Online betting bonuses are an old marketing tactic designed to encourage you to take the critical final step in giving a site your business: making a deposit. Betting sites want your business and they’re willing to pay just on the off-chance that you stick around and become a profitable customer. Most bonuses end up being a great deal for anyone interested in testing the waters.
The thing I love most about betting bonuses is that they reward you for something you were planning on doing anyways. Sites are basically obligated to offer bonuses because it’s what their competitors do. Meanwhile, you’re free to taste and sample all the bonus cash you want. This is one area in which the customer holds the power over the casino.
Look around a bit and you’ll find thousands of dollars’ worth of bonuses in the US-legal market alone. Between the many fantasy sites, horse racing websites, casinos and poker sites, there is a lot of money being given out to new players.
Of course, there are always going to be certain terms and conditions attached to such bonuses. Generally, the terms and conditions place limits on how much money you can get, what you need to do to “clear” the bonus and whether or not you can withdraw the bonus cash. It’s all pretty simple, so read on for the full scoop.
How Betting Bonuses Work
Bonuses come in all shapes and sizes, but the one thing they all share is some sort of promise that you’ll get something in return for signing up and making that first deposit. The vast majority of welcome offers come in two flavors: match rate and no-deposit.
Match Rate Bonuses
This is the largest and most common type of welcome offer in online gambling. The amount of money you get is directly related to the size of your deposit. A typical 100% welcome bonus, for example, would double your first deposit. Transfer $200 to your account and they’ll give you an extra $200 to go along with it.
Some welcome bonuses may be withdrawn as cash while others may only be used to place additional real money wagers. The vast majority of match rate bonuses are only offered to new customers and only for their first deposit. Once you make a single deposit, you won’t be able to claim that particular bonus offer ever again.
No-deposit bonuses give you a little cash in return for signing up for an account. The cool thing about these is that you don’t even have to make a deposit to get your free cash. The amounts are on the smaller side (usually in the $10 to $20 range), but they don’t require anything from you other than a few minutes of your time.
Clearing Requirements and Rollover
If you’ve been feeling skeptical up until now, this is where it all starts to make sense. Online betting sites can afford to hand out so much money because most bonuses come with certain clearing requirements (a.k.a. “rollover”) that you must meet before you can withdraw the cash or any winnings associated with the bonus.
Wagering requirements stipulate that you must place a total sum of wagers equal to X before you can withdraw the bonus or anything won with the bonus. Sometimes you’ll be asked to wager up to 30 times the size of the bonus. Note that this does not mean you need to lose that much; it just means you need to place that many total wagers.
In my experience, the clearing requirements at US-legal betting sites are much more sensible than what you see in the unlicensed offshore industry. It’s actually possible to clear these bonuses and have something to show for it at the end of it all.
Fantasy Site Bonuses
Online fantasy is the most competitive online wagering niche in the United States right now thanks to lax laws. Most fantasy sites offer their services in at least 45 states. Combine that with fairly low startup costs and you have all the ingredients you need for a healthy, thriving and competitive industry.
Signup bonuses at fantasy sites can consists of straight-up cash or free entries to paid contests. The two largest fantasy sports sites, DraftKings and FanDuel, offer free tournament entries that allow you to compete for a real money prize without risking your own hard-earned cash.
Greyhound and Horse Racing Bonuses
Bonuses offered at horse and greyhound sites work in a similar fashion as those offered at fantasy sites. After you sign up and deposit, you’ll be given a bunch of “pending” bonus cash. Just place wagers like you normally would and the bonus money will be released to your account.
Dog and horse racing bonuses are nice and all, but don’t let them distract you from your ultimate goal: making money with your bets. Your handicapping skills will have the greatest impact on your return over the long run. Let the bonus money come naturally, choose your wagers carefully and don’t place bets you’re not in love with just for the sake of clearing some bonus.
Real money casino sites are now legal in both New Jersey and Delaware. You can see from the quality of bonuses that the New Jersey industry is much more competitive. This is because in New Jersey, actual land-based casinos operate behind each online casino, and they all fight for your business. In Delaware, all three casinos are operated by one group.
In any case, all legal casino sites offer something in return for your business. Casino bonuses are earned out as you place real money wagers at various games.
Online Poker Sites
In my experience, online poker is home to the best bonuses. Clearing a poker bonus is easy because all you have to do is sit at tables and play poker. Every hand you play brings you that much closer to releasing your bonus.
Poker sites aren’t too shy about giving out bonuses because they still earn money as you clear the bonus. Every hand you play helps the site generate rake, which is how the poker site profits. Plus, poker sites need people like you seated at the tables in order to attract more new customers.