Most Common Sportsbook Sign-up Bonuses Explained

We dive into everything you need to know about sportsbook welcome offers, from free bets to deposit matches.

Last Updated: Jan 18, 2022 10:51 AM ET Read Time: 6 min
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As markets continue to open their doors, legal sports betting is skyrocketing in popularity. But popularity means options, and options can be overwhelming.

Entering the space as a newbie bettor can be especially daunting when every sportsbook worth its salt is throwing out varying sign-up bonuses to incentivize potential customers to choose their platform.

As it turns out, however, there are several common types of welcome offers that prospective bettors are most likely to come across. Getting acquainted with each of these bets is a great way to conquer any newcomer anxiety and decide where to begin.

Free bet

Free bets are arguably the least complicated type of sign-up bonus. Sportsbooks will offer a set amount of free money once bettors make a deposit that they can use to wager on whatever they wish. However, that money cannot be simply withdrawn as cash.

As an example, if a bettor wagers $10 of free money and profits $10, they will have gained $10 that they can later cash out. Some bettors may opt to bet big since they are using free money, such as with a parlay, but sportsbooks will sometimes have rules limiting payouts.

Bet credits, which are a form of sign-up bonus unique to bet365, also work like free bets. While they have a different name, bet credits can be used like real money, though they cannot be withdrawn on their own.

Here are our top-three sportsbooks offering a free bet sign-up bonus:

Sportsbook Bonus Offer Promo Code
bet365 Bet $1, win $200 in free bets No code - get it now
Borgata Bet $20, win $100 in free bets No code - get it now
Golden Nugget Free bet up to $250 No code - get it now

No deposit bonus

A no deposit bonus is the closest a bettor can get to placing an actual free bet. In this case, a sportsbook will credit a new customer’s account upon sign-up with a specified amount of free money, no deposit required. Understandably, these amounts are usually smaller than other bonuses – often between $5 and $25.

If a bettor makes a wager and wins, they will receive the profit from the bet, but not the free money stake. Essentially, no deposit bonuses work the same way as free bets – they just don’t require a deposit to trigger.

Sportsbooks tend not to offer no deposit bonuses as often as other incentives because they completely favor the customer. As such, the hope is that new bettors will find they enjoy the experience of the sportsbook enough to commit long-term.

No deposit bonuses are now predominantly used as pre-launch offers, with bettors being given the likes of free bets or site credit. For example, DraftKings recently offered new customers in Louisiana a $100 free bet pre-registration bonus.

Site credit is essentially the same as a free bet, except with one key difference – it’s malleable. While a bettor will generally need to use a free bet all at once, site credit can be broken up and used on multiple wagers.

That means a bettor could use $30 in site credit to place two $15 wagers or three $10 wagers.

Here is the top sportsbook offering a regular no deposit sign-up bonus:

Sportsbook Bonus Offer Promo Code
Barstool $10 no deposit bonus  No code - get it now

Risk-free bet

A risk-free bet entails a bettor receiving something in return should they lose their initial wager. That something is typically a 100% refund up to the bet amount.

For example, FanDuel’s current welcome offer for those living in the U.S. is a $1,000 risk-free bet. That means the operator will gift the bettor’s account with their wager amount (up to $1,000) in site credit if their first wager falls flat.

It’s important to be aware, however, that different sportsbooks have different methods for returning a wager amount. Some, like FanDuel, will use site credit, while others may use a free bet or bonus cash.

Here are our top-three sportsbooks offering a risk-free bet sign-up bonus:

Sportsbook Bonus Offer Promo Code
Caesars Up to $1,100 in first bet insurance No code - get it now
FanDuel $1,000 risk-free bet No code - get it now
BetMGM $1,000 risk-free bet No code - get it now

Deposit match

A deposit match bonus involves a sportsbook offering to match a bettor’s initial deposit up to a certain dollar amount. First-time customers will likely receive a 100% match rate, though the dollar amount will vary depending on the operator.

Should a bettor make a $100 deposit at a sportsbook with a 100% match rate bonus, they would be given an additional $100. However, depending on what form that currency is offered in – be it free money or site credit, for example – there may be extra terms and conditions that must be met to withdraw it.

Here are our top-three sportsbooks offering a deposit match sign-up bonus:

Sportsbook Bonus Offer Promo Code
BetRivers 100% deposit match up to $250 No code - get it now
Tipico 100% deposit match up to $750 No code - get it now
theScore Bet $1,000 deposit match + $500 risk-free bet No code - get it now

Enhanced odds

Enhanced odds are as straightforward as can be – they’re when a sportsbook boosts the value of its betting odds. This is sometimes done for a bettor’s first wager following sign-up, though the bonus is often offered to existing customers or those who are part of a loyalty program. Certain sportsbooks will also offer boosted odds in general rather than a bonus to lure new bettors.

Bookmakers will usually apply a maximum stake to an enhanced odds bet to ensure they won’t have to deliver a massive payout. Sometimes, there will be a minimum stake, too.

Here are our top-two sportsbooks offering enhanced odds in lieu of a sign-up bonus:

Sportsbook Bonus Offer Promo Code
Circa Sports Sharp odds, high limits No code - get it now
Sky Ute Best odds in Colorado No code - get it now

How to use sportsbook bonuses

There are a multitude of ways to use a sign-up bonus. An instinct for a novice bettor is to bet on a favorite to play it safe for their first wager. However, sportsbooks often place odds restrictions on free bets, preventing them from being used on heavy favorites.

It tends to make the most sense, then, for bettors to use their welcome bonus on an underdog since, if that underdog wins, they’ll immediately add a significant boost to their account. And if the underdog loses, they’ll receive a free bet (or something similar) to soften the blow.

Of course, this all depends on a first-time bettor’s comfort level and the size of their bankroll.

What are rollovers?

A rollover is an amount a bettor must wager with a sportsbook before they can withdraw a bonus – typically a free bet. The amount is always determined by multiplying the sum of the initial deposit and welcome bonus by a given number.

For example, if a bettor deposits $100, receives a $100 sign-up bonus (equating to $200), and is subject to a 5x rollover, they will be unable to withdraw any money until they wager at least $1,000.

Of course, different sportsbooks will have different rollover requirements. It’s always vital to read through terms and conditions before placing a wager at any online site.

Are sportsbook bonuses worth it?

When it comes to sign-up bonuses, yes. While few welcome offers act as foolproof safety nets for novice bettors, something is always better than nothing. So long as the terms and conditions of the offer are understood, bettors can plan to maximize their preferred opportunity.

The average sportsbook will often offer a $500 risk-free bet for signing up, which can result in a nice boost to a first-timer’s account. Major players, such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and Caesars, provide bonuses that reach up to $1,001.

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