Closing The Door on Unfair Wagering Requirements
Imagine the thrill of receiving an email from an online casino informing you that you have been randomly selected to win a gigantic amount of money in a prize draw, or finding out that all the hours and cash you poured into a leaderboard challenge have paid off and you’ve won the top prize of £1,000. These are the ‘dream come true’ scenarios that online gamblers find themselves in every day, only to discover that there’s a big catch.
Wagering Requirements Explained
Wagering requirements are conditions on casino or bingo bonus funds which require a minimum spend before any funds can be withdrawn. The size will be a multiple of the bonus amount itself and essentially locks the funds away from the player until they have played through it the required number of times.
It’s not just competitions and giveaways that come with wagering requirements on bonuses. When signing up for a new casino site, most players shop around for the biggest and most impressive welcome bonuses on first-time deposits. The problem here is that most casinos with incredibly generous welcome offers also come with crippling wagering requirements tucked away in the small print.
For example, a casino which offers a 200% match bonus on first deposits of up to £250 will, on the surface, reward new members with a whopping £500 in bonus funds to play with. This sounds great to potential players and will entice plenty of new registrations. However, if the Terms and Conditions require a turnover of 40X on that bonus, the player would end up having to wager over £20,000 before getting hold of any “withdrawable” cash from that offer. This might sound absurd, and even if a player managed to win £5,000 or £10,000 off the initial bonus, it’s hard to imagine they would be left with anything after playing through such a huge amount of money. This is a very real example however of the sort of wagering requirements attached to most popular casino sign-up offers.
Unfair Wagering requirements
Online punters have been complaining about wagering requirement conditions for some time now, especially since the surge in casinos has fired up fierce competition between sites and triggered an increase in the size of bonuses. Now it’s not just customers who have spoken out about this issue, the Gambling Commission and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have cracked down on the terms and conditions which are leaving gamblers out of pocket.
These regulatory authorities have found that restricting players’ rights to withdraw their winnings from gameplay before extensive wagering requirements have been met are unfair and misleading. The CMA and Gambling Commission have, in particular, raised concerns about unreasonably high minimum withdrawal limits and about casinos imposing daily/weekly/monthly wagering requirements which appear deceptively low. The report by the Commission also questioned the imposition of arbitrary time deadlines on customers to play through their wagering requirements.
All of this negative attention surrounding unfair wagering requirements has, unsurprisingly, caused casinos to start taking notice and making changes. One of the most prominent examples of this, and a frontrunner in the rise of wager-free casinos is BGO. As of October 2017, any bonuses issued by BGO or sister site PowerSpins will pay out wager-free winnings, including free spins (referred to as “Fair Spins”). This is a dramatic move which could trigger other operators to follow suit and become more transparent with their bonus incentives, especially seeing as other wager-free sites already exist. According to BGO’s Entertainment CFO, Hannah Westley, “a recent review of our customer support department which resulted in a lot of queries being generated because of wagering requirements…” was behind this decision.
It’s very clear that something big is happening in the world of online gambling. We may be seeing the first steps of wagering requirements being phased out entirely; whether or not this is the case remains to be seen. One thing that is for sure, however, is that wager-free casinos and bingo platforms can be expected to rise as the industry comes around to the fact that customers favour transparency, clear conditions and the ability to withdraw their own winnings over ridiculously generous and deceptively high bonus offers.