Wagering requirements – a complete guide

Wagering requirements – a complete guide - Banner
Pavlos Sideris
by Pavlos Sideris Last updated:

Introduction

Whether you’re new to online casino bonuses, or trying to get your head around them, sooner or later you will encounter “wagering requirements”. A wagering requirement is a condition most online casinos impose on bonuses in order to prevent players from abusing the offer. To ensure fair use, online casinos require you to wager a certain amount before you can withdraw any winnings.

It can also mean that you’re forced to continue playing with your winnings until you have none left – especially when the wagering requirement is exceptionally high.

Understanding casino wagering requirements is crucial for anyone wanting to make the most of their casino bonuses. This guide will explain exactly what wagering requirements are, how they work and their impact on your gameplay.

Understanding wagering requirements

Wagering requirements, also known as “playthrough” or “rollover requirements”, are expressed as a multiple such as 40x or 50x. This multiple is usually applied to the bonus amount you receive, and the sum is the total amount you must wager before the wagering requirement is deemed to be “fulfilled”. Only at this point can you withdraw any winnings won off the bonus.

There are also a few other things to note:

  1. Some bonuses will require you to deposit a certain amount and spend it before you receive the bonus.

  2. Your deposit is used first. So if you’re planning on using your bonus first and then withdrawing your deposit, think again.

  3. If you request a withdrawal before you’ve fulfilled the wagering requirement, your request will be refused and your bonus and associated winnings may be voided.

  4. Only real money wagers contribute towards the wagering requirements – free bets and free spins don't.

  5. Wagering requirements tied to free spins are applied to the free spins winnings, not the value of the free spins. More on that later…

Casino bonuses and wagering requirements

Wagering requirements can feel unfair. Imagine you’re given a welcome bonus and win £1,000, £2,000 or even £5,000 playing with that bonus cash, only to discover you have to continue playing and risk losing it all, just to be able to withdraw your winnings.

Some players refuse to accept any casino bonuses for that reason  – they prefer to use their own cash, so at least if they do win there are no nasty surprises when it comes to cashing out.

Realistically, fulfilling the wagering requirement without losing all your winnings is difficult – but it is possible, especially if you manage to land some decent wins during your gameplay.

When you’re offered a bonus, the casino should make you aware of any T&Cs, including the wagering requirement, before you claim it. Make sure you understand the restrictions, as otherwise your bonus and winnings could be confiscated.

For other T&Cs associated with online casino bonuses, jump to our section on common terms & conditions.

How to calculate wagering requirements

It’s normally quite easy to calculate a wagering requirement but you might want to get your calculator ready!

As wagering requirements are usually applied to the bonus amount, firstly, understand how much you've received as a bonus. Most bonuses come in the form of a deposit bonus, expressed as a percentage such as 100%. A 100% deposit bonus means you’ll receive a bonus equal to 100% of your deposit.

So, let’s assume you’ve deposited £100 to receive a £100 bonus with 50x wagering requirements.

The total amount you’ll need to wager before fulfilling the wagering requirement is the bonus amount (£100) multiplied by the wagering requirement (50), which equals £5,000.

It's worth keeping in mind that wagering £5,000 doesn't necessarily mean losing £5,000. This is because as you play you will win occasionally, adding to your balance and contributing to further wagers.

For example, most slot games pay out every few spins, and often have payout percentages (known as RTP, return to player) of around 95% (the remaining 5% being the house edge). In other words, theoretically at least, slot games pay out £95 for every £100 wagered on them.

Therefore, if a player were to wager £5,000 on a slot game then they could theoretically expect to receive £4,750 in winnings over the duration of their play. 

On the flip side, if a player loses £100 over the duration of play on the slot game, they have theoretically wagered £2,000 on it during that period (£100 / 5% = £2,000).

The above figures assume an RTP of 95%. It’s reasonable to anticipate winnings being approximately in line with the advertised RTP over an extended period of time. However, over a shorter period of gameplay returns may vary more. 

Playing games with a high RTP and low house edge, therefore, is a wise way to maximise your potential profit when fulfilling a wagering requirement.

Wagering requirements including the deposit

Look out for deposit match bonuses that have wagering requirements on the bonus AND the deposit amount, often expressed “50x wagering (deposit + bonus)”.

In this case, supposing you deposited £100 to get a £100 bonus, you'd need to wager £200 (£100 deposit + £100 bonus) x 50, which would mean wagering a total of £10,000 before you can withdraw any winnings!

