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Many online casinos offer deposit bonuses and free spins to new players. It makes sense to take advantage of these – casinos are pretty much offering players ‘free money’. However, as many players soon realise, there’s often a catch.
Before you can cash out your deposit bonuses or free spin winnings, you’ll usually have to place a number of bets. This is what is known as wagering requirements (or alternatively playthrough requirements or rollover requirements depending on the site you use).
Learning to beat these wagering requirements can be essential for ensuring that your deposit bonuses and free spinning winnings aren’t going to waste. This in-depth guide explains exactly what wagering requirements are and how to overcome them.
Table of Content
- Why do online casinos have wagering requirements?
- What does a typical wagering requirement look like?
- How to calculate a basic wagering requirement
- Wagering requirements on both the bonus AND the deposit
- Can I clear the wagering requirement with one large bet?
- How does game weighting affect wagering requirements?
- Factoring in the RTP
- How RTP can affect game weighting
- Bonus expiry dates: An added factor to consider
- So, how can I beat the wagering requirement?
Why do online casinos have wagering requirements?
Deposit bonuses and free spins can be a great way for online casinos to attract new loyal players. However, they can also attract new players who may simply want to take advantage of these bonuses and free winnings before moving onto the next site.
Online casinos don’t just want to be giving out free money to players who aren’t going to continue using their site. As a result, they put wagering requirements in place to encourage players to stick around a little longer. The more time a player spends on an individual site, the more likely they are to get comfortable with that site, potentially encouraging them to keep playing on that site out of familiarity.
But that’s not the only reason wagering requirements are in place. Wagering requirements are also there as a legal measure to prevent money laundering – without these requirements it would be easy for criminals to clean their illegal funds by depositing them into online casino games and withdrawing them straight away.
It’s still possible to hop from one site to another, taking advantage of all the deposit bonuses and free spins that are out there. However, you’ll need to dedicate a certain amount of time to each website if you want to overcome the wagering requirements. Every site is likely to have different wagering requirements. Understanding these individual wagering requirements is important for determining how much money you can expect to bet before you can withdraw your bonus – as well as how likely you are to make a return.
What does a typical wagering requirement look like?
Wagering requirements can differ from each site. Usually it involves betting your bonus money a specific number of times before you can make a withdrawal. In the case of free spins, you’ll usually have to place a number of bets before you can access any of the winnings from these free spins.
A wagering requirement that requires you to bet your deposit bonus twenty times will usually be displayed as ‘x20 wagering’ or a similar format. Wagering requirements can range from ‘x5’ to ‘x50’ depending on the site and type of games that can be played there.
IMPORTANT: On some games the wagering requirements will be advertised clearly. In other cases, you may have to dig around in the small print. Sometimes you may have to sign up to a game before the wagering requirements are made clear. In all cases, requirements should be made clear before you make any deposits or place any bets. If you’re ever unsure, always contact the site beforehand to clarify what the wagering requirements are. Sites that do not clearly provide such information should be avoided – it is a legal requirement for any site licensed by the Gambling Commission to clearly advertise wagering requirements.
How to calculate a basic wagering requirement
Calculating a wagering requirement can be important for working out exactly how much you will need to bet before you can withdraw. You should never bet money that you can’t afford to lose, so it’s good to have a rough figure of the wager first so that you can determine whether your funds will stretch that far.
An average wager amount is usually calculated like this: (bonus amount) x (wagering requirement).
Let’s say a casino offers a bonus of £50 and requires you to bet this bonus 5 times. The sum would look like this:
£50 (bonus amount) x 5 (wagering requirement) = £250
This means that you’d have to wager a minimum of £250 before you can withdraw your bonus.
This is how most basic wagering requirements tend to work. However, in other cases, there can be extra hurdles thrown in. One example of this is…
Wagering requirements on both the bonus AND the deposit
To be granted a deposit bonus, you’ll likely have to make a minimum deposit. Some casinos may apply a wagering requirement to both the bonus and the money you initially deposit.
In this case, the wager amount is calculated like this: (deposit + bonus amount) x (wagering requirement).
Let’s assume that the minimum deposit is £50, the deposit bonus is £50 and the wagering requirement is x5. The sum would look like this:
(£50 (deposit) + £50 (bonus amount)) x 5 (wagering requirement) = £500
As you can see, when a wagering requirement is applied to both the deposit and the bonus, it often means having to bet a lot more money (in this case double the amount) before you can withdraw. You’ll have to spend a lot more time betting on this site and any losses could be a lot more expensive. As a result, these types of games should be treated with more caution.
