Types of Online Sportsbook Bonuses

Sol Fayerman-Hansen
Sol Fayerman-Hansen
Fact checked by:
Paruyr Shahbazyan
Last Updated: Mar 5, 2024, 8:18 PM

Does Big Bonus Mean Big Money?

In online sports betting, promotional offers like "Bet $10, Get $1000" and "Instant $500 Free Bet" are ubiquitous, designed to draw in new bettors with the allure of easy rewards for minimal risk. These offers, while seemingly generous, are meticulously crafted to catch the eye and ignite the imagination of potential customers. However, the reality beneath these enticing offers is layered and requires a discerning eye to navigate.

The true worth and accessibility of these online sportsbook bonuses are invariably tied to a comprehensive set of terms and conditions. Wagering requirements, minimum odds, and specific expiration dates are among the stipulations that dictate the actual feasibility of leveraging these bonuses to one's advantage. These conditions serve a dual purpose: they make the offers look appealing, yet ensure that the sportsbooks' interests are protected.

From my perspective, understanding the fine print associated with these promotions is crucial. While the initial offers may seem too good to pass up, the devil is often in the details. Bettors should approach these bonuses with a healthy dose of skepticism and a clear understanding of what is required to actually benefit from them.

This analysis aims to shed light on the complexities of online sportsbook bonuses, offering readers a balanced view of how these promotions work and what to watch out for. It's my belief that with the right knowledge, bettors can indeed find value in these offers, but it requires careful consideration and a responsible approach.

Welcome Bonuses

Oh the Welcome Bonus…the first offer that most online sportsbooks give new customers when they sign up for an account. This is how the sportsbook welcomes its newest players. 

Key Aspects of Welcome Bonuses

Here are some of the most common aspects of welcome bonuses and you can always explore all of the active welcome bonuses for new players:

  1. Minimum Deposit: The minimum deposit is a critical parameter in bonus eligibility, representing the least amount required to activate a bonus. Sportsbooks set varying thresholds for this, ranging from minimal sums to more considerable amounts, reflecting their individual policies and target markets.
  2. Bonus Cap: Referring to the upper limit of bonus funds available, the bonus cap defines the maximum benefit a bettor can receive from an offer. For example, a sportsbook may advertise a $500 welcome bonus, equating to 100% of your initial deposit, thereby limiting the bonus to your first $500 deposit regardless of any additional funds added.
  3. Bonus Percentage: This term denotes the ratio of your deposit amount that will be matched as a bonus. Standard percentages include 100%, 150%, and 200%. An example would be receiving an additional $100 on a $100 deposit under a 100% deposit bonus scheme.
  4. Bet Restrictions: These are conditions placed on how bonuses can be utilized, aimed at preventing exploitation. Restrictions often specify the types of bets or sports that are eligible under the bonus terms. A common restriction could be the requirement to use bonus funds on events with certain minimum odds.
  5. Time Limit: The time limit is the defined duration within which a bonus remains valid. Most welcome bonuses come with a specified timeframe for fulfilling wagering requirements. Failure to meet these requirements within the given period results in forfeiture of the bonus and any associated winnings.
  6. Wagering Requirements: These are the conditions that dictate how many times bonus funds must be bet before they can be withdrawn as cash. For example, a sportsbook might require a 1x wagering requirement on a $100 bonus, meaning you must bet a total of $100 before any winnings become withdrawable.

Variations of Welcome Bonuses

Welcome bonuses come in many different forms, and we’ll go over the most common types below:

  1. Deposit Bonus: Upon completing registration, you become eligible for a deposit bonus when you fund your account with real money. Sportsbooks typically match a specified percentage of your deposit as a bonus. The standard offer is often a 100% match, with maximum limits varying from $100 to $500. For example, if you deposit $100 and the sportsbook provides a 100% bonus, your starting balance would be $200. Some platforms may even extend offers up to a maximum of $1,000, showcasing a range of promotional strategies across various betting sites.
  2. No Deposit Bonus: This type of bonus is awarded by the sportsbook solely for completing the registration process, without the requirement to deposit funds. It serves as a no-cost method to enhance your initial bankroll. However, it typically comes with wagering requirements that must be met. The value of such bonuses is generally modest, often ranging around $5 to $10. This approach reflects a balance between offering an incentive to new users and maintaining the sportsbook's financial strategy.
  3. Free Bets: Sportsbooks frequently provide free bet bonuses as incentives for actions such as signing up, making a deposit, or fulfilling certain tasks. These bonuses can either require a prior wager or be offered as no-wager incentives. In the case of wager-required offers, you must place bets up to a specified odds threshold to activate the free bet. This structure is designed to encourage engagement on the platform while offering a potential reward for user activity.
  4. Cashback: Many sportsbooks offer promotions where a percentage of a player's initial losses is reimbursed as bonus money, often as part of a welcome bonus package. The percentage of loss return typically ranges between 5% and 50%, though this can vary significantly across different sportsbooks. These bonuses are generally characterized by lower wagering requirements, making them more accessible. However, it's important to be aware of any limitations or conditions attached to the use of this bonus when placing bets. This type of promotion is designed to mitigate the impact of early losses and encourage continued engagement with the platform.

