A “second chance bonus” bet comes in all shapes and sizes, and while they’re good for most of our purposes, “second chance” bonus bets offered by legal mobile sportsbooks come with some important caveats. Let this page be your guide to navigating through how second chance bonus bets can differ, which are the best and how to tell which is best for you.
Moving away from ‘risk-free’ terminology
Since the middle of 2022, many of the U.S’s biggest operators have pivoted from “risk-free” terminology to “Second Chance Bonus Bet”, “No Sweat First Bet”, among other terminology.
Responsible gambling initiatives across sportsbooks have improved the accuracy with which their welcome bonuses entail with this collective shift. Because the risk-free terminology was problematic, sportsbooks have fully bought into the second chance-esque phrasing.
The operator that went first in this movement? None other than FanDuel Sportsbook. Responsible gambling advocates and researchers have praised FanDuel’s pivot to their “No Sweat” campaign because of how misleading “risk-free” could be construed.
FanDuel Sportsbook is currently offering a $1000 No Sweat First Bet where you are entitled to your entire first stake back if you lose your initial wager.
In an industry evolving as quickly as the sports betting one, FanDuel may be the leader once again in this shift towards a more accurate verbiage of what risk-free welcome bonus offers really entail.
So, lets’ jump into it.
How do ‘second chance bonus bets’ work?
Many online sportsbooks offer so-called second chance bonus bets as sign-up promotions. In fact, they are the most popular welcome bonus offer in the US market. Basically, they are first-time sportsbook bonus offers to give to new customers. Place a bet and win it, congratulations. You won. The end. Place a bet and lose? The sportsbook will give you your money back in the form of site credit, or “bonus cash” to be used for wagers at the sportsbook. The amount of bonus bet(s) distributed will (usually) be equivalent to the amount of your first wager at the sportsbook.
Second chance bonus bets come in all different amounts, usually ranging from around $100 all the way up to a massive $10,000. (There are, of course, varying terms and conditions. We’ll get to those later.)
FanDuel’s No Sweat First Bet Offer
Let’s use FanDuel Sportsbook as an example. FanDuel is currently offering a No Sweat First Bet bet up $1000 welcome for new users.
You sign up for an account, make a deposit, and now on your first bet you can bet whatever you like with the knowledge any amount up to $1000 will be credited back to you — in the form of site credit — should you lose.
So let’s say you take the Cowboys -6.5 points at home at -110. You deposit and wager $500. The Cowboys win, 27-10. Congratulations! You just netted $454.50, and your account will show that plus your original $500 wager, for a total of $954.50.
But … if the Cowboys meander around for three hours and escape with a 24-21 win on a last second field goal and don’t cover, then you lost your $500. But that shouldn’t be a problem! You’ll get $500 back in the form of site credit that plays the same as cash, but needs to be wagered 1x through in order to convert the credit to cash.
Be sure to read through any terms and conditions to ensure you receive your welcome offer! For FanDuels’ current offer, new users must make a minimum deposit of $10 to qualify.
Do you get your stake back on a bonus bet?
Simply put, it depends on which site you are betting on and how they refund the bets. Let’s take a closer look.
When you bet on a site that refunds in site credit, you will receive site credit. Site credit plays the same as cash, so you can bet any denomination you want, and you will win the stake plus the profit as opposed to free bets that only pay profit.
So, for example, if you look around at the NFL slate, decide the Eagles are going to easily win and you take them -3.5 at -110 for the full $500 in site credit from the example above. Let’s say, they win 30-7, then you will be paid out $954 ($500 bet + $454 profit). If you used a site that paid out their refund in a one time bonus bet, you would only win the $454 profit.
So, to be clear: if you lose the first cash bet and lose the second chance “bonus” bet, you will lose your entire stake. Some sportsbooks give you site credit in lieu of a bonus bet if you lose. These are better, as then you can wager as little or as much as you like of the site credit on a number of bets instead of being forced into a second wager equal to the first. Another plus is that winning bets with site credit pay both the stake and the profit, meaning you can turn a profit instead of just trying to get most of your money back with a one time bonus bet.
It’s a nice offer – really, one chance to win, one chance to get your money back if you lose – but it doesn’t hold a candle to so-called “match” bonuses, where sportsbooks will “match” your deposit in bonus money. For example, SugarHouse will match, dollar for dollar, your first deposit up to $250 at this time. It’s real, cash money, but you have to “bet through” it in order to withdraw it.
Second chance bonus bet example
Let’s take one straight from the top.
You just signed up to Unibet and deposit $250. You plan on betting it all on the Rockets -7 at -110. If you win, you’ll now have $477.25 (the original $250 bet plus the $227.25 in winnings) in your account, all of it available for withdrawal, or to begin using as your bankroll.
But if you lose? You’ll have $0 in your account and a $250 bonus bet to use. This bonus bet cannot be converted into cash.
