Updated: 23rd Sep 2021
A wagering requirement in bingo is an amount of play that must be completed before the player can withdraw their winnings. Wagering requirements have been a source of confusion and exasperation for online bingo players for many years and if you’ve never played bingo online before it can be difficult to get your head round them.
A wagering requirement is a minimum spend condition imposed by online bingo sites (and other gambling sites) when they give out a bonus. The minimum spend is generally some multiple of the bonus, or of the bonus plus any associated deposit, or of the initial winnings if it was a slot spin offer.
A bingo bonus wagering requirement usually stipulates that the spend has to be on bingo tickets only, with anything spent on other games on the site not counted. Occasionally other games contribute too, at a much lower rate (for instance, back when Gamesys bingo sites had wagering requirements slots play counted, but only at 10%) but this is now becoming very rare.
Slot bonus wagering requirements (whether on casino sites or for playing slots at a bingo site) tend to be much higher than bingo bonus wagering requirements. Again, the spend usually has to be on slots only (often with a list of excluded games including the highest RTP slots) but sometimes other games such as roulette contribute at a much lower rate.
4 x bonus is a common wagering requirement for bingo bonus. Suppose you deposited £10 and received 300% bonus giving you £40 to play with initially. A 4x wagering requirement on the bonus would work out at £30 x 4 = £120. You would need to spend £120 on bingo tickets (taken from the original deposit and bonus plus £80 worth of winnings) to clear this wagering requirement (although most sites will treat it as cleared if your account balance reaches zero in the meantime).
Some wagering requirements include the original deposit in the multiple. If the wagering requirement in the above example were 4 x (deposit + bonus) instead of a straightforward 4 x bonus, the required spend to clear it would be 4 x (£10 + £30) = £160. The less generous the bonus is, the more of an adverse effect the inclusion of the deposit in the calculation has. In the case of a 50% reload bonus, for example, including the deposit in the wagering requirement TRIPLES the amount of play required to complete it!
E.g. Deposit £10, receive £5 bonus. 4 x bonus = 4 x £5 = £20. 4 x (deposit + bonus) = 4 x £15 = £60.
In general, the sites that offer the best introductory bonuses also tend to have the highest wagering requirements and when those sites offer reload bonuses carrying a further wagering requirement, it can take a very long time indeed to clear (sometimes years, if the bonus doesn’t expire in the meantime). You might not mind that, of course, if your main motivation for playing bingo is to have fun and socialise.
There are a few reasons for such requirements. Firstly, the bingo site has to comply with anti money laundering regulations, and this means no putting money in and taking it straight out again – at least one playthrough of the deposit is required. Secondly, the bingo site would like to ensure, in return for the bonus it gives you to play with, that you keep on playing at the site for a while (which helps to make the bingo rooms busy and lively and therefore attractive to players in general). Thirdly, in the case of a site which offers reload bonuses, without a wagering requirement there would be nothing to prevent a player from repeatedly taking money out and then immediately depositing it again to stack up multiple deposit bonuses.
The Gambling Commission licence conditions and codes of practice require the wagering requirement (and any other important terms and conditions) to be specified when the bonus is advertised/offered. Once upon a time this all used to be buried in the small print but following the crackdowns on gambling advertising that have been happening periodically since the end of 2015, bingo sites have to be much more careful about spelling it out – and now (in theory at least) the significant terms and conditions MUST be shown near the offer, so no more nasty surprises. We also include the wagering requirements in our bingo reviews – along with any time limits on completing them – so you can see how the different sites compare.
Bingo sites are required by law to allow you to withdraw your cash any time (assuming that you’re a UK player – rules differ internationally), so if you win when playing with cash those winnings can be taken out – but at almost all sites that will result in not only losing any remaining bonus, but also any winnings resulting from bonus play.
Spend order determines what happens when you buy bingo tickets (or play slots) when your account contains both cash and bonus.
