The bonuses players receive at the online casinos are among the main advantages as to why so many folks have moved from the traditional, brick & mortar casinos to their internet counterparts. Searching for the best bonuses has nearly become as important to some players as the games themselves. And can you really blame them? With the option to score thousands in free casino money with the match bonuses or taking it even further with the no deposit bonuses, where you don’t even have to risk any of your money at all, popularity of the casino bonus is here to stay.
But while the casino bonus is truly free money, it does come with some strings attached. The online casinos are definitely not in the business of giving away money, quite the contrary. So, each casino bonus will come with its own terms and conditions, which you, as a player, must read beforehand to avoid any surprises later down the road.
One of the main points in the T&C of any online casino bonus is the wagering requirements. You are guaranteed to see those as part of any bonus you claim at the casino, at any casino. They are also the biggest tripping point for any novice casino player, even if they have been gambling offline for decades. And that’s understandable since the traditional casinos don’t really give you any bonus money when you visit. Sure, they may throw in a free buffet or some comp points, but nothing nearly as valuable as the thousands you can get free at the online casinos and their constant stream of bonus offers.
Thus, understanding what are bonus wagering requirements and how they work is extremely important. Knowing how it works and what to expect will help you determine not only when you have satisfied these conditions, but also allows you to better compare the different bonuses available, both at one casino and among the many online casinos.
What is wagering at the casino
In order to understand the wagering requirements at the casinos, we must first explain what is wagering, so let’s start by examining it first.
Wagering, a synonym of betting, is in the simplest terms the act of placing a bet. Most people associate betting with sports, which is not wrong, but the same also applies to the casino games. Every time you spin the reels of a vide slot, for example, you wager, or place a bet, on the outcome. This is the important part you need to remember – that every time you spin the reels or start a blackjack hand, you place a wager.
Now, the outcome of the wager is really irrelevant, when it comes to the terms and conditions of the bonus. You could win that spin of the roulette wheel, or you could lose the spin of the slot reels, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the amount of money you bet, i.e., the wager you made. Now that we explained wagering at the casino, let’s see how this relates to the requirements of the casino bonuses.
What are the bonus wagering requirements
As we already explained, ever bonus you redeem at the online casino comes with wagering requirements, sometimes referred to as playthrough requirements. These requirements indicate how many times you must “wager” the bonus amount, or the combined bonus + deposit amount, before you can cash out your winnings. This is precisely what the bonus wagering requirements are all about.
The wagering requirements are often given as multiples of the bonus amount. For example, you may see a bonus T&C indicate that the wagering requirements are “50x bonus” (read as “fifty times bonus”). This means that the players, once they claim the bonus, must place combined wagers that are equal or greater than 50 times the bonus amount. Let’s look at some examples to better illustrate this point, as well as see how this is all calculated:
In the instance, let’s say that you are claiming a no deposit bonus code which gives you $50 in free casino chips and the terms of the bons state that the wagering requirements are 60x the bonus.
In this case, the calculation is simple, you just multiply the $50 in chips you got from the casino by the wagering requirement of 60x. So, the math works like this:
60 x $50 = $3,000
In this example, the player must place combined wagers of $3,000 or more, before they can cash out their winnings stemming from the bonus. Now let’s look at another, a bit more complicated example of calculating the playthrough:
Here we assume that we are claiming a deposit-match welcome bonus, instead of a no-deposit one. Let’s say that the bonus is 200% match on your deposit, and you have decided to deposit $100. The bonus’ wagering requirements, in this example, are posted as 30x deposit + bonus.
In order to calculate the total amount of wagers we need before the conditions of the bonus are satisfied, we must start first with our total bankroll. Since we deposited $100 and the bonus is 200%, this means that we will actually start playing with $300. The entire math equation will look something like this:
30 x ($100 deposit + $200 bonus) = $9,000 wagering requirement
In this case, our wagering requirements are $9,000, i.e., we must place combined wagers that are equal to (or greater) than $9,000, before we can withdraw the winnings from the bonus.
No-deposit bonus wagering vs Deposit bonus wagering
As you can tell from the above examples, there is quite a difference between the wagering requirements of a no-deposit and a deposit bonus.
For one, the no-deposit bonus is multiplied by a smaller amount, since there is no deposit amount to be combined with the bonus. At first glance, this makes the no deposit bonus appear as the better deal, when it comes to wagering requirements. But if you think that, you’d be wrong.
The truth is that the casino carries much more risk with the no deposit bonuses. How much more, you may wonder? Try the entire risk. Since there is no deposit involved, there is virtually no risk to the player. You didn’t’ deposit any of your own money, so even if you don’t win anything with the bonus, you certainly won’t lose any money either.
