All you need to know about casino wagering requirements

For any online casino player worth his salt, bonus wagering requirements should be second nature. These conditions affect the quality of your gameplay, and also the outcomes, so it's important to be as informed as possible before you use bonuses with wagering requirements.

This guide covers the ins and outs of wagering requirements and how to best use them to your advantage. We'll be covering the following topics:

Check out our complete guide to casino terms and conditions if you want to work your way up to the smarts of the best casino players around.

What are wagering requirements?

Casino bonuses usually come with wagering requirements, also known as "playthrough requirements" or "bonus rollover". Wagering requirements indicate how much you need to bet before you can withdraw your bonus money and any related winnings.

Put simply, if you use a bonus and don't bet as much as the wagering requirements instruct you to, you can't pocket either the bonus or anything you win from it. The idea behind bonus wagering requirements is to ensure that players spend the free money on casino games, rather than taking it and running.

There is one universal truth: the higher the wagering requirements for a bonus, the harder it will be for you to clear it and cash out. The lower the wagering requirements, the more easily you can withdraw the bonus amount and any related winnings.

That means bonuses with heavy wagering requirements are counterproductive if you want to maximise your chances of withdrawing what you win from the bonus. Sometimes, it makes sense to refuse a bonus flat out if the wagering requirements are too difficult to clear.

Why do wagering requirements matter?

As we've seen, wagering requirements are a set of conditions applied to casino bonuses. Bonuses are there so you can get more value out of your online casino experience while having fun playing games for longer. Some players try to abuse bonuses. This is the reason why almost all casinos impose wagering requirements.

The tide in the iGaming industry is constantly shifting towards a better arrangement for the player. 

You'll now find casinos that don't impose any wagering requirements whatsoever on their bonuses:

When you're comparing bonuses, it's critical to pay attention to the wagering requirements. You might choose a bonus thinking that the deal on offer is going to greatly boost your bankroll or give you a large number of free rounds. But if the wagering requirements for such generous-looking bonuses are hefty, all your free dough will be in the casino's custody until you've bet your way through a large sum of your own money.

It's only when you reach the betting quota imposed by the bonus wagering requirements that the bonus money and anything else you win become withdrawable. If you decide mid-way through that the betting amount required is too high for you, you lose the bonus money and any winnings. That should be enough motivation to ensure you vet your bonuses according to their wagering requirements!

Analysing the wagering requirements is always worth your while. It's a simple calculation that saves you a lot of hassle down the line. If the wagering requirements for a bonus are reasonable, you stand a good chance of using the bonus to your advantage and collecting your hard-won cash.

All games have a built-in house edge usually represented by RTP ("return to player"). The task of clearing the wagering requirements means subjecting your balance to the house edge over and over again. Subsequently, the less money you have to wager before unlocking the bonus balance, the less you have to worry about the house edge.

In a nutshell, low, easy-to-clear wagering requirements always benefit you! Here's a selection of casinos with low wagering bonuses:

How do wagering requirements work?

Wagering requirements are generally expressed as a number followed by an "x".

EXAMPLE: If a bonus has a wagering requirement of 45x:

Wagering requirements can refer to either the bonus amount only, the deposit amount only, or both the deposit and bonus amount together. Bojoko uses the following format to help you easily compare bonus wagering requirements in our casino reviews and sorting tools:

Wagering requirements usually range from 20 to 50 times the original bonus amount, but this figure varies from one casino to the other and can also depend on the bonus type or percentage.

DEPOSIT MATCH BONUSES

Deposit match bonuses award you with a percentage match of your deposit up to a certain amount.

EXAMPLE: A common deposit match bonus of 100% / C$100 has a wagering requirement of 45x (D+B). If you deposit C$100, you have to bet 45 times the sum of this deposit and the bonus amount (100% of C$100 + C$100 = C$200) to clear the wagering requirements and withdraw any potential winnings. This works out as: C$200 x 45 = C$9,000. Ultimately, you have to wager C$9,000 before you can withdraw any money earned from this deposit match bonus!

Free SPINS

The wagering requirements for free spins work in a similar way to those for deposit match bonuses. In general, you only need to bet the bonus money won from the spins. Sometimes you need to wager both the free spin winnings and the deposit you used to unlock the bonus.

EXAMPLE: There's a wagering requirement of 35x for 60 free spins awarded with a deposit of C$10. You win a total of C$50 by using these free spins, so you must bet the amount gained from the bonus 35 times before you can withdraw it (C$50 x 35 = C$1,750). In this case, you have to bet at least C$1,750 to collect the full booty!

