Casino bonuses are probably one of the best things about online gambling. You’ll hardly find a land-based casino that will give you a few hundred extra on top of whatever money you bring with and let you play with it. And, even if you could find one or two such establishments, online you get to do it over and over and over again.
Almost every online casino offers a welcome bonus for new players. Then, there are reload bonuses, special bonuses for various occasions, and the list goes on and on. Online gambling and bonuses simply go hand in hand and it hard to imagine one without the other at this point.
But, as great as they are in terms of providing you with more money to play with and giving you more chances to win, bonuses also have their dark side, usually demonstrated in the form of wagering requirements.
When you receive a bonus, the casino will let you use it pretty much the way you like, but you won’t be able to cash out a single dime before you have placed an amount of wagers equaling 30, 35, 40, etc., times the bonus.
So, what often happens is that you start playing, get lucky, win big, but instead of being able to withdraw some of your winnings and treat yourself to something nice, you have to keep playing. This is the point where you might start thinking – why did I even take that bonus in the first place?
Wagering requirements are definitely the most painful thing about casino bonuses and one can’t help but wonder if casinos really need them the way they are set up. Couldn’t they come up with a formula that is more player-friendly and that actually lets you enjoy your moment of good fortune instead of creating frustration?
The Casino Perspective: Protecting Their Business
If we start off from the casino point of view, wagering requirements are something that simply has to be there. If there weren’t for wagering, what would prevent a player from simply making a deposit, claiming the bonus money, and then just withdrawing the whole lot? It is easy to see how this model wouldn’t work.
Online casinos have to protect their business operations. The gambling industry as a whole is always subject to different types of people looking to take advantage of even the smallest mistake. Suddenly doing away with wagering requirements would likely create a nightmare scenario for them.
At the same time, casinos are fully aware they need bonuses to attract players. There are hundreds of online casinos out there. Bonuses are one of the best ways to attract new players and keep the old ones happy.
So, they try to come up with different wagering schemes to try and make their offers more appealing but, for the most part, things end up being more or less the same for the players.
Hybrid Models That Make More Sense
Luckily, some casinos have already picked up on the fact that rigid wagering requirements don’t make players happy and can cause a lot of frustration. Frustration leads to players leaving never to return and this is the last thing an online casino wants.
So, we’ve been seeing more and more hybrid solutions that at least tackle the problem, even if they don’t completely do away with it.
One such model allows players to keep a certain percentage of their winnings. As you play, a portion of every win is added to your bonus account and a portion is added to your real money account.
With this approach, players can always cash out their deposit and at least a certain percentage of their overall winnings (usually around 50%). Although this isn’t ideal, it is something worth considering if you hit a really big, unexpected win.
Another model is the one where you’ll only be stuck with wagering if you actually lose your entire bankroll. As long as you’re playing with your own money, you’re free to do whatever you like.
The moment you lose your own cash and start playing with the casino money, you’re into the wagering. This model I can understand and support because you wouldn’t have had that money in the first place, so it is really more a pure gift or a consolation prize.
Unfortunately, most casinos don’t employ either of these models and stick to the more traditional approach to wagering. When you deposit and claim the bonus, all money is one until you’re done wagering and these targets can be quite hard to hit sometimes.
Are Wagering Requirements Absolutely Necessary?
Going back to the part about casinos and them protecting their businesses, some sort of wagering is definitely required. You can’t just make a deposit, double your money, and run away with the profit. As nice as this idea may sound, it will obviously never happen.
But, I don’t think wagering requirements need to be nearly as high as they are today.
The problem with casino bonuses these days is that everybody’s competing to slap huge numbers on their banners to attract the attention of the players. These bonuses are so big (from the pure cash perspective) that casinos can’t afford to really pay them out. So, they will usually set wagering requirements that, when you do the math, are pretty much break-even.
What I mean by this is, if you take the amount of money, the average RTP of the games, and the amount you need to wager and jumble them all together, you’ll come up with a number that indicates that claiming a bonus doesn’t really increase your chances of winning in the long run. It’s a break-even proposition.
To some extent, this is fair. Casinos always highlight the fact that bonuses are meant for entertainment purposes and with more money to play with, you’ll have more entertainment. That’s simply a given.
But, is there a better way to approach the whole thing?
Smaller, More Reasonable Bonuses
One thing casinos could do is offer smaller bonuses. Of course, the problem with these is that players might not be as impressed with the maximum bonus of $30 or $50. But, if they were to give out $30 bonuses with reasonable 2x-3x requirements, then they’d actually be giving us something. To me, it just makes much more sense.
In the long run, casinos would lose some money on these, but that’s how promotions should work. Giving people a bonus that is mathematically a break-even or losing proposition is just bells and whistles. Plus, most people looking to play won’t be jumping at the opportunity to cash out their $20 or whatever they got from the bonus.
Of course, there are still people who enjoy more traditional bonuses and there is nothing wrong with that. However, it would be nice to have an option at least to actually take a welcome bonus that doesn’t tie you up in a huge wagering cycle. Again, some casinos are already doing well in this department but more operators need to follow this example.
New Times Require New Approach
It is hard to escape the feeling that things have been very stale in the online gambling industry in terms of casino bonuses. The old concept of wagering requirements has been used for more than two decades and perhaps it is time to finally get rid of it.
Modern technologies certainly give online casinos more tools to deal with all sorts of potential frauds as well. Unlike in the old days, today it would be very hard for someone to repeatedly take advantage of these bonuses and get away with it. So, as far as protecting casino interests is concerned, they definitely have the resources to make sure nobody robs them blind.
New generations of players also have different expectations and are much more knowledgeable about online gambling. They know what a really good offer is and they also know what’s just marketing. So, it might be time for casinos to take a turn in a different direction and reconsider the whole wagering requirements situation.
There is definitely a shift in the casino industry closer to the approach in this blog. Slowly but surely, casinos are realizing that people are no longer wooed with huge numbers and big promises that come with all sorts of restrictions (wagering just being one of the most significant ones).
I’m convinced we’ll start seeing better, more appealing casino bonuses moving forward, with much more player-friendly wagering requirements. While we might never have bonuses with absolutely no wagering attached to them (for the reasons discussed earlier), they are likely to become much lower and easier to achieve.
This might mean that the average monetary value of a bonus will go down but this doesn’t make much of a difference anyway. The absolute, actual value will increase with lower wagering requirements and this is something casinos definitely can afford to do. So far, they were in a position where they didn’t have to do it but times are changing and they will certainly adapt accordingly.