Don’t Lose Your Kidneys for a Free Spin

How many times have you clicked “agree” to some software Terms and Conditions without actually reading them? At this point, you’ve probably agreed to give more kidneys than you have to Mark Zuckerberg. In reality, of course, you have little to fear from the likes of Instagram or Spotify. Not reading the Terms of Service for an online casino, on the other hand, could cause you real heartache.

While online casinos have been around for decades now, the fluid nature of and constant changes to the online gaming space make it much more difficult to regulate than the traditional land-based casino industry. Unscrupulous online casinos might engage in bonus scams to bilk you out of your hard-earned cash. Meanwhile, even a reputable casino could make you regret putting in a deposit if you aren’t vigilant about protecting yourself.

Before you agree to accept any bonuses, you should always read through the casino’s Terms of Service. It’s not unusual (or illegal) for a bonus to be tied to wagering requirements. A wagering requirement refers to an amount you need to wager beyond the value of the bonus before you can cash out. For example, if a casino offers you a $100 first-deposit bonus with a 25x wagering requirement, you have to wager 25 times the amount of the bonus before you can cash out: that’s $2,500! It wouldn’t matter if you won a slots jackpot of $10,000 with that first $100 bonus. Until you’ve wagered $2,500 of your own money, your jackpot winnings will stay locked away.

It’s especially important to watch out for Terms of Service requirements that depend on what games you play. As a slots or bingo player, you certainly want to keep an eye out for high wagering requirements. However, if you play roulette or slots, you may want to stay away from these bonuses altogether. At some casinos, the fact that players have more control over making low-risk bets means wagers on roulette or blackjack don’t count towards the wagering requirements at all. For example, in the scenario above, you could accept the $100 bonus, wager $2,500 on roulette and still be ineligible to withdraw any of your winnings.

What can you do if you’re presented with an unfavorable bonus? Contact the casino’s customer service and let them know you don’t wish to accept it. Any reputable casino will let you waive the bonus—after all, having you wager less money than you would with a wagering requirement is better than having you wager no money at all. If customer service is difficult to contact or they try to harass you into accepting an unwanted bonus, it’s a good indication that the casino is not reputable, and you should take your money elsewhere.