Strategy: How to Effectively Utilize Welcome Bonuses

When considering the use of welcome bonuses, it's essential to approach them strategically. Here are some key tips:

  • Conduct thorough due diligence: Each bonus is unique, accompanied by its own rules and requirements. It's crucial to understand these details before claiming any bonus. We recommend reading through the terms and conditions before opting into any promotional offer.
  • Align bonuses with betting strategy: Ensure that the conditions of the bonus are compatible with the way that you plan to bet. This compatibility is key to effectively utilizing the bonus.
  • Understanding wagering requirements: Only claim bonuses if you're confident you can meet their wagering requirements. This foresight prevents any potential loss of the bonus due to unmet conditions.

Cash Bonuses

Cash bonuses, common in sports betting, are promotional offers like reload, no-deposit, or welcome bonuses, providing extra funds. For example, DraftKings might offer a $50 bonus as a promotion to all new members.

Differences Between Cash Bonuses and Other Bonuses

Unlike other sportsbook incentives, cash bonuses add funds to your account, which can be used for betting or withdrawn, subject to specific conditions. In contrast, bonuses like odds boosts and free bets operate differently. Odds boosts enhance the potential payout by increasing the odds of selected events, not by providing direct monetary benefits. Free bets allow wagering without tapping into personal funds, differing from the direct financial value of cash bonuses.

Free Bets

Free bets are a type of promotion offered by online sportsbooks, allowing users to place wagers without utilizing their own funds. These incentives serve dual purposes: rewarding existing patrons and attracting new customers. Each sportsbook implements free bets with distinct methodologies and conditions, including potential requirements for promotional codes or campaign participation. Occasionally, free bets may be automatically credited to user accounts.

How Free Bets Work

To utilize a free bet, bettors follow standard wagering procedures on selected markets or events. The value of the free bet is applied directly to the betting slip. Successful bets yield profits credited as usual. However, free bets often come with stipulations, such as minimum deposit or odds criteria, which must be satisfied prior to their use.

Sportsbooks vary in their free bet offerings, with common types including:

  1. Sign-Up Bets: Granted post-registration with a sportsbook.
  2. Risk-Free Bets: These allow a wager with the assurance of a refund up to a certain limit if the bet is unsuccessful.
  3. Deposit Bonuses: Offered following an initial deposit.
  4. No-Deposit Bets: Provided without requiring a deposit, typically attached with stringent conditions.

Risk Free Bets

Risk Free Bets, which can also be known as “Bet Insurance” are bonuses that gives bettors a safety net in case their bet loses. While the details may differ among sportsbooks, the basic idea is that you'd get a free bet or bonus money back if your initial bet loses.

On the other hand, bet insurance differs slightly from the traditional risk-free bet. Bet insurance is a feature that provides you with some type of protection against losses on certain bets. 

How Risk-Free Bets Differ From Other Bonuses

Risk-free and bet insurance bonuses distinctly set themselves apart from other sportsbook promotions, such as deposit match bonuses. These specific offers provide a safety net for bettors: if your initial wager results in a loss, the sportsbook credits your account, effectively giving you a second chance. This feature offers a unique advantage, encouraging bettors to engage with the platform while mitigating the financial risk associated with their first bet. 

Loyalty Bonuses

Loyalty bonuses are promotional offers that provide rewards to loyal bettors. Keep in mind that the specifics of each online sportsbook's loyalty program may vary. However, most enable bettors to accrue comp points or loyalty points for every real-money bet. Bettors can exchange the points for extra cash, items, or invitations to exclusive events and promotions depending on the program.

