I wanted to write a complete guide to sportsbook signup bonuses. I’ve talked to too many completely confused bettors. They just don’t understand these promotions for some reason.
Also, I needed a break from writing about how to win at casino games like blackjack and how to win on slot machines in gas stations.
Some people deposit cash for years at online sportsbooks without taking advantage of a single bonus. Other potential customers have never made a deposit. Usually they’re confused about how the signup bonus system works.
This post is a simple but complete guide to sportsbook bonuses. It was written to demystify the process of earning bonus cash from an online book.
What Is a Sportsbook Signup Bonus?
Online sportsbooks use promotional offers to attract customers. There’s nothing novel about this. It’s the same model used by businesses all over the world. You offer a pool of potential customers something of value to entice them to come in and spend money.
A sportsbook signup bonus is a specific kind of promotion. The word “signup” in the name should give away what it’s used for. Sportsbooks offer this promo to people who are signing up and making a deposit for the first time.
Technically, any bonus offer made to a customer signing up for the first time is a “signup bonus.” Most of the time, a signup bonus is a specific type of promo called a deposit match.
You can read a detailed guide to sportsbook promo codes for United States players here.
What Is a Deposit Match?
With a deposit match, a first-time sportsbook customer can earn bonus money based on the size of their deposit and the terms of the bonus offer.
A typical US-facing sportsbook might offer new customers a 100% deposit match worth up to $500. That means the book will pay you a bonus equal to 100% of your first deposit with a cap of $500.
The terms and conditions of a particular deposit match are important. I cover this in more detail in the rest of this post. These restrictions tell bettors things like how much they have to bet to clear their bonus, what sorts of bets they can make to clear that requirement, and how long they have to earn it.
How Does a Sportsbook Signup Bonus Work?
It starts with books listing their available promotions on their websites. You’ll also see bonus offers splashed across sportsbooks ads. Sometimes, you won’t know the specifics of a bonus offer until you sign up for a free account at a book. At these sites, new customers will get promo offers on sign-up.
A new customer initiates a bonus offer with a qualifying deposit. The casino’s promotions department then tracks that player’s action. Bonus funds are released based on customer loyalty. The word loyalty here refers to money spent by the customer on bets.
Customers have to bet a certain amount of their own money to “clear” the sportsbook’s bonus payout. The amount varies from book to book. Wins and losses are handled differently, and other restrictions on sports betting exist. This is covered in more detail below.
What happens when a player who’s accepted a bonus wants to make a withdrawal?
This is where things get a little different depending on the offer. Some sportsbook bonuses are said to be “sticky.” If a bonus is sticky, then it can’t be withdrawn from a player account. It can only be used to make bets.
How does that work?
If a player tries to make a withdrawal from an account with a sticky bonus, the amount of that bonus is subtracted from the account. Let’s say you’ve got $100 in winnings and $100 in a sticky bonus in your account. If you go to withdraw $200, you’ll see that the $100 sticky bonus has been subtracted already.
These sticky bonuses are the norm, though you’ll still occasionally find a non-sticky bonus offer in the US-facing online sportsbook industry.
How Do I Earn My Bonus Money?
Shakespeare said: “Thought is free.” Everything else, I assume, carries a charge.
Your online sportsbook is no more in the business of giving away money than your local bank. Sure, they’ll incentivize you with bonus cash, but you’re going to have to work for it.
First, you need an active sportsbook account in good standing to earn your bonus money. Books are on the lookout for what they call “bonus abuse,” which is any misuse of promo offers. They don’t like when you use more than once account. They’re also watching for cheating, collusion, and that sort of thing.
Another restriction on sports betting customers – you can’t bet more than 50% of your deposit amount on any one wager in an attempt to clear bonus money. Without this restriction, a sports bettor could clear his entire bonus in a single bet. If the customer also happened to win that bet, this would be a big hit on the book, and relatively easy to exploit for potential customers.
But by far the most important way customers earn their bonus cash is through “rollover”.
What Is a Rollover Requirement?
A rollover requirement is a type of bonus restriction. Rollover tells you how much you have to bet in order to clear the entire amount of your bonus. This exists in the world of online casino gambling, too. This is how casinos and sportsbooks rate customer loyalty in order to pay out promotional money.
Here’s an example:
At Bovada, sportsbook bonuses have a 5x bonus plus deposit rollover. That means sportsbook customers chasing a $100 bonus with a $100 deposit would have to bet $1,000 ($200 x 5) before earning their entire bonus.
Sportsbook rollover requirements are relatively low. Go look up the wagering requirements for casino bonuses and you’ll find numbers closer to 35x and 40x. Chasing a bonus with just a 5x or 10x rollover requirement is a good deal. Compared that with what slots players face.
You’ll earn your bonus cash in increments based on your real money play. If you’re chasing a $100 bonus, you might earn it $1 at a time. Check a site’s promotions page to figure out how they disburse bonus money.
In every case, you can check on the status of your bonus and rollover as you’re chasing it. In your player account, you’ll find something like “view bonus status” and be able to see how far you’ve gone and how far you have left to go towards clearing your bonus money.
You can find an interesting discussion of clearing rollover requirements on Quora.
What Other Restrictions Do Sportsbook Bonuses Have?
Outside of rollover restrictions, you’ll sometimes see sportsbooks restrict bonus-chasing bets in terms of odds.
Books don’t want customers betting on sure-thing favorites to clear their bonus money. They’ll list odds and say that only bets at that level or higher count toward clearing your bonus. The sites that do this tend to force bettors to take -200 or higher odds.
This is becoming less common over time. Restrictions on odds are a moot point in some sports markets. In Major League Baseball, it’s rare to see a team listed outside the -180/+180 range. It wouldn’t do any good to restrict baseball bets based on odds, since most odds are short in that market.
Time limits are a major restriction to look out for. Some books put a time limit on earning bonus cash – 30 days or something like that. Others will force you to bet the bonus cash you clear within a certain period of time.
Because every book’s offer is different, it’s vital to read the terms and conditions before you accept a bonus offer. You may even want to contact an online book’s customer service department to ask questions before you send your qualifying deposit.
I hope you found this complete guide to sportsbook signup bonuses informative and easy to read.
I’m a huge fan of online sports betting and I want more people to participate in my hobby. I feel like more people would open accounts at online books if they knew how relatively easy it is to win a little bit of bonus money. Also, you can find a list of the lowest minimum deposit sportsbooks here, which makes it even easier to get started.
If you’re betting on sports online, you should be getting some kind of promotional offer from your sportsbook. This post should help you get there.