We all know the old saw about things that look too good to be true. If you happen to be an enthusiast of spinning the reels or turning the cards in a casino game or two, you will almost certainly be familiar with plentiful examples of that theory in action. The online casino scene has been bustling like never before over the past few months. It’s become both busier and more competitive than ever, partly, no doubt, due to the restrictions placed on the land-based alternatives since last summer.
That increased competition has led to each platform trying to outdo the next with the scale and generosity of its promotions and bonuses. These days, it’s not uncommon to see them offering things like deposit bonuses – surely that means free money, and you don’t even have to lay down any of your own to get your hands on it. So what’s the catch? Invariably, it is the wagering requirements that are attached to this “free money” and that all but ringfence it within the game.
How do wagering requirements work?
The easiest way to understand this is to think of bonus money as something different to real money. So when you spend $10 of bonus money, the winnings effectively are held in a bonus account, where they can be used only for placing more wagers. In order to turn that bonus money into real money, you have to meet the wagering requirement. This is usually expressed as a multiplier, and is the amount you must wager in order to “convert” your bonus money and have the option to withdraw it in cash.
So for example, suppose your generous casino platform offers you a $20 no deposit bonus with a 40x wagering requirement. That’s $20 to spend on the slots and it won’t cost you a cent of your own money. But you’ll have to actually lay down 40x$20 in bets to meet the wagering requirement – in other words, you’ve been handed $20 but you need to bet $800 before you can withdraw any winnings. You can now see why these offers can actually be quite dangerous, especially if you get some nice wins early on. It’s only too easy to end up ploughing your own money in to chase a loss.
However, it’s worth keeping in mind that wagering requirements are not just a cynical ploy from the casino to draw you into its web – at least, not entirely. They are also a legal requirement in order to meet anti money laundering regulations. If they were not there, you can see how easy it would be for criminal enterprises to simply pour their ill-gotten gains into a casino account and then withdraw them again.
Beating the wagering requirements
Let’s be clear about one thing straight away. There’s no way to circumvent wagering requirements, and strictly speaking, the easiest way to beat wagering requirements is to just avoid them in the first place. The sorts of offers that have no wagering requirements attached might not seem as generous as the ones that do, but they offer you a more realistic chance of actually walking away with a tangible reward in your pocket.
However, that’s probably not the answer you were looking for. The fact is, most casino goers use their no deposit bonus to try out different games, and simply burn it out. When it’s gone, it’s no actual loss, but the player has gained some useful experience and now feels ready to deposit his own money. In other words, meeting the wagering requirement on that bonus money never becomes an issue.
The exception is on those odd occasions when you get lucky. Let’s say you’ve got that $20 with a 40x wagering requirement, and half way through spending it, you had a big win of $500. Now so far, you’ve only wagered $10 and you’ve got to lay down another $790 before you can withdraw your winnings and take your mother out to a nice restaurant.
The idea is to clear that wagering requirement without blowing half your winnings in the process, or worse. Here, there are some strategies you can adopt to maximize the gain.
The first is to keep your head down and play low bets on your slot game of choice. The downside to this is that it can get monotonous, and it’s also hard to resist the temptation to up the ante after a generous payout.
The second strategy is to look for slot games with low variance and high RTP. The thing about these games is they pay out moderate amounts with regularity. Here, you can afford to place larger wagers to clear the wagering requirement faster, but the regular payouts mean you are less likely to put a major dent in your balance while getting there.