Money doesn’t grow on trees! How many times did you hear that while you were growing up?

How many times have you said it to your kids? But wouldn’t it be wonderful if it did…

On the other hand, check out all the awesome bonuses and promotions available at online bingo websites. Could it be that Mum and Dad were wrong all those years ago?No, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt: money doesn’t grow on trees.But maybe, just maybe, it grows on bingo websites.

If only life were so simple…

Dig a little deeper and you’ll see that if money does grow on bingo websites, then it’s watered with wagering, and it can only be harvested after meeting wagering requirements.

What are Wagering Requirements?

Wagering requirements specify a certain amount of money that you are required to wager before you can cash out

  • Let’s say your favourite bingo website has a 300% initial deposit bonusand a 4x playthrough requirement.
  • You make an initial deposit of £50 and receive a 300% bonus of £150. So your total account stands at £200.
    • If the site’s wagering requirement is for a 4x playthrough of both the deposit and the bonus, you would need to wager a total of £800 (£200 x 4) before you are eligible to withdraw from your account.
    • If the site’s wagering requirement is for a 4x playthrough of the bonus amount only, you would need to wager a total of £600 (£150 x 4) before you are eligible to withdraw from your account.

Unfortunately, this is where the simple part ends. While wagering requirements are essentially universal in the online bingo industry, the details of the requirements vary widely among sites (and sometimes even among different types of bonuses on the same site). Let’s take a look at some of the major features of wagering requirements and consider how they might differ from site to site.

The Ins and Outs of Wagering Requirements

How large are wagering requirements?

As you might expect, it’s often true that the larger the bonus, the larger the number of times you have to play through it in order to clear the funds. (You might see this multiplier referred to as “bonus rollover” or “bonus turnover.”) The good news is that online bingo bonuses are generally subject to smaller playthrough requirements than other online casino bonuses.For example, you are likely find bingo bonus playthrough requirements in the neighborhood of 2x to 6x the bonus amount (or the bonus amount + underlying deposit). On online casino sites, it’s not unusual to find playthrough requirements as large as 20x to 50x (or even more)!

When it comes to bingo bonuses bigger doesn’t always equal better

Additionally, many sites have “expiration dates” on their bonuses, meaning a date by which you must spend the bonus amount and/or meet the playthrough requirement – otherwise, you forfeit the bonus (and potentially any winnings attributable to that bonus).

With this factor in mind, it’s important to recognize that, when it comes to bingo bonuses, bigger doesn’t always equal better. Remember, the larger the bonus, the longer it’s going to take to clear it. Consider your bingo budget, the amount of time you expect to devote to playing, and what you expect your overall spend will be. These factors will help you determine if it’s realistic that you will ever meet the wagering requirements.

How are wagering requirements calculated?

In our example above, we’ve already seen that on some sites, wagering requirements apply to only the amount of the bonus. On other sites, you’ll find that the playthrough requirements apply to the total amount of the bonus + the underlying deposit. Simply take this amount, multiply it by the stated multiplier (e.g., 3x), and you’ll arrive at the amount of money you need to wager in order to clear your bonus.

What does it mean to “clear your bonus”?

Here’s where we get to another major difference among websites and bonuses. (Ah, the plot thickens!) There are two broad categories of bonuses offered by online bingo sites: (1) sticky bonuses; and (2) redeemable or “real money” bonuses.

You might be surprised to learn that most bingo bonuses can never be cashed out of your account. These “sticky bonuses” stay in your account and allow you to play on the site and win real money, but they can never turn into real money themselves – even after you have satisfied the wagering requirements. In this case, it’s actually the money that you win whilst playing with the bonus that you clear – not the bonus itself. On the other hand, redeemable or “real money” bonuses are actually converted to real cash in your account once you meet the wagering requirements.

  • Let’s say you receive a £100 bonus from your favourite bingo site. The bonus is subject to a 3x playthrough requirement. You use this £100 bonus to buy bingo tickets on the site, and with one of those tickets you win a fabulous jackpot of £1000.
  • Before you are able to cash out your winnings, you have to buy a total of £300 in bingo tickets (meeting the playthrough requirement of £100 x 3).
    • If the bonus is a sticky bonus, once you meet the wagering requirement, you can withdraw the £1000 in winnings from your account, but the original £100 stays in your account so you can continue to play with it. (Caution: once you cash out the winnings, some sites will remove the original £100 bonus as well – even though it’s not sent to you.)
    • If the bonus is a real money bonus,it will convert to £100 of real money in your account after you meet the wagering requirement, so you could chose to withdraw the entire £1100 from your account.

