What Are Betting Wagering Requirements?

Wagering requirements are something that all bookies mention yet not all customers understand. When you’re looking at a particularly attractive welcome bonus and thinking ‘what’s the catch?’, the wagering requirements are normally the answer. It’s not as simple as depositing an amount of money and getting rewarded for it; wagering requirements place stipulations on bonuses.

If you have plenty of questions all about wagering requirements, you’re in the right place. We’re going to uncover what wagering requirements are, why they exist, the importance of reading the small print, and how you can overcome wagering requirements and still enjoy your betting experience.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

What Are Betting Wagering Requirements?

Let’s get back to basics – what are wagering requirements and why are they such a big deal? Normally attached to bonuses and promotions, this stipulation requires players to stake the money a certain number of times before it’s eligible for withdrawal. If the wagering requirement is set to 35x, you’ll need to play through the bonus amount this number of times.

What if you don’t? Well, the money isn’t eligible for withdrawal…it’s as simple as this. You MUST meet the wagering requirements if you’re to withdraw the bonus amount.

Over the years, wagering requirements have entered not only the sportsbook but also online casinos and other gambling services. When signing up for a new website, you might get excited at the following types of welcome offer:

  • 100% matched deposit (anything up to £50)
  • Deposit £15 and get £45 in free bets

Are bookmakers just really generous? No, they equip their welcome bonuses with wagering requirements to ensure that they always get something in return.

The Small Print

With any welcome bonus, it’s critical to read the small print. Otherwise, you could be left disappointed. For example, the bookmaker will only offer a bonus to people who deposit using specific banking methods. More and more, companies aren’t rewarding players when they deposit through an eWallet.

Furthermore, you’ll normally need to choose a selection above certain odds when placing the qualifying bet. After this, wagering requirements are another popular regulation attached to bonuses and special promotions.

As a bettor, you’ll need to meet the wagering requirements to transform the bonus funds into real money. Up until you meet the wagering requirements, you only have free bets in your account rather than real money to withdraw.

Why Do Wagering Requirements Exist?

At the moment, you might be frustrated by wagering requirements and wonder why they exist on bonuses. In reality, there are a few different reasons as to why they were introduced by bookmakers.

Firstly, imagine a world without wagering requirements – this was a world that we once had. Without restrictions, people would jump from site to site just to get the bonuses. With no wagering requirements, they could withdraw funds instantly and the bookmaker would lose a significant amount of money. In time, these people came to be known as ‘bonus hunters’ and wagering requirements were introduced to stop these hunters.

Also, it’s important to note that bookmakers, regardless of their branding, do everything they can to make a profit…even if it means making a loss in the short-term. That’s right – many bookmakers make a loss on the actual bonus and then add wagering requirements to get people to keep playing.

With bettors having to wager the money a certain number of times, it allows bookmakers an opportunity to win the money back. What’s more, it allows them an opportunity to sell the service to bettors. The hope is that players fall in love with the website and continue playing long after the welcome bonus ends.

Wagering requirements exist for the following reasons:

  • They stop bonus hunters from taking money from the company with nothing in return
  • They give the bookie a chance to win the money back
  • They encourage bettors to stick around for a while
  • They could turn a short-term customer into a loyal bettor

Free Bets and Other Bonuses

When it comes to free bets, they rarely come with wagering requirements. However, we can’t withdraw the free bet; we still have to play it and then (hopefully!) withdraw the winnings. With this in mind, you could say that free bets come with a wagering requirement of 1x. Though winners don’t receive the free bet back, they do get to keep all winnings.

When choosing free bet offers, keep in mind that they come with all sorts of stipulations whether this is maximum winnings, odds limits, or restricted markets. As mentioned previously, bookmakers want to protect their profits wherever possible. They don’t want you placing a £10 free bet on something with odds of 1,000/1 and making lots of money.

Do any bonuses come with absolutely no wagering requirements? Yes, and they’re normally called ‘risk-free bets’. In this example, the stake is returned to the player even if the bet loses.

Wagering requirements aren’t too common on free bets, but they are an ever-present occurrence with other bonuses. The good news for sports bettors is that wagering requirements rarely go above 10x; online casino players will be devastated to hear that wagering restrictions here range between 15x and 100x.

As an example, matched deposit bonuses generally come with wagering requirements. If you don’t review these beforehand, you could be left disappointed. If the matched deposit of £50 has a wagering requirement of 10x, this means you’ll need to play through the money ten times (in other words, staking a total of £500).

Should You Avoid Bonuses with Wagering Requirements?

After learning the above, some bettors ask why they should even worry about wagering requirements when risk-free bets are around. Well, the truth is that bonuses tend to have a higher value. While a free bet might reach £5, some bookmakers match deposits of £20, £25, £50, £100, and even beyond.

In addition to the higher value, you’re likely to have more freedom when it comes to placing bets. Therefore, you can split the funds between numerous bets in a variety of sports and markets.

Yes, you will have to stake more with bonuses compared to free bets because of the wagering requirements. This being said, the higher value makes it worthwhile and you also get more opportunities to win (rather than just one with a free bet).

Furthermore, we should note that free bets also come with all sorts of restrictions. In the end, you’re almost cornered into selecting a market that you don’t enjoy. For example, you might have to place the free bet on a single. With a bonus, you’re normally free to use the money as you wish.

Ultimately, you need to think about your motivations before choosing between bonuses and free bets. Bonuses are a much better option for those wanting to experiment with new platforms, enjoy more freedom, and gain a higher value for money.

The Importance of Small Print

Ever look at the small print and realize that even household chores suddenly seem more attractive than reading through it all? Unfortunately, it’s essential to read through small print when it comes to wagering requirements. Without this step, you could be left with a bonus or promotion that doesn’t meet your needs.

The good news for bettors is that bookies are required by law to explain all the terms and conditions of a bonus in small print. Look out for the following:

Wagering Requirement Conditions – We’ve touched on lots of areas regarding wagering requirements, but you also need to know whether your initial deposit amount contributes to the wagering requirements or not.

Time Limits – Nearly all bookmakers place a time limit on qualifying bets, and you’ll need to ensure that they’re made and settled in time to enjoy the bonus. While some set the limit to one week, others might allow a month, so read the terms.

Withdrawal Terms – First things first, we’ll say that all deposited funds can be withdrawn at any time – this is your money. However, withdraw before meeting the wagering requirements and you’ll forfeit your bonus.

Minimum Odds and Maximum Betting Limits – Do you need to choose bets with minimum odds? Is there a maximum betting limit? With this latter one, it might be that only the first £10 of a given bet contributes to the wagering requirement. Therefore, anything above this does not contribute.

Accumulator Restrictions – Bonuses allow bettors to place accumulators (something that isn’t possible with free bets), but you still need to look out for restrictions. For example, do you need to meet minimum odds per selection or overall?

Sport Restrictions – Equally, make sure that bets in all sports and markets contribute to the wagering requirements. You don’t want to stake £150 on tennis only to find that this doesn’t help the requirement.


If the bonus asks you to deposit £10 for a bonus of £20, it might have a wagering requirement of 5x. In this scenario, you’ll need to stake £150 (£30 x 5). When choosing between bonuses, pay attention to this detail and you won’t go far wrong!

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About the author

Carl Hughes


Carl Hughes


Carl Hughes is a leading expert on sports and casino betting. Carl began his career with a BSc in Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences from the University of Birmingham before working within the industry for some of the bigger names (GVC and Bet365) and has been praised as being "a leading sports betting commentator".