One of the first things that attracts and surprises new sports bettors are the betting site bonuses. We’re conditioned to think that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. While that’s true in many cases, the sports betting scene is slightly different. Sportsbooks offer all sorts of incentives to get you through the door and then to keep you betting. Those betting site bonuses can come in many ways, shapes and sizes.
If you’re new to the space, allow us to run you through the types of sweeteners you’ll see. And yes, there are strings attached, so we’ll go over those too.
Welcome Bonus (Also Known As Deposit Bonus)
You’ve probably see the ads on TV, websites or at stadiums: “sign up and get $1000!”
Sound too good to be true? Well, it actually is pretty accurate. Sportsbooks will give you a deposit bonus when you open a new account and make your first deposit. The question is what is the welcome bonus. Here are the two most common ones you’ll see.
Deposit Bonus: Site Credit
With this type of bonus, you’ll get a deposit bonus of some sort based on how much money you deposit. For example, if it is a 100% deposit bonus up to $1000, that means that whatever amount you deposit (up to $1000), you’ll get matched with a dollar-for-dollar bonus. For example, if you deposit $100, your account will receive a $100 bonus and you’ll have $200 to play with. If you deposit $1000, you’ll get an additional $1000.
The key thing to look for is whether you’re getting a free bet or site credit. A free bet only gives you the winnings of the wager (if it wins). Site credit means you’ll get your stake and wager back. We’ll delve into more details below on these two.
At any rate, site credit tends to be the better option as you can usually get more money out of it. Just note the terms and conditions that come with this bonus. The sportsbook won’t simply give you a bonus with no strings attached. Otherwise, you’d just withdraw and call it a day.
Deposit Bonus: Risk-Free Bet
This is also a common welcome offer. You’ll get some sort of a bonus based on what happens with your first bet. With a risk-free bet, you’ll get that amount back if your first bet loses – but you’ll only get it in free bets. If you deposit $1000 cash and lose it on your first bet, the sportsbook will give you $1000 back but it’s a free bet credit. That gives you the opportunity to place a second bet but you only get the winnings from that bet – if it wins. To see the difference, take a look at the example below.
$100 at +100 -> $200 ($100 stake and $100 profit)
$100 at +100 -> $100 return (only $100 profit)
Typically, sportsbooks will use higher amounts with free bets to attract players because they’re less costly to them. A $1000 or $5000 risk-free bet is attractive for marketing purposes. Meanwhile, they’re not actually giving that much away.
At the end of the day, if you’re a player, you probably want site credit because that’s closer to cash.
A profit boost is one of the most common betting site bonuses you’ll come across. What happens in this scenario is that you’ll pick a betting line and be afforded the opportunity to boost the odds. If you win your bet, you get a boost on the payout. Obviously, if you lose, you simply lose. Here’s an example of a moneyline profit boost:
20% Profit Boost
Original Odds: +100
$100 Bet at +100 -> $100
Profit Boosted Odds: +120
$100 Bet at +120 -> $120
As you can see, these can be quite valuable. Some things to keep in mind include:
- Profit boosts often have a small max stake. You can’t go bananas and bet thousands; these are usually limited to $10, $25, $50 or rarely $100.
- Sometimes these have a max win. In other words, you can’t win thousands if you boost some crazy underdog. You might get capped.
- These tend to be restricted to a sport or an event. You’ll see that clearly labeled as it will say “MLB Profit Boost” or “Monday Night Football Profit Boost”.
- These types of bets are easy to hedge for a guaranteed profit. You’ll have to use a hedge calculator and bet the other side at a different sportsbook.
Bet & Get
Bet & Get promos are common. While they’re not formally called that, it’s essentially what they are. The sportsbook is requiring you to bet on something – an event, an outcome, a prop – and you’ll get a bonus of some kind in return. For example, it might be a big primetime game and they’ll want to generate some action. They’ll say “Bet $50 on any Monday Night Football line and get a $10 bonus regardless of whether you win or lose”. It’s fairly straightforward. Keep in mind:
- The qualifying bet to get the bonus might have odds restrictions or other terms. For example, maybe you have to bet a main line and props won’t be allowed. Make sure you read the details.
- The bonus usually comes with some restrictions. It might have a wagering requirement of some sort attached to it.
