Betting bonuses are one of the core components of many sportsbook’s marketing strategy. The goal is to get customers in the door with a big welcome offer and then hopefully turn enough of those people into long-term customers to turn a profit on the whole thing. It seems to work out, because betting sites have been giving away bonuses for going on 20 years now with no signs of slowing down.
We rank bonus offers at betting sites by more than just the amount. Size can matter, but clearing rules matter even more. As you read through this page, you’ll learn that a big betting deposit bonus offer doesn’t mean much if the terms and conditions aren’t fair.
There’s a balancing act in trying to rank bonuses taking into account their size, ease of use and other factors but overall, I think this list is pretty accurate. The best online betting bonuses are valuable and easy to understand incentives for your action.
How Betting Bonuses Work
Bonuses can come in all different shapes and sizes, but the most common is the first deposit match offer. Have you ever seen one of those big, flashing banners exclaiming something along the lines of “deposit now and get a 100% bonus”? Well, that’s your standard (and very common) new player betting bonus.
Most gambling deposit bonuses are offered as an incentive to prospective customers only. You may occasionally get “reload” bonus promotions offered to you once you have an account, but most are signup offers offered to customers who are signing up for new real money wagering accounts. There is a practice called “bonus whoring” employed by some savvy punters who activate and partake in promotions at many online betting sites in order to maximize their returns. Keep in mind, some offers are too good to be true or require significant “rollover (explained below). We always urge you to read the fine print associated with any offer before accepting it.
The most important thing you need to know
Match rate bonuses always come with the stipulation that requires you to “play through” or “roll over” the bonus a certain number of times before you can withdraw it. Otherwise, it would be all too easy for smart, enterprising, good-looking punters such as yourself to just make a deposit, claim the bonus and then immediately cash out for the easiest money ever.
Let’s take a look at a sample welcome bonus that was offered by a prominent betting site a while back. They offered a straightforward 100% “open account” offer that was good for up to £200 added to your first deposit. If you read through the notice offer at the bookmaker’s website, you would have seen a line reading “you must have settled bets to the value of three times your deposit and bonus prior to making a withdrawal.”
What this meant is you needed to place a total sum of bets equal to your bonus + deposit amount before you were able to withdraw the bonus or anything won with the bonus. So if you deposited £100 for a £100 bonus, you would need to place £600 worth of wagers before withdrawing ($200 x 3).
Rollover requirements are a necessary part of doing business, but some gambling websites abuse the system with burdensome rollovers that are designed to intentionally make it difficult to win money. Deceptive offers are a frustrating aspect of the industry, we at BBS do our best to list only safe and reputable betting sites.
Other terms and conditions
Every new customer offer comes with terms and conditions. As is the case with rollover requirements, it is always recommended that customers read the fine print before claiming bonuses, ensuring the qualifiers render the bonus valuable for your level of play.
Using that same bonus as an example again, here is a screenshot of the T&C’s attached to the offer:
Many of the terms are devoted to general things such as excluding customers from certain countries, stating that only one bonus may be claimed,and that the site can change the offer at any time. None of this is particularly concerning, especially coming from a bookmaker with such a positive reputation. BBS has been dealing with this bookmaker for years and have only had good experiences with them, they are widely trusted and highly regarded in the industry.
However, notice only certain types of wagers count toward the rollover requirements. One of these is that combination bets (accumulators/parlays) with odds of 1.5 (1/2) or greater are the only combination bets that count towards meeting your 3x rollover. Furthermore, only the first fixture in your combination counts. In other words, only the first leg of a parlay/accumulator will count towards the rollover. That’s understandable and fair.
The terms also exclude all Asian handicap and goal line markets, whether you place them before the match or during the match via in-play betting. You can still place those bets, but they won’t help you clear the bonus.
Finally, we see that you have a time restriction of 90 days to clear the entire bonus. If you’re unable to meet the 3x rollover before 90 days have passed, you’ll lose any remaining uncleared bonus. Overall, the terms for this particular betting bonus are sensible and don’t appear to serve any nefarious purposes, in fact it’s an offer we recommend taking advantage of!
Free Bets and Similar Offers
Some betting sites opt to give new customers free wagers instead of traditional match bonuses. The difference is that you get the free bet regardless of how much money you deposit, but you must place a real money wager with your own cash first. For example, we know of one site with an offer in which they will match your first wager with a free bet of up to £25 or €25.
To claim this offer, you would sign up for an account, make a deposit and then place one wager with your own money. Your gambling site would then credit you with an additional free wager that you can use for any bet in the sportsbook.
Free bets usually come with rollover requirements similar to those included in the terms of standard betting bonuses. Continuing with our example, the rollover of the free bet is set at 4 times the bonus amount. So if you get a £20 free bet, you would need to place a total sum of wagers equal to £80 before withdrawing anything that you win with the bonus cash.