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When choosing the best casino bonuses players have to consider more than just the number of free spins or the size of the deposit match. The lowest wagering requirements casino is really what players should be looking for.
How to find the lowest wagering requirements casino
Experienced players will know how important the terms and conditions of any bonus make all the difference, but very few people actually read them from start to finish. One rule that players should always pay attention to is the wagering requirements!
To choose the bonus with the lowest wagering requirements, players should do the following:
- Understand what wagering requirements are
- Understand the different types of wagering requirements
- Understand the time limit, wagering limit, and other restrictions
Once these are understood a player can start making much more informed decisions, and be much less likely to opt into a casino bonus that they later regret.
What are wagering requirements?
Sometimes known as “play through” requirements, wagering requirements are imposed by online casinos with most bonuses to ensure that players do not simply withdraw bonus money as soon as they receive it.
Players are required to wager a certain amount of money – normally a multiple of the bonus amount, the deposit amount, or both – before making a withdrawal.
For example, if a player accepts a £100 bonus with a 40x wagering requirement, they will need to wager £4,000 before withdrawing that £100.
This may sound like a very high target, but it is important to understand that the £4,000 will be reached through hundreds of bets over several weeks and days. Some bets will be winning, some will be losing, but as long as the £4,000 target is met the player can withdraw however much that original £100 in bonus funds has turned into.
The lower the wagering requirement, the easier it is for players to cash out their winnings. Since bonus money is staked by the casino, not the player, being able to withdraw it as real cash is a huge result!
What are the different types?
Understanding wagering requirements is fairly straight forward, but things get a bit confusing when it comes to the different ways casinos structure them. There are three main types of wagering requirement:
- Bonus only
- Deposit only
- Bonus and deposit combined
Here is more detail on each:
1. Bonus only wagering requirements
The example given above is of a bonus only requirement – the wagering target is set at 40 times the bonus amount awarded.
When this structure is used, it is sometimes expressed as “40xB” to indicate the wagering applies to the bonus amount only.
Of the three recommended low wagering requirements listed on this page, the Unibet 200% matching deposit bonus is a bonus-only requirement.
2. Deposit only wagering requirements
This is a much less common type of requirement, but one that is growing in popularity.
Players are promised a bonus, but instead of playing their bonus funds first they play only with their deposit funds. When they reach the wagering requirement the bonus is released as cash into their account.
Although this sounds essentially the same as the bonus only setup, there are substantial differences. One is that if a player loses the last of their deposit before completing the wagering requirement casinos often offer the option to make an additional deposit (typically not eligible for a matching bonus) which can be used to meet the original deposit wagering requirement. This could be in a player’s best interest if they come close to meeting their target, but fall just short.
The second difference is this system can be very confusing for players who are not expecting it. As it is much less common than the bonus only structure, which provides players with “bonus funds” to wager with, misunderstandings are not uncommon.
For this reason if nothing else, knowing if a bonus has a bonus only or deposit only wagering requirement is important. Of the three casino bonuses listed at the top of this page, both TonyBet and LeoVegas use the deposit only structure.
3. Deposit and bonus wagering requirements
This is perhaps the most common wagering requirement structure of all, and one that players should definitely be on the alert for.
Under this system the target is set at a multiple of the bonus and deposit combined. This means a 40x wagering requirement that applies to both the bonus and deposit will be SUBSTANTIALLY higher than one that applies to the bonus only.
It is especially tricky for bonuses that are for less than a 100% match. A 50% or 25% deposit match bonus that has a combined wagering requirement target results in players having to play mostly through their cash deposit to convert a bonus into withdrawable cash.
Whenever comparing two bonuses, knowing just the number for the wagering requirement is not enough to know how high the wagering target will be. A combined target could be double, triple, or even quadruple a bonus only target.
Although many reputable casinos use this system, none of the casino bonus offers we list on this page have combined bonus and deposit targets.
