How Sportsbook Bonuses Work

What is a Sportsbook Deposit Bonus?

Online sportsbooks want your business and are willing to fight for it! Knowing there’s stiff competition, online betting sites offer incentives and promotions, with the most popular being called “Bonuses .”These bonuses vary from book to book and usually come in the form of free bets equal to 10% to 200% of your initial deposit, hence their name “Deposit Bonus.”

Example: Bovada Sportsbook usually offers a standard 50% real cash bonus up to $250 in free bets. (We’ll explain real cash vs. match play/free play later in this article). If you deposit $100, they’ll add an extra $50 to your betting account balance, giving you a total of $150 to play with.

Example 2: As noted above, Bovada offers a first-time depositor bonus up to $250. You can max this out by depositing $500, and they’ll credit you with an extra $250, bringing your starting balance to $750. It’s essentially like winning a big bet before you even place your first wager!

Real Cash Bonuses vs. Free Play/Match Play Bonuses

Not all bonuses are the same! A “Real Cash Bonus” is a true credit to your wagering account. You deposit a certain amount, receive a bonus, and together these amounts show up in your overall balance.

A “Free Play” or a “Match Play” bonus is quite a bit different (and much less valuable than a real cash bonus – About half!) A Free play/match play is where you’re given a credit that disappears once you risk/bet it. You only keep the winnings.

Example: You sign up at a sportsbook that offers a 100% free play. You deposit $100. The free play doesn’t show up in your balance. It’s held as a separate balance. Let’s say you take your $100 and play it on a football game with -110 odds. Your risk is $100, and your win amount is $90.91. Let’s say you win the bet. The $100 risked amount disappears. The $90.91 gets added to your balance. As you can see, this type of bonus offer is about half as valuable as a real cash bonus, where you would have been credited with both the risk and win amount. It’s almost the same as being in a casino, and they give you that paper slip good for $10 to play blackjack. You put the slip down and only keep what you win, and your $10 slip disappears. It’s our opinion that free plays and match plays are gimmicky and allow a sportsbook to market something that sounds better than what it really is. Yes, it’s still free money, but why settle for less when you can take advantage of a real cash bonus which is twice as valuable?

Sportsbook Bonus and Promo Codes

When signing up for a betting account or when in the cashier section of an online sportsbook, you’ll oftentimes see a box to enter a bonus or promo code. This is a spot to enter a code you have been given to receive a special offer. As an example. BetUS Sportsbook has a standard bonus offer where they’ll give you a “free play” or “match play” bonus. Since we have a tight relationship with them, they allow us to offer our readers a special/unique offer that is better than the standard offer everybody else receives. If you enter PREDICTEM in the bonus promo code area, you’ll be given a 100% bonus up to $300 instead of their free play bonus, which is worth half as much as the real cash bonus we can get you! (Click here to sign up at BetUS!)

If you’re a grinder looking to take advantage of every bonus dollar and best deal you can get your hands on, be sure to check out our extensive list of sportsbook promo codes.

Be Sure to Read The Fine Print! (Terms)

I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “Nothing in life is free!” It’s true! Kind of… Sportsbook bonus money is indeed free, but it comes with conditions, with the most important being “rollovers” and “holds.”

A rollover (aka: Play-Through) is the amount you need to wager before your deposit + bonus are eligible to be withdrawn. Rollovers vary greatly from book to book. Typical rollovers run from 5x to 12x. Generally speaking, the bigger the bonus, the higher the rollover. You’ll also find higher rollovers at sportsbooks that don’t require any hold. (We’ll explain holds below)

Example: You deposit $100 at MyBookie and receive a 100% real cash bonus when you sign up through our special bonus activator link and use the special bonus promo code PREDICT100. You now have a $200 account balance. MyBookie has a 5x hold, which applies to both the deposit and the bonus. $200 times a 5x hold = $1000 in wagers need to be placed before you’re able to make a withdrawal. Note: Rollover is usually based on the lower number of your risked amount or win amount. If you bet $100 to win $100, the $100 is the figure applied to your rollover. If you bet an MLB underdog at $100 to win $150, the $100 is the number applied to your rollover. Some sportsbooks will apply the higher risked amount to your rollover should you happen to lose the wager. Note: Be sure to read the terms and conditions! Some sportsbooks don’t count certain odds offerings/types of bets towards the rollover.

A “rollover” is put in place to prevent people from depositing, receiving a bonus, and then cashing out, essentially running away with free money. As I’m sure you can imagine, the bookie would go out of business if they allowed that to happen!

A “hold” is the timeframe your betting account needs to be active (assuming you’ve met the required rollover) before you can make a withdrawal. A standard hold on deposit + bonus is 30 days. For those who like to bet, win and cash out fast, it’s best that you avoid bonuses. Skipping the bonus eliminates rollovers/holds, and the only thing you have to deal with is a 1x rollover equal to your deposit and/or waiting until your credit card deposit clears through their bank.

