If you look at the terms and conditions of any casino bonus or promotion, the odds are good you’ll see reference to “wagering requirements” or “rollover.” Experienced gamblers are well familiar with these terms, but newbies are often left wondering what these terms mean.
Wagering requirements are found in the fine print that accompanies just about any deposit bonus on the internet. The basic idea is that you must wager a certain amount of money before you can withdraw the bonus or any money won by wagering the bonus.
For example, let’s say you get a $100 bonus that comes with a 20x rollover. In this case, you would have to wager a grand total of $2,000 before you can withdraw the bonus or anything that you win with the bonus money.
The total sum of wagers is found by adding up the value of every bet that you place. So if you like to play slots and you wager $1 per spin, you would reduce the wagering requirements by one dollar every time you spin the reels. In other words, you would need to spin the reels 2,000 times before the bonus has been fully cleared.
It is important to know what the wagering requirements are for any bonus before you get the bonus. Some casinos implement wagering requirements that are so high that they are virtually impossible to clear. Those bonuses are not worth the time and effort.
A good rule of thumb is not to get any bonus that has a rollover greater than 20x. I’ve seen bonuses with wagering requirements that go as high as 50x or even 100x in some cases. Those bonuses are worthless to most gamblers.
But also, don’t be discouraged by wagering requirements. They aren’t that hard to meet if they are kept to 20x or less. You would be surprised at how quickly you can meet those minimum wagering amounts. The casino doesn’t care how much you win or lose; it only cares about how much money you wager in total.
Why do wagering requirements exist?
It’s all about the money. Casinos attach wagering requirements because they don’t want you to get a bonus and then turn around and cash it all out. The bonus is given to you assuming that your intention is to actually gamble. They don’t see themselves as charity organizations.
Going along with that, casinos want you to gamble a certain amount because they make money when you gamble. So if you have to gamble, the casino makes some of the bonus money back. Eventually, they hope that any losses + your long term business make up for the cost of giving you a big bonus.
Another factor in play here is the level of competition in the online gambling industry. Gambling sites are always trying to one-up one another by giving out bigger and bigger bonuses. So they promise something ridiculous like “up to $10,000 free” and have to attach all sorts of terms and conditions to actually make it all worthwhile.
It’s kind of like buying a car. You ever see those dealerships that promise to give you $8,000 on any trade-in no matter how old? Or how about those ads that promise to take $10,000 off the sticker price off any car in the lot?
You know that it’s not really as good a deal as it sounds, but all those car dealerships have to compete. As they increase their ridiculous specials, they also have to add more and more fine print to the deals. Real money gambling bonuses are sort of like all those crazy specials you see down at the local car lot.
Wagering Requirements May Apply to Your Deposit Too
In many cases, the signup bonus says that the rollover is equal to 20x the bonus + deposit amount. Other casinos only apply the rollover requirements to the bonus amount. If it’s the bonus + deposit amount, it will take you longer to clear the bonus.
This is also worth keeping in mind when comparing bonuses. One bonus may have a 20x rollover on the bonus PLUS the deposit, while the next bonus may have a 30x rollover on the bonus only. In this case, the 30x deal is actually better. This is why you need to read the fine print.
Some games don’t count
To make matters even more confusing, the majority of bonuses cannot be cleared by playing certain low-house-advantage games such as blackjack. The casinos want you to stick with the big-earners such as slots and keno.
The reason for this is simple. The casino knows that if you play low house advantage games, it is very likely that you clear the entire bonus without losing any money. There was a time a few years ago when blackjack players made tons of money by “bonus whoring.” They would go to dozens of different casinos, get big bonuses and clear them with perfect blackjack strategy. It was killing the casinos.
So now, casinos say that blackjack doesn’t count or that it only counts 50% towards the clearing requirements. For example, Lucky Red Casino often releases reload bonuses in which blackjack only counts 60%. This means that for every dollar you wager at blackjack, only $0.60 is counted towards meeting the clearing requirements.
The good news is that sometimes casinos (especially Lucky Red) offer special bonuses that come with little or no clearing requirements. These bonuses are never as big as those massive $5,000 new player bonuses that you see everywhere, but they are super easy to clear. I highly recommend taking advantage of those bonuses whenever they come available.