Bookmakers regularly have offers for punters to take advantage of, such as matching the deposit that you’ve made into your account with free bets or giving you bonus credit when you make a deposit. A lot of the time, though, it’s not as simple as just getting money added to your account the second that you’ve made a deposit, meaning that you can withdraw it without having to even place a bet.
Instead, bookmakers and online casinos ask customers to wager the money in question a given number of times before being allowed to withdraw any winnings. This stops people from simply earning themselves free money by depositing into an account, instead having to risk losing that money first. Not only do you have to bet it a number of times, you’ll also have to do so at specific odds that further increases the likelihood of losing it.
This is part of the point, however. Betting companies do not want to give you free money rather their offers are designed to give you promotional funds to try out the site to see if you like it. Some people do win with these offers but the idea of wagering requirements is to reduce the amount the betting site will lose while still allowing customers to try them out with promo cash.
Wagering Requirements Explained
Whether you use online slots, play casino-style games or use a bookmaker’s sportsbook for bets on sporting events, there’s a good chance that at some point or another you’ll be on the receiving end of an offer from your company of choice. These offers usually involve something like £30 in free bets when you deposit £10, or matched deposits of up to £100 in bonus money. You don’t get free money, though, but tokens that you need to bet with.
Betting companies aren’t really in the habit of giving things away for free, so your free funds will often come with wagering requirements attached. These are a way of stopping punters from simply depositing £100, say, getting £100 in bonus money and then withdrawing £200 without having to place a bet. Instead, they’ll ask you to bet with the money a certain number of times before you can withdraw it; these are the wagering requirements.
The companies involved will almost always specify that you need to bet on something with certain odds or greater. Let’s imagine that you’re betting on a football match between Manchester City and Tranmere Rover. That’s pretty much a banker, so the odds will massively favour City. Betting companies don’t want you to be able to bet on bankers, so they’ll ask you to bet on, for example, Evens or greater.
The point of the wagering requirements is essentially to ‘convert’ bonus money into real money. If you don’t hit the targeted wage requirements then you won’t be able to withdraw the money into your own bank account. Instead, it will remain as bonus money for a given period of time, which is usually about a year. Hit the wagering requirements, though, and it’s yours to do with as you see fit.
Free Bets vs Bonuses
Generally free bets do not come with wagering requirements on any winnings you make from the free bet. The free bet stake itself will have to be wagered though (i.e. you can’t withdraw the free bet) so technically there is a 1x wagering requirement on free bets. The free bet will not be returned with any winnings but the winnings themselves should be cash. Some free bets may have minimum and/or maximum odds, max winnings and possibly restricted markets.
The exception to this are risk free bets, this is effectively cash back on your first bet if it loses. This is the only instance where wagering requirements do not apply, although if you win your first bet you of course do not get any additional free bets or bonuses.
Bonuses are the main offers that attract wagering requirements. For sports this is commonly 3x-10x the bonus amount, for casino it can be anywhere from 20x-100x the bonus amount. There will be minimum odds and restricted games / markets and it is possible to have maximum bonus bet limits. The bonuses will also expire after a given time, i.e. this is the period of time in which you must complete the wagering requirement.
Why Take A Bonus Then?
Given what has been said above why would you take a bonus over a free bet or risk free bet?
The main reason is bonuses generally tend to match a higher deposit amount and they give you the option of splitting the promo funds between multiple different bets.
Although the wagering requirements mean you have to stake a lot more to win compared to a free bet it also means you have more chance of at least some of those bets winning. You can also use a bonus to place bets other than singles, which you cannot do with a free bet (e.g. full cover bets)
If your main aim with an offer is to try out a site or try out several bets then bonuses can give you more options.
Why Bookies Have Wagering Requirements
Betting companies accept that the offers that they make to entice new customers to join or to maintain the customers that they already have will often result in them losing money. Not everyone who is offered a free bet, matched deposit or some other form of enticement will definitely win their bet, but enough will to mean that the companies have to accept losing out in the short-term in order to gain over the long-term.
Just because they’re going to lose money, however, doesn’t mean that they can’t do everything in their power to stack the odds more firmly in their favour. One such way of doing this is by asking bettors to wager their money a given number of times before being able to withdraw any winnings. Sometimes you will need to wager both the deposit and the bonus, whilst others it will just be the free tokens that you’ll need to wager.
Regardless, what’s being asked of you increases the likelihood of you losing your bets, thereby decreasing the chance of the company losing money. It makes perfect sense from a business point of view, even if it’s a bit annoying as the bettor to have to meet excessive requirements before being able to take home your winnings. Betting companies have to find a way of making their losses more palatable.
Working Out How Much To Bet
Now that we understand what wagering requirements are and why betting companies put them in place, it’s time to figure out how much we actually need to bet to meet them. It’s obviously impossible to cover every variation of wage requirement, so instead will use a couple of examples that you can then extrapolate to figure out your own requirements depending on how much you’ve got in bonus money and so on.
Let’s imagine that you’ve deposited £100 and been given £100 in bonus money in return. The wagering requirement that has been put in place on this bonus money is x5, or 500%. This means that you need to bet the £100 a total of five times over, which equates to £500 worth of bets being placed before the money is converted into real cash that you can withdraw as real money, or just keep betting with.
Alternatively, let’s say that your betting company has given you £30 in bonus money in return for depositing £10. The wagering requirement is for you to bet both the deposit and the bonus money 4x, or 400%, before you can withdraw it. This means that you’ll have to stake £10 + £30 four times, or £160 worth of bets. At that point, you can withdraw the bonus money and any winnings to your bank as you see fit.
Always Check The Small Print
The most important thing to remember when it comes to the world of wagering requirements is to check the small print. Bookmakers and betting companies are legally required to display the terms and conditions of the bet in a clear manner. If you’re taking advantage of a welcome bonus or a loyalty offer then be sure to read those terms and conditions carefully so that you know what is expected of you.
Whilst all companies are required to display the terms and conditions of offers, not all of them make it easy to find them. Sometimes you’ve got to follow a link or head to a Q&A section before you can see them. If you struggle to find them then be sure to use the company’s Customer Support team to find out what they are. If they still make it difficult for you to understand what you need to do then be very wary of them.
Here are some of the main things to look for:
- Time limits will almost always apply. It is worth checking whether you simply just need to place your qualifying bets in this time or if those bets need to settle in that time. Time limits can vary from a day to months.
- Does the wagering requirement include the deposit amount? If you have a £100 matched bonus with a 10x deposit + bonus wagering requirement this is the same as saying 20x the bonus.
- You will often have to bet through your deposit before you can use the bonus funds. You will also not be able to withdraw your deposit until the wagering requirements on the bonus are met. Early withdrawal will forfeit a bonus – although your are perfectly allowed to withdraw deposited funds at any time.
- Are there maximum bonus bet limits? Some bonuses will only count to the wagering requirement up to a certain stake, e.g. £5 per bet.
- Minimum odds will always apply to bonuses, usually between 1/2 and evens.
- Bonuses can be used for accumulators but check if additional rules apply, e.g. minimum odds for each leg or just the accumulator overall.
- Some bonuses have market restrictions for wagering, e.g. can not be used for horse racing, etc. Indeed some retention bonuses may be restricted to one sport or market.