benjamin alexander smith


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In January 2006, a bizarre craze swept our halls of residence. A resident of our kitchen had stumbled upon an online money-making scheme known as “bonus bagging” – a legal loophole that earned him (and others) thousands of pounds with minimal effort.

How does it work, you ask? Simple:

  • Find an online casino offering a lucrative sign-up bonus (free chips that are awarded when you deposit cash).
  • Find out how many times you need to wager that bonus before you’re allowed to withdraw it – i.e. how many times you need to bet each bonus chip before it can be cashed in.
    • If the requirement isn’t too high, go right ahead!
    • If it’s too restrictive, find another casino.
  • Deposit as much as you can afford in order to maximize your bonus.
  • Play through the wagering requirement.
  • Withdraw your remaining money – including the bonus!

If you withdraw more than you put in, you’ve made a profit and your job is done. Find another casino, rinse, repeat, and make even more money.

There’s a trick to all of this, of course: first, you need to make sure you minimize your chances of losing your bonus money; and second, you need to find casinos with a nice low wagering requirement. You might think the first part is impossible, but on the contrary – it’s easy.

Blackjack has been around for a long time and it’s a very, very simple game with well defined rules that the dealer must follow. Consequently, there are probability tables which can tell you what to do in any given situation to minimize your chances of losing. Of course, you still lose money – it’s a casino game, after all – but by using the tables you can expect to lose money very, very slowly.

By using these tables and picking casinos with low wagering requirements, you can find a few sites online where you can reasonably expect to make a modest profit after a few hours of play. Rinse and repeat to smooth out the variations, and overall you can expect a tidy profit with a few dozen hours work.

I did this in January of 2006, and I made over £1,100 in around 30 hours. As one of the first in my halls of residence to risk it, I was regularly asked how it do it and which casinos to use.

Opportunity knocks

After the third or fourth time I told somebody which casino to use and explained how things worked, it occurred to me that I was doing work that others would usually term “advertising”. Why not save myself some effort and make a profit at the same time? I brushed off my dusty old web design skills and set to work producing a website to guide users to casinos with decent bonuses and low wager requirements. Soon enough, in February 2006, BritishBonus was born.

A modest website, BritishBonus provided users with bonus tables showing the best offers available and a series of reviews covering each of the featured casinos. It was simple, but it served two purposes: it made it easy for me to direct friends to the best bonuses, and it earned me a significant commission fee for each user I referred.

I spent the next year or so keeping the site up to date and advertising it fairly aggressively around Warwick and other campuses nationwide. Much of this was helped by Surely Not!, my guide to bonus bagging.

When I started the website and saw the potential, I had one key goal: earn enough that I wouldn’t need to work during vacations for the remainder of my degree course. By the end of 2006, I’d reached that goal.


BritishBonus was valuable in a number of ways. Not only did it secure me financially for the duration of my degree, but it also taught me several lessons that I’ll never forget.

Firstly, it taught me the value of entrepreneurship and enterprise. I saw value and opportunity where my cohort did not, and by diving in and taking that opportunity with both hands I was able to make a considerable amount of money. With virtually zero investment beyond a few weeks of my own time, slotted around lectures and assignments, I made substantial profit. If I’d stopped and doubted myself, I wouldn’t have achieved anything. If I hadn’t had my eyes open, I’d have missed the opening entirely.

Secondly, it taught me the importance of advertising and branding. A friend of mine started a similar website a few weeks after I did; I had much more traffic, and I attribute my success to the style of my poster campaign. The message was clearer, the tone was straightforward, the brand was simple. I won the traffic and made more money because of it.

Thirdly, it taught me to persevere and not to stop just because you’ve achieved your goals. My friend may have made less money than me initially, but I became complacent once I hit my target. He did not, and he went on to make many times more profit than I did. The lesson is simple: if you beat your target, re-evaluate your position and aim higher. I carry that ethic with me to this day.

This project was one of the biggest successes of my university career. It shaped my approach to business, to opportunities, and to the pursuit of my own goals. The ROI was astronomical – personally as well as financially. What more could I want out of a project?

Roles and Responsibilities

As a sole trader, I manage all aspects of the business myself.

Despite a lack of experience, I ran the business alongside my degree while still achieving a high 2:1 in first year exams. Responsibilities included:

  • Website development
  • Copy writing
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Business development and lead generation
  • Book-keeping and tax filing

Project Information

  • Start date: 04 Feb 2006
  • End date: ongoing
  • Status: Complete