At a site with a Cash First spend order, you won’t start to play with your bonus until there is no cash in your account and there are three possible scenarios:
Unfortunately, scenario 3 is not possible at many bingo and slot sites because not only do they have a cash first spend order, they do not count any cash play towards wagering requirements! At such a site, you can never play with your bonus without first losing all your cash – in double quick time if there’s a time limit!
Many of the best bingo sites that still have a wagering requirement have a Bonus First spend order and this is much better for players. Typically the deposit has to be played through once in order to trigger the bonus, but once it has been triggered stakes will come out of pending winnings first, then the bonus itself – and any cash winnings from the initial deposit and any subsequent deposits will not be used as long as the bonus remains in play. There will probably still be a time limit, though. At a Bonus First site, you can claim further bonuses and play with them even if you’ve already got cash in your account.
Win caps and max convertibles are conditions imposed by bingo and slot sites to limit their liability on bonus play, instead of or often as well as a wagering requirement.
The difference between the two is in when they are applied. For example, Jumpman sites have both a win cap and a max convertible. The win cap – £8 per 10 spins – applies to what can be won with slot spins from their Mega Reel offer. The max convertible – which was originally £250 – applies to what can eventually be withdrawn. So you could play the spins, win a big bonus round but only receive £8 bonus – then play again, win another big bonus round and end up with £500 bonus, which you would get to play with, but regardless of how much more than £250 you had at the end of playing through the wagering requirement, you would only be able to take out £250 cash and the rest would be confiscated. Unfortunately it’s much worse than that now: Jumpman changed their terms and conditions in May 2020 to make the max convertible equal to the player’s total deposits in the lifetime of the account, with a ceiling of £250. Yes, that does mean that if your first deposit at a Jumpman site is £10, regardless of how much you win from the Mega Reel welcome offer you’ll only be able to withdraw £10! It just goes to show how important it is to read the small print!
If you don’t like wagering requirements there are two possible ways to avoid them:
Wagering requirements have come a long way over the last few years.
It started way back in September 2013 when the UK Gambling Commission published a consultation document regarding proposed changes to gambling conditions and codes of practice in connection with change in the law which was to take place in October 2014, requiring all UK facing gambling sites to have a UKGC licence. The marketing of bonus offers and free bets was identified as an area of concern “particularly in relation to potentially misleading or unfair terms and conditions”, and a multi-agency review was planned. The Advertising Standards Authority had been receiving an increasing number of complaints about bonus offers and free bets, and of the 58 cases investigated between 2008 and 2013, 53 resulted in some kind of enforcement action. The ASA began taking action regarding advertising on companies’ own web sites and via email and social media, as well as TV advertising and posters and once the Gambling Commission got involved as well – by making the advertising regulations part of the licence conditions -it was the death knell for excessive wagering requirements buried in the small print.
Some of the big name sites on the Virtue Fusion network reacted to the original consultation document by doing away with wagering requirements as such. Instead, they offered a welcome bonus that was not released until the player had deposited and spent at least £10. The bonus could only be spent on bingo cards – but after that, there were no restrictions. Ladbrokes at one point went one better still, and offered this arrangement 5 times in 5 different bingo rooms!
Where Virtue Fusion led, others followed. In January 2014 Jumpman did away with the traditional wagering requirement they had previously imposed; anyone who had previously wagered a total of £30 real cash (from deposit and/or winnings) could withdraw from any of their sites any time that they had sufficient cash in their account to make the minimum £30 withdrawal, but making a withdrawal resulted in the loss of any unused bonus or loyalty points. This arrangement (which arguably wasn’t helpful to players as it was still not possible to play with bonus without first losing all your cash) remained in force throughout 2015 and much of 2016 but at some stage the total playthrough requirement was quietly upped to a whopping £100 and as soon as the network introduced slot bonuses wagering requirements were back in force as well.
