Sports Betting Bonuses

Even in the much maligned US-facing online sports betting market, there is extreme competition between sites as they fight for players. For many new sports bettors, the size of the potential sign up bonus is what brings them in the door.

While this isn’t an optimal strategy for finding the sportsbook with the best odds, it is often the way that newer sports bettors deposit into their first online bookmaker.

And who could blame them? Everyone likes free money, and if a site is offering a large welcome bonus, we can’t fault those who sign up to take advantage.

However, the “catch” when it comes to bonuses at sportsbooks is that they aren’t all created equal. There are many factors to consider when looking to take advantage of bonus offers, but the key here is to read the fine print and understand the rules involved with clearing each type of bonus.

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As we stress with all of our articles, we don’t want bettors to get tunnel vision. Utilizing sportsbooks for their bonuses can be extremely lucrative, but it’s always important to monitor withdrawal speeds and go with trusted operators.

Sports Betting Bonus Strategy Articles

Types of Sports Betting Bonuses

During the early days of online gambling and before the passage of the UIGEA, online sportsbooks had much larger bonuses. In those days, the industry wasn’t under much legal threat and processing payments was much cheaper and easier.

Times have changed, but there are still tons of excellent offers for bettors at offshore betting sites. However, the clearing of bonuses and the format they are offered has changed quite a bit. Almost all online sportsbooks in the US market offer what are called match bonuses.

Match bonuses mean that the sportsbook will “match” a portion of a player’s deposit. For example, a player if Sportsbook A has a match bonus of 25% up to $500; then a player would have to deposit $2,000 to receive the maximum bonus amount of $500.

Free Play Bonuses

In today’s market, just about every online sportsbook gives bonuses to players in the form of freeplays. Whether it’s a first-time deposit or a reload bonus, the vast majority of times that players receive a bonus at a betting site, it will be in the form of a freeplay.

Understanding a free play is quite simple, but it’s important to realize the distinction between a freeplay and receiving a cash bonus, which have become much rarer these days.

When we wager with a free play bonus, it’s vital to understand that win or lose, that freeplay funds will be gone regardless of the outcome of the ticket. For instance, if we wager $220 in free play funds to win $200, the $220 will leave our free play balance for good.

If the bet loses, the amount will be deducted from our free play balance, and we won’t receive any winnings in our normal account balance. However, if the bet wins, we will receive the $200 in winnings from our account balance and our free play amount will still be deducted by $220.

When comparing this to a cash bonus or simply, a wager from your normal account balance, there is one vital difference. Cash bonuses and wagers made out of your account balance will return your original stake, plus your profits on a winning wager.

For instance, if you bet the same $220 to $200 to with a cash bonus and won, you would return $420 (your $220 stake and $200 in winnings). For this reason, cash bonuses are preferred compared to free play bonuses, but as mentioned above, are much rarer.

Rollovers

A common misconception with some newer sports bettors is that a bonus is simply given to players for depositing funds at a sportsbook.

This is not the case. If sportsbooks were giving away money to all the players who deposit (with no strings attached), they would be broke in a matter of weeks.

Every bonus a player receives will have an attached “rollover.” The rollover is the number of times deposited amount and bonus must be wagered before the bonus can be withdrawn. Specifications on the amount that must be wagered may vary, but the above requirements are pretty standard for most rollover requirements in regards to terms.

For instance, if a player deposits $1,000 and receives a 25% match bonus in freeplays, his free play balance would $250. If the rollover amount is 3x, the player would have to wager $3,750 ($1,250*3 = $3,750) before he can withdraw any free play winnings.

A 3x rollover is about as good as it gets in the offshore industry. Anything between 3-6x is relatively fair, and bettors should have no issues rolling over the bonus and turning in some profit if they know which markets to attack.

Many sites offer bonuses with much higher rollover rates. These are often billed as excellent offers that have a higher match bonus percentage, which presents bettors with more freeplay money.