Keep in mind that real money bonuses are fairly rare these days, and if you do find one, it is likely to be subject to a higher wagering requirement than a comparable sticky bonus. You might also find that a real money bonus is “back end loaded,” meaning that you don’t actually see the bonus in your account until after you’ve satisfied the wagering requirement. (In the example above, you wouldn’t see or be able to use the £100 bonus until after you’ve wagered £300 of other funds.)

What happens to funds that are subject to a wagering requirement?

Generally, bonus funds and the winnings associated with them are held in a “pending” status in your account until the playthrough requirements are met. In most cases, you can use these funds to buy bingo tickets, and the wagers you place using these funds goes towards meeting the wagering requirement. Assuming you have both a real cash balance and a pending/bonus balance, it’s important to know which balance will be used first. And as usual, sites differ. Usually, wagers come from your cash balance first, from your pending winnings after that, and from your bonus balance only after these have been exhausted. But, again, this isn’t universal practice, so be sure to check it out on your favourite bingo site.

How do you clear a wagering requirement?

The way everyone hopes to clear a wagering requirement is by playing (and hopefully winning) until you have spent the required amount. If luck is on your side, you may be able to work down a wagering requirement with the winnings from the original bonus without having to deposit additional funds. But what happens if luck is not on your side? At most sites, if both a bonus and the associated pending balance reach zero, the playthrough requirement is considered cleared. (However, some sites allow you to deposit again and continue the bonus playthrough.)

What wagers count towards meeting the wagering requirement?

For bingo bonuses, usually only wagers on bingo games will count towards meeting the wagering requirement. If your favourite site also offers casino, scratch-off, or other instant games, wagers on these games will generally only count towards meeting a wagering requirement for an instant games bonus. (Note that playthrough requirements for instant games bonuses are also generally much higher than those for bingo bonuses. In fact, they are comparable to those you are likely to find on online casino sites.) You should also note that wagers on various types of casino and instant games may not count 100% towards meeting an instant games playthrough requirement. (This is generally based on the odds of winning certain games and is consistent with standard practice on casino websites.) Be sure to look at your site’s Terms & Conditions page or Promotions Page for a listing of the different games and the percentage to which wagers on them contribute to meeting a playthrough requirement for an instant games bonus.

For more on the different types of promotions and bonuses you are likely to find on bingo websites be sure to check out our article: A Journey to the World of Online Bingo Bonuses And Promotions.

Withdrawing from your Account

As we have seen, in general, wagering requirements restrict what amounts you can withdraw from your account and when you can withdraw them. Once you have met these requirements, you are generally free to withdraw from your account (remembering, of course, that the actual amount of a sticky bonus itself can never be withdrawn). In addition to standard wagering requirements, many bingo websites also require that your account has been funded at least once (usually with a nominal amount) before you are able to withdraw any winnings.

What if I want to withdraw winnings from my account before I clear the bonus?

You probably already know the short answer to this question: it depends on the policies of the bingo website. The slightly longer answer is that some websites prohibit such withdrawals altogether. Some websites will allow you to make a withdrawal, but with the proviso that it will result in your forfeiting either all or some of your bonus balance. (Some will remove the bonus from your account but won’t penalize you for winnings attributable to that bonus. Other sites will require that you forfeit both the bonus and winnings attributable to it.)

What about multiple bonuses and wagering requirements?

As some point, you may find yourself in a situation where you have different bonuses in your account, each with its own playthrough requirement. (This is especially likely to be the case if you play at an online bingo site that offers reload bonuses in addition to a welcome bonus.) Here, it’s important to understand which amounts are not available for withdrawal at any given time.

