Also known as rollover requirements, wagering requirements are the scourge of the bonus-hunting punter but a necessary and common part of the business.
The online betting and casino industries are among the most competitive of any in the country. No wonder then, that most firms have to resort either to very expensive target marketing, which is being slowly outlawed, or hugely enticing welcome bonuses in order to attract new customers.
Those bonuses can often be big. Some bookmakers will offer a £100 matched deposit bonus, a lot of casinos even offer up to £500 in bonuses for new players. There has to be a catch however, and that catch is the dreaded wagering requirement.
Wagering Requirements Explained
Some readers may remember that various marketing campaigns were aimed at sports and casino gamblers who were told they could rake in some serious bonus money. That’s because in the earlier days of generous sign-up offers, these bonus amounts could be manipulated and simply drawn out as cash without the player going on to become a loyal customer.
Wagering requirements were introduced across the board and these are the conditions players have to work towards before getting hold of any bonuses, and the winnings that may come along with it too.
Known as a rollover or a play-through, the wagering requirement is the sum of money you will need to stake, in total and often within a given timeframe, before you can withdraw any proceeds from the bonus funds.
The one saving grace sports bettors have is that, unlike in the online casino world, the wagering requirements are often not too stringent but some of the numbers on the market are astronomical.
Typical Wagering Requirements
Every bookmaker differs and so the cop-out, but genuine advice here, is to read the T&C’s for your chosen bookmaker and for every deal they offer you.
In general terms however, some sports betting bonuses are paid in free bet credits, or come with a wagering requirement of just 3x. In other words, you’ll need to go on to stake 3 times the amount on future bets before the cash becomes withdrawable.
For online casinos, these bonuses can come with wagering requirements going right up to 40x! Imagine even a fairly circumspect bonus + cash amount of £100 – this means you’d have to wager £4,000 in total within their timeframe to be able to get hold of the cash – that’s of course if you haven’t lost it all!
If you lose the bonus money and/or your own cash before the wagering requirement has been reached, then it’s simply gone forever. There is no money to withdraw, and any money you then place into your account by choice is cash and is not subject to further play-through rules.
Wagering Requirement Example
Wagering requirements are absolutely fair, absolutely legal and absolutely necessary if bookmakers are to continue offering bonuses to new players. The ultimate question is; with every bookie now doing it, is it simply time the big bonuses and their associated play-throughs stopped?
In any case, here’s an example of how they work:
You have chosen to join a bookmaker which is offering you a 100% sign-up bonus, up to £100.
‘Up to’ of course is the key phrasing, as it’s a matched deposit. So, if you deposit £250 you will still only get a £100 bonus. Likewise, if you deposit only £50, then your bonus will also be £50.
It’s likely that if you read the terms and conditions, your bonus money will either be given as free bets or will come with a wagering requirement. Assuming you want to deposit £50 and your bonus comes with a 4x wagering requirement, then you would need to:
- Deposit the £50, giving you a total of £100 in your account including the bonus.
- Check the T&C’s. Your 4x wagering requirement may be placed against the whole amount – deposit and bonus.
- You place some winning bets, and your account is now worth £180. You cannot withdraw yet.
- According to the play-through, you will now need to stake bets totaling £400, win or lose, before you can cash out.
- After £400 has been staked, whatever is left in your account can now be withdrawn.
This is why many people get frustrated with bonuses. Even the players who did understand that a wagering requirement was included get annoyed, as the other half of the money in the account is/was entirely theirs and should, in theory, be withdrawable.
Always, always read the terms and conditions before accepting a bonus. You can turn them down if you don’t like the terms!
It does make perfect sense for bookmakers to limit their bonus offers, and to attached play-through rules to them, however they can appear at first glance to be unfair so if you believe you may be in a position whereby you will need to access the money in your account at short notice, then don’t accept the bonus.
In all honestly, the vast majority of complaints received by sports betting firms and casinos alike about wagering requirements and not being able to cash out, come from those who didn’t know what they were accepting.
Put simply; if someone came to you on the street and offered you something for free, you are bound to believe instinctively that it comes with a catch. The bookmaking world is no different.