We thought that other sites and networks might move to this type of arrangement, with a minimum amount that must be deposited and played in order to comply with anti-money laundering rules, and loyalty points and bonuses being used as an incentive for the player NOT to take any money out after that, but in fact much the reverse happened. The Virtue Fusion sites discussed above continued to require the initial deposit to be spent before releasing their welcome bonus but almost all added a wagering requirement as well. This was partly to do with bingo sites feeling the pinch after the introduction of the POC tax and not having so much free money to give away any more, and partly to do with the increase in popularity of slots bonuses. Whatever happened with the wagering requirements for bingo bonuses, the wagering requirements for slots bonuses were never going to go away; the RTP on slots is so high that it would be financially ruinous for the bingo sites and casinos to drop them. What did become a growing trend was the offer of free slots spins rather than a slots bonus. With free spins, it is generally the WINNINGS from the free spins that carry the wagering requirement – so if you don’t win anything from the free spins, you haven’t handed yourself a wagering requirement that must be filled before you can cash in your bingo winnings. There are also free spins offers where the winnings are paid in cash but in many cases there is a win cap.
Another nail in the coffin of unfair wagering requirements came in October 2016 when the UK Competition and Markets Authority launched an investigation into online gambling. In particular, they were interested in “concerns raised by the Gambling Commission about potential breaches of consumer law, including misleading promotions and unfair terms, being used by firms to block players’ payouts”. The end result of this was a new set of rules that came into effect in spring 2018. Basically, the new rules say that wagering requirements must not prevent players withdrawing their cash balance. One would imagine that this would be helpful to players but many sites have responded by stopping the bonus from coming into play at all if there is any cash in the player account – by imposing a cash first spend order and excluding cash play from wagering requirements.
The growing number of No Wagering bingo sites and the handful of No Wagering slot and casino sites show us one way forward. These sites have non standard welcome offers usually consisting of free bingo tickets for specific bingo rooms or games and/or free slot spins (with winnings paid in cash). Instead of using reload bonus offers with wagering requirements to retain players, they have innovative player reward schemes and promotions to keep players interested – which is much better for the players.
The very latest development in the saga is the introduction of free bingo tickets at Virtue Fusion and GVC bingo sites; these can be redeemed in a selection of bingo rooms and winnings are paid in cash.
Here’s what to expect at the various different bingo networks and platforms regarding wagering requirements (last updated January 2021):
Virtue Fusion wagering requirements are set by the individual operators and vary from a single playthrough to comply with anti money laundering legislation (usually combined with a requirement to spend all of the cash deposit before the bonus can be released in the first place) to as high as 5x for bingo. Virtue Fusion slot bonuses are kept separate from bingo bonuses and wagering requirements are typically around 20x (but can be much lower or much higher) . At many (but not all) Virtue Fusion bingo sites wagers are taken from the cash balance first and bonus will only be used if you have no cash left. Another variable at Virtue Fusion sites is restrictions on bonus usage with some rooms being made cash only. If you like the Virtue Fusion bingo software and hate wagering requirements the obvious solution is to play at Buzz Bingo where the bonus only has to be played through once and all winnings are paid in cash – or failing that, at a site with a Bonus First play order.
Free spins at Virtue Fusion bingo sites are typically free of any wagering requirements but at some sites – Sun Bingo for example – they are not.
The standard Dragonfish wagering requirement is 4 x bingo bonus and an extremely unattractive 99 x instant games bonus. Free spins winnings are treated as instant games bonus. Not all Dragonfish offers have the standard requirement; it’s common to see slot bonus offers with a mere 50x wagering requirement and conversely, the wagering requirements sometimes include the deposit as well as the bonus.
Historically at Dragonfish all that happened if you withdrew before meeting the wagering requirement on a bingo bonus was that you lost any remaining bonus (although you did have to have made a minimum deposit, typically £20 or £30, before any withdrawals were allowed). Things are different now – if you withdraw without completing the wagering, you lose all your winnings from bonus wagering as well as any remaining bonus and there’s an additional restriction on slots bonuses and free spins, capping the amount of winnings that can be cashed out even after completing the wagering requirement at £100 plus the value of the original bonus (apart from in the case of a progressive jackpot win).
