Casino Bonus Wagering Requirements Explained
For many players around the world, casino bonuses are one of the biggest perks of gambling online. It’s easy to see why too. The chance to play games using the casino’s money, rather than the player’s, is a powerful draw!
Although most gamblers love a juicy bonus, far too few fully understand them. Knowing how to read the wagering requirements of a promotion will mean that players are less likely to fall foul of the rules – which can result in the casino terminating a bonus – as well as being better able to spot the more lucrative promotions around.
In the following few hundred words, we’ll cover:
- What a casino bonus actually is.
- Why online casinos choose to award them.
- The reasons why casinos enforce wagering requirements.
- Details about the different conditions that players must satisfy before making a withdrawal.
- Examples of typical wagering requirements from real bonuses.
We’ll conclude by determining if casino bonuses are actually worth using. With a lot to cover, let’s begin.
What Do We Mean by a Casino Bonus and Why do Casinos Use Them?
Before we get started explaining wagering requirements, it’s first important to understand what we mean by a casino bonus. A casino bonus is a special offer promoted by a casino. Like any special offer, the idea of the bonus is to attract custom.
Casino bonuses can take many different forms. These include welcome bonuses, reload bonuses, no deposit bonuses, and deposit bonuses. The nuances of each are not important for the purposes of explaining wagering requirements though.
The important thing to understand when thinking about wagering requirements is that almost all casino bonuses will rely on something known as “bonus cash”. Bonus cash functions exactly like the regular cash that you deposit to a casino, play the games with, and can eventually withdraw. There is one large difference, however. Players cannot withdraw bonus cash.
Players must first satisfy a set of requirements to transform the bonus cash into real money. They can then withdraw the funds or use them to play other titles. These requirements, detailed extensively in the terms and conditions of any promotion, are known in the industry as either playthrough, wagering, or rollover requirements. They demand that players bet any bonus cash a specified number of times. The higher the requirement, the tougher it is for the player to profit from a promotion.
Why Do Casinos Use Wagering Requirements?
Since the primary goal of the casino bonus is to attract players – both new and existing – they are part of the company’s marketing department. It’s, therefore, very important that bonuses look as attractive as possible.
However, bonuses cannot actually be that attractive. If they represented guaranteed profits, it would not be long before the casino went out of business. Thousands of gamblers would take advantage of the easy money, putting the company at risk of financial ruin.
To stop themselves recording heavy marketing losses, casinos use wagering requirements. The various terms and conditions make it much less likely that a player will emerge a winner from a bonus. Similarly, if they do manage to win, the terms of an offer might state that players forfeit winnings above a certain threshold. This protects the casino from players fortunate enough to spike a massive jackpot using bonus funds.
How do Wagering Requirements Work?
You’ll find the wagering requirements of a bonus in the terms and conditions for the offer. There will usually be a link to the full document somewhere on the promotional material on which you first saw the offer. If not, you can visit the casino running the bonus, navigate to the “promotions” section, and follow a link under whichever promotion it is that you want to claim.
We always recommend reading the terms and conditions thoroughly before you start the signup process. Make sure you understand them properly before you register. This can help avoid unwelcome surprises later on.
The terms and conditions document will give players all the information they need to successfully take part in a promotion. This includes of how exactly to claim the bonus, who qualifies to use it, how much they can win from a promotion, and other key details. It will also give the casino the right to revoke the bonus at its discretion, should it suspect the player of bonus abuse or unfair play.
In the terms and conditions will also be the wagering requirements themselves. As mentioned, wagering refers to the number of times a player must bet bonus funds before they transform into real money. Wagering allows the casino to control how lucrative a promotion is for the player.
Given that a player needs to bet the bonus cash on games that give the casino an edge, they are mathematically expected to lose a little of the bonus cash on every spin or hand. The sheer weight of hands they need to play will usually mean they bust out before they complete the wagering requirements.
Wagering Requirements in Detail
Wagering is usually referred to in the terms and conditions of a promotion with a number preceded or followed by an “X”. The number refers to how many times the total amount needs betting. For example, a 40x wagering requirement on a £10 bonus would require players bet a total of £400.
