Virtually every sportsbook boasts an initial bonus designed to draw in new clients. These “welcome” bonuses are available at 99% of all sportsbooks, but determining which one is the best can be challenging. We’ve included the best bonuses within our online sportsbook reviews so you can compare bonuses at each sportbook before joining.
Pro-tip: be aware that the process for claiming these bonuses is not identical between sites. Some are automatically included when making your first deposit, others require you to enter a promotional code when making your first de/reviews/posit. Read the fine print and check our reviews before joining to make sure you grab any promo codes needed.
The sign-up bonus is a big part of selecting which sportsbook is right for you. Getting the most out of your initial investment can impact how much you continue to bet in the future and how much you win in the long run. To help you get the most bang for your buck, MTS reviews tons of sign-up bonuses, so you can decide which one best suits your needs and budget.
But in order to know which bonus is best for your needs, you need to first understand the most common type of welcome bonuses sportsbooks offer.
The most common sign-up bonus is a match bonus (also called a cash bonus), where a percentage of your first deposit will be “matched” by the sportsbook (up to a certain dollar amount). The bonus from the last section — “100% up to $200” – is an example of a match bonus. If you were to take full advantage of that promotion, you would be receiving $200 in bonus cash.
For a match bonus, it’s pretty standard for the rollover requirements to include not just the deposit amount, but also the bonus amount awarded. So, using a standard 5x rate, the amount you would have to spend to hit the rollover on our example is actually $2000.
That number is found by multiplying the rollover by the deposit and the corresponding bonus:
$2000 = 5x ($200 + (100% of $200)).
If you’re the type of person who has a hard time waiting for gratification, there’s some good news. Many sportsbooks release bonus funds incrementally as you wager, instead of as a lump sum once the entire rollover requirement has been met. For example, say you placed a winning $100 bet; once it’s settled, you’d get $10 of bonus money released. (I.e. you’d get 5% of your bonus money because you’d met 5% of the rollover requirement.)
Other books may also release the entire bonus amount up front. In such cases, match-bonus money is treated as regular money, meaning betting with it counts towards hitting your rollover requirements. And unlike free play bonus money (which we’ll get to next), match-bonus money is returned to you if you win your bet. There are also no restrictions on where or how it can be wagered.
Free play bonus
A popular sign-up bonus, the free play promises a certain percentage of your initial deposit will be given to you as a free bet (or bets). A 50% free play on a $100 deposit will give the user $50 of bonus money to use, and often the free-play money is awarded immediately after making your deposit.
One thing to remember with free play bonuses is that you don’t actually own the bonus money. Since you’re being spotted “free money,” you are only entitled to the winnings of a bet, not the initial amount staked. Say you use that $50 free bet on a favorite going off at 1/2 odds; you’ll only receive $25 back should the wager cash, because you never owned the original $50.
That makes free plays a very tricky bonus to capitalize on. While bettors will want to maximize their free play on the long odds of a parlay, you also want to try to guarantee some return on your bonus.
As with match bonuses, free plays often have rollover requirements attached, meaning you’ll have to clear the rollover before you can withdraw any of the winnings from your free-play bets.
Generally, the rollover multiplier will be applied to your initial deposit plus the free-play money (same as with match bonuses). So in our above example (50% free play on a $100 deposit), the rollover multiplier would be applied to $150 instead of just the $100 deposit. A 3x rollover would require $450 to be spent in the books before you could withdraw your free-play winnings.
But what if you lose all your free play wagers? If there are no bonus winnings to withdraw, do you still need to hit the rollover requirements? Unfortunately, yes. Sportsbooks may lock your funds and not allow any withdrawals until the rollover has been passed. They could also charge you the bonus free plays you were awarded upon withdrawal; in our example, that would mean subtracting $50 from whatever you tried to collect before clearing the rollover requirement. Free plays also don’t count towards the rollover requirements either.
When it comes to actually using the bonus, free plays are simple enough. Just add an event to your betslip and, if you have any unused free bets, there should be an option to use an available bonus. Then just input the amount you want to wager (free plays usually have to be used in whole, round numbers, like $10), and your bet should be placed without taking any money from your account.
If the option is not available, it’s possible the game or event you’re trying to wager doesn’t meet the conditions associated with the bonus. Some sportsbooks may have restrictions on the type of odds you’re allowed to use the free play on (e.g. no lower than -200 odds). There may also be a time limit on how quickly you must use the offer after it’s awarded (anywhere from 7 to 30 days). Be sure to read all the terms and conditions that come with a bonus.
A rare bonus offering, treble winnings offer you the chance to win triple on your first wager. A $20 bet at even odds will (for one time only) payout $60!
