Bonus Wagering Explained

Playing with a casino bonus might seem like a great idea as you start playing with a bigger amount than when playing with only “real” cash.

However, there are a few things to think about when playing with a bonus, and the most essential detail to be aware of is Bonus Wagering.

In this article, we will explain how bonus wagering works and give some tips on optimizing the wagering process.

We will also show you some examples of how online casinos might make a bonus look better than what it is.  

What does Bonus Wagering mean?

It’s common practice for top 10 online casinos to offer new players a welcome bonus and active players different loyalty bonuses.

It’s also standard that these bonuses come with a wagering requirement.

This means that a bonus needs to be wagered x amount of times before it transforms into real cash and can be withdrawn.

Why do online casinos add wagering requirements on bonuses?

The wagering requirement is added to welcome bonuses by the casinos to add some protection for themselves and to avoid bonus abusers taking advantage of rewards.

The bonus given is intended to give players some more entertainment time, as when playing with a bonus, you have a more significant balance than when you only play with your deposit.

Online casinos want to avoid players making a deposit, getting a bonus, and then being able to withdraw it all right away, as then the casinos will lose money.

Casinos want to extend the entertainment time and allow you to play longer or try more games and not just hand out cash. 

How do you clear the Bonus Wagering requirements?

The most common bonuses are match bonuses, where your deposit is matched with the same amount you deposited up to a certain amount.

Let’s look at an example.

Welcome bonus: 100% welcome bonus up to €/$/£100.

If you deposit 100, the casino will match the exact amount and add a 100 bonus to your account. You then start playing with a total of 200.

If you deposit 25, you get a bonus of 25 and play with a total of 50, and so on.

The bonus wagering requirement on this bonus is 35x the bonus amount given.

Let’s assume that you deposited 100 and got the full bonus. Now you need to wager 100 x 35 times before the bonus turns into real cash and can be withdrawn.

100 x 35 = 3,500.

If you spin with bets of 5, you need to make 700 spins to have cleared the wagering requirement for this bonus in this example. 

To have a chance to clear this wagering requirement, you need to get lucky and hit some wins during the process, or otherwise, you will run out of funds before the bonus is cleared.

What about Free Spins Bonus Wagering?

Free Spins bonuses usually have one of these (or both) wagering requirements attached to them.

  • 35x wagering requirements on any winnings from the Free Spins.
  • A max withdrawal cap on the Free Spins winnings.

Always check the bonus terms and conditions to determine what your chosen online casino demands before any winnings from a Free Spins bonus can be withdrawn.

Tips on Bonus Wagering

Experienced online casinos have often learned from previous mistakes and have today optimized their bonuses from being difficult to take advantage of and abuse.

However, a few things to keep in mind can increase your chances of wagering a bonus.

  • Always play on the highest Return To Player (RTP) version of a slot – Most slots are today released with various RTP configurations. While a few casinos offer you the best-paying version, many don’t. The CasinoWizard can exclusively guide you toward High-RTP casinos. Just check our slot reviews to find the best versions.
  • Low-volatile slots can make your money last longer, while highly volatile slots can hit big wins – In theory, it’s better to play low to medium-volatile slots to wager a bonus as you win smaller to medium-sized wins when playing those games.
  • Some players take a chance and start with high max win slots like San Quentin xWays, try to hit it big, and then switch to playing a low variance slot such as Starburst afterward to complete the bonus wagering. This is a risky strategy, which we do not recommend.
  • A slot’s Hit Frequency can affect your chances of clearing a bonus – Although the effect can be quite marginal, playing on a slot with a high Hit Frequency can be preferred over a low one when playing with a bonus.
  • Bonus Buys are generally not allowed when playing with bonus money. It may seem like a great shortcut for clearing bonus requirements quickly, but alas, online casinos usually prohibit players from using the Bonus Buy feature when bonus money is still active.

Check our “10 essential rules to get the most out of online casino bonuses” article for more tips.

Always look at the Bonus Wagering requirements

Sometimes, welcome bonuses promoted on various sites online seem too good to be true.

In some cases, your hunch is correct.

The bonus offered might be huge, but to compensate for the risk of giving out massive bonuses, the online casino adds a very high wagering requirement that is nearly impossible to clear.

Sure, you get more money to play with, but transforming that bonus into real cash will be hard.

Therefore always look at the bonus wagering requirements before accepting a bonus, as sometimes all that glitter and those shiny lights cover the real facts.

Other things to keep in mind when playing with a casino bonus

Now that you understand how Bonus Wagering works, let’s quickly check off some other things you need to be aware of when playing with a casino bonus.

  • Max bet per spin – Most bonuses include a max bet per spin term, and this is often set to $/€/£5 per spin. Nowadays, most casinos have automatic tools that prevent you from exceeding the limit, but it’s good to be aware of this.
  • Max withdrawal amount – Some bonuses might have a max withdrawal cap. This means that although you got lucky and won a hefty amount with a bonus and then managed to clear it, you will still only be able to withdraw the amount stated in the bonus terms and conditions.
  • Some slots are restricted from bonus wagering – Slots with unusually high RTPs or bonus game mechanics that can be abused are restricted from being played when spinning with a bonus. The restricted game list is always stated in the bonus T&Cs and, in most cases, automatically excluded by showing the player a warning sign when loading those slots.

Are there bonuses without wagering requirements?

Bonuses without any wagering requirements are rare, but they do exist.

These bonuses are often handed out to VIP players or as perks through online casino loyalty programs.

In some cases, it could be handed out as real cash in terms of cashback, where a certain percentage of a player’s losses are given back to the player.

These unusual bonuses are often decided individually through the casino’s VIP team and are only given to the casino’s most loyal and valuable players.

However, sometimes it can be worth contacting a casino’s support department and asking for a bonus without wagering requirements if you have been a customer there for some time.

Why is Starburst often used for Free Spins bonuses?


You have probably noticed that online casinos often use Starburst for Free Spins offerings.

Why is that?

Starburst is probably the best slot for these types of bonuses (for the casinos) as it ticks the following boxes:

  • It’s low volatile.
  • Players cant win big from this slot .
  • The max win cap is 500x the bet.
  • It’s still extremely popular.
  • Both beginners and seasoned players enjoy it.
  • Few and easy-to-understand features.

So while Starburst is a great introduction slot for beginners due to its low volatility and easy-to-grasp features, experienced players also recognise the slot and don’t mind playing some spins on it.

More than anything, it also comes with very low risk for online casinos as the max win cap is low, and it pays out smaller to medium-sized wins more frequently than huge ones.

This transform to players getting more entertainment time on average, leading to a positive first impression of the casino as your money doesn’t dry out too fast, and you get to experience some wins, although small ones.

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