One exciting thing about playing at internet casinos is that you have the chance to earn bonuses. These deals can come in the form of free spins, free play, match deposit bonuses, and no-deposit bonuses.
Deposit bonuses are the most common of these offers. A deposit deal is exactly how it sounds in that you must deposit to qualify for a bonus.
Your offer is based on a match percentage of your deposit amount. For example, you’d be eligible for a $100 bonus when depositing this same amount under a 100% match deal.
Of course, internet casinos don’t just give you free money upfront. Instead, you need to earn the bonus by meeting wagering requirements (a.k.a. playthrough).
One interesting element to wagering requirements is that they differ between slots and table games. You’ll lose so much more earning a bonus through table games to the point where it’s unfair.
I’m going to cover why online casinos should remedy this problem by updating table games playthrough. But I’ll first discuss what wagering requirements are for those who are new to the concept.
What Are Bonus Wagering Requirements?
Playthrough refers to how much you need to wager to release a casino bonus.
Gaming sites don’t make bonus funds available for withdrawing immediately. Otherwise, you could simply make a deposit and then cash everything out, including your bonus.
Wagering requirements ensure that you give the casino play and actually earn free money. Playthrough is normally expressed as a multiple of the bonus.
Here’s an example:
- You sign up at an online casino with a 150% match bonus offer.
- You deposit $200.
- This makes you eligible for a $300 bonus.
- Wagering requirements are 40 times the bonus.
- 40 x 300 = $12,000
- You must wager $12,000 before cashing out the $300 bonus.
$12,000 sounds like a lot to bet just to earn $300. But remember that you’re going to win back most of what you wager.
The following example illustrates this point:
- You’re eligible for a $200 bonus.
- Playthrough is 35x.
- 200 x 35 = $7,000
- You play an internet slot with 95% payback (0.05% house edge).
- 7,000 x 0.05 = $350 in theoretical losses
- 350 – 200 = $150 total loss
You’ll theoretically lose $150 when accounting for both the bonus and losses. Most online casino bonus deals are set up to where the site earns a theoretical profit off of each player chasing free money.
But one reason why people play online casino games in the first place is that they hope to get lucky and win. If you get luck on your side, then you can overcome the odds and make a profit with these deals.
Why Do Slots and Table Games Have Different Play Through?
Wagering requirements aren’t overly difficult to understand. But they become more complex when considering that table games and slots require different playthrough.
You’ll notice something under bonus terms and conditions that refers to playthrough contribution. Slots and online scratch cards almost always contribute 100% to the stated wagering requirements.
This means that playthrough is listed as 40x, then any dollar wagered on slots or scratch cards will go towards meeting the 40x requirements.
Table games’ playthrough is a different story. These games only contribute between 10% and 20% towards playthrough.
The reason for the difference comes down to house edges. Baccarat, blackjack, craps, roulette, sic bo, and three-card poker all have fairly low house advantages in comparison to slots (or at least they did — explained later).
I’ve seen online blackjack games with house edges as low as 0.35%. Baccarat (1.06% house edge), craps (1.36%), and French roulette (1.35%) also give you strong chances to win.
Internet slots, on the other hand, give casinos a little more of an advantage. The average online slot features a house edge ranging from 3% to 5%.
This is terrible in the overall realm of casino gaming. In fact, online slots payout percentages have become better over the years.
Of course, you’re still facing a higher chance of losing versus a blackjack game with a house advantage ranging from 0.35% to 1.0%.
As I mentioned before, internet casinos like setting up bonus deals that give them an advantage. This fact means that they can’t let table games contribute the same amount towards wagering requirements as slots.
Here’s an example on how reduced playthrough contributions affect your chances of earning a bonus:
- You’re eligible for a $150 bonus.
- Wagering requirements are 40x.
- You’re playing a blackjack game with 10% playthrough contribution.
- 40 / 0.1 = 400x wagering requirements
- 150 x 400 = $60,000 must be wagered
$60,000 looks like an insane amount to bet for a $150 payout. But this offer doesn’t look sound bad when dealing with a low blackjack house edge.
Here’s an extension on the example above:
- You must bet $60,000 to unlock your bonus.
- You’re playing a blackjack game with a 0.5% house edge.
- 60,000 x 0.005 = $300 in theoretical losses
- 300 – 150 = $150 total loss
Dropping $150 to collect a bonus may not be your dream scenario. But you have a good chance of earning the money if you find the right blackjack game.
How Much Money Would You Lose Meeting Slots Wagering Requirements?
A good habit to practice before chasing any match deposit bonus is doing the math on theoretical losses. Doing so allows you to see if it’s worth going after a specific offer.
Earlier I discussed how slots deliver 100% towardswagering requirements. This concept should be universal, unless otherwise stated in the terms and conditions.
The few exceptions include when online slots have payback around 97.5% or higher. NetEnt slots, which are among the highest paying in the industry, commonly feature reduced playthrough contributions due to their high payback.
But other than these few exceptions, you can normally count on an internet slot providing 100% towards wagering requirements.