Tip: Some sportsbooks have a time limit before bonus dollars disappear. Be sure to read all the fine print, so you don’t lose your loot!

Minimum and Maximum Deposits for Bonuses

The minimum to receive a bonus is usually $50 to $100. The maximums are usually $250, $500, and $1000. As a general rule of thumb, it’s easier to beat baseball betting, so sportsbooks tend to lower their maximum bonus offer to a much lower amount. Conversely, football is harder to beat, so you’ll see a lot of bookies offering max. bonuses up to $1000 and even more if you use cryptocurrency to deposit. This is not only because they think they’re going to crush you, but because there’s less risk to them and much lesser processing fees.

Reload Bonuses

Many sports bettors bust out (lose). The sportsbooks know that you have other options and will be tempted by the advertising of other betting shops. It’s in their best interest to retain you as a client, so they’ll offer you a “reload bonus .”Generally speaking, reload bonuses aren’t as much as a first-time deposit bonus. However, still valuable. Especially if you like what the book in question has to offer. As noted above, read the fine print before locking into any bonus offer.

Rakeback Bonuses

Almost all sportsbooks these days offer an online poker room (Bovada is the best site offering sports betting/poker combined). Rakeback is just a fancy term for rebate on the amount of rake (commission) you’ve paid to the house. It’s a pretty sweet deal if you’re a good poker player! These bonuses have much fewer terms and regulations than deposit bonuses.

Casino Bonuses

Oftentimes, sportsbooks have online casinos attached to them. It’s common to see a betting website offer a bigger bonus for their casino games than what they offer in the sportsbook. We suggest avoiding these bonuses, as not one single game in a casino offers odds in your favor. The beauty about betting on sports is that you can sway the odds in your favor if you’re educated, disciplined, and do your homework. “Gambling” always results in a transfer of wealth, and believe me when I say it isn’t from them to you! Avoid! Note: You can’t use casino bonus money on sports bets.

Referral Bonuses

As the title implies, if you “refer” a friend, they’ll reward you with a finder’s fee. Not a bad deal if you have some buddies who bet on sports. Most bookies give you a standard amount if your buddy deposits a certain amount or more, while others offer a percentage bonus based on your friend’s first deposit amount. Tip: Don’t try to game the system by referring other people in your house. They have tracking software that will likely result in you getting banned for cheating the system.

Sportsbook Bonus Tips

Tip 1: The best time to take advantage of sportsbook sign-up bonuses is prior to the start of football season. This is when maximum bonuses are offered.

Tip 2: Make sure you’re on the sportsbook’s email/newsletter list, and you’ve marked them as a safe sender, so their emails don’t end up in your spam box. Newsletters usually mean special offers that you won’t want to miss! It’s also good to follow your sportsbook on social media. Not just for bonuses, but other promotions that offer value to you, such as reduced vig, free bets, contests, swag giveaways, and more!

Tip 3: Split your bankroll up and play at multiple sportsbooks. Take advantage of two bonuses instead of one and line shop for the best available point spread. Not all sportsbooks offer the same point spreads and totals, so this can be just as valuable as a bonus itself! Another reason to roll with multiple sports betting sites is many offer unique offers. While this isn’t a bonus, did know you can wager on games at reduced oddds at BAS? Most sports bettors will take a bonus over reduced vigorish. This is the wrong move! Betting at reduced odds is like receiving a bonus every time you place a wager and will save/make you way more money over the long haul! Avoid instant gratificationa nd roll with the more valuable offer!  Note: Beating the 52.38% breakeven point in sports betting is not easy, so it’s imperative that you take advantage of every single offer you can! Betting at reduced odds -105 changes your breakeven point to 51.19% which is HUGE!  Lastly, another sports betting website to add to your sports betting aresenal is Bovada. Their live betting platform is by far the best on the web!

Tip 4: Don’t sign up at a sportsbook just because of their bonus. It may sound enticing in the beginning, but a vanilla sportsbook with a lack of offerings isn’t worth it. Always look around the book and see what they have to offer. Some strong points would be a good live betting platform (user-friendly with lots of offerings), daily or weekly promotions (reduced juice on Fridays so you can bet NFL games at -105 every week), and a reputation for having fast payouts.

Unfortunately, there are online sportsbooks out there that offer bonuses that are “too good to be true”.  While we don’t see them as much as we used to, these bookmakers are poorly run, or even set up to be a scam. Feel free to drop us a line and ask if we think a book is legit or not. We’ve been in the industry since the late 1990s and have a pretty good idea of which bookies are worth dealing with and which should be avoided. Good luck with your bets!


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