Different types of wagering requirements

Wagering requirements can apply to cash bonuses and free spins. Using the previous example, a £100 cash bonus with a 50x wagering requirement means you need to wager £5,000 in bets before you can withdraw any winnings.

Free spins

Wagering requirements on free spins are calculated differently though – they’re applied to the free spins winnings. For example, if you win £100 from your free spins and the wagering requirement is 30x, you’ll have to wager a total of £3,000 (£100 x 30) before you can withdraw.

Free spins wagering requirements can be especially harsh, with requirements of up to 50x not uncommon. In this instance, the free spins become no better than demo credits, as your winnings become seemingly impossible to cash out. In this situation, the only realistic way of fulfilling the wagering requirement is to land subsequent wins larger than the wagering requirement itself. 

Thankfully, there are plenty of no wagering free spins available which have absolutely no wagering requirements and allow players to keep their winnings…

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Fair wagering requirements

Wagering requirements are often a necessary evil to prevent bonus abuse. But they don’t have to be unfair. 

A wagering requirement of around 20x is more than reasonable. It offers adequate protection for the casino against abuse, but is also low enough so that players can relatively easily fulfil it should they have a sizeable win.

Casino bonuses with a low wagering requirement can offer better value than wager-free bonuses as the casino can afford to give away more bonus money or more free spins. For that reason, we also recommend a number of low wagering casinos which we feel offer good value whilst acting fairly to players.

  • Buzz Casino Logo

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Common terms & conditions

There are various terms and conditions associated with wagering requirements. Some of the most common include:

Game contributions

Different games contribute differently to wagering requirements. For example, most slots contribute 100%, while table games like roulette, blackjack and some online poker games may only contribute 10% or less.

Take care when playing other games to fulfil your wagering requirements, as they might not be contributing as much as you think to your total wagers.

Maximum bet limit

Most deposit bonuses have a maximum bet limit, which restricts the amount you can bet per spin or per hand while meeting the wagering requirement.

Maximum win cap

Some bonuses have a limit on the amount you can win from them. If you hit a big win, any amount over the maximum win cap might not be withdrawable.

Expiry dates

Bonuses and their wagering requirements often come with an expiry date. Failing to meet the requirements within a certain period can mean you lose the bonus money and any winnings associated with it.

Sticky vs non-sticky bonuses

Sticky bonuses cannot be withdrawn and are removed from your balance once you meet the wagering requirements. Non-sticky bonuses can be withdrawn along with your winnings once the requirements are met.

There are also some terms & conditions that players need to be aware of. 

Effects of wagering requirements on casino games

Slots normally have higher contributions to wagering requirements, while table games and live dealer games contribute much less. This is because of the different house edge on certain games, making them more or less advantageous to the house.

In the past, some players realised that if they played games with a low house edge such as blackjack (0.5% with optimal play) or roulette (2.7% with a single zero wheel) then they could fulfil the wagering requirement without losing very much in the process. Furthermore, there were certain betting combinations that reduced the risk of losing even further. For example, placing £10 bets on both red and black on roulette meant that as long as zero didn't come up, the player would receive even money and would still have wagered £20 towards their wagering requirement.

Online casinos soon caught on to these tactics and introduced further conditions that stipulate not all games contribute the same towards wagering requirements. The result is even stricter and more confusing terms and conditions associated with bonuses.

How to beat wagering requirements: gameplay and strategies

There are a few strategies and tips that can help you beat wagering requirements:

  • Ensure you understand the terms and conditions to avoid confiscated winnings. Contact customer support if you have any questions.

  • Choose high contribution games, focusing on slot games with 100% contribution.

  • Select slots with a high RTP.

  • Manage your bankroll carefully and set a budget. Lower volatility slots can stretch your bankroll and help you work steadily towards the wagering requirements.

Slots are often the best choice when it comes to selecting a game to play with your bonus due to their 100% contribution rate. The frequency of slot spins means you can meet wagering requirements quickly, while bonus rounds and free spins within the games can help top up your balance.

The most popular strategy is to play slots with a high return-to-player (RTP) percentage to maximise your winning potential. These games have a higher theoretical return, meaning you get more bang for your buck and potentially extended gameplay.

It's also important to consider the volatility level. High-volatility slots offer bigger but less frequent wins, which could deplete your bankroll more quickly. On the other hand, low-volatility slots give smaller, more consistent payouts. Bear in mind that playing lower volatility slots might help with budgeting, so that you avoid running out of funds before meeting wagering requirements. 

