Betting Bonus Guide
Betting bonuses are not free money or free bets, no matter how much sportsbooks try to make them sound that way in their promotions.
There are a lot of different betting bonuses, but mostly they fall into two categories: deposit bonuses and risk-free bets.
When you sign up to a betting site, you are often offered a chance to get a deposit bonus.
Deposit bonuses have some sort of maximum size and a match-up percentage. For example 100% up to $100.
The numbers mean that when you deposit, the betting site will hand you bonus money. The amount is the size of your deposit times the percentage, up to a maximum. So a deposit of $100 at a site offering a 100% / $100 bonus give you $200 ($100 + $100 bonus) to play with.
Here’s the important bit:
Before you can withdraw your winnings, you need to meet a rollover requirement. Every single sports betting bonus has a rollover requirement.
The rollover requirement is usually stated somewhere in the terms & conditions (aka “the part of a gambling website nobody reads”). It tells you how many times you need to wager your money before you can cash it out.
For betting, the rollover requirement is usually set somewhere between 3 and 5 (in contrast to casino bonuses which have a rollover requirement of 30 to 50).
The rollover requirement does not depend on currency, so it doesn’t matter if you play in Canadian dollars or bitcoins. Sometimes players from different countries have different play-through requirements, but Canadians tend to be classed as no-risk and have very low limits (yay!).
In sports bonuses, the rollover requirement is most often calculated like this: Wagering needed before cashing out = rollover * (bonus money + original deposit).
Example from Bet365:
“You will need to rollover your deposit and bonus 3 times prior to making a withdrawal.
”Following our formula a $100 deposit & bonus would need wagering:
3 * ($100 + $100) = $600
There is one extra thing you need to know: you need to bet with certain odds for your wager to count towards clearing your bonus. Usually this limit is 1.50 and bets below the limit are ignored as far as clearing the bonus goes.
Risk Free Bets
Risk free bets (often incorrectly called “free bets“) are a common type of betting bonuses.
Unlike deposit bonuses, risk free bets are mostly made available for existing customers. These kinds of loyalty promotions are common especially during big sporting events like the Olympics, big soccer events (World Championships, Champions League) and Ice Hockey World Championships.
A typical risk free bet allows you to bet a certain amount (usually not that much, like $10–$50) to a certain match. If you win, great – you keep your winnings. If you lose, you’ll get a refund for the amount of your bet. Getting a refund often (but not always) requires emailing customer support, so it’s worth the effort to read the fine print if a betting website offers you a risk-free bet.
Sometimes risk-free bets can get a bit more complicated than this. Bet365 for example typically offers risk free in-play bets. They refund the first bet you make during the match, to the amount you bet on the match before it started (max $50). So in this example you’d need to make a normal bet to qualify for the risk-free live betting part of the promo.
We read the fine print
Sports betting bonus rules are straightforward and their existence is easy to understand: online gambling operators are in the business of making money, not giving it away. This means they want to make certain only the smartest 1% of bettors walk away with money earned from bonuses.
And besides, you don’t need to worry about the fine print because we actually read all of it (as boring as it usually is). We’ve written out all the clauses into our bonus descriptions and mention if there is anything special you should know.