CONTENT AND NAVIGATION
WHY UNDERSTANDING BONUSES IS IMPORTANT
As the market for real money casino gambling in Canada opens up over the next decade we will see a hugely competitive field with 100s of online casinos battling for your attention. One of the biggest weapons in this fight for market share will be the bonus. Every casino will offer one, usually a high value package mixing free spins and match bonuses.
That’s great news for you as a customer – it means plenty of free bets to enjoy.
Now, for those unfamiliar with online gambling it is important to understand how bonuses work. Each one will always have a set of terms and conditions attached that will restrict how and when it can be used. Amongst the most important of these conditions are the wagering requirements. In this guide we explain what they are, how they are used by casino operators, and what it means for the value of your bonus.
By the time you have finished reading you should be fully versed in bonus language and significant terms and ready to pick out the best Canadian casino bonus offers from our listings to suit your gambling preferences.
WHAT ARE WAGERING REQUIREMENTS?
Wagering requirements appear in the terms and conditions of pretty much every casino offer you will see online. They are a restriction put in place that says, ‘this bonus, and any winnings generated from it, cannot be withdrawn until its value has been staked on games X number of times’.
For example: If the wagering requirement on your bonus is 30x and your bonus is $20, then you must wager $600 before the bonus and any winnings can be withdrawn.
In some cases, the wagering requirements may apply to the bonus AND the deposit that triggered it. Now, if the offer is a 100% match and you deposit $20 and receive $20 bonus, then a 30x wagering requirement means that you must wager $1,200 before any withdrawal can take place.
This is an important distinction. It means that you must study the terms carefully before accepting any offer.
WHAT ARE WAGERING REQUIREMENTS FOR?
Now you understand how they work, you might be asking yourself what wagering requirements are for and why do casinos use them. After all, isn’t all this bonus money supposed to be a free hit at your favourite games?
It’s true that with a bonus your online pit boss is inviting you in to try their games for free. But online casino operators cannot afford to make bonus money entirely withdrawable. If they did, we would all be enjoying risk-free gameplay at every casino and each one would soon be out of business.
Instead, wagering requirements are a way to manage the amount of losses generated by players staking with bonuses. Most casino games have an RTP of between 96% and 99%, that means a house edge of between 4% and 1%. With that in mind, by the time you have wagered the value of your bonus 30x on a slot, the chances are, you will have very little left.
That won’t always be the case of course. Some players may get lucky and score a big win. But not often.
Don’t let that put you off though. You can still enjoy some free spins even if the odds are somewhat tilted further towards the house. And if you really don’t want to take up a bonus you can always opt out when making your deposit.
WHAT IS A GOOD WAGERING REQUIREMENT?
Now you know how wagering requirements work and why they are in place, you can make a better judgement on which bonuses offer the best value.
In simple terms, the lower the number the better the deal. The average wagering requirement is around 30x the bonus, though sometimes it can be as high as 50x. Always check the terms of an offer before accepting it so you don’t get caught out.
MORE ABOUT CASINO BONUS TERMS AND CONDITIONS
Of all the different terms associated with bonuses, wagering requirements are perhaps the most tricky to understand. But they aren’t the only ones to look out for. Here are some other key restrictions that you should be aware of when deciding if a bonus is right for you.
Game Weightings – These are very important if you are thinking of wagering your bonus money on games other than slots. Weighting refers to how much your stake on a particular game counts towards meeting the wagering requirements.
For example, if the weighting of game is 50%, then wagering $10 will only count as wagering $5 towards your total.
The reason different games have different weightings is the variation in house edge. Slots generally have a larger house edge (4% to 5%) than table games (1% in Blackjack). For this reason it is quicker to lose your money on slots than on table games. In some cases an operator may even discount table game wagering entirely from contributions to wagering requirements.
Minimum Deposit – this is the minimum amount you must deposit to qualify to receive a bonus. Usually it will be $10 but sometimes it may be as high as $20 or $50. If you don’t deposit enough you will end up disappointed.
Maximum Wins – It is now common for online casinos to cap the amount you can win with a bonus. Usually this will be at around $500 to $1,000. It is another way for them to limit the damage any customer can do to their revenue numbers with bonus money!
Expiry Date – Most bonuses will be valid for up to one month after which time they will be voided. Don’t miss out – always make sure that you use your bonus before it drops out of your account.
Maximum Stake – When playing with bonus money you may be restricted to placing bets below a specified threshold. For example, on slots the maximum bet may be $5.
BONUSES WITHOUT WAGERING REQUIREMENTS
As consumers have become savvier regarding bonuses and wagering requirements some casinos have chosen to sell their offers as better value either as ‘low wagering bonuses’ or ‘no wagering bonuses’.
Low wagering bonuses simply set the bar very low – maybe 5x or 10x the bonus – making it much easier to come away with a bit of cash in your pocket. No wagering bonuses are better still – now any money you win is yours to keep, no questions asked!
Keep in mind though that even with low wagering or no wagering offers there may be other restrictions in place that limit the level of your stake or the games that you can play with the bonus.
OPTING OUT - CHOOSING NOT TO ACCEPT THE BONUS
If you wish at any casino you play at you can decide not to accept the bonus. You can inform customer services and they will remove it, or you can just choose not to opt in when it comes to making your deposit.
There are several reasons why you might decide to do this. In some cases, the bonus may not be relevant to the kind of games you play.
If you are a table game player then you may not think it’s worth having a bonus with such tight wagering requirements. Alternatively, even as a slots fan you might think that the onerous withdrawal restrictions are too heavy for you and playing without worrying about wagering requirements and bonus balances is easier to understand.
Ultimately, it’s a personal choice but bear in mind that whatever the terms of any offer, you are still getting free play time that you wouldn’t otherwise get.
To wrap up, understanding wagering requirements is key to understanding the value of any bonus offer in online gambling. To get the best offers, look for those with low wagering terms but also bear in mind all the other points we have discussed, with particular reference to game weighting and maximum wins. To finish, here are 5 key questions to ask yourself when assessing the value of a bonus.
- Do the wagering requirements refer to just the bonus or the bonus AND the deposit?
- Are my favourite game eligible for the bonus?
- Are my favourite games weighted favourably in the weightings chart?
- How much can I win and withdraw with my bonus?
- How much can I stake on one spin or bet with my bonus?