Can I clear the wagering requirement with one large bet?
Usually, you cannot clear the wagering requirement with one large bet. For instance, if the total wager is £500, you cannot place one £500 bet in order to clear it.
There will likely be a maximum bet in place, encouraging you to place multiple bets. The maximum bet will usually be no more than the bonus amount. This is frustrating but necessary to prevent money laundering.
How does game weighting affect wagering requirements?
Game weighting can further complicate things. While some games are likely to contribute 100% to the wagering requirement, other games may only contribute 50%, 10% and in some cases even 0%.
In the case of slot machines, most will contribute 100%. This means that the full amount of every bet you place will go towards paying off your wagering requirement. As a result, slots are very popular among those wanting to strategically make money from online casino games.
There are some slot machines out there that may only contribute 50%. In these cases, only half the amount that you bet will actually contribute to paying off your wagering requirement. This could make winning that bonus a much longer process and you’ll have to bet more money in the long run. Consequently, you should be cautious of using these types of slot machines.
Lower game weighting is likely to apply to games like poker, baccarat, roulette and blackjack. Each casino will have its own list of game weighting contributions. You should always check this list before you play a new game to ensure that any bets you place will be going towards your wagering requirement.
Factoring in the RTP
RTP stands for ‘return to player’. This is the average amount of money that players make back on a specific game. Knowing the RTP of a slot machine can help you to evaluate the risk – are you likely to win back most of the money you bet or are you more likely to lose it?
Most slot machines have a RTP of somewhere between 90% to 99%. When playing a slot machine with 90% RTP, you have a 90% chance of making back your money. When playing a slot machine with a 99% RTP, you have a much more favourable 99% chance of making your money back. When playing higher RTP slots, you’re more likely to make back most of the money you bet – making any bonus more worthwhile chasing.
For instance, let’s imagine a slot machine has an RTP of 98%. If you end up having to wager £250 in order to withdraw your bonus, you should theoretically win back £245 of what you betted. If the bonus is £50, this means that you could potentially earn £45!
Of course, the RTP only measures the average risk. You could bet £250 and only win back £100 of it. Alternatively, you could bet £250 and win back £500. That is the nature of gambling – the RTP is simply an average of what most people win back.
How RTP can affect game weighting
Some slot machines with a higher RTP have lower game weighting. This isn’t always the case – there are some high RTP slot machines with 100% game weighting. However, many only contribute 75% or 50%. This means that you could end up betting more money and playing longer just to withdraw your bonus.
It can be worth looking into both the RTP and game weighting of a slot game to give you a good idea of just how much money you will need to bet and just how much risk is required to take home that bonus.
Bonus expiry dates: An added factor to consider
Sometimes you may only have a certain amount of time to meet the wagering requirement before the bonus expires. The average is usually thirty calendar days, although some sites might offer longer periods.
In such cases, it’s important to ensure that you have the available funds in your bankroll – you may not be able to place a multitude of bets out over a year as the bonus might reach its expiry date before this happens. Wagering requirements that involve betting £500 or even £1000 could be too much of a challenge for most people. Consequently, such sites are best avoided unless you’re certain that you’ve got the cash.
Sites that require you to bet your bonus first
Finally, it’s worth factoring in sites that offer bonuses – but require you to play with your bonus first. In these cases, you can’t withdraw your bonus and you’ll have to spend all of your bonus (and possibly some of your own deposited money) before you can withdraw any winnings.
This could still be a means of making money, but in most cases any earnings won’t be as great. The advantage of these sites is that any potential losses are also likely to be less. Make sure to always check whether this system is in place before you sign up to a casino.
So, how can I beat the wagering requirement?
If you want a chance of withdrawing that bonus while betting as little money as possible, it’s worth playing strategically in order to overcome the wagering requirement. A few key tips include:
- Calculating the total amount of money that your wagering requirement requires you to bet to ensure that your bankroll covers this.
- Avoiding games that apply a wagering requirement to both the deposit and the bonus.
- Making a record of the bonus expiry date (if there is one) so that you can place enough bets before the bonus expires.
- Sticking to slots with a high RTP and 100% game weighting
One thing to remember: beating the wagering requirement only matters if your main goal is to make money. If you’re playing slots as a bit of fun and just want to test your luck, it may not matter if you’re able to withdraw that bonus or not. However, if you want to truly maximise your potential winnings, the above strategies will definitely be of help.