Don’t worry though, this total can be broken down in whatever way players see fit. Making 400 £1 spins is just as valid as making one £400 spin. Winnings accrued during wagering will be added to the bonus cash balance, only becoming available to withdraw when the total amount has been wagered.
It’s important to pay attention to what exactly the casino wants players to wager too. With no deposit bonus cash, the requirements might demand that players only wager the bonus amount. With a deposit bonus, they might be expected to wager either the deposit, the bonus, or both.
Free spins (visit our Free Spins page) usually don’t escape wagering requirements either. However, they do function a little differently. All winnings from the spins will be awarded as bonus cash with wagering requirements attached. Like with bonuses that award free casino credits, players can only withdraw this when they satisfy all of the terms and conditions.
Different casino games provide different odds of winning. Some have a lower edge for the casino than others and are therefore less profitable to the house. To make it even more difficult for players to actualise real profits from a bonus, the casino will often exclude or limit the contributions some games make towards wagering.
Games like blackjack, particularly high return-to-player slots, and certain bets on table games may contribute nothing at all or a miniscule percentage towards wagering. Other games and specific bets that are slightly more lucrative for the casino will contribute 25% or 50%. Finally, the games will the highest house edge (lowest chances of the player winning) will contribute 100% towards wagering.
As with all other rules associated with casino bonuses, you will find full details of game eligibility in the terms and conditions.
Bonus cash will usually only be valid for a specific period of time. This means that all wagering must be completed within that time limit. Casinos will usually state that players will forfeit all bonus funds unused at the end of the wagering period.
Time limitations might be a few weeks or just a couple of days. Longer periods will allow players to make a higher number of smaller bets and, thus, reduce variance. Shorter time periods might force them to up their stakes, which means swings up and down will be larger. Higher variance invites a greater chance of the player busting out before they complete wagering.
Examples of Wagering Requirements for Bonus Offers
At the time of writing, PlayAmo is offering new players a 100% first deposit bonus of up to $100. As per the terms and conditions of the promotion, the $100 bonus is subject to a 50x playthrough requirement.
When players start betting on games as part of this promotion, PlayAmo takes their real money balance first and then the bonus funds. This ensures players can’t just bet through the bonus and simply withdraw their own funds if they run out of bonus cash.
The only games that will contribute 100% towards this wagering requirement are slots (apart from a long list of exclusions). Meanwhile, roulette, poker, video poker, baccarat, and blackjack all contribute just 5%.
In addition to the bonus cash, players will receive a total of 100 free spins. PlayAmo awards 20 each day over the course of five days. These are subject to the same wagering requirements detailed above.
GoWild Casino is also offering a pretty juicy first deposit bonus at the moment. New players opting in will be awarded a 100% matched deposit bonus of up to $333.
On first glance, its 35x wagering requirements seems much more lenient than the promotion at PlayAmo. However, the player’s deposit and the bonus are subject to wagering. Only the bonus itself needs betting through on PlayAmo.
Like at PlayAmo, GoWild excludes a lot of games or limits their contributions towards wagering. Many of the operator’s slots contribute 100% but there are plenty that are excluded entirely. Meanwhile, most table games are limited in their contributions.
Players will also receive 33 free spins for use on the Wild Falls slot machine. Winnings from these free spins will be subject to the same wagering requirements listed above.
Are Casino Bonuses Worth Participating in?
Although casino bonus terms and conditions mean that profits are by no means guaranteed, they’re still well worth participating in. It’s important to consider them an extension to your gambling bankroll and not a profitable enterprise though.
That said, different casino bonuses are more likely to result in profits than others. Subtle differences between wagering requirements, as in the above example, can make a big difference to the overall expected value of a promotion.
When attempting to gauge the profitability of a promotion, look at the following:
- Number of playthroughs required – the lower the better.
- Return-to-player ratings of eligible games – the higher the return-to-player rating, whilst still counting 100% to wagering, the better the promotion.
- Time limit – you don’t want to be forced to increase your stake to complete wagering.
- Cash out cap – many casinos will restrict the amount of money you can win from a promotion. Higher winnings caps mean you can potentially win more money.
That’s about all there is to know about wagering requirements. After reading our guide, you should feel much better equipped to compare the various promotional offers from different casinos. Hopefully you now understand what makes a profitable casino bonus. Now, take your new knowledge to the casino!