It takes just one quick Google search to find yourself amongst a whole host of generous casino welcome offers, each promising hundreds of pounds in bonus cash and a number of free spins, all for the price of a sign-up and deposit. But are these offers all that they’re cracked up to be?
On the face of things, yes, these offers look fantastic, offering players the opportunity to get a leg up when choosing to bet with a particular slot site, after all, who doesn’t like a freebie?
However, the harsh reality is that no matter how good an offer looks, nine times out of ten there’s a hidden caveat that can quickly ruin your online slots experience - wagering requirements.
Wagering requirements explained - How do they work?
To put it in layman's terms, wagering requirements are a restriction that stops players from being able to quickly withdraw money made as a result of a welcome offer or bonus.
Wagering requirements are an easy way for the casino to add an element of risk on the side of the player, meaning whilst they’re still getting free cash to play with, courtesy of the casino, there’s no 100% guarantee that players will walk away with any of the casino’s money.
The difficulty of wagering requirements tend to vary from casino to casino, there’s no set minimum or maximum limit they adhere to, however it’s fair to suggest that the more fair and honest the casino, the lower and more beatable the requirements are.
For example, one casino may offer players £100 worth of bonus cash with a 50x wagering requirement. This would mean that the player would essentially need to make £5,000 worth of bets before any winnings could be withdrawn.
The sad reality is that most players will lose all of their bonus funds long before they get anywhere remotely close to reaching the £5,000 threshold required to make a withdrawal.
Usually the more impressive the bonus is, the higher the wagering requirements are. It doesn’t necessarily pay to take the most lucrative offer from an operator, as you’ll quickly realise you’re never going to realistically be able to work through the wagering requirements unless you get very lucky and trigger an in-game feature that pays out generously.
Why do wagering requirements exist?
Wagering requirements exist for one simple reason, to help regulate what was once a wild and lawless environment back when iGaming was still in its infancy.
When online casinos were first beginning to pop up across the internet in the early noughties players would convene in private forums discussing which operators were offering players generous bonuses that could easily be abused to land players quick and easy money.
In response to the carefully curated and targeted bonus abuse, casinos began quietly adding wagering requirements to their offers, however they weren’t widely publicising this other than the odd line or two hidden deep within the terms and conditions that hardly anyone bothered to read, which obviously didn’t go down well at all.
Players began realising they were essentially depositing funds into an online casino, only to never see them again due to the impossibly high, well hidden wagering requirements. In the end regulators and the government had to step in, and the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 was introduced, which essentially forced casinos to be more transparent with potential customers, in the end a happy medium was found for all parties.
Other limitations that hinder online casino enthusiasts
There’s often a little bit more players should be aware of when working through wagering requirements, as casinos do place other limitations on their offers so that players can’t just hop on a casino game that has a relatively low house-edge, such as roulette or an online slot game that has an insanely high RTP (return to player).
All games are weighted differently, which will have a large impact on how players choose to play when they first sign-up and redeem a welcome bonus. Usually, most players will go straight to the online slots, as they always count 100% towards the wagering requirements.
If you’re not into online slots though, you’re in a bit more trouble, as popular card and table games such as roulette, blackjack and even poker only count a very small percentage towards working through the wagering requirements (around 10% or 20% at most).
It’s always worth reading the terms and conditions of a welcome bonus before you accept and deposit any funds, because not only are games weighted, but you may be restricted to playing a certain set of games that have been chosen for having RTP and variance that benefits the operator more than the player, but that’s not to say players won’t win playing them.
Maximum bet size
Another method in which casinos prevent unscrupulous players utilising low-risk tactics to fulfil wagering requirements is by placing a maximum allowable bet size restriction on any bonus fund wagers. Usually, this is in the region of £4, so be aware if you plan to make larger bets.
Free spins value
You’ll also want to familiarise yourself with the free spins value the operator is allowing players to play with, as some will only value the free spins at say 10p each which will likely never yield enough winnings to beat the wagering requirements.
What’s the best way for players to approach casino bonuses?
Ultimately, it’s down to how tolerant players are with regards to working through wagering requirements as it can be a frustrating uphill battle that not everyone can cope with.
If that sounds like you, don’t worry because not all hope is lost, many forward-thinking players choose to play no wagering slots as opposed to slots that come coupled with huge bonuses and high wagering requirements.
These slots are played at no wagering casinos and slot sites that are offering fair and honest bonuses that will see you keep what you win, without any additional caveats. As there are no playthrough requirements, players receive a modest number of free spins that can be enjoyed without any stress or pressure.
Admittedly, your bonus won’t be as generous as one that’s coupled with wagering requirements, but there’s no doubt whatsoever that you’ll be able to cash out any winnings at the end of play. The frustration is completely taken out of the equation, and that’s a game changer for us.