Read the Fine Print: Online Casino Bonus Terms for Dummies

How to understand online casino bonus rules & requisites.

How to Understand Online Casino Bonus Rules & Requisites

I’ve visited this topic before, but it’s been a few years. Times have changed a lot since then, and immensely since the birth of the online gambling industry. Most of those changes have been for the better, but not all.

The most positive change has been a legal shift in which transparency of online casino bonus terms I now mandated by reputable regulators. Ambiguous, misleading or otherwise convoluted rules are no longer permissible, and could get an operator in hot water with licensing authorities.

Conversely, some of the more alluring casino bonuses of yesteryear are just that – a thing of the past. Gone are the free play time bonuses that gave players a huge chunk of chips and an hour to spend them, keeping the profits if the right conditions were met. You can hardly even find a small no-deposit bonus anymore, thanks to rules surrounding pre-authorization through ID verification.

Nevertheless, the bonuses that are available are certainly worth taking advantage of. The key is to understand what you’re getting into, and to know what to look for when reading the fine print.

Understanding Online Casino Bonus Rules & Requisites

Bonus terms can be very long-winded, even in today’s age of obligatory transparency. Somewhere within all that confusing text are four key elements to look for. They include:

Wagering Requirements (WR, aka Play Through)

Eligible Games

Qualifications

Expiration

Wagering Requirement / Play Through

Online Casino Wagering Requirements

Every bonus comes with wagering requirements (WR), which relate to the amount of play through you must conduct before you get to keep any of that money for yourself. It only makes sense that WR would be required. Without it, any new player could claim a bonus, withdraw it as cash and walk away. Online casinos will go to great lengths to compete for players, but they are not in the business of throwing away money.

To find the wagering requirements in the terms, search within the text (Find in Page) for the terms “wager”, “require” or , “WR”. One of these, if not all, will hit the right section of the fine print, wherein you’ll discover a number associated with WR. It’s probably going to be listed as 30x, 35x, 40x, etc. This number denotes the number of times you’ll have to play through the bonus., or the deposit + bonus combined.

So you’re looking for two elements; the WR number and its multiple of the bonus, or deposit + bonus.

Here’s an example of how to calculate play through requirements when the WR is 35x and it applies to deposit + bonus. Click here for a more detailed explanation.

Deposit of $100 grants a bonus of $100. Therefore deposit + bonus = $200. At 35x WR, the total play through is 35*200 = $7,000 in wagers.

Eligible Games

Some online casino bonus terms will limit game eligibility, such as “Slots Only” bonuses. These are very common. Some will even limit you to one or a few slot machines the operator is trying to promote. Others will cater to game play on all sorts of gambling.

When all (or most) games are eligible, not all will count 100% towards WR. Those that do count 100% are slot machines, and sometimes specialty games like keno, bingo, and scratch cards. Table games like blackjack, roulette, craps, and baccarat usually generate a smaller percentage, ranging anywhere from 10-50%. Games with the absolute lowest house edge, such as favorable blackjack rules (classic blackjack, single deck blackjack, etc) and video poker, may not contribute to WR at all. If they do, it will only be 1-10% at most.

Search for the terms “games”, “eligible” or “eligibility” within the online casino bonus fine print to discover what games you can play, and what contribution rate they accumulate towards WR.

Also note that offsetting wagers will not be permitted! You can’t wager on Red and Black in Roulette to clear a bonus. If you do, and the casino catches you (and they will because it’s all electronic), at best you’ll forfeit the bonus and winnings you may have derived from it. At worst, your account may be closed and your deposit returned – or not. This is why reading the fine print matters!

Qualification

This section is pretty simple. The terms will identify who will and won’t qualify for a casino bonus. Many bonuses are designated for “new players only” making a “first deposit”. If you’re not new and/or have already deposited, you can’t claim that bonus. Others may restrict players from certain countries where such bonuses are illegal. Look for the terms “qualify” or “eligible” to find any such stipulations.

Expiration

This is pretty self-explanatory. Browse through the rules to see if there are any time restrictions on the bonus. Look for the terms “expire”, “expiration” or “days” (i.e. you have 90 days to complete WR) within the text.

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