Terms and conditions, like spouses, you can’t live with them, but you can’t live without them. The necessary evil of any casino or sportsbook bonus. Most of us at some time or another (let’s be honest here) have signed up for an online casino or sports bonus and not bothered to read the terms and conditions. But is this your best policy in 2021?
Samuel from Hemel Hempstead wrote to us here at Betting.co.uk to ask...
Oh, Samuel! Yes, yes, and three times yes, it is so necessary to read the bonus terms and conditions when you register an account at a new casino.
Now let me clarify that statement for you just a little. It isn’t as if online casinos or bookies are trying to cheat you or anything. Far from it. In 2021 online casinos and bookies are about as transparent as they can possibly be...but!
In this day and age of Watchdog and Rogue Trader, more and more people are taking notice of their consumer rights. So should you. I cannot make this any more clear. If you sign up for something, anything, it is in your best interests to know exactly what that is.
Before we look at some of the reasons that you may want to check the bonus terms & conditions before accepting a casino or sports bonus let’s take a look at some of the most common bonus types.
I am not going to list all the bonus types that it is possible to encounter when gambling online in the UK, or anywhere else for that matter, but it is worth discussing the ones that you are most likely to come up against.
Far and away the single most common bonus type you will come across when registering a new online account is the deposit bonus. This bonus type effectively ‘doubles’ your initial deposit amount.
For example, if the casino bonus is 100% up to £300, as is currently available at TonyBet, then, should you deposit the full amount (£300) TonyBet will give you another £300 in bonus money, meaning you now have £600 to play. Important to note that this bonus is always Up To a Maximum Amount so in the case of Tonybet if you were to deposit just £20 you would have £40 to play with. This type of bonus is commonly found in online casinos, but may also be used by online bookies.
[If you are interested, TonyBet offers a 100% up to £50 deposit bonus for sports bettors too.]
There is also a variation of the 100% deposit bonus used by some online bookmakers such as Leo Vegas which is the 100% Bet Boost (sometimes known as Odds Boost). In this variation (sports bets only) instead of doubling the amount of money that you can play at the site, they will double your winnings up to a set amount (£100 in the case of Leo Vegas) giving your first sports bet a nice little ‘boost’. Happy days!
A similar type of bonus to the bet boost is a bonus bet. This is essentially free money as the bonus includes some free bets upon registration that you can use (with some restrictions) to place sports bets. Bonus bets are attractive to sports bettors because they usually require that you make only a minimum deposit.
For example, 888Sport will offer you £30 in free bets if you make an initial deposit and a sports bet of just £10. What this means is that should your first bet win, lose or draw the bookmaker will sweeten the deal with some extra no-risk bets to help you on your way.
Of course, there are plenty of other variations of online casino bonuses, or sports betting bonuses, including free spins (always a popular bonus), the no deposit bonus, and cashback. However, the basic message of this article remains the same in all cases. Don’t forget to check the terms & conditions!
Now that you are familiar with the bonuses I will try to explain the pitfalls that you will come across when taking advantage of a casino bonus or sports bonus.
One of the ways that casinos in particular (although you will encounter this with certain sports bets too) limit the effectiveness of the bonus, is by limiting the games that it can be redeemed on.
This sounds a bit crooked, but actually, it isn’t. Very common with deposit bonuses and free spin bonuses the casino will limit the games available due to the variation in odds. Essentially, they want new players to use the casino bonus playing slot games. This is because most slot games will have an average house edge of around 4-6%. The house edge for Roulette and Blackjack are lower (approximately 2.47% for Roulette, 1.5% for Blackjack) and the bet variations such as even money shots on Red or Black would give the player a much greater chance of making money from the bonus.
Certain slot games may also be restricted. Progressive slots games will be off the table for a start, as well as other high pay-out slots. At the end of the day, the casino does not want anyone hitting a $1,000,000 jackpot from 20 free spins.
This type of restriction could equally apply to sports bets though. A sports bonus may not allow accumulator bets for example (although some bookies do), or bets on the Tote or Pool Betting.
For this reason, whether you are using a casino bonus bet, or a sports bonus bet, it is very important to make sure that you know what casino games or sports bets are allowable. Should you bet on a disallowed game or market then the casino or bookie will simply not payout. In order to avoid heartache always make sure that you know what games or markets the bonus bet covers.
This is one of those bonus conditions that frequently throws new players. Wagering Requirements refer to a condition in the bonus T&C’s whereby the player (you) must turn over the bonus money a set amount of times before it becomes withdrawable.
What this means is this…
Should you sign up for a casino bonus where the wagering requirements (also known as turnover requirements or play-through amount) are indicated at being 35x, then you need to play through the amount of your bonus 35 times before you can cash out.
Deposit £10 with wagering requirements of 35x becomes 35 x 10 = 3500. You need to make £3500 in wagers in order to cash out.