Other restrictions on wagering requirements
Online casinos all set restrictions on how players can meet their targets. These typically are:
- Time limit
- Maximum bet limit
- Game weightings
- Game restrictions
- Deposit/bonus wagering order
Players will encounter more than just these types of restrictions, but these are the most common. Here is more detail on each:
One of the most common restrictions for bonus offers is a time limit. As a general rule, bonuses (and the winnings from bonus play) are forfeited if a player fails to reach the wagering target before their time expires.
As long as the time allowed is reasonably long, this rule does not cause many problems for players. Casinos give away bonuses to encourage players to engage with their games, and most players do just that.
Things can go a bit wrong when the time limit is too short. AS a rule we consider 30 days to be a fairly standard and reasonable time limit, but some bonus offers allow as few as 7 days.
When time limits get this short it is entirely possible a player could end up unable to meet a wagering requirement without engaging in unhealthy playing habits. The problem is compounded when mixed with other restrictions like a low maximum betting limit. In the past we have seen some bonus offers that would require players to spin slots nearly 12 hours a day to complete – something that is not at all recommended.
Maximum bet limit
One of the most important and easiest-to-miss rules of wagering requirements is the maximum bet limit.
These limits are set to prevent players from reaching their wagering target with just a few high-value wagers, which would erode much of the house advantage. Casinos naturally do not want to talk about this too prominently, but it is much harder for players to have substantial wins if they are playing a large number of small bets than just a few big bets. Players naturally want to win, so this rule can be pretty annoying for those who are really set on a converting their bonus into a wedge of cash. These are the rules of the game, however, so any player who really feels strongly about maximum bet limits should simply not take part in bonus offers.
There are two types of maximum bet limits, money amount and percentage.
Money amounts range from £5 to 50p. Some casinos also impose a percentage cap, forbidding players from wagering more than 10% (for example) of their pot at a time. This means if a player has £50 in bonus funds they could not wager more than £5 on a single bet.
Even bonuses with the lowest wagering requirements can end up being a problem if the game weightings are not what a player expects.
A “game weighting” defines how much a wager on a certain game counts towards the target. Most slots at most casinos tend to have a weighting of 100%, but live casino games can have weightings of 10% or even 0%.
Online casinos use these rules to steer players towards games that have a bigger house advantage, and decrease the chances that players will walk away with a massive win from their bonus. Even with these rules, substantial wins are still possible and still happen, but casinos are at less risk of being cleaned out.
This creates a problem for players who like a particular type of game impacted by game weightings if they take a bonus. A 10% game weighting effectively multiplies a wagering target by a factor of 10 – a £4,000 target suddenly becomes £40,000!
For most casinos there is no way around this problem, but for live casino players should check out our companion site Live Casino Buzz for live casino bonus offers that are worth considering.
Game weightings are just one way that online casinos discourage players from using bonus funds for certain types of games. Sometimes certain games or types of games are banned outright!
The reasons for this are complicated, and come down to agreements between game providers and protecting the house edge.
The agreements that make online casinos work can be very complicated, especially as same parts of the government that regulate and license online casinos also regulate and license online game providers. Some deals to let certain slots appear on certain online casinos also involve third party companies that “aggregate” the games for distribution. Filtered through multiple levels of regulation and contractual negotiation and sometimes a casino simply cannot let players use bonus funds on a certain slot or table game.
Another issue is, frankly, online casinos do not want to lose money if they can avoid it. Whenever a casino gives bonus funds to a player it is taking a risk that players will win substantial amounts and walk away never to be seen again. All of the rules surrounding bonuses – from wagering requirements to game weightings – are designed to allow players to have a great playing experience for less cash, but not expose online casinos to more risk than they are comfortable with.
The house edge, which is the percentage of times the house can expect to win a game, is normally 4% or less. When it gets too low, the risk that players will have too easy a time converting a bonus into withdrawable cash, goes too high for the liking of most casinos. Games, like live casino blackjack, are just such a game and can often be banned outright by casinos for players currently using a bonus. This is different from a 0% game weighting, which creates a disadvantage for live casino play. This is an outright ban!
