How Sportsbook Bonuses Work
Legal online sportsbooks know that once they sign up a new bettor, they will likely have their business for a while. This is combined with a strong wish to show those who have not bet online for a long time what today’s sportsbooks can offer. They figure once you try live betting, see their apps and check out the huge amount of sports and lines on offer, you’ll stick around!
Free bets are loss-leaders to get you in the door. There are several different types to look out for.
- No Deposit Bonuses: Typically, a small bet (think $10 to $25) just for registering.
- Risk Free Bets: Here you’ll bet with your own money, if your selection loses, the sportsbook will refund your stake in the form of a new bet.
- Matched Bet Offers: Sportsbooks will offer a free bet based on the amount you initially bet at their site.
- Free Bets: This type of free bet gives you a specific amount of bonus betting based on reaching milestones. For example, wager $500 and get $100 in free bets.
Once you are a regular customer of a book, they will offer even more incentives. This can include loyalty (points based) schemes, special lines or risk-free wagers or promotions – which can be regular or one-off. There are also offers which return your stake on parlay bets where just one of your selections loses.
Who Can Take Advantage of Sportsbook Bonuses?
At the time of writing New Jersey, Indiana, West Virginia and PA has online sportsbooks. Each state has its own regulations surrounding online sports betting. To be able to take advantage of their offers, you need to be physically inside the state borders. While you can’t bet from outside these states, there is no requirement to be a permanent resident.
You’ll also need to be over 21 (Id will be requested). Sportsbook offers are restricted to one per household, device and person.
How to Claim Your Free Betting Offers?
Depending on the sportsbook, you’ll either receive your free bet automatically on registration, or use a bonus code to claim the offer. You will find information on all the free bet bonus codes here at OnlineGamblingSites.com. Head to the page that covers betting in your state for the full list.
Registering for an account at a regulated book is very easy. You’ll supply your e-mail address, plus some personal information like name, address and date of birth. Following an e-mail approval, your account will be created – and your bonus money will follow. You will be asked to supply backup documents as part of the ‘Know Your Customer’ responsibilities of these sites. If you make a deposit to claim your free bets, this will include backup documents for your deposit method too.
Sportsbook Bonuses & Free Bet Offers Explained
As you will see from the detailed information below, there are plenty of specific terms and rules for the different free bet bonuses. These often have a minimum odds requirement, with -200 the benchmark. This stops people taking advantage of the offers on huge favorites.
With all the examples below, I strongly recommend that you read the terms and conditions before you place your first wager.
1. “No-Deposit Sportsbook Bonuses”
This is the single most popular form of sportsbook bonus for obvious reasons. You get to bet real money for free – and in many cases you keep all of your winnings. These deals range from $10 through to a maximum of about $50. They work by giving you a single bet which needs to be at odds of -200 or better. If your selection wins, then you get the profit from this, though not the stake part.
For example, if you bet $20 of your own money on a money line of 110, then you’d get $22 in profit + your $20 returned = $42 back. That same bet with free money will only see the $22 land in your account.
An important factor with “no deposit bonus” offers is time. These are often very short duration (though this can vary). If your offer only lasts for 7 days, then you can’t use it for futures bets. The offer would have expired by the time the wager is settled. Some books may also restrict the type of bet you can make. Examples include no parlays or only popular lines on major leagues.
Example of a No-Deposit Bonus in Action: Unibet Accepted in PA & NJ
Unibet Sportsbook now has a live sportsbook, and an online site using the popular European brand. You can access this via apps or a website, with the technology powered by Kindred Group – a respected global operator.
Unibet offers a $20 no-deposit bonus for all new sign-ups. Here are the steps:
- Use this link to register your account via Unibet
- You’ll receive $20 free, which must be used for a bet within 7 days
- Odds must be greater than -200 to qualify
- Winnings from this bet will be credited, though the stake will not be returned
This is a simple bonus, with no additional wagering requirements. What I like best about this free bet is that you can still claim the 100% to $250 matched welcome bonus at any time.
Free Betting Sites with No Deposit Bonus Offers
The list below is a complete list of legal online sportsbooks offering no deposit offers. I’ve sorted the list by legal state. If you’re not in one of the legal states, you can take advantage of either DraftKings or FanDuel DFS offers.
2. “Risk-Free Bets”
You will normally need to make a deposit to take advantage of a risk free bet bonus. The idea is simple. You make a bet and get your stake back if it loses. If you win, then there are no further actions required – your bankroll is already off to a great start.
If your first bet loses, then your stake is returned in the form of a new bet. Since this can’t be withdrawn, these offers are not entirely risk-free. Having said that, you can always bet the bonus money on a strong favorite (as long as the odds are better than -200). You will also need to bet this bonus money all at once, splitting it into several smaller bets is not normally permitted.
While these are generous bonuses and removing much of the risk gives new bettors a big boost, there are drawbacks. To get the best from these, your first bet often needs to be big. For example, if your regular ‘fun’ bets are in the $20 range, then betting $200 in one go might be outside of your comfort zone. Once again, time limits will vary between the sportsbooks.