On the plus side, Dragonfish bonuses are usually valid indefinitely (as long as the player logs in regularly to keep the account active) so at least there is no time pressure to complete the wagering.
In early 2017 Dragonfish tried something new – the Real Bingo Network. The first, experimental site on this network was Blighty Bingo and after numerous tweaks to the welcome offer, other sites started to appear on the network in Summer 2017. The Real Bingo Network looked to be a completely separate network where only cash play would be allowed, but in fact it now has almost all of the same rooms as the regular Dragonfish network. Real Bingo sites do not offer any bingo bonuses as such; instead they give out free bingo tickets to specific games (and do check which games they are as some are much better than others) and free slot spins, with no wagering requirements on the winnings, both as part of the welcome offer and daily as part of the loyalty scheme. The only restriction on taking money out is the win cap on the slot spins and the minimum withdrawal (initially this was rather high at £35 but now it is just £5). This rather radical solution to the problem of wagering requirements certainly generated plenty of complaints to start with when players were expecting a bonus and didn’t get one, but now that players have got used to the idea these sites are very popular.
Bingo sites on the regular Dragonfish network have also taken to including free bingo tickets in their welcome offer, but they have the standard 4x wagering requirement on any winnings.
At Entain sites the bingo wagering requirement is 4x, but they also give out free bingo tickets and the winnings from these are paid in cash once you’ve used all the tickets. The standard slot wagering requirement is 40x but most slot promotions come in the form of free spins with no wagering requirements.
Jumpman sites no longer offer any form of bingo bonus – all welcome offers consist of the opportunity to win slot spins. The wagering requirements on these used to be 40x but it is now a hefty 65x, and only bonus play counts towards this. There’s also a win cap of £8 on each batch of 10 spins and a max convertible equal to lifetime deposits up to £250 (£50 for accounts that haven’t made a deposit). The spend order is cash first.
Pragmatic Play bingo sites that are on the Nektan platform have a rather high bingo wagering requirement of 5 x (deposit + bonus) and a 40x wagering requirement on slot bonuses and spins winnings.
Broadway Gaming used to operate a string of Microgaming bingo sites but these are all now powered by Pragmatic Play. The sites – which include Butler’s Bingo – have a 3x wagering requirement on bingo bonus offers, and a 50x wagering requirement on the winnings from slot spins offers. Broadway bonus offers have a short expiry time of just 2 days; the spend order on bingo is cash first, and the spend order on slots is split proportionally between cash and bonus.
PlayOJO is the only No Wagering site with Pragmatic Play bingo.
At LeoVegas the wagering requirement is 35x (on slots, there’s no bingo bonuses) but you play through your deposit to fill it up front, then receive your welcome offer in cash.
Bingo sites on less common bingo platforms often have very lenient wagering requirements.
At Tombola, in order to withdraw without penalty you just need to leave at least as much cash as bonus money in your account. The bonus money is only used to play with if you run out of cash funds.
At Bingo.com (Relax Gaming), the standard requirement is 35 x (with bingo stakes counting double) on a bonus and 15 x on winnings from free spins. They also give out “cash spins” which carry no wagering requirement. Bingo bonuses are normally given out as a bingo voucher (only to be spent in the bingo rooms) and these carry a wagering requirement of 4 x on bingo only, with a bonus first spend order. Unibet Bingo (another Relax site) has a bingo bonus welcome offer with a 2x wagering requirement.
At mFortune (mobile slots and bingo) the standard wagering requirement is 20x, but bingo counts at 500% so it’s effectively 4x.
Bingocams have a standard 10 x wagering for no deposit bonuses (on bingo only). On deposit bonuses (welcome and reload) there is a single playthrough requirement. Free spins winnings are paid in cash.
Gamesys got rid of all their wagering requirements in early 2018, replacing welcome bonus offers with slot spins and free bingo tickets with winnings paid in cash. You do have to play through your deposit to collect the offer in the first place.
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