How do betting bonuses work?

Bookmakers must stand out in a crowded market and make sure you sign with them. How do they do it? Bonuses, bonuses and more bonuses. If you're new to betting, the number and different types of offer swirling around can be overwhelming and leave you scratching your head. The penultimate chapter of your guide sheds lights on how betting bonuses work so you can choose with confidence.


Most common sports betting bonuses

Competitive isn’t the word when it comes to the amount of bookmakers pushing and shoving each other out of the way in order to secure your sign-up. This goes for all online gambling sites but particularly those focussed on sports betting where interest continues to soar.

You will come across bettors who will have already made up their mind with regards to who they’ll bet with. This could be based on the company’s reputation, an advertisement, a recommendation, or the like and even the lure of a bonus is unlikely to sway them.

The majority of us though remain open in terms of who we go with and so the more bonuses, the better. Here are the most common sports betting bonuses, what they mean and how to play them.

Deposit Bonus

By far the typical type of bonus, the sportsbook will match your first deposit, up to a certain percentage, from anywhere between 10% and 200%. For example, a promotion that offers 100% on your first deposit will effectively double your stake - if you deposit $50, the bookie will also deposit $50 as a reward for signing up. Such an offer will come with conditions however so it’s important to read the exact terms before committing.

For instance, any money won on the back of a successful bet, is likely to be in need of being ‘rolled over’ - played a certain number of times to lessen the chance of you walking away with any money (note that bookies aren’t out to just give you money and need to protect themselves from potentially losing large amounts).

The rollover requirements, i.e. X15, will always be stated but still, reading the terms of the offer is still crucial to avoid disappointment.

No deposit bonus

It’s always good to have the opportunity to try new experiences for free and this does exactly that. As the name suggests, this bonus requires no deposit and you will be issued free money upon completing the sign-up registration.

A promotion that actually does give free money is a popular one given the chance you have of winning, without risking money of your own.

As mentioned though - and it’ll be a phrase word you’ll be accustomed to - consider the terms. Money won from a no deposit bonus won’t be eligible for withdrawal until you make a deposit into your account. This serves as a deterrent for bettors looking to abuse the offer and open numerous accounts.

Free bet

A free bet tends to fall in-line with a big sporting event such as the Super Bowl or a particular game the sportsbook want to promote. Refund offers and money-back specials can also fall under the umbrella of a free bet.

For example, with a money-back special, if you wager on the first goalscorer in a soccer match and it finishes goalless, the sportsbook will return your stake - essentially though, you’ve had a free bet on the game.

This point highlights the need to fully understand what the offer is giving you. Sports betting sites and, gambling sites in general for that matter, love to advertise ‘free wagers’ But really, all you’re getting is your money back, not to sound like the party pooper or anything!

Reload bonus

While, sportsbooks will spend both money and time chasing new custom, the need to retain existing customers is important too. Hence the reload bonus.

Bettors can be rewarded for loyalty or have their account topped up should funds be on the low side - a nice way to perk somebody up, wouldn’t you say?

Naturally, the more active you are in terms of betting, the more chance there is of being rewarded. Companies are well aware of the value of specific customers and will aim to keep their participation high especially.

Top tips for playing bonuses
  • Read ALL terms and conditions
  • Don’t expect to make large amounts of money
  • Aim to use bonus as a way of discovering how a site does things