In order to compensate for all the risk, the online casinos will always impose much higher wagering on the no-deposit bonuses, compared with the standard match bonus. Oftentimes the playthrough of a no deposit bonus will be twice what you’d get with a match bonus.
If you look at our examples above, you can see that the first one has a 60x bonus minimum limit, while the second has only 30x, even though the latter is bonus + deposit. This is about the norm at every online casino. Overall, expect to have much higher wagering requirements with the no-deposit bonus.
More bonus wagering considerations
Sometimes the casinos will feel generous and even when they offer a deposit match bonus, they may only include the bonus in the calculation of the wagering requirements, rather than both the bonus and the deposit. This doesn’t happen often, but it makes for a much better deal. When such promotions are introduced, they will, however, have a bit higher playthrough numbers.
For example, the casino may usually only require 30x bonus+deposit for their match bonuses, but when they exclude the deposit, the wagering requirements for such offers may go up to 40x the bonus. Whether this would be a better deal could be easily calculated if you simply imagined what it would look like if the deposit was included and the standard wagering requirement, for that particular casino, was used instead.
Something else to consider, especially when comparing bonuses, is whether the bonus is cashable or not cashable. We have a detailed guide explaining the difference, but in the way it pretends to the wagering requirements, a non-cashable bonus, which is included in the wagering requirements, yet excluded from the withdrawal, would be of much less value. So, keep an eye on those details, as well.
Do all casino games count towards the wagering requirement?
Which casino games count towards satisfying the wagering requirements of a bonus could be a tricky subject.
First, we must look at whether there are any limits to the types of casino games you can play with the bonus itself. For instance, if the bonus is only for video slots, then table games would be completely excluded from the wagering requirements. You may still be able to play table games, but any bets you make at those tables will not count towards your wagering requirements.
But even if we assume that there are no limits to the games you can play with the bonus, as would be the case with a signup bonus offer for new customers, for example, the table games will nearly always count only at a fraction of the actual wagers made there. For example, while playing video slots will give you 1-to-1 ratio of adding up your wagers towards the requirements, playing blackjack may only count at 10 to 1 or worse. In other words, $10 bet at the blackjack table will count as just $1 wagered towards completing the requirements for the bonus.
This may sound unfair at first, but the table games are quite different than the video slots. For example, you can take your bonus money to the roulette table and place half of it on Black and the other half on Red. Disregarding the miniscule chance that the pill will land on Double Zero, the outcome of such bet would be even money for you. Whether the pill stops on Red or Black, you would lose half your bet but win the other half. The real outcome is that both bets now count towards the wagering requirements. In order to avoid such bonus abuse by the players, the casinos either don’t count table games towards the wagering requirements at all or do so at a much lower rate than other casino games.
Betting vs casino bonus wagering
A few gambling sites offer the full complement of gaming services. Bovada is a perfect example of such gaming website which offers both an excellent online casino, as well as being one of the most popular sports betting websites in the world. When playing at this type of properties, the question about differences between the casino and the betting bonuses often arise.
Some of the gambling websites have solved this ambiguity between the two by simply always offering separate bonuses for the betting and the casino side of their operation. This makes it much easier to deal with the terms and conditions, especially when other factors, besides the wagering requirements, must be considered.
In general, if you are looking at betting bonuses, the wagering requirements are ridiculously low, compared with the casino bonuses. While wagering minimums of 30x deposit + bonus are pretty much the norm at the online casinos, the betting bonuses will rarely hit double-digits. The reason for this is beyond the scope of this guide, but you should be aware of this fact, nonetheless. If you happen to play at casino site that also offers betting, if you see a bonus with unusually low wagering requirement, make sure you are not looking at a betting-only bonus.
Can you avoid the wagering requirements?
So, the big question here is: Are there ways to avoid the wagering requirements altogether? Unfortunately, the only way to avoid wagering requirements is not to claim a bonus. As you know, even if there is a bonus available for redemption at the casino, you are not required to use it. You can play the games with only your deposit. As a matter of fact, quite a few players tend to forgo the bonus sometimes, especially if the wagering requirements are too high. By simply option out of the bonus you avoid all the wagering requirements that come with it.
Other than that, every bonus will come with a minimum amount you must accumulate in bets before you can cash out your winnings. Even specialty bonuses, such as cashbacks or custom free money offers to VIP customers will come with wagering requirements, even if they may be as low as 1x the bonus. The only way to not be constrained by a bonus wagering is to not redeem one in the first place.