Whilst this may seem daunting, don’t forget that if you play slot machines with low volatility then you will see plenty of returns. This makes it easier to generate the play-through amount (wagering requirements) you require.
Another tip (and you can have this one for FREE!) is to look for the amount of the wagering requirements. Casinos may set their WR anywhere between 20x - 60x. Obviously the lower the WR the easier they are to achieve. Look for wagering requirements around 30-40x as that tends to be the average. Failing to take account of the Wagering Requirements before playing your bonus may leave you feeling dissatisfied, and possibly broke!
Note: Withdrawing your cash deposit before playing through your bonus cash may nullify the bonus.
Frequently with bonus offers, the casino or sportsbook may set a withdrawal limit. This is a predetermined amount of money that you may withdraw after using your bonus.
For example, if the maximum withdrawal limit is set at £100 and you (using your bonus cash) win £150 then, sadly, you will only be allowed to cash out £100. Similarly, for certain types of bets, you may be limited in how much you can wager.
Ladbrokes for example set their qualifying wagering limits for sports bets of at least £/€5 win or cumulative stakes of up to £/€5, at fractional odds totaling 1/2 or greater. You will notice that they even limit the (minimum) odds at which you can bet. This is to prevent players from placing bets on ridiculously low-priced favorites.
Casinos too will always set the minimum and maximum wager per spin. It is very important that you take notice of this and do not bet outside these limits. If you do, and you have a nice win, you may end up not getting paid!
Most bonuses (casino or sports) will have time restrictions in place. These are most usually between 7 to 30 days. The reason for time limiting the bonus like this is to encourage you to deposit soon after registration. It does also have the effect of putting a little bit of pressure on the player to complete the wagering requirements as swiftly as possible.
It is very important to make sure that you know how long your casino or sports bonus is valid for. If you leave it for too long before trying to redeem your bonus you may lose it altogether. Not cool!
Why do Terms and Conditions exist in casino and sports bonus offers? In a word, Risk! Or rather the limiting of risk...
Casinos and sportsbooks are happy to give away (sometimes very generous) bonuses. However, they are not completely mad, they realize that to do so and to make the bonuses pay (for them) they must limit the risk. When you think about it, this is not unlike insurance companies when they assess the risk of paying out a claim.
Every aspect of the casino or sports bonus is pored over by qualified risk assessors so as to be able to limit their losses. Again, when you think about it this is good for you, as it means that casinos and bookmakers will continue to offer you great bonuses just for registering at their site.
You will notice that the terms and conditions for each operator bonus are clearly displayed here at Betting.co.uk. The reason for this is that it is a legal requirement. As a company, we take our responsibility to be clear and transparent with you the consumer very seriously.
Likewise, casinos and sportsbooks also have a responsibility to ensure that the terms and conditions they set out are easy to understand and fair. Operators also need to make every effort to make you aware of the major bonus terms at the point of contact. That is the time that you first come into contact with the bonus, which is hopefully here at Betting.co.uk.
In order to comply with the Licensing Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) licensed gambling operators must ensure that all significant terms and conditions are provided...
(a) to consumers in a clear, timely, intelligible, unambiguous, transparent, non-misleading, and prominent manner.
(b) within the advert and with the headline offer on all relevant landing webpages and sign-up webpages (or Equivalent) for that Promotion, and
(c) within the advert and with the headline offer on any other advertising on any medium for that Promotion, except where it is not possible to do so due to significant limitations on time and/or space in the relevant advertising medium, in which case give as much information about the Significant Conditions as possible should be provided within the advert, and with the headline offer, together with a link to a webpage (or Equivalent) containing all the Significant Conditions and other terms relating to the Promotion in full.
Ensure all terms and conditions relating to a Promotion, including terms which apply to all Bonuses, are accessible
(a) before consumer signs up, (i) on all relevant landing pages and sign-up pages for that Promotion (or Equivalents) and (ii) within a single click (or Equivalent) from any other advertising on any medium for that Promotion, to the extent that it is not possible to include such terms and conditions on such advertising; and
(b) once play commences, within a single click from the bonus tab on the consumer’s account/ home page (or each relevant Equivalent).
Source: UK Gambling Commission
The bottom line is that T&C’s are included for a reason. That reason is to protect you as the consumer, and also for the protection of the operator. It is important to remember that once you accept a bonus offer from your chosen casino or bookmaker you are in effect entering into a contract. You wouldn’t enter into any other contract without checking it first (at least you shouldn’t) so why do this online with gambling operators.
Online casinos and British bookmakers are generally fair people. However, due to the nature of the business, they have to protect themselves from fraud. Always read the terms and conditions carefully and make sure that you understand how the bonus works. In this way, you can save yourself from encountering any difficulties.