Criteria for Earning Loyalty Bonuses

Ones betting activity can trigger automatic enrollment in loyalty programs at some sportsbooks. While some loyalty programs are open to everyone who applies, others may have strict requirements that you must fulfill before you can receive an invitation to join. Depending on the sportsbook, you may have to apply to join the loyalty program. This may include submitting an application or showing interest via the platform. 

Notably, you usually need to maintain a bet threshold to keep your status or level in the loyalty program. Depending on how much and how frequently you bet, you can advance through the ranks of many loyalty programs. 

Online sportsbooks may provide prizes and bonuses depending on your loyalty tier. These may include higher withdrawal limits, quicker payments, and personal account managers. 

Deposit Bonuses

The deposit bonus is one of the most popular on sports betting sites. Here, the sportsbook provides a monetary reward, extra cash, or some other type of bonus as reward when the person funds their account. This is usually standard for new players on their first deposits. Before you make a deposit, make sure you read the offer's terms and conditions. Ensure you understand what you need to do to qualify for the bonus and if there are any limitations and wagering requirements.

Comparison with No-Deposit Bonuses

There is a key distinction between deposit bonuses and no-deposit bonuses. A deposit bonus is a promotional offer that gives you a bonus when you fund your sportsbook account. The bonus might be a set sum or a percentage of the money deposited. 

On the other hand, you can receive bonuses with no deposit required when you claim a no-deposit bonus. This bonus is often less than the deposit bonus and may come with more strict requirements. Nevertheless, it’s an ideal way for you to test out the site and various bets before committing any real cash. 

Deposit bonuses are often offered as a percentage match, while no-deposit bonuses are offered as a sum of money. Also, no-deposit bonuses usually have more strict wagering requirements than deposit bonuses.

Odds Boost

Odds boosts, a prevalent feature in sports betting, involve sportsbooks enhancing the odds for selected events or leagues. These promotions are typically market-specific, offering improved pre-match odds on certain sports events. The degree of odds enhancement varies across different sportsbooks, reflecting their unique marketing strategies and customer engagement goals.

To participate in an odds boost promotion, bettors are generally required to meet specific terms and conditions outlined by the sportsbook. For example, a sportsbook like Bet365 might offer increased odds on certain games, providing an opportunity for bettors to potentially gain more from their wagers. However, it's crucial to understand that these promotions are subject to change and may differ in availability and terms across various sportsbooks.

Parlay Bonuses

Parlay bets are a distinctive feature in US sports betting, allowing bettors to increase potential winnings by combining multiple bets into one. To win a parlay, every selected bet, or 'leg,' must be correct. For example, a bettor might combine bets on NFL, NBA, and MLB games into a single parlay. Parlay bonuses are offered by sportsbooks to enhance the payout or offer some consolation if just one leg fails.

Criteria for parlay bonuses vary across sportsbooks. These bonuses typically come with conditions like a maximum payout limit or a minimum number of legs in the parlay. Sportsbooks such as BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel frequently offer these bonuses, each with their own set of rules.

How Parlay Bets Differ From Other Wagers

Unlike single bets, where a wager is placed on one outcome, parlays involve multiple bets linked together. If even one bet in a parlay loses, the entire parlay is lost, which differs from single bets where each bet is independent. Additionally, parlays differ from teasers and accumulators in terms of odds calculation and the way losses are handled. Teasers allow for adjusting point spreads in the bettor's favor but with a reduced payout, while accumulators are similar to parlays but often used in soccer betting. Parlays offer a higher risk-reward ratio compared to these other types of bets, reflecting their popularity among bettors seeking larger payouts.

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Meet Our Authors

Sol Fayerman-Hansen
Sol Fayerman-Hansen

Sol's interest in sports was sparked at a young age, inspired by athletes such as Barry Sanders, Michael Jordan, and Wayne Gretzky. This early fascination evolved into a deep-seated passion, guiding him toward a career in sports journalism in 2007. Over the years, Sol has contributed numerous articles and reviews to various online platforms, sharing his knowledge and perspectives.

Central to Sol's approach is his dedication to honesty, especially regarding sports betting platforms. He believes in providing bettors with straightforward and detailed reviews, distinguishing his work by avoiding the often overly positive spin on bonus offers and promotions. His commitment to truthfulness has made his reviews a reliable source for those seeking authentic advice and information, thereby earning him a reputation for integrity among his readers.

“In the world of sports betting, truth is more valuable than any bonus offer.”