Wagering requirements vs bonus percentage – which is best?
When it comes to determining which casinos have best bonuses, players who are also looking for a lowest wagering requirements casino have a real advantage.
The headline bonus offer numbers that most online casinos trumpet are the percentage match (i.e. 100% match) and the maximum bonus amount (£100, £200, etc). These are great for grabbing attention, but only tell part of the story. A very high percentage match or a very high maximum bonus can be easily undermined by high wagering requirements or restrictive rules.
Players who understand the lowest wagering requirements can avoid getting snagged by a bonus offer that is ultimately no good. This gives them a real advantage over players who rush into promotions that are too good to be true.
But it would be wrong to say that wagering requirements are so important that other factors for weighing up bonuses can be ignored.
The percentage match is particularly important. A high percentage match means a player can leverage a smaller deposit into a bigger stake to play games. A really high match, say of 200% or more, goes a long way to balancing out a less exciting wagering requirement. One reason the Unibet offer listed on this page is so appealing is it is a rare example of a high percentage match (200%) and a low wagering requirement (35x).
A high percentage also makes combined deposit/bonus wagering targets less of a problem. The higher the percentage match the higher the ratio of bonus funds to deposit used to make up the target (and the bigger the advantage for the player).
Much less important is the maximum bonus limit. Very few bonuses offer targets that are small enough to be a problem. Bonus offers with especially high maximums are sometimes to using this figure to distract from an otherwise unremarkable promotion.
How to find a bonus’ wagering requirement
Even though online casinos tend to make the percentage match and the maximum bonus much more prominent, there are ways for players to discover the wagering requirement for any bonus if they know where to look. There are three main places:
- Online casino bonus reviews
- The “significant terms”
- Full terms & conditions
As you might have noticed, the easiest way to find this information is at the top, and the hardest at the bottom. Let’s cover all three in more detail.
Finding lowest wagering requirements in bonus reviews
Bonus reviews are something we know all about at Casinos We Love. We write the regularly and always try to make the bonus – both the good and bad points – as clear as possible. This means we frequently go back to the casino to clarify points we find confusing or think are unclear.
A well written bonus review is hard to beat as a source of information, but this type of content is not always available. Despite adding new reviews to our site regularly, Casinos We Love only has a fraction of the online casino sites covered so far. Also, to be honest, most sites do not really review bonuses very thoroughly. They are often more interested in just writing lots of words to fill up space on the page.
Also, while at Casinos We Love we make every effort to be 100% accurate with our reviews, we are not the casino and are ultimately just providing a well-informed opinion. Casinos can change their bonuses without warning or notice, so any review can also be out of date.
For that reason, the “Significant Terms,” although harder to understand, are a good place to double check information about the lowest wagering requirement casinos.
The “significant terms”
By “significant terms” (as the inverted commas should indicate), we mean a very specific type of communication that online casinos are required to use by the UK’s Gambling Commission. Since all casinos reviewed on Casinos We Love have a UK license, all of them will have a set of text they provide to us which is known as the “significant terms.” It can usually be found below any prominent display of a bonus offer, or on banner ads on this site.
The purpose of this text is to provide players with a bite-sized bit of information about any bonus offer that covers all of the key points.
The Gambling Commission does not specify exactly what should be considered significant, however, which is why there is a wide variation in how long each set of “significant terms” should be. Some casinos provide the minimum, and some provide something more akin to the warnings on the side of a bottle of pills.
Since the wagering requirement is such an important part of any bonus offer, it is almost always included in this text. Even then, though, it can be hard to be 100% sure of what it means.
Wagering is often expressed here as “35x” or “50x,” but it is not always clear if the requirement applies to the bonus only, or a combined bonus and deposit.
Also, as described above, it is possible to have a perfectly reasonable-looking wagering requirement that is undermined by heavily restrictive time limits or maximum bet limits.
