can create a more sustainable and ethical approach to player incentives. 
  • Communicate regularly: Communicate with players regularly to educate them about responsible gambling and the consequences of bonus abuse. Share articles, tutorials, or videos that shed light on the risks and consequences of bonus abuse, and let them know that playing smart is way more rewarding in the long run. 
  • Reward loyalty and long-term engagement: Shift the focus from quick-hit bonuses to long-term player loyalty. Give them a reason to stick around by offering cool loyalty programs. They’ll get hooked on exclusive tournaments, personalized rewards, or higher VIP status. By showing them the value of sticking with you, they’ll be less tempted to try any sneaky bonus abuse tricks. 

Remember, these tips are all about keeping things fair, fun, and responsible while deterring bonus abusers, so an ideal marketing plan should adopt a ‘soft-marketing’ approach, one that engages and educates bonus abusers, rather than penalizing or excluding them. By focusing on building a positive relationship and promoting responsible gaming, you can encourage a shift in their behavior, foster a fair and enjoyable gaming environment and see a reduction in bonus abusers.

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Pauline Fyfe

Pauline is a content writer, copywriter, and marketing professional who specializes in writing for start-ups, scale-ups and growing tech brands. She graduated from Central Saint Martin’s in London with an MA in Design at a time when the Internet was just coming into being. Deciding that’s where her real interests lay, she’s pursued a career focused on digital marketing ever since - and never looked back!