Content Manager, OnlineCasinoReports2012-2021
Sports Journalist, Dottraffic2009-2011
Content Writer, HouseTech2007-2009
Cristina Varela Galan
Cristina Varela Galan
Problem Gambling Expert

Cristina used to work as a Psychology Assistant in the Bizkaia Pathological and Risky Gamblers Association. She was also part of a research team in Deusto University, specializing in pathological gambling area. While working there, she managed to develop her own project 

 “Exploring the association between emotional regulation, alexithymia, stressful life events and gambling in adolescent and young adult women”.

Paruyr Shahbazyan began his business career in 2000 as a private entrepreneur. Over thirteen years, he developed a deep understanding for business and leadership, laying a solid foundation for his professional journey.

In 2013, Paruyr stepped into the sports and betting industry as the founder and president of Bookmaker Rating. This online mass media platform, which he led until 2020, focused on providing in-depth analysis and insights in sports betting, earning a reputation for its quality content. 

Continuing his innovative approach in 2022, Paruyr co-founded Azuro, a decentralized betting protocol. This venture showcases his dedication to integrating advanced technology in the evolving landscape of sports betting. Through these diverse experiences, Paruyr has continuously influenced and shaped the betting industry, driving new trends and setting high standards.

Engaged in private entrepreneurship2000-2013
Founder and President at Bookmaker Rating, an online platform focused on sports and betting2013-2020
Co-founder at Azuro, a decentralized betting protocol2022

"Innovation in sportsbetting comes from a deep understanding of both technology and the human element of sports." 

- Paruyr Shahbazyan, Founder, RG


Principles and Ethics

Paruyr Shahbazyan's core beliefs lie in the power of informed decision-making and integrity in the betting industry. He understands that the foundation of successful betting is not just about odds and predictions, but also about the trust and reliability of the information provided. Paruyr advocates for a betting environment where transparency and knowledge are paramount, ensuring that bettors are well-equipped with accurate data and insights.

Strategic Vision

Paruyr's vision is to revolutionize the sports betting industry through the integration of technology. He sees the future of betting as a blend of traditional sports knowledge with innovative tech solutions, like decentralized protocols, to enhance user experience and fairness. His aim is to create platforms that are not only user-friendly but also uphold the highest standards of ethical betting, contributing to a more responsible and enjoyable betting culture.

Future Perspectives

Looking towards the future, Paruyr envisions a betting landscape that is more inclusive, technologically advanced, and globally connected. He anticipates a significant shift towards more decentralized and transparent betting systems, driven by blockchain technology. Paruyr is committed to being at the forefront of this change, continuously exploring new possibilities and innovations that can redefine what it means to engage in sports betting in a digital world. His focus is on building systems that prioritize user empowerment, fairness, and the global growth of the sports betting community.


Anna Kravtcova
Anna Kravtcova
Problem Gambling Expert

Ph.D. in organizational psychology, an internationally certified psychologist (EuroPsy 2022, Cognitive behavioural therapy of mindfulness 2020, International Society for Emotional Intelligence 2017, Russian Psychological society 2014, American Psychological Association(Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychologist) 2011), speaker of many international conferences (USA, Brazil, Portugal, Czech Republic, Russia, etc.). TEDx speaker.

Mike Rosenberg
Mike Rosenberg
Content Writer

Mike made the decision to dive headfirst into the booming world of sports betting fresh out of college. Back in the day, when 1-800 pick lines and sports pagers were all the rage, he couldn't resist the allure, having grown up idolizing sports legends like Sweetness, MJ, and Slammin Sammy. Mike dedicated his early years to the industry, tirelessly analyzing games, writing articles with free picks, and selling his expertise on reputable handicapping sites. Unlike many others, Mike was known for his integrity and only released one Game of the Year per sport, per season. His hard work and unwavering commitment paid off, earning him a devoted following and propelling his career to new heights. Then came the explosion of Daily Fantasy Sports. Believe it or not, companies like DraftKings and FanDuel used to pay Mike's company to increase their brand exposure. Now, those same industry giants don't even bother responding to his emails. While Mike appreciates the convenience of being able to place legal bets in his own backyard, he can't help but feel disheartened by what has become of the industry. People are being led astray, falsely believing that a mere $5 wager on a 20-team same-game-parlay will be their ticket to financial security. If there’s one thing Mike learned from making book back in the day, it’s that parlays are a bookie’s best friend. A bankroll is the only leg you have to stand on in the battle with the books, and Mike’s here to offer up advice on how to protect it.