- Remember to read the fine print as some Bet & Gets deliver a bonus if you win or lose, or only if you lose. Those are obviously quite different situations.
Risk Free Bet
You already know what a risk-free bet in terms of the welcome offer. These work in a similar fashion but will be on a much smaller scale – once you’re actually in as a customer and are betting. For example, you might see a risk-free bet for baseball. If you win, then great. If you lose, you’ll get 100% back up to $10 in free bet credits or site credit. Sometimes sportsbooks do these with parlays too where if you win, you win. If you lose, you’ll get some money back.
One strategy that’s popular with these is to, in fact, place a very risky bet if you’re getting your full stake back. If a sportsbook will give you your bet back in site credit with something low like a 1x wagering requirement, then playing a risky parlay is really not all that risky to you. You may as well swing for the fences.
However, if you’re getting your money back in free bet credits or there’s a huge rollover requirement on the site credit, you’re better off avoiding the risk-free parlays. There is, in fact, risk with those.
Speaking of sportsbooks trying to get you to play parlays, one common betting site bonus is parlay insurance. This can come in many forms. You might get money back if your parlay loses or if it loses by just one leg. Or it might be that if all of your legs lose, you get a bonus. Regardless of the case, these types of bets are hard to make and the bonus is not usually worth it. Think about it: going three out of four on a parlay is hard to do. You could go win zero legs, one leg or two legs. And you only get the bonus if you win three out of four. It’s risky.
While it’s a nice touch that sportsbooks want to offer this, the truth is that it’s just a dangling carrot for you to bite and play a parlay. You don’t really need to add that risk to your life for a bonus that’s hard to get.
Not all jurisdictions allow both sports and casino betting, but where they’re both in the clear, they tend to try to cross-promote. That’s why some betting site bonuses will ask you to do something in the sportsbook to get something in the casino. They want you to crossover and try out the games.
Beyond that, though, many sites that have casinos to play at will often drop you free spins or casino incentives, so that you try out that side of things. A lot of the best bitcoin sites will often use this promo.
One important distinction to make with casino bonuses is that often – but not always – they come with much higher wagering requirements than sports betting. Seeing a rollover requirement of 10, 30 or even 100 is not uncommon on the casino side.
Odds boosts are a popular betting site bonus and almost every sportsbook offers them. You’ll see them listed in a section specifically for that. Sometimes, they’ll be filed away per sport or per game.
Odds boosts give you a bump in price and you have to determine whether it is worth. Many sportsbooks will also have the occasional Super Boost, which gives bettors even more value. Some things to keep in mind:
- You always have to check the value with these as some odds boosts are so minor that the regular price at a different sportsbook is better.
- Some odds boosts are on an individual outcome (like a team to win) but oftentimes, sportsbooks try to pull you into a parlay. They’ll put two or three outcomes together and then boost those odds. That often adds more risk and may or may not be worth it.
Check The Terms & Conditions
As mentioned, these betting site bonuses always come with some sort of strings attached. While it may not be obvious if you’re new to sports betting, be prepared for some conditions. That’s why you always want to read the terms. If you misread something or bet the wrong outcome, you won’t get the bonus. The details matter with these and sportsbooks are not usually forgiving.
Always remember to check:
Rollover/Wagering Requirement – This is the number of times you’ll have to bet the bonus. If it’s a $100 bonus with a five-time wagering requirement, that means you’ll have to place $500 in bets before you can withdraw your winnings.
Expiry – Many bonuses come with some sort of expiry. Free bet credits are usually something like seven days. Other bonuses can be shorter – like three days – or longer like 30 or 90 days. Just make sure you check because you don’t want to lose these valuable bonuses.
Minimum Odds – When taking advantage of these offers, check what the minimum odds are. Some sportsbooks will limit your bets to -200 or higher (-150, -110, +125 and so on). Other times, the minimum might be higher or lower. Sometimes, there are no minimum odds required at all. You need to know these because if there are odds restrictions and you don’t respect them, you won’t qualify for the bonus.
Betting Restrictions – Sometimes when you get a bonus, you can’t use on anything. It might be restricted to a specific sport (like baseball) or a specific event (like a first inning run prop). Double-check what the terms say because that may impact if you want the bonus at all.