October 22, 2018 by

In Defense of Wagering Requirements

Online casinos are in a major growth phase as some states are starting to allow them to operate in their jurisdictions and are fully regulating them. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 had made online gambling in the United States very difficult at best. Now, some states are regulating a small number of online casinos—out of the thousands that exist on the internet—through their land based casinos.

In this way, land based casinos can also establish an online brand with a solid footing in the online gaming marketplace. One of the big benefits both to players and to casinos is the ability to offer casino bonuses to their online customers.

Some Thoughts about Bonuses

An article was published on October 5, of this year that spoke about the “wagering requirements” that accompany online casino bonuses. The headline made it seem that such requirements—also known as play through requirements—are a deep dark secret that online casinos withhold from their gamers. Here is the headline in question: Wagering Requirements—Ugly Truth on Online Casino Bonuses.


The article tries to take a perfectly fair requirement of the online casino and turn it into something not only unfair but sinister. Here is the real truth: if there weren’t wagering requirements many players would access a bonus and withdraw the money immediately. Why wouldn’t they? After all, free money is free money.

The casino sees all bonuses as an investment in attracting and keeping players happy. Almost all online casinos offer many bonuses. The law of supply and demand applies here as does the recognized effects of competition in business. Why would a player go to a casino that didn’t offer bonuses if it’s just as easy to go to a casino that does offer bonuses.

Land Based versus Online Casinos

Online casinos can offer many more bonuses and for more money than land based casinos can offer. The main reason is that a player at a land based casino may not want to bet all of the bonus money he or she has just received. But, when will they come back to the casino to use the bonus money?

At an online casino, you can use the bonus money as you see fit: some today, some tomorrow, some next week, and some after you finish that project for work that has you working long hours and on weekends.

Another advantage that online casinos have over land based casinos specifically in regard to bonuses is that at an online casino, you don’t have to travel to get the bonus. It’s right there on your screen. This is the same phenomenon as when consumers shop online instead of driving to the mall. Convenience is a very big factor in many of the decisions we make.

Not All Wagering Requirements are Created Equal

The big difference between bonuses is the size of the wagering requirement. Some call for as much as 60 times the bonus before you can withdraw any winnings while others require only 30 times the bonus. This is by far the biggest difference between bonuses.

It is also true that some bonuses are much higher than others. In the modern world of easy internet access, players can join a large number of casinos and play directly on their browsers in what the casinos call their instant play platform. One reason players join a number of casinos is because no casino can carry every game that the more than 150 game developers have created.

Some players like the blackjack interface at one casino and the video poker variations at another and play at both casinos even though the size and frequency of the bonuses the two casinos offer are different.

Fair and Unfair Rules

It is important to bear in mind that casinos are in the business of attracting and keeping happy gamers.

This is not to say that every online casino is fair in the way it handles bonuses. Here are a few ways casinos can take advantage of players. We present this set of problematic rules that do exist in order to counter the unfair attitude toward wagering requirements we detected in the headline and in the body of the article itself.

  • The wagering requirement might be too high.
  • The casino might not tell you how it keeps track of the bets you make as you work off the wagering requirement.
  • The casino might not tell you that there are some games they offer that don’t go towards playing through the requirement. Most casinos give much more credit to slots games than to table games. They should tell you clearly and up front how they calculate the wagering requirement.
  • The casino might set a limit as to how much money you can win with bonus money. This saves the casino from being obligated to pay out a big jackpot. It would be better to say that players can’t play jackpot games with bonus money.
  • The casino might limit the amount you can withdraw with bonus money winnings. In essence, this is the same as the above example; it is simply stated differently.
  • In no deposit bonuses, the casino might tell you which games it allows you to play with the bonus.
  • The same is true in free spins bonuses.
  • The casino might advertise a massive size for its new player bonus only to tell you that the percentage it matches is quite low. For example, it might advertise a $1000 bonus but you have to find out that the percentage rate for the bonus is only 20% so you have to deposit a very large sum (for most gamers) in order to access the big bonus. Essentially, the “big bonus” is really a very clever way to get players to deposit a lot of money.
  • The casino might make the wagering requirement on both the bonus and the deposit. This may double the size of the wagering requirement.
  • Some casinos put a limit on the time you have to finish the wagering requirement. This is in direct contradiction to the advantage of gaming at an online casino over a land based casino: that you have for all intents and purposes an unlimited amount of time to complete the wagering requirement.


The article needn’t have made wagering requirements seem so unfair. They are perfectly fair but as we have shown, some casinos have wagering requirements that are more fair than others. So, read the terms and conditions of any bonus you take and choose only those that are as fair as they say they are.

Laurie Renfield Picture
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Laurie Renfield has been part of the casino scene for both print and virtual media outlets for over two decades. Renfield's research focuses on both land-based casino entertainment and online casino gambling. She is dedicated to making sure that, regardless of where a player decides to compete, they'll achieve the best gambling experience and the most satisfying rewards.

Renfield's mantra for articles to share with our readers is to pick the most relevant and critical subjects for readers to ... [Read Laurie Renfield full bio]