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 mobile sportsbooks, 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 three flavors: match rate, no-deposit and first wager refund.
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Some welcome bonuses may be withdrawn as cash while others may only be used to place additional real money wagers.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.
First Wager Refund
The first wager refund offer is common among legal betting sites that want to entire new customers to sign up and place a bet. The basic idea behind most refund bonuses is simple: if your first wager losers, the betting site will refund you with an equal amount of money. In a sense, it’s a risk-free wager because you either win outright or you get your money back.
Reload bonuses are just like welcome bonuses. The only difference is that reload bonuses are open to existing customers who may have already made a deposit in the past. Some betting sites randomly offer reload bonuses to everyone while others sometimes send you an offer via e-mail if it’s been a while since your last deposit.
Any betting site that doesn’t have a refer-a-friend program is missing out on loads of potential customers. In this competitive market, all the big names have referral programs that are designed to reward you for inviting other people to sign up and play.
Each site does it a little differently, but most give you extra cash in return for every paying customer you refer. Some sites give you a percentage of whatever your friends spend on contests while others give you a flat fee for each person you invite.
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.
Mobile Sports Betting Bonuses
The online sports betting industry is heating up in the US and a growing number of operators are scrambling to establish themselves as major players. The increasingly competitive industry works out well for us sports fans because online and mobile sportsbooks are happy to hand out large welcome bonuses to new customers.
Match deposit bonuses and first wager refund offers are the two most common types of incentives you’ll find online right now. While some sites offer cash in return for a deposit, others are willing to return your first wager back if it’s not a winner.
New Jersey Betting Bonuses:
Pennsylvania Betting Bonuses:
Daily Fantasy Sports Bonuses
Online fantasy is the most competitive online wagering niche in the United States right now thanks its widespread legality in the US. 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.
Apart from massive advertising campaigns, one of the primary ways in which fantasy sites compete for your business is through the use of bonuses and promotions. All the major sites are already handing out bonuses worth hundreds of dollars in return for customers signing up and trying a few real money leagues.
Are fantasy bonuses a good deal?
Yes. Although all bonuses come with fine print, most are a good deal. You get extra cash in return for doing something that you probably would have done anyways. A deposit bonus just makes the deal a little sweeter for the new player.
If you have any intent on participating in real money leagues, you might as well get a bonus while you’re at it. You can play in games like you would have anyways while slowly releasing the bonus cash. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Free Entry to Daily Fantasy Leagues
Free entry promos let you participate in certain contests without paying the buyin like you normally would. Sometimes these are just small contests while other times you can join large tournaments with major prize pools.
It’s quite common to see free entry tickets offered as an incentive for depositing. For example, DraftKings has offered all new customers a free contest entry for years now as a thank you for making a deposit. Sometimes you even get free entries just for signing up. Back when I first joined DraftKings, they let me play in one $1 heads-up NFL league. It wasn’t the most valuable thing in the world, but it was nice because it gave me a chance to test the games there without depositing.
Frequent Player Points
Most fantasy sites have some sort of rewards program designed to encourage player loyalty. For example, FanDuel awards FanDuel Points (FDPs) every time you enter a game. These points add up over time and can be used to take advantage of other promos or enter paid contests for free.
Other Fantasy Promotions
Welcome bonuses are far from the only types of promotions you’ll encounter in your daily fantasy career. Sites are always coming up with some new promo or other as an incentive to keep you happy and active. Promos change all the time but you’ll be notified by e-mail whenever your site comes up with something new. The main thing to remember is that it is important to read all the details before you take up any offer. Read the fine print and make sure the promotion works with your budget and style of play.
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.
Online Casino Bonuses
Real money casino sites are now legal in both New Jersey, Delaware and West Virginia. You can see from the quality of bonuses that the New Jersey industry is much more competitive than that of Delaware. 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 Bonuses
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.