Once you’ve confirmed that your preferred slots offer max contribution, the next step is to run the math on how much money you’ll lose when pursuing a bonus.
Here’s an example:
- An online casino is offering a 100% match bonus.
- You deposit $200, which means you’re eligible for a $100 bonus.
- Wagering requirements are 45x.
- $200 x 45 = $9,000
- You play an online slot with 96% payback (4% house edge).
- 9,000 x 0.04 = $225
- The total loss is only $25, which is low when chasing any online casino deal.
One key point worth noting from this example is the 96% payback for the slot. This is actually better than table games like Caribbean stud and American roulette.
Going further, modern online slots live outside the stereotype that slot machines offer lower payback. This stereotype is still true with land-based slot machines, but it’s not at internet casinos.
How Much Money Would You Lose Meeting Table Games Wagering Requirements?
Table games require that you bet much more to release a bonus. These games feature low house edges, meaning you’ll lose less money when compared to a slot machine.
This is why casinos make it more challenging to reach wagering requirements through table games. But the tough part is that gaming sites reduce playthrough contribution so much that you risk even higher theoretical losses.
Here’s an example on the theoretical losses that you’d face through a blackjack game with a low house advantage:
- You’re playing for a $100 bonus.
- Playthrough is 40x.
- Blackjack only contributes 10%.
- (100 x 40) / 0.1 = $40,000 must be wagered
- The blackjack game has a 0.4% house edge.
- 40,000 x 0.004 = $160 in theoretical losses
- 160 – 100 = $60 total loss
Losing $60 to release an $100 bonus isn’t terrible. But not every table game offers such a generous house edge as the blackjack variation above.
Some table games only allow you to improve the house advantage so much. Baccarat is a perfect example, because the best you can do in terms of strategy is making the banker bet (1.06% house edge).
Here’s an example that plugs baccarat into the previous bonus parameters:
- You’re eligible for a $100 bonus.
- Wagering requirements are normally 40x.
- Baccarat only contributes 10%.
- (100 x 40) / 0.1 = $40,000 must be wagered
- You make the banker bet and face a 1.06% house edge.
- 40,000 x 0.0106 = $424 in theoretical losses
- 424 – 100 = $324 total loss
The first scenario involving the blackjack game with a 0.4% house edge only saw you lose $60 when the bonus was accounted for. However, baccarat would see you lose $324 in the same situation.
You can see how much theoretical losses are impacted by the house edge being a bit higher. The 10% playthrough requirements are brutal in many instances.
You can look forward to a better deal if contribution goes up to 20%. But even in this case, you’re still facing $162 in losses with baccarat.
Why Is Slots Play Through a Better Deal?
Slots don’t always give you the optimal deal in terms of earning a match deposit bonus. Some scenarios will see table games as the superior option.
But in most cases, online slots result in fewer theoretical losses and give you a better chance to earn bonuses.
This fact is especially true when considering that online slots payback has gotten higher and higher throughout the years.
Internet slots used to pay somewhere between 92% and 94% on average. You’ll still see some of these old holdovers in the gaming industry.
But payout percentages have become much better in recent times. Online slots developers have raised payback in the spirit of competition.
Nowadays, you can expect internet slots to pay between 95% and 97% on average. Some games even pay up to 99%, although these are relegated to the reduced contribution category.
You’d think that table games with house edges ranging from 0.35% to 1.35% would give you a great chance to unlock bonuses, even with lowered playthrough contributions.
But a game that only delivers 10-20% contribution really kills your chances of releasing a bonus without losing too much money.
Should Online Casinos Change Table Game Play Through?
The current model for bonus wagering requirement contributions is an old one. The standard, which is slots bets delivering 100% on playthrough versus 20% or lower on table games, comes from an era where slots paid less.
The wide disparity between wagering requirement contributions made sense when considering that some slots only paid 92%. But times have changed and many internet slot machines offer 96% payback or more.
I’m not suggesting that high-paying slots should offer smaller playthrough contributions. Instead, I think that casinos need to reevaluate where table game contribution should be.
Baccarat with a 10% contribution rate just doesn’t compare to a slot machine that offers 96% payback and 100% contribution.
Casino should make sure that all table games contribute at least 25% towards meeting wagering requirements. This makes it worthwhile to play baccarat, craps, or French roulette when you want to earn a bonus.
Unfortunately, my plea for internet casinos to change deposit bonus terms and conditions probably won’t reach gaming’s top brass.
Until the industry decides to make these changes on its own, you should still take steps to hunt for the best deals possible.
This process involves looking at wagering requirements, studying game contributions, and doing the math on theoretical losses.
Taking all of these steps helps you decide which game is best for attacking playthrough and also allows you to compare bonus deals between multiple gaming sites.
One casino may appear to have the better deal over another when they offer are 40x wagering requirements versus 45x. But if their blackjack game only offers 10% contribution versus 25% for the other casino, then the second site is a better deal for blackjack players.
Of course, it’s not fun to read terms and conditions and run the math on various bonus offers. But this is a worthwhile pursuit when you want to unlock deposit rewards with the least amount of losses possible.