When you start out playing at online and mobile casinos, you will soon find yourself inundated with ‘free cash’ offers. This ‘£100 Welcome Bonus’ here or that ‘£20 No Deposit Bonus’ there – at first it might sound like an excellent deal and even we think it’s important to feature this information in our online casino reviews. Who doesn’t like having money simply given to them? Generous! Every website you visit seems to make these free money promises, but surely, it must be too good to be true? Indeed, it is. You will quickly come to realize that access to this money is restricted by many rules and conditions, including the wagering requirements.
Fret not if you have no clue what wagering requirements mean. This guide will get you up to scratch with everything you need to know about those tricky T&Cs that are nearly always included in the fine print of the great casino offers. We will also tell you how you can give yourself the best chance of coming away unscathed and pocket some of the cash that is offered!
What is Wagering Requirements
Generally speaking, casino bonuses were much simpler back in the 2000s. They were a present from the casino and came with no, or much less, terms and conditions and were easier for players to fulfill. However, now that things are getting more complicated and the days of low wagering requirements are in the past, we felt the need to guide our loyal readers through the minefield that wagering requirements can be.
What are wagering requirements
It sounds very complicated and scary, but it’s not at all! In a nutshell, wagering requirements are part of the terms and conditions applied to bonuses given away by online and mobile casinos. In other words:
- Wagering = Betting
- Requirements = Something you are required to do
- Wagering requirements = Amount you are required to bet in order to get your bonus
It can’t get simpler than this! So, in exchange for the bonus money, the casinos make you bet a certain number of times before you can cash out any of the money that was offered to you for free. The wagering requirement attached to a particular bonus or promotion will be presented as a number and an ‘x’ (multiplier), for example 20x or 45x, ‘x’ meaning times.
Wagering requirements in practice
So, hopefully we established that wagering requirements are just another way for the casino to specify how many times you have to stake the bonus money to withdraw the full amount. Generally speaking, the larger the bonus – read ‘too good to be true’ – the more likely it is to have a large wagering requirement imposed. In the casinos that we encounter everyday, the wagering requirements usually range from 5x to 55x, which is similar to what we find when we feature various promotions.
To put it all in more practical terms, if the casino gives you £20 of free money with a 20x wagering requirement attached to it, you must wager £400 (£20 X 20 = £400) to withdraw that free £20. As you can tell, they really make you work for your money. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose when you stake that £400, or whichever other amount. No portion of the free money can be withdrawn until it has been bet through at least 20 times. So, to get the “free” £100 welcome deposit match bonus with a 20x wagering requirement, you will need to wager £2,000, which equals to a 5% gain in real terms, presuming you incur no losses (highly unlikely). You must weigh up the pros and cons of every bonus to see if it is likely to benefit you in the long run.
Another scenario is even more sinister. Some casinos place a wagering requirement not only on the bonus cash, but also on the initial deposit (if this was a deposit bonus). If you deposit a £100 into your account and get a £100 deposit-match bonus with 20x wagering requirements attached to it, neither the free cash nor your initial £100 deposit are available for withdrawal until both amounts (£200) are wagered through 20x. This would mean you’d have to wager £4,000 to cash out the £100 in free cash.
Why do casinos have wagering requirements
As confusing – and as much pain in the players’ behinds – as they are, wagering requirements are an absolute necessity at online and mobile casinos. Without them, casinos would be much more reluctant in offering welcome bonuses and other regular promotions, which excite the players and liven up their day.
Typically, the wagering requirements are set by the risk management team within the casino and different bonuses and promotions can have different wagering requirements attached to them. In other words, it is highly unlikely that all promotions at any one given casino will have the same wagering requirements. This is necessary so that the casinos can protect the bonuses they give away and offset the risk that it takes by offering you free money.
You can also think of it this way. We are all familiar with supermarket promotions, but they often specify the number of items that can be bought at a special price so that no one person takes too much of an advantage. Imagine ice-cream was on sale at half price, so I went to the supermarket and tried to buy all the pints available. The cashier would stop me from doing so, as the special offer specified that only five units are available per customer at that special price.
So, you can think of wagering requirements as a tool for casinos to curb unwanted behaviour by players. Admit it, if there were no wagering requirements, you’d just take the free money and run.
You then proceed to bet these amounts on the games to meet your wagering requirements:
£30 on slots – 100% of £30 = £30
£20 on video poker – 80% of £20 = £16
£20 on Blackjack – 10% of £20 = £2
£20 on Roulette – 25% of £20 = £5
Add all of those wagers up and you will find out that £53 has been counted towards meeting your wagering requirements, as opposed to the actual £90 that you spent, perhaps thinking that it would all count.
Similarly, if you wish to get through all of your wagering requirements for that £100 bonus with 20x wagering requirements on a game that counts as 50%, you’d have to stake a whopping £4,000 (100 x 20 x 100/50).
Beating wagering requirements
As tempting as it may be to try and illegally circumvent the wagering requirements, it could land you in a considerable amount of trouble. Wagering requirements are usually specified and are part of the terms and conditions, which you agree to when you accept the free cash offer. The casinos calculate wagering requirements in an automatic/computerised way, so unless their servers malfunction, you will have to fulfill the wagering requirements. It’s never worthwhile trying to evade the wagering requirements as you will most certainly be kicked out of the casino or even run into legal issues.