Table games require more strategic play and contribute less to wagering requirements. These games often contribute 10% to 20%, but sometimes less. Because of the lower contribution rates, you need to wager more money on table games to meet the same requirements as slot players. The slower pace of table games compared to slots also results in fewer bets placed over the same time period. Any advantage from a lower house edge is cancelled out by this lower contribution percentage and slower gameplay.

For a practical example, consider a £100 casino bonus with a 20x wagering requirement. When playing slot games with a 100% contribution rate, you need to wager £2,000. As slots have fast-paced gameplay, you can achieve this relatively quickly, though the volatility might impact your bankroll. On the other hand, a table game with a 10% contribution rate will require you to wager £20,000. The slower pace of play and need for strategic understanding mean you'll spend significantly more time and effort to meet the same requirements.

Wagering requirements and customer support

Customer support should clarify any confusing terms and conditions, answer your questions and resolve any issues. The customer support team should be able to resolve disputes, but if there are any bigger issues or you feel unfairly treated, you can escalate the issue and get third-party independent support.

Common challenges:

  • Confusing terms: Make sure you understand the wagering requirements fully and contact customer support with any queries.

  • Hidden details: Important details may be buried in the fine print.

  • Game contributions: These are often tucked away in the casino’s T&Cs page. Familiarise yourself with them before choosing what games to play when fulfilling wagering requirements.

Wagering requirements and online gambling regulations

Online gambling regulations vary by region but typically ensure fair play and transparency. The Gambling Commission has guidance on fair terms and practices, including the need for appropriate wagering requirements that do not “encourage excessive play”.

The issue of transparent and fair wagering requirements was also mentioned in the White Paper from April 2023, with the Commission stating that gambling operators should have “clear rules and fair limits on re-wagering requirements and time limits so they do not encourage excessive or harmful gambling”.

It's quite possible that future regulations may enforce a cap on wagering requirements to ensure they're fair and justified.

Conclusion

Understanding wagering requirements is key to making the most of your online gambling experience. By exploring how they work, you can make fully informed decisions and choose the best bonuses with fair terms and conditions. 

Remember to read the small print carefully when claiming any bonuses or free spins and don't hesitate to contact customer support if you have any questions.

Wagering requirements are justified as a means of protecting a casino from potential bonus abuse. However, they need to be fair and transparent. A wagering requirement of 20x or 30x might be justifiable, if the terms are clear. But if wagering requirements are too high, such as 50x or 60x, it makes the bonus no better than demo credit. 

At worst, unfair wagering requirements can be deceptive and simply a means of tempting players to sign up with no hope of ever being able to access their bonus or winnings. It all comes down to picking the right casino with fair terms – or even better, choosing a casino with no wagering requirements at all. 

To help you get started, here's our pick of the best online casinos offering excellent no wagering bonuses for new players:

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FAQs

What are wagering requirements?

Wagering requirements are the conditions most online casinos impose on bonuses in order to prevent players from abusing the offer.

How do wagering requirements work?

You need to wager your bonus amount a specified number of times before you can withdraw any winnings derived from it. So the bonus needs to be multiplied by whatever the wagering requirement is (e.g. 40x) to find the amount you need to wager.

What does a 10x, 30x, 50x wagering requirement mean?

This means you’ll need to wager your bonus 10, 30 or 50 times before you can withdraw any winnings associated with it. So if your bonus is £100, that would mean you need to wager £1,000 (£100 x 10), £3,000 (£100 x 30) or £5,000 (£100 x 50) before withdrawing any winnings.

Why should I avoid high wagering requirements?

High wagering requirements can make it very difficult and time consuming to withdraw any winnings, potentially leading to frustration and financial loss.

What are playthrough or rollover requirements?

These are other terms for wagering requirements, indicating the number of times you must wager your bonus amount before you can withdraw winnings.

What does “no wagering” mean?

“No wagering” means no wagering requirements are attached to a bonus or free spins, so any winnings are yours to withdraw immediately.

What does RTP mean?

RTP means “return to player” and refers to the amount a slot pays out over time, expressed as a percentage. So a slot with an RTP of 96% will statistically pay out £96 for every £100 wagered on it over time. The RTP is effective over millions of spins and doesn’t guarantee a specific payout over the short term.

Is no wagering always better than low wagering?

Usually, but not always. Bonuses with low wagering requirements sometimes offer better value than wager-free bonuses, as the casino can afford to give away a larger bonus or more free spins. We recommend a number of low wagering casinos that we feel offer good value and treat players fairly.