Though this bonus doesn’t come with a rollover, it does come with some restrictions. Typically, the promotion has a maximum you are allowed to wager (sometimes as low as $10), a limit on what type of event you can bet on, and the extra winnings are often awarded in free plays (see above). The book may also cap how the free bets are dolled out: $40 in extra winnings may be awarded in two $20 free bets.
Post sign-up bonuses
Sign-up isn’t where the bonuses end for online sportsbooks. Nearly every website has a promotions page where they offer new deals for existing members. If you’re looking to make the most of your sportsbook, check out that page and take advantage of promotions like…
Referral Bonuses – These are match or free-play bonuses that are awarded for convincing friends and acquaintances to sign-up. The bonus is a capped amount, determined as a percentage of your friend’s initial deposit and subject to the usual rollover requirements. However, there is never a limit on how many people you can refer, so these bonuses will always be available.
Reload Bonus – The best way to top off a waning account is to take advantage of reload bonuses. Reload bonuses aren’t nearly as lucrative as sign-up bonuses, usually offering to match a lower percentage or a lower maximum amount. Some reload bonuses are only available one time, while others will be available repeatedly. Be sure to read the terms and conditions to find out which reload bonus you’re getting.
Bitcoin Bonuses – To encourage use of the new digital currency, some books will offer match bonuses for deposits made using Bitcoin. This bonus can only be collected once, and the percentage matched will vary. You can’t stack a bonus like this on top of an initial deposit bonus. It has to be used on a reload.
Refunded Bets – In an effort to separate themselves from the competition, some sportsbooks will have a unique policy where certain events in a game can trigger a refund for specific lost wagers. You’ll find deals like this on the promotions page, and as long as you place a bet that meets the requirements, you can be eligible for a refund.
An example of this policy is a website that refunds a losing correct-score prop bet if a soccer game ends in a 0-0 tie.
Bonus Winnings – In order to incentivize betting certain sports or increase activity on live betting, books may offer a bonus percentage on winnings. As usual, you will have to place a wager that meets the criteria (e.g. doesn’t exceed the maximum bet allowed by the bonus), but if you win on an event that qualifies, your return will get a boost.
If there’s a book offering a 5% boost on two-team NBA parlays, suddenly a winning bet for $20 becomes $21. It’s not a massive increase, but typically bonus winnings for parlays will continue to increase with the more teams you add.
Reactivation Bonus – If your account has been inactive for awhile, sportsbooks will encourage you to return to betting action by emailing promotions. These offers can vary from deposit bonuses to free plays, but they are exclusive offers meant to draw you back into wagering.
The fine print:
It’s a good idea to spend a few minutes reading the sportsbooks rules around bonuses and understand the fine print as there are restrictions on claiming them and getting payouts on them.
For instance, a site may advertise a bonus like “100% cash back up to $200.” However, this doesn’t mean that you can deposit $200 and then suddenly have $400 in your account, no strings attached. That would be an unsustainable model for a sportsbook.
Instead, you have to earn your bonus by hitting what’s known as a “rollover” requirement. A rollover is a multiplier that determines how much money you need to spend at a sportsbook before you unlock your entire bonus. Some sportsbooks may allow you to use all your bonus money to bet up front, but until this rollover has been cleared, you won’t be able to withdraw funds without forfeiting that bonus money.
The rollover rate can range from 1x (meaning you only have to bet the amount deposited) all the way to 15x (meaning you’ll have to wager 15 times your initial deposit before you can fully collect your bonus). A pretty standard rollover amount for online sportsbooks is 5x. Although, for most deposit bonuses, the rate will be multiplied by your deposit amount and the bonus, so a $100 deposit with 5x rollover could require you to bet $1000 to meet the rollover requirements. (We’ll get into the calculations more below.)
Obviously, you won’t hit that rollover requirement in your first weekend of betting. We certainly don’t recommend that you try if you’re new to sports betting.
Pro-tip: If you’re thinking about wagering the entirety of your account on a heavy favorite just to hit the rollover quicker: don’t. For winning bets, sportsbooks will only count the lower number between (a) the wager and (b) the payout towards the rollover amount (e.g. a $200 bet that pays out $50 will only count $50 towards your rollover).
As mentioned before, if you withdraw funds from your account before completing the rollover requirements, you will forfeit the remainder of the bonus, as well as any money that was made by wagering bonus money. You will also need to hit the rollover within a certain time frame (ranging anywhere from two to six months depending on the website), or surrender the bonus.
If you are new to betting, it’s probably best to target a website offering a rollover of 5x or less, since that will be easier for a beginner to hit. When you search for sign-up bonuses, be aware of rollover requirements and timing, and how they’ll work with your own betting preferences.
You should be able to access bonus funds as soon as your deposit goes through, so once you start betting, you’ll start chipping away at rollover requirements.