Let’s take a look at an example of these withdrawal concepts in action:

  • Say you made a £100 deposit, received a £200 sticky bonus, and wagered enough to meet the wagering requirements on that bonus. During the course of meeting the wagering requirement, you ended up winning £50 more than you wagered. Good job!
  • So now, your total account stands at £350: a cash balance of £150 (the £100 amount of your initial deposit + £50 of cleared winnings) and a bonus balance of £200.
  • You regularly check your site’s promotions page to keep up on all the latest news, and you notice that the site is offering a limited-time 50% bonus on all additional deposits to your account. You decide to take advantage of this offer, so you deposit an additional £30 to your account and receive an additional sticky bonus of £15.
  • A few days later, you realize that you have to buy your mother-in-law a birthday gift, so you decide to withdraw some money from your bingo account. But you haven’t yet met the wagering requirement on the additional £30 deposit. What happens now?
  • As always, the answer depends on the terms and conditions of the bingo site and the bonuses.
    • Some sites will say that you can’t withdraw at all as long as you have any balance subject to an uncleared wagering requirement.
    • Some sites will say that you can withdraw your cleared cash balance of £150, but you will forfeit the £15 uncleared bonus.
    • Some sites will say that you can withdraw your cleared cash balance of £150, but you will forfeit all the bonus money in your account (£215).
    • Some sites will say that you can withdraw your cleared cash balance of £150 with no penalty at all, but you are unable to withdraw the £30 deposit that is still subject to a wagering requirement.

Does your head hurt yet? Believe it or not, there are still more possibilities – but let’s minimize the pain. The important point here is that you should take the time to understand the terms and conditions related to a bonus before you make a deposit and accept the bonus.

Back to the Basics: Why are there Wagering Requirements at All?

Now that we’ve gone through some of the detailed ins and outs of wagering requirements, let’s take a step back to look at them at a slightly higher level, starting with the basic question of why they exist at all.

The first reason is relatively simple: wagering requirements help reputable online bingo sites ensure that players are not engaging in money laundering.Of course, the vast majority of players are law-abiding and honest, and wagering requirements help to protect everyone from the few who are not.

The absolute most important thing you can do about wagering requirements is to understand them before you accept bonus funds into your account

The second reason is more complex, and over the years has been the source of some controversy. The reality is this: online bingo is a very competitive industry, and bingo websites are eager to attract new players by offering bonuses. But the bonuses are for more than just attracting players; they are also meant to encourage players to continue playing over time. Wagering requirements help bingo sites meet this goal.

So, What’s the Best Thing to Do About Wagering Requirements?

The absolute most important thing you can do about wagering requirements is to understand thembefore you accept bonus funds into your account. Again, they are different for every bingo website (and potentially for different types of bonuses on the same site).

What can you do to ensure you understand the requirements? First and most important: read them! All reputable bingo websites will have a link to their Terms & Conditions page, and this page should set out the site’s policies regarding promotions and bonus funds. Additionally, certain promotions may have their own set of terms and conditions. In this case, they should be set out or linked to somewhere within the description of the promotion.

Now you may be thinking that you need a law degree from Oxford to make sense of all the terms and conditions, and the truth is that they are not always so easy to understand. Besides, you want to play bingo – not read pages of terms and conditions. So, after you make your initial review, if there is something you don’t understand, ask!! All reputable sites should have support representatives available to you by phone, email, or chat. Take advantage of those resources: they are there to help you. And keep in mind that asking your fellow players may seem like an easy source of information, but it may very well be that they are just as unsure of the requirements as you.

What if I just don’t want the bonus?

It’s true that wagering requirements can feel like a lot to deal with, and some players choose not accept bonuses so they don’t have to deal with them at all. But, as usual, the ability to waive bonus funds (and the process for doing so) depends on the policies of the website. (You should also keep in mind that, for the purposes of preventing money laundering, any deposit you make will almost surely have a playthrough requirement of one – meaning if you deposit £100, you will need to wager at least £100 before you can withdraw your balance.)

What’s the bottom line?

Bingo promotions can be awesome and a lot of fun. After all, they allow you to play more and longer on “the house’s money.” And the more you play, the more you could win!

The most important thing is that you know what to expect. Take a few minutes to be sure you understand the wagering requirements connected to each bonus, then think about whether are likely to meet those requirements based on your budget and the amount of time you expect to play. If you do these things, you’ll be sure to have fun, and the only surprises will be good ones. Who knows? You might just win big!