Next night, you take the Pelicans +5 at -110. If you win your bet, your account will show $227.25. You do not get the $250 stake from the “bonus bet” back as you would in the scenario where you won and ended up with $477.25. So by losing the Rockets bet then winning the Pelicans bet, in this scenario, you end up down $22.75 from your original deposit.
But if you lose the second, “bonus” bet? Then your account will sadly show $0.
Second chance bonus bet strategy
The only way to “beat” these offers and guarantee yourself a true second chance bonus bet profit is to scour the lines at competing sportsbooks and hope to find an arbitrage situation where you can bet both sides of a wager — and guarantee that you’ll come out ahead.
These are tough to come by, but if you keep your eyes open, you might find another sportsbook offering a special “booster” or “odds boost” on a game that you can take advantage of.
For instance: Let’s say you’re a new customer of BetMGM, and you’re waiting to place your first bet. You’re also shopping around other sportsbooks for “booster” bets, and you come across a site that is “boosting” the 76ers moneyline spread game against the Magic. Instead of being -200 moneyline favorites (where the Sixers are at most books), the “boost” is making the 76ers +150 to win. Well, over at BetMGM, the Magic are also at +150 to win. So you bet your $500 on the Magic at +150 at BetMGM, and then bet $500 on the Sixers at the boosted +150 odds. Now you’re in a win-win scenario.
If the Magic win? Congrats! You just banked $250, as the +150 bet netted you a tidy $750 profit at this sportsbook. Of course, you lost the $500 Sixers bet at the other sportsbook, but as the saying goes, you can’t go broke making a profit! Overall, you couldn’t lose.
And an even better scenario is if the Sixers win. That happens, you still net the $250, but since the Magic lost, now you also get a $500 bonus bet.
Issues with the above scenario? Well, for one, you have to be alert and scan the other sportsbooks for deals. Second, oftentimes these “boosts” come with lower limits, so you might not be able to get the entirety of your bet down. Of course you may find arbitrage opportunities separate from odds boosts, without lower limits, but the upside may not be as great.
Of course, maybe you’d like to embrace the risk, and go bananas with your first bet. That’s one way to play it, by placing a big parlay with the $500 and hoping to jumpstart your bankroll, knowing that if you lose, you’ll have a chance to recoup the $500 with a second, more reasonable wager with your bonus bet.
Or you can play it “safe” and find the shortest odds allowable for your bonus bet, and take it (hopefully) to the bank. For instance, at FOX Bet, qualifying wagers for their welcome promotion can’t be more favorable than -200. Meaning, the first bet can be -200, -150, +150, +1000 … etc. But it can’t be -210, -300, -400, etc.
So the “safest” bet would be to find a -200 favorite and let your bonus bet – at FanDuel, the maximum is $1,000 – ride. If you win a $1,000 bet at -200, you’ll profit $500, your balance will be $1,500, all of it withdrawable. If you lose … then you’ll have $1,000 in site credit that you must use in order to withdraw any money.
Another way to play it? Try to find a side you really don’t like and risk the vig in an effort to acquire a bonus bet. To explain: Let’s say you really hate the Bears giving 6 points to the Eagles. The Bears are -6 at -110 at the site you’ve just joined that is offering the second chance bonus bet, and you can get the Eagles +6 at -110 on a competing site. You bet $500 at both sites, and if you’re right and the Bears lose, you’ll lose the vig – in this case, $45.50 – but you’ll gain the $500 bonus bet.
If you’re wrong, and the Bears cover? Then you’re out $45.50 without the bonus bet.
Second chance bonus bet Terms & Conditions to look out for
As stated above, online sportsbooks offer varying T&Cs for their second chance bonus bet offers, so it’s important to pay attention to the fine print before committing your cash to the cause. Here are a few examples of common elements that may separate one offer from the next.
- Bonus bets / bet credits do expire! It’s almost a given that any time you receive a bonus bet or bet credit from an online sportsbook that it won’t last forever. Be sure to read the T&C of the offer to find out just how long it’s good for, and react accordingly. The very last thing you want to do is to let a perk like this expire, unused.
- Does the offer come with a minimum odds requirement? Some sportsbooks may require a wager to be placed on a market with specific odds. For example, they may not let you qualify for the promotion by betting on an enormous favorite. Keep these in mind when planning your strategy.
- How are the bonus bets or bonus credits awarded? For example, if you are due to receive $1,000 in bonus bets… will it be one single-use $1,000 bonus bet? Is it chopped up into 5 x $200 bonus bets? Or can you divide it up further? The way your credits are paid out can significantly impact the value of the offer.
- When used, do the bonus bets return the original stake? Most online sportsbooks will not. For example, if you used $100 in cash to bet on a market listed with a nice round price of +100, and you won, you could expect a return of $200. The $100 you originally bet, plus the $100 profit. However, making the same wager with a bonus bet or bet credit would generally only return $100 – the bet’s profit. The bonus bet stake is rarely returned. We recommend reading the T&C carefully to determine how your credits will work.