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Sports Betting Bonuses

Sports betting bonuses are promotions run by bookmakers as a marketing tool. These bonuses usually take the form of offers of free cash just for signing up, or for depositing a certain amount of money or placing a specific wager. Bonuses are the online version of casino comps – perks designed to draw in more business.

Bonuses have been a part of the online sportsbook industry since its inception. Though bonuses have changed over the years, the basic premise is the same. Sportsbooks throw bonus offers around as their primary means of advertisement.

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How Sportsbook Bonuses Work

How can bookmakers afford to give money away? The most straightforward answer is that they can’t – and they don’t. Bonuses are designed to attract your attention with the promise of money but make it difficult for you to actually get your hands on it. 

There’s nothing illegal about this – if a store offers you a BOGO deal, there will be certain restrictions in order to get your free item. The trouble with online gambling bonuses and giveaways is that they’ve become watered-down with higher wagering requirements and other complications that turn offers of free cash into a minefield of red tape.

If a sportsbook offers “up to $100” in bonus cash, bettors must accept ahead of time that they may only ever see $5 or $10 of that cash because of the bonus parameters and the way they might wager. 

A Note on Wagering Requirements

Before learning about the different types of bonuses available, make sure you understand wagering requirements – sometimes called “rollover requirements.” These are often listed with numerical values such as 5x or 25x. This number tells you how much you’ll have to wager in order to clear your full bonus amount. This protects the sportsbook from going broke from handing out bonuses. Not all bonuses have wagering requirements, but the vast majority do.

Types of Sportsbook Bonuses

Here’s a quick guide to the basic categories of bonuses you’ll come across while researching online sportsbooks:

Sign-Up Bonuses

This is a generic term for bonuses made available to new depositors. It’s usually the largest and most-advertised bonus at an online book, splashed across banner ads and mass emails. The idea is to incentivize people to sign up for an account by promising them a freebie, usually in the form of a deposit match. The match rates and maximum earnings vary from book to book – match rates everywhere from 10% to 200% of your qualifying deposit. Even US-facing books are offering rollover rates as low as 4x for sports bets.

Deposit Match Bonuses

If a book offers deposit match bonuses, you can receive a percentage of your initial deposit in addition to your bank roll. For example, if a 50% match bonus was offered, and a bettor deposited $100, the book would add $50 to the bettor's bank roll as a deposit match bonus. 

Free Bet Bonuses

The second most common form of match, besides a deposit match, is the free bet bonus. This offer is particularly popular at online sportsbooks as opposed to casinos. This not only incentivizes existing customers to try their hand at the sportsbook (with the promise of a free bet bonus), it also attracts new sports bettor members for a quick “worry-free” wager. Basically, a site will match the money you deposit in the form of a free (and immediate) wager – if you lose, you can usually redeem your losses with another bonus which, of course, requires a rollover, usually around 4x for sports bet rebates.

Reload Bonuses 

Bonuses are considered “reload bonuses” when they incentivize adding new funds to your account. Imagine you run a sportsbook – how do you keep customers coming back after they just lost all their money to you? By offering them a special match rate bonus for reloading their account. Usually, these take the form of a percentage match rate capped at a specific amount.

Sports Betting Bonuses Conclusion

Bonuses are fun, so long as you follow a few key principles:

Key Bonus Principles
  • Don’t make a deposit at a sportsbook just to earn a bonus.
  • Don’t ignore the terms and conditions.
  • Don’t expect to get something for nothing.

If you don’t find a deposit bonus offer you like, you may have luck contacting customer support for a special offer. This is especially true for customers depositing a larger amount of money – say $1,000 or more. Sites love bettors with money ready in hand, so contact the cashier department at your favorite book before your next deposit.