You may have noticed many casinos advertising on TV recently with tag lines such as ‘no nonsense’ or ‘no wagering’ bonuses, as well as sites like PlayOJO dubbing themselves the ‘Fair Casino’. But what do these sites actually mean by these claims and why are they important?
The fact is, some casinos came under fire a few years ago for having promotional terms that were very difficult to understand and that, more importantly, made it difficult for players to win any real money using bonus offers. So, with players demanding more transparent T&Cs and fairer practices, a lot of casino operators stepped up to the plate and started offering deals with far more straightforward rules.
One of these was the invention of bonus deals without wagering requirements attached, which is why you now have sites like MrQ, PlayOJO and SkyVegas all shouting about their no wagering bonuses from the rooftops.
But what exactly are wagering requirements and how do they affect players? Plus, how do no wagering bonuses compare to the more traditional online casino offers? Finally, what is a no wagering casino and why are these sites advertised so much?
Today, we’re going to take a look at wagering requirements, and discover how these controversial little game rules have shaken up the gambling industry in recent years.
What are wagering requirements?
Generally speaking, a ‘wagering requirement’ is a caveat which appears in the terms and conditions of almost every bonus deal on offer at an online casino. So any player who wishes to take on deals, such as deposit bonuses or free spins offers, will run into wagering requirements almost instantly.
And, as we’re about to find out, this specific term directly affects how a player can use their bonus, as well as the likelihood of the player being able to successfully cash out real winnings using bonus funds.
Wagering and game weighting explained
Simply put, wagering requirements refer to the amount of times a player must play through their bonus cash before they can withdraw any real-money winnings.
To clarify, let’s look at an example:
The player comes across a no deposit bonus of £10 at a casino site. ‘No deposit’ means that the player does not have to deposit any funds into the casino in order to get their hands on this bonus cash. So this money is effectively a gift from the casino.
However, in the terms and conditions the player finds a number marked with an ‘x’. This is the wagering requirement.
Now let’s say this is ‘50x’. This means that the player must turn over that £10 of bonus cash they received from the casino 50 times before they will be allowed to take cash out any real money. That’s the equivalent of turning over £500.
So, as you can see, this little rule will have a huge impact on whether or not the player can walk away with any real money.
Also, wagering rules don’t just apply to no deposit offers. Even if a player makes a large deposit into the casino site, or they’ve chosen a free spins offer over bonus cash, they shouldn’t expect to escape wagering requirements, as they are usually added to every casino bonus.
But that’s not all. We’re assuming that every game at the casino is worth 100% towards the requirement and, unfortunately, this is not always the case. This is what’s referred to as ‘game weighting’ and it is imperative for calculating wagering requirements.
For the most part, slot games are typically worth 100% of wagering at most online casinos. But, if a player enjoys games like blackjack, roulette and live casino games, then the game weight tends to be much lower.
For example, some versions of blackjack count for as little as 10% towards a player’s wagering requirement, and some games have a 0% contribution. Thus, the player is left to recalculate their overall wagering requirement, which can lead to confusion, frustration and considerably lower chances of the player winning any real money.
Why do so many casinos use wagering requirements?
The answer as to why most casinos use wagering requirements is simple: these caveats are a method of safeguarding the casino from giving out too much money in bonus funds and not getting it back.
Looking at the example from earlier, if a player were to take £10 in bonus cash as part of a no deposit deal, then the player takes on no financial risk whatsoever. Therefore, if he/she goes on to win a cash prize, the casino is out of pocket. Therefore, many casinos use wagering requirements as a way to protect themselves against players taking out stacks of cash without first depositing an appropriate amount into the site.
That said, as we’ve seen, it’s not just no deposit players that fall foul of wagering; depositing players will also see wagering attached to their bonus cash.
In the face of all these tricky gaming rules, many casino brands faced serious backlash as players became dissatisfied with heavy wagering requirements and unrealistic cashout terms, and started complaining to the powers that be, including the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).
For example, at NoWagering.com, they discovered that ‘the vast majority of these complaints are as a result of wagering requirements that weren’t communicated clearly to the player before being offered the bonus or free spins’.
The end result of this dissatisfaction and anger felt by gamblers has since given rise to the inception of ‘no wagering casinos’.
What are no wagering casinos?
As the name suggests, a ‘no wagering casino’ is a site that offers bonus deals without wagering requirements attached.
These sites are becoming increasingly popular, as players want bonus deals that have clear and transparent terms. So, rather than having to calculate wagering requirements and also consider game weight as well, a lot of players prefer a straightforward bonus deal where they know exactly what they are getting.
These no wagering casino deals were initially a reaction to the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) cracking down on some casinos that they felt were taking advantage of players with misleading offers filled with deceptive terms and conditions, including wagering requirements.
But some clever bods at the most innovative casino brands saw the potential of no wagering bonuses as a way to gain a better reputation and level of trust with players. So, naturally, no wagering offers have since become a very powerful marketing tool, tempting customers towards a casino site that offers ‘fairer’ bonuses than their competitors.
But are ‘no wagering’ deals always better than other types of casino offers? Let’s find out.
What’s better – traditional or no wagering casinos?
A lot of players will opt for a bonus at a no wagering site, as the offers advertised come with the clearest, most straightforward T&Cs. However, that’s not to say that other types of bonuses where wagering applies are dead in the water.
Overall, it comes down to personal taste, and both wagering and no wagering deals come with their own pros and cons; one not necessarily being better than the other.
For example, you will never see a no wagering offer as generous as one where wagering is applied.
For instance, at many sites you’ll find, on average, between £5 and £20 offered as part of a no wagering bonus. However, at a traditional casino, it’s not uncommon to find match deposit bonuses where you can pick up hundreds of pounds in bonus funds. But, of course, this bonus cash will come with wagering requirements.
Furthermore, no wagering casino deals are not free of other terms and conditions. There are still many other T&Cs that players should consider before taking on a casino’s offer. These include things like cashout limits, expiry dates and excluded games.
Therefore, it’s still highly advisable for players to read through all of the terms and conditions on any offer before they take it on.
In summary, the reason why no wagering sites are advertised is because, firstly, these deals are great marketing tools for casino brands and, secondly, because these bonuses work.
While a no wagering bonus might be lower in value than a traditional casino deal, the fact that a player doesn’t have to contend with wagering requirements and game weighting means they have a far greater chance of cashing out successfully.
Furthermore, it shows a genuine level of transparency and trust from the casino, which a lot of players believe to have been lacking in recent times.
Therefore, no wagering bonuses are fairer to players all-round. After all, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.