Legal Sportsbook Bonus Offers — Betting Promos, Explained

Bettors new to legal sportsbook apps will have the opportunity to take advantage of some sweet sportsbook bonus offers in Arizona, ColoradoIllinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, New YorkPennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, among many other legalized states and others hoping to join the party as soon as possible.

Sports betting is expanding in more states, increasing competition for new customers. This results in improved bonus offers.

In this post, we will explain popular bonus terminology, terms and conditions, and more. It’s important to understand what you’re getting, how, and when you’ll get it. The numbers are not always what they seem. Some offers are less attractive or possibly more attractive than they may appear.

Whether you’re betting with FanDuel, BetMGM, or a newer site like PointsBet – you always want to understand your bonus.

Sportsbook bonus terminology

Always, always read the terms and conditions when you see advertisements for promotional bonuses. Many of which are advertised in parts of this website, as a starting point. We also give you a full breakdown on every bonus for every site. Some terms and conditions can be very confusing, making it easy to follow.

Some sportsbooks may limit your wager options with promotional bets. They might not allow wagers on markets priced greater than -200. This would mean that you can’t take a prohibitive favorite (-400, for example) for your promotional bet. Now let’s review the most common terms and phrases you’ll see and break them down:

1. “No Sweat Bets”

The “No Sweat Bet” is a promotion style with various names. It typically involves a new registrant making their first bet with the sportsbook. If the bet loses, the player receives their initial stake back as a “no sweat” bet credit.

The most common forms of reimbursement are Site Credit or Bonus Bets. They are not cash and have their own terms and conditions for use.

Bonus bet

This example will highlight what would happen if a player opted into a “No Sweat” first bet offer promotion. The promotion promises a single bonus bet if the player’s first wager were to lose.

If you wagered $200 on the Dodgers to beat the Diamondbacks and they lost, your account would be credited with a $200 bonus bet. (If you won on Los Angeles, congratulations, that’s the end of it. Receive your stake back plus the winnings in cash and feel free to do with them as you please.)

The $200 bonus bet can be used on any sporting event or market. However, it needs to be used in one shot unless smaller increment bonus bets are provided. For example, one sportsbook may reimburse your $200 stake with one big $200 bonus bet. Another sportsbook might choose to distribute five separate $40 bonus bets instead.

The biggest drawback with bonus bets is not keeping the stake if it wins, only the winnings. Let’s say you get a $200 bonus bet for losing your first qualified wager. Now you want to turn it into cash. If a $200 bonus bet credit is placed on a selection at +100 odds and it wins. The player will only receive the $200 winnings, not the full $400.

Online Betting

Site credit

Now suppose you receive the same $200 reimbursement. This time it’s in the form of site credit after losing your initial wager. If you make the same $200 play described above at even money (+100) and win the bet, you’ll get the full $400 added into your account this time around.

Site credit functions similarly to cash, except it can’t be withdrawn until wagered at least 1x. This requirement may vary based on the promotion’s terms and conditions. Regardless, it is definitely the better of the two rewards in comparison to receiving a bonus bet.

2. “Complimentary Bets”

How is this different from the “No Sweat” bet mentioned above? The key is that this type of offer lives separately from the player’s first wager.

Some of the more popular sportsbooks offer extra incentive to new players looking to get started. These offers may vary depending on the state of operation, but in the past have included a 100% bet match, where the amount of the credit awarded matches the amount of the player’s first wager, win or lose.

This is a fantastic alternative to the typical ‘No Sweat’ promotion. The player can walk away with both their winnings and a sizable credit.

Important note

Users may need to use all bet credits within a certain time frame, typically 7 to 30 days. This starts from the first qualifying wager that allowed them to earn the promotion. This timeframe will vary from book to book. Always be sure to keep an eye on the terms and conditions.

3. “Deposit match”

Deposit matches typically award players with bonus funds in the form of site credit. Site credit functions like cash for betting, allowing players to retain both the stake and the winnings. Deposit match bonuses are becoming less common within the industry. When you come across one, be sure to take advantage of it.

How it works

Let’s say a sportsbook brand is offering a 100% match on your first deposit up to $250. As a new player, if you deposit $250, the sportsbook will match your deposit. You’ll receive a bonus bankroll of $250. You won’t have to wager the entire $250 bonus on a single bet. Odds restrictions are usually friendly.

Lastly, there are usually no restrictions on the types of bet(s) you can make. This is most important with your bonus credit.

Don’t want to deposit $250? If you deposit $10, you’ll get a site credit of $10. If you deposit $250 or more in the case of this example, you’d get $250 in site credit.

It’s common to see a time limitation in the terms and conditions. Players will often be required to clear a wagering requirement within a specific timeframe or their bonus offer will expire. Always check out your sportsbook’s terms and conditions so you know what is expected!

You may also see a match bonus referred to as a “first deposit bonus” or “registration bonus,” with the nature of the bonus operating in the same or similar fashion as the match.

Important note

While some sportsbooks offer deposit matches with little to no rollover, others will. Always read the terms before depositing funds into an online sportsbook. It’s extremely important for this reason.

DraftKings has offered one such promotion in some states — a $1000 deposit match welcome bonus, but with a very steep 25x play-through requirement. $1 is released for every $25 that you wager, which is a nice touch, as some are all or nothing, and will only release the bonus funds if you complete the full wagering requirements. 

If you deposit enough for the full $1000 bonus, you must put $25,000 into play. This gradually unlocks the bonus funds. You won’t get the full $1000 bonus until $25,000 has been wagered (or a corresponding 25x your deposit, up to $1000).

Once again, make sure you adhere to the terms and conditions. Also, know how much you’ve put into play. You can do that by tracking your bets on the DraftKings Sportsbook’s bonus section. 

4. “No deposit” perks

This one is on the house, or about the closest thing to it, so long as players register for and obtain a “valid and verified” real-money account.

Once you’re registered, the sportsbook will credit your account with the stated bonus amount. Typically these offers are smaller increments (but still very welcome!), between $5 and $25. 

A few important additional terms you’ll often see.

  • You’ll typically have between 7 and 30 days to use the promotional bet;
  • This kind of promo bonus must be used in full, i.e., it cannot be divided into multiple bets.
  • If the player’s wagered event results in a win, they receive the winnings but not the stake amount. For example, a $10 bonus bet at -110 odds would return $9.10 ($19.10 – original $10 bonus bet stake = $9.10).

The offer terms usually don’t have a rollover requirement. You should be able to withdraw winnings after playing the bonus amount once.

Parting shots

Always remember, bonuses may have market restrictions. They typically prevent betting on heavy (or very heavy) favorites. One sportsbook requires that you bet on sides with prices of -200 or higher (i.e., -199 or +110). This number ranges from book to book, but is usually capped anywhere between -200 and -300.

In cases like these, capturing a bonus credit is not a complete gimme for the sportsbook. Betting heavy favorites, for example. Odds at -200 imply a 66.7% win probability.

If you need help or have questions, contact customer service via email or chat. They’ll assist with activating or obtaining your bonus. In our experience, sportsbooks have been responsive and helpful. And for the umpteenth time this article read the terms and conditions and take a screenshot of them after registering.

Also, please bet responsibly and know your limits. 

Brett Smiley

Brett Smiley

Brett Smiley is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Sports Handle, which joined forces with the US Bets team in November 2018. He focuses on the sports betting industry and legislation. He's a recreational sports bettor and DFS player himself, focusing on the NFL. In a past life, Smiley practiced commercial litigation in New York City and previously wrote for FOX Sports and He lives in New Jersey with his family.

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