Last of all, because this requirement is still relatively new, and the Gambling Commission has not been very specific about its expectations, the variety of formats for these explanations can be confusing to anyone not reading them regularly.
Anyone that wants the full and complete answer to what rules come with a bonus offer needs to check the full terms and conditions directly. Fortunately, one of the few specific requirements for “significant terms” is a link that will take players directly to the full terms and conditions for the offer being promoted in one click. Often written as “T&Cs” or “T and Cs” at the very end of the text, a click on these links should take players to a page that gives them the full details of everything they want to know.
The full terms and conditions
The terms and conditions of a bonus offer are the definitive source for finding out any information about the lowest wagering requirement casinos. But despite being definitive, they are not always easy to read.
Before going any further, it should be explained that most casinos will have at least two different sets of terms and conditions. There is normally a very long general set of terms and conditions which players can find links to in the footer of most casinos. While full of useful information, these are not normally the terms and conditions that will tell you about a specific bonus.
In addition to the general terms, casinos also draw up terms and conditions for each specific promotion. Since welcome bonus offers can often last for years at a time, these terms and conditions tend to be fairly long and fairly well developed.
Be warned, when we say “fairly developed” we mean written, rewritten, and edited over several years. Sometimes the end result can be very hard to read.
A quick scan through the full terms and conditions and most players can find information about the wagering requirements. Check to see if it applies to the bonus only, what the time limit is, if there is a minimum bet, and what the game weightings are.
Unfortunately, all of this information is unlikely to be in just one place. And sometimes there can be unexpected rules that will have an impact on a bonus that are in an unexpected location. The only way to be sure that the full wagering requirement rules are understood is to read the entire terms and conditions.
Sometimes a careful reading of the terms and conditions will still not provide all useful information. Or perhaps the terms are in ways that are contradictory (it happens). Any player who has taken the time to read the terms and conditions and is still unsure about the rules should really consider finding another online casino to play on. Not being clear about the rules is a serious red flag! But sometimes the mistake is an honest one, so as a last resort check with online support for clarification.
Do all online UK casinos have bonus wagering requirements?
Wagering requirements have been part of nearly all bonus offers from online casinos for long it is easy to forget that there are some UK casinos that do not have them.
The most obvious example is PlayOJO, who never apply wagering requirements ever. Bonuses are smaller, but they come with very few strings.
Another trend that is increasingly common is a no-deposit spins offer with no wagering requirement. Casumo are a notable example, but not the only one by far.
Although the bonus offers for both of these casinos are very different, they do have one thing in common: both offer wagering-free spins on the popular Play’n Go slot Book of Dead!
For more information on both casinos and their wager-free bonus offers, check out our player guide to Book of Dead free spins bonus offers.
Can wagering requirements be too low?
Most players will know the phrase “too good to be true.” When it comes to online casinos, this is an expression everyone should always be thinking of!
Setting up a website that looks like a credible online casino, complete with payment systems and a handful of pirated slot programs, is not a huge challenge for a competent web designer. If a bonus offer has a wagering requirement that is much, much lower than anywhere else then beware!
Anyone suspecting an online casino as not being legit should start checking for valid licenses, and keep their money away in the meantime. But there are also perfectly legit casinos that have lower wagering requirements than average. What should a player do then?
There are two types of legitimate casino that might offer much lower wagering requirements than average: smaller but well-run casinos that are keen to get new customers, and small casinos that are struggling to stay afloat. The first option is good and should be sought out (cautiously). The second needs to be avoided.
Big casinos with massive marketing budgets do not normally need to have hugely competitive offers to attract players. It is smaller casinos where the bargains are often found. Small casinos come and go, however, so trying to figure out if a new casino is going to stick around needs serious skill.
The good news is that a regulated casino will keep a player’s deposits and playing funds separate from its own operational funds. This means if a casino runs into financial problems, player money is kept safe. As long as a player is signing up to regulated casinos only (preferably with a UK, Malta, or Gibraltar license), their money should ultimately be protected.