However, clearing bonuses with 10x or greater rollover rates is nearly impossible. Bettors will need to wager a massive amount of money to clear the rollover rate, which will normally result in players losing their account balance in full before they can clear the bonus.

It’s rare that reputable sportsbooks offer bonuses with extremely high rollover rates, however. Most of the sites we recommend here at Safest Betting Sites will have rollover requirements in the 3-6x range.

Clearing Rollovers

There are several strategies that players use to clear free play bonuses. Of course, players may not need a strategy at all if they can find inefficient lines or have the ability to chase steam moves profitability. If the sportsbook simply is posting soft numbers, players know where to attack them, but combining these tips below may help them win even more.

Parlays

Parlays are an excellent way to clear a rollover. As we discussed above, freeplay bonuses don’t work the same way as cash. Free plays will only return the win and not the staked amount. Parlays allow players the chance to utilize the same free play more than once. As they are the only types of bet that continuously places the stake and win onto the next selection.

3-team parlays are the best for accomplishing this goal. These bets would not have a positive expectation under any other scenario, but are extremely valuable for free play bonuses. Bettors will be able to apply the free play stake to three different bets, which maximize their chance or profiting.

3-team parlays not give you the best odds, but most free play wagers have limits on the amount players can win. They are usually capped at several thousand dollars, which means betting larger parlays makes little sense since their winnings will be capped. Most software doesn’t allow players to do this, but it could be an issue down the road when it comes to cashout time if a wager like this isn’t stopped by a bookmaker’s betting software.

Arbitrage

We offer an in-depth article into to arbitrage, but for the sake of brevity, we won’t go heavily into the concept of arbing. Arbs, also known as sure bets are another way to rollover bonuses while locking in a sure profit.

Arbing means betting both sides of the same market and locking in a profit based on differing lines at certain sportsbooks. When rolling over a bonus, this works like a charm provided you have funds at another sportsbook.

For instance, a player might wager on the Pittsburgh Steelers -3.5 (-115), but also take the Cleveland Browns +3 (-105) at another sportsbook. Bettors can wager either side with their bonus, but can maximize earnings if betting the free play on the underdog.

Arbitrage wagers and bets close to arbitrage will allow bettors to either lock in a profit with their freeplays or minimize losses while completing their rollover. Like parlays, they’re an excellent way to rollover free play bonuses.

It’s important to note that some sites may not react positively if they catch onto the fact that players are arbing their free play bonuses. Any reputable sportsbook will allow this and honor the bets, along with the bonus once it’s cleared, but that’s not always the case with less than reputable and outright rogue sportsbooks.

In cases where you may not be sure if your operator will honor the free play if you are arbing, then it is best not to use arbitrage as a rollover option. Rogue sportsbooks may not only choose not to honor your bonus, but they may decide to take the deposited amount as well.

Additional Bonuses

Most bettors, especially if they’re beating their sportsbook for decent money, won’t get much more than their original deposit bonus. The sportsbook may also offer reload bonuses at certain times of the year as well. All reload bonuses come with similar requirements and rollovers as welcome bonuses or first-time deposit bonuses.

There’s a chance that a sportsbook may offer individual players extra bonuses or deals, but these are usually reserved for those that have consistently lost money at the sportsbook.

We hope that our readers won’t be the ones giving away their bankrolls to the oddsmakers.

Maximize Your Bonus

We can’t stress enough how important it is to read the fine print when depositing and taking advantage of a bonus. Not only will does it come in handy when it’s time to complete the rollover, but it’s an excellent way to gauge the value a bonus and avoid ones with higher rollover rates.

There is one final note to keep in mind when depositing for the first time to clear a bonus. Most of the time, the free play bonus is only valid on your first deposit. If the bonus offer is excellent, players should do all they can get the maximize amount possible. For instance, if the sportsbook is offering a 25% match bonus up to $1,000, bettors should try to deposit $4,000 to receive the max bonus of $1,000.