BONUS MONEY

Bonus money is sometimes given with the first-deposit bonus or even as a no-deposit bonus. Bonus money usually carries a much higher wagering requirement than deposit match bonuses. Even 100x (B) is not unheard of, so be extra careful when considering the terms of this type of bonus.

EXAMPLE: A casino gives you C$10 worth of bonus money with a wagering requirement of 60x (B). If you win C$5 from playing with this extra C$10, you need to bet C$600 (C$10 x 60 = C$600) to withdraw the C$5 you won, plus any extra winnings!

Where can you find the wagering requirements?

Wagering requirements are generally specified in the bonus terms and conditions. Due to recent updates to gambling regulations, finding the fine print has become much easier for players. The exact numbers might still be mired in the middle of a long, chunky document, however.

Instead of embarking on a witch hunt for the wagering requirements, you can easily find the information you need on Bojoko. You can locate bonus wagering requirements here:

Even though we aim to present bonus wagering requirements as accurately as possible, the onus is still on you to make sure that you've understood what using the bonus entails.

When scrutinising the wagering requirements, you should also read the casino's and bonuses' terms and conditions to make sure that there aren't other rules you need to observe. Sound planning is always worth it: that's how you'll make the most informed and responsible bonus choices.

The fine print in bonus wagering explained

Knowing how much you need to wager is a good start, but in addition to the actual wagering requirements, there are other rules you need to take into account. Staying within bonus parameters is crucial to your success.

WAGERING STARTS WHEN THE DEPOSIT ENDS

When you start playing with a bonus in an online casino, you generally play with your deposit money first. The bonus wagering usually kicks off only after your real money balance is gone. Basically, the bets that count towards clearing the wagering requirements can't be placed using the original deposit money you used to redeem the bonus.

EXAMPLE: Say you deposited C$100 and claimed a 100% / C$100 deposit match bonus. You end up with a bankroll of C$200 (C$100 + 100% of C$100), C$100 of which is your deposit, and the other C$100 the bonus. The bonus has a wagering requirement of 35x (D+B), so you need to bet C$200 35 times before you can cash out. This amounts to C$7,000 worth of bets – but the wagering only starts being "counted" when the C$100 you initially deposited runs out.

DON'T GO OVER THE MAXIMUM BET

Many bonuses have a specified maximum bet which shouldn't be exceeded. The maximum is usually C$5 per spin or 50¢ per payline.

Betting more than the maximum may either revoke your whole bonus or affect the wagering requirement for the rest of your bonus money. At the very least, the value that goes beyond the specified maximum won't count towards meeting the wagering requirements.

DIFFERENT GAMES, DIFFERENT CONTRIBUTIONS

Not all games are equal when wagering the bonus. Contribution percentage tells you how much a bet placed in a specific game counts towards clearing your bonus' wagering requirements. The rule of thumb is: the better the RTP, the smaller the contribution percentage.

Most slots contribute the full 100%. Playing some low-RTP games such as bingo may fulfil the wagering requirements even faster.

Table games, live dealer games and some high-RTP slots usually have a lower contribution percentage that can edge as low as 5–10%.

EXAMPLE: LLive blackjack contributes just 10% towards wagering. Every C$10 you spend playing live blackjack only brings you C$1 closer to meeting the wagering requirements.

There are also ineligible games. Playing them won't help you clear the wagering requirements at all, and may actually invalidate your whole bonus.

Once again, make sure to verify the bonus terms and conditions to be aware of any eligible or ineligible games. Always check the list of contributing and ineligible games before you deposit and play.

FORBIDDEN STRATEGIES AND IRREGULAR PLAY

Casinos often outline betting strategies that are explicitly forbidden in the bonus terms and conditions. Here are the most common ones, and even though not every casino bans them, you should be aware that using any of these strategies can be interpreted as foul play by casinos at their own discretion:

STAY WITHIN THE TIME LIMITS

All bonuses have an expiry date. Free spins might only be valid on the same day you received them, whereas first-deposit bonuses might give you days, weeks or even months to play at your leisure.

Always check how much time you have to play through your bonus so it doesn't accidentally expire.

Article by:

Lauri Ronkainen

Lauri has worked in online gambling for over 3 years reviewing hundreds of online casinos, bonuses and games. Lauri has a masters degree in history from the University of Tampere. He is a live casino aficionado who has also created his very own roulette strategy.

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