Online Betting Sites with Risk Free Bets
Example of a Risk-Free Bet Bonus: DraftKings Accepted in PA, NJ, IN, WV
DraftKings is the company behind the huge DFS brand – and one of the biggest fantasy sports operators. Their online sportsbook, brings innovative bets (cash out betting, in-play betting) and exciting promos.
New depositors get a risk free first bet up to $200 + $25 in 5 x $5 free bets. Here is how it works:
- Register your account and make a deposit
- Your first bet (straight bets and parlays only) up to $200 will be risk free
- If it loses, you are refunded your stake as a free bet
- You have 90 days to place your initial wager, then 7 days to use your free bet if needed
While $200 risk free is a generous offer, there is still some risk! The offer returns the stake for losing bets as a further free bet. This means you have to gamble it once again to get the benefit. While your risk could be reduced by betting on a strong favorite, minimum odds of -200 are needed – limiting this to an extent.
3. “Matched Deposit Bonus”
Of all the free bet bonuses offered by online sportsbooks – the matched bonuses are the biggest. Some of these will reach 4 figures. Once again, the idea is simple, though the devil is in the details.
You make a deposit at a book, who will offer you free bets that match the amount your deposited. For example, you deposit $500 and get to play with $500 in free bets, as well as your own cash balance.
What I like about these offers is that you are not usually restricted to a single bet. You have a bonus money balance, which can be used for as many bets as you wish within a certain timeframe. The best sportsbook bonuses only require that you wager your bonus once. Look out for books that require more play-through than this. It will make clearing your bonus a lot more difficult.
Depending on the size of your matched bonus, time can play an important role. For example, if you start your account off-season for your favorite sports, then making enough bets within 30 days might be a stretch. Some books allow 60 or more days to clear this type of free bet offer.
You will usually be able to take advantage of a matched first deposit bonus after enjoying the no-deposit free bets.
Matched deposit offers are also available for loyal bettors at many sites. These are known as ‘reload bonuses’, as they kick in when you reload your account.
Example of a Matched Deposit Bonus: SugarHouse Accepted in PA
SugarHouse operates an online sportsbook in both PA and NJ. They use an in-house platform by Rush Street interactive.
SugarHouse offer an ‘old school’ matched deposit bonus up to $250. The idea is that your first deposit gets matched at 100% with free bets. You then need to wager this bonus money in order to ‘clear’ it into your real money account. Here is how the offer works:
- Visit Sugarhouse Sportsbook here and use bonus code PLAY250
- SugarHouse Sportsbook will match your deposit at 100%, up to $250 max
- You need to wager this bonus money 1x to clear it into your cash account
- You need to activate and wager your bonus with 30 days of your deposit
Many books have minimum odds, or much shorter durations – making this SugarHouse free bet offer both generous and simple. This book combines sports and casino into a single platform – meaning you’ll get to take advantage of promos from both sides.
4. “Free Bets Based on Wagering”
The final common way in which regulated sportsbooks offer bettors bonuses is to give you free bets as you reach milestones. For example, you make a deposit, wager as normal, then get free bets each time you hit $100 in wagering.
A big advantage here is that you can bet in smaller units. There is no need to have a single huge bet to take full advantage of an offer. If that offer is for $20 in free bets every time you wager $200, then you can make 10x $20 bets to get there (or any other sizing).
Free bets are different to free cash. This bonus does mean you’ll have to wager it at least once before it can be withdrawn. As a rule of thumb, this will need to be at -200 or better and in a single bet. Once again, make sure you have enough time based on your regular betting style to reach the target. With this type of bonus, you will still get a proportion of the bonus if you don’t make it in time!
Example of a Wagering Based Free Bet: FoxBet Accepted in PA & NJ
While the welcome offer is a risk-free bet, free bets every week keep loyal patrons happy! While this free bet is an ongoing promo, many of the big international brands will use this type of promotion for new customers.
At FoxBet, the wagering-based free bet is super-simple. You bet $25 in any given week – and then receive a $5 free bet in your account. The usual rules apply, with this free bet lasting 7 days before it expires. Bets can’t be on huge favorites – with the -200 minimum still in place.
You’ll find that FoxBet Sportsbook look after their regular bettors really well – this is one of many promotions they offer.
Take Full Advantage of Sportsbook Bonus Offers
With the roll-out of regulated sportsbooks underway, it is a great time to take advantage of those marketing offers and get your share of the free bet bonuses on offer.
As you’ll see above, there are 4 main types of free bet offer. These are completely free bets (no-deposit offers), matched deposit bonuses, risk free bets and wagering based free bets.
Which one is best for you will depend on the size of your initial betting bankroll. Your appetite for risk also plays into this. For bettors that would like to see how the new online sportsbooks work, then the completely free bonuses are a great way to start. What I like about those is that you can always take advantage of the bigger deposit bonuses later if you like what you find.