What are wagering requirements and why do they exist?

If you’re anything like us, you’re always keen to get your hands on the biggest and best online slot bonuses wherever you can, whenever the opportunity arises… However, doesn’t it frustrate you when you realise that you’ve been stung by restrictive conditions attached to these offers?

Sometimes operators are guilty of dazzling players with impressively large cash bonuses and hundreds of free spins, only to then weigh them down with huge wagering requirements. Have you ever stopped to wonder why casinos actually do this?

What are wagering requirements?

Before we can explain why casinos impose wagering requirements on their bonuses, first we must explain exactly what wagering requirements are, and how they work.

Wagering requirements are a restriction placed upon a bonus that forces players to play through their bonus a set amount of times in order to withdraw any winnings. This stops players from taking advantage of operators’ generosity, cashing out bonus funds without taking any risk on their end.

Essentially the casino is adding an additional element of risk on the players’ side, as there’s no guarantee that any money will actually be won by those taking a bonus. Players could quite easily run out of money before they’ve reached their wagering target.

Wagering requirements vary in terms of their difficulty from casino to casino, almost all fair and honest casinos will make their wagering requirements achievable (with a bit of luck). Usually, the higher and more lucrative the bonus, the higher the wagering requirements.

For example, if a casino offers players a £100 bonus with x30 wagering requirements then they will have to place £3,000 worth of bets before any winnings can be withdrawn. If players manage to hit a bonus feature during the eligible online slot with that £100, then this is more than doable.

Why were wagering requirements introduced?

During the infancy of online casinos, operators were bound by very few rules and regulations in part because nobody knew what to expect from businesses that operated online. Back then the internet could be likened to the wild west, it was a free-for-all where money was there to be made by any means necessary, even if it wasn’t gained entirely fairly.

As a result of the lawless environment, both players and operators alike were given free-reign to run amok… Players worked together in the confines of private forums discussing which casinos were offering bonuses that could easily be abused for their own financial gain, using a myriad of low-risk strategies that almost guaranteed profit.

In response to the abuse, online casinos began placing wagering requirements on top of all their bonuses, many of which were incredibly difficult, if not impossible to overcome, meaning they were eating up the deposits of both legitimate players and rogue bonus hunters.

Even when the bonus hunters were scared away, many operators continued to stick with high wagering requirements. This was proving to be an issue because operators were not effectively communicating with players, failing to inform them that bonuses had wagering requirements on them, souring the relationship between operator and player as their money was being swept up.

In order to find a happy medium, operators imposed middle of the road wagering requirements (between 30x wagering and 50x wagering) that provided players with much more hope and belief that they were getting a fair offer, and that they could be beaten.

Ultimately though, it was the introduction of The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 that forced operators’ hands and ensured that they’d be much more transparent, leaving them with little choice but to bring their wagering requirements down to manageable levels.

Can wagering requirements be beaten?

First and foremost, the question most people tend to ask is ‘can wagering requirements be circumvented’, the answer to that is a firm no. There is no way to avoid wagering requirements in this day and age, however, it used to be that savvy players could bend the rules in the past by wagering their funds on casino games such as roulette.

When it comes to whether players can ‘beat’ wagering requirements, then the answer is yes. This is especially true because players tend to bet significantly more aggressively with funds that aren’t their own, leading to bigger wins meaning they can work through them quickly.

As long as the casino is offering a bonus that doesn’t have insanely high wagering requirements then they’re beatable, however like all things in gambling, it will require luck to be on the players’ side. Ideally, luck would come in the form of triggering a bonus that pays out significantly more than the base game would.

Registering any sort of sizable win then can set a player up nicely to work their way through the wagering requirements with much less hassle than initially anticipated. Odds are they won’t get to take home every penny they make from a big win, losses are inevitable in pursuit of wagering requirements, but at the end of the day a win is a win and any money made is a bonus!

What constitutes fair wagering requirements?

Ultimately, wagering requirements are subjective, they’re not regulated and there’s no limit to how high, or how low they can go. Different players will have different thresholds and some are willing to work longer in order to get the most out of every single bonus they come across, many on the other hand just want to get it over and done with as quickly as possible.

It’s hard to pinpoint an exact figure to determine what is a fair and what isn’t, as there are many factors that need be considered, such as how much bonus cash is being given away as part of the casino bonus, are there free spins involved? And if so, what game must they be used on?

More often than not operators will select highly volatile games with a low RTP (return to player) percentage as the game that’s tied to their bonus. This way players have a much lower chance of winning a large sum of money, making it harder to work through the wagering requirements.

In an ideal world, we’d all be able to enjoy generous wager-free bonuses from casinos with no wagering requirements, however, the fact of the matter is, no matter how fair and wonderful they may be, they’re few and far between and not too many casinos like to offer them as they pose the risk of losing operators money in the long run.

The next best thing for players are low wagering bonus offers, these are offers with 20x wagering and below that can be worked through without too much stress involved. However, if you do come across an offer above this 20x it still may well be worth your time.

Are wagering requirements fair?

Once upon a time, the answer would have been no, wagering requirements are not at all fair. But now, in 2020 we have to concede that wagering requirements are a necessary evil.

We’re very lucky as avid players to have some many operators to choose from when deciding where to play our favourite online slots and casino games, but so intense is that competition, it’s inevitable that these sites have to do something extra to win us over.

However, there’s only so far a casino can go in terms of their generosity, they have to protect their own interests as well in order to remain financially viable.

One thing we will remain firm on though is this, unusually high wagering requirements have no place in our industry whatsoever. We don’t condone unobtainable wagering requirements and we don’t think they bring any value to the player whatsoever!

There’s a very strong argument to be made for tighter regulation surrounding wagering requirements, but whether the UK Gambling Commission or the Betting and Gaming Council follow through with anything like this remains to be seen.

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