Yesterday, every single one of the no deposit bonus welcome offers that were such a well known feature of Cozy bingo sites was removed. This came as no surprise to bingo industry insiders – it was expected to happen back in August after the change in rules for taxation of bonuses aka POCT2.
This leaves only a handful of bingo sites still with a genuine no deposit bonus offer, with a bingo bonus that can be used at a time of the player’s choice in a selection of different bingo rooms. A few more have no deposit free spins offers but these are not usually much use to those who want to try out the bingo as the winnings are generally paid as a slots bonus.
No deposit bingo isn’t completely dead at Cozy bingo sites though – it lives on in a different form, that of the newbie free bingo room. Sites like Gala Bingo have been offering this type of arrangement for years and it is becoming more and more widespread. Players are given access to the newbie room for a limited period of time after joining – and at an increasing number of sites players can join and gain access to the newbie room without making a deposit.
- The prizes in the newbie room are typically small, fixed amounts of bingo bonus (with whatever expiry conditions and wagering requirements are usual at that particular site).
- Players invariably have to be in the room when the game plays to claim free tickets.
- Newbie rooms are usually either only open for a few hours a day or have long intervals between games, or both.
- A few big Playtech bingo sites such as Mecca Bingo have exclusive newbie rooms (so if you join Mecca and play in their newbie room, you’ll only be competing with other players who have recently joined Mecca). Other newbie rooms are networked; play in the Dragonfish newbie room and you’ll be competing with everyone who has signed up at any Dragonfish site in the last few days.
The newbie room at Cozy works slightly differently:
- It is a network 90 ball room that is open 24/7 with a game every few minutes (and players who are in the room can claim 12 tickets). Each game has a prize fund of £2 bonus (apart from between 1am and 7am when it is £1 bonus).
- Cozy advertise this as “up to £3000 free bingo” but this should be taken with a large pinch of salt as the £3000 is the total amount of prize money available over a week. For someone to win the whole £3000 of bonus they would need to play and win all 3 prizes in every single game for 7 days. Not only is this clearly not going to happen, but even if it did they would not be able to keep their winnings.
- Players do not have to make a deposit to be able to access the room but they do have to validate a debit or credit card.
- Until and unless the player makes a deposit, any bonus they win in the newbies room is essentially play money (which can’t be withdrawn). The maximum account balance a non depositing player can have is £50 and anything in excess is removed (at midnight every day). Make a first deposit and winnings can be carried forward – but only to the value of the first deposit, capped at £20. This is also when the wagering requirement kicks in – a hefty 8 x on bingo.
Cozy have also made other changes, the most important of which are these:
- The “bonus only” bingo rooms which were introduced back in August have been removed (and not replaced) and presumably bingo bonus can now be used in any room (although some rooms are for depositors only).
- The deposit bonus offer has been changed as well and the standard offer is a 300% deposit bonus with a minimum deposit of just £5 and a maximum bonus of £120. Smaller bonuses are on offer for 2nd and 3rd deposits. A few sites also offer free spins.
- The standard bingo wagering requirement of 4 x (deposit+bonus) or 8 x bonus remain the same, but the slots wagering requirement has been doubled to 20 x (deposit + bonus) or 40 x bonus. Although the welcome bonus can be used to play Cozy’s own slots (not slots from other providers such as Net Ent and Microgaming), only cash play on slots counts towards the wagering requirement.
The carry-forward arrangements for wins by non-depositing players (as described above) work in the same way as they did when the sites offered a traditional no deposit bonus. Our view is that the carry-forward arrangements are the really important part of the offer (in terms of what players could win) and it hardly matters whether they have a bingo bonus to spend in a small number of rooms or can play as much as they like for free in one room. Having said that, the cap on what can be carried forward has been cut from £50 to £20 – all of which is easily covered for the operator by the cut to the deposit bonus offer.
Will Cozy still be able to attract players with these new welcome offers? Only time will tell.