The world of online sports betting is competitive. To draw in new users, sportsbooks often provide free bets or opening bonuses. These are distinct bonuses apart from the regular promotions or special offers that crop up at times.
While practically every competitive sportsbook will have at least one free bet bonus offer for new users, there are various types of free bet bonuses. Knowing which bonuses are most valuable or applicable for your wagering style can help you choose the perfect sportsbook if and when mobile sports betting finally launches in New York.
In a nutshell, sportsbooks offer free bets by giving users a certain amount of site credit (in dollar amounts, of course). For example, a free bet bonus might say that new users get $10 free upon sign-up and registration.
But the new users don’t actually get $10 in their accounts that they can then withdraw. Otherwise, people would sign up for sportsbook accounts to immediately withdraw the bonus, thus getting free money.
Instead, the $10 in the aforementioned example is awarded in site credit. The sportsbook bonus of $10 is only usable within the app. Often, you won’t be able to withdraw money that you receive from winning a site credit wager until you fulfill one or more conditions.
For instance, DraftKings has an opening offer that combines a deposit match bonus and several free bets (more on both of these offers below). If a player receives $200 in DraftKings app credit upon sign-up, the player can use that credit only on certain DraftKings wagers and not withdraw it until much later.
Just as free bet bonuses can vary dramatically in their worth and type, so too can the methods for acquiring these offers. All opening bonuses are available as incentives to get people to sign up and place wagers. Therefore, anyone looking to claim a free bet bonus must register for a sportsbook offering a bonus — depending on future New York sports betting legislation, this may require visiting an in-person casino or sportsbook to finish the registration process.
Claiming the online sportsbook bonus can occur in one of two ways: automatically or by inputting a promotional code. Some sportsbooks simply apply bonus credit to every account that signs up without requiring the promo code. Others may need you to put in a short string of letters and/or numbers to claim the bonus.
These betting bonus codes are usually quite simple, like “PLAY250” or similar. But it’s important to look up whether your sportsbook of choice requires a promotional code before signing up. Researching requirements beforehand can help you get your bonus faster.
Most major sportsbooks offer regular free bets throughout the year. These bonuses may change from time to time but largely stay the same, at least in terms of ultimate site value. For example, a sportsbook may offer a $1,000 opening bonus of one kind one year, then change the kind of bonus another year but keep the value at $1,000.
Note that online and mobile sports betting is not yet legal in New York (though you can visit retail sportsbooks located at casinos throughout the state). However, sportsbooks don’t typically change their opening bonus offers from state to state.
Therefore, the current opening bonuses for the sportsbooks listed below should be identical or close to it if any of these launch in New York.
DraftKings’ opening bonus is, at least in potential, one of the largest in the industry. It comes in two parts: five $5 free bets totaling $50 worth of site credit, as well as a 20% deposit match bonus up to $1,000. Qualifying for the opening bonus is quick and simple. Just sign up for the app and deposit a minimum of $5. You do not need to use code for either part of the bonus.
The five $5 free bets are awarded in segments, so you can’t combine the free bets into a single $50 wager. Furthermore, you must use all five $5 free bets within seven days of registering your account. Any bets that you haven’t used will disappear.
The 20% deposit match bonus applies to any initial deposit amount over $5. For example, if you make a first deposit of $100, you’ll get another $20 of site credit added to your wagering total. A first deposit of $1,000 will get you an extra $200, and so on, up to a total potential bonus of $1,000.
Furthermore, the deposit match bonus has a 25x playthrough requirement before you can make a withdrawal with those winnings. This may take a very long time, especially compared to the opening bonuses offered by other sportsbooks.
Still, DraftKings’ bonus is potentially quite worthwhile, especially if you want to boost your initial wagering cash quickly.
FanDuel also provides a potentially large opening bonus. But its offer is a risk free first bet up to $1,000 of site credit. You don’t need a promotional code for this bonus, either, but you do need to deposit at least $10 into your account initially. Once you do this, your first wager of any kind has some protection up to $1,000.
For example, if you place a wager worth $700 and lose, you’ll get that $700 back in site credit within 72 hours. You must wager these bonus funds at least once before withdrawing them, at worst giving you two chances at your first bet. The downside is that this opening bonus doesn’t kick in if you win your initial bet. It only applies if you are unlucky with your first wager.
BetRivers offers another kind of deposit match bonus, similar to DraftKings. It’s a 100% deposit match up to $250. Therefore, if you deposit $250 initially, you’ll get another $250, resulting in double your initial wagering cash right from the start.
You do need to input a promo code — PLAY250 — to take advantage of this bonus. Be sure to put in this code during the registration process. You’ll need to play through this bonus at least once before withdrawing it. Still, this is much easier to accomplish compared to the playthrough requirements of DraftKings’ opening bonus.
Note, however, that it may take up to 48 hours for the deposit match credit to reach your account.
BetMGM offers its new players another 100% deposit match bonus, this one being good up to $600. There are a few qualifications. You’ll need to input the code PLAYBONUS to qualify. You’ll also need to make an initial deposit of at least $10 within seven days of completing your registration.
Like BetRivers’ opening bonus, this bonus requires you to play through the bonus at least one time before you can withdraw anything.
As you can see from the examples above, free bets come in many types. Let’s break down some of the most common types of opening bonuses you’ll see at popular sportsbooks.
Risk free bets are good opening bonuses for new players who aren’t confident about their chances of picking winning wagers. That’s because these bonuses kick in only if you lose your initial wager — they don’t do anything if you are lucky immediately after registering your account.
Keep in mind, though, that risk free bets don’t apply to lost wagers beyond your first. The FanDuel opening bonus is an example of this free bet type. It can be worth up to $1,000 in total, so players who are unlucky to start have some additional protection.
Note that some risk free bets do require you to play through the free bet credit one or more times before you can withdraw your cash again. Be sure to read any terms and conditions before signing up at a sportsbook to avoid being surprised.
Deposit match bonus offers are just what they sound like: they match your deposit to give you extra wagering cash. Deposit offers can either be for 100% or another percentage. A 100% match offer essentially doubles your wagering money based on what you put into your account at first. Other match bet offers may only match a percentage of your initial deposit.
These bonuses also have limits — they won’t, for instance, match anything you put into your account, just what you deposit up to a certain limit.
BetMGM’s opening bonus is one example of this. It matches your deposit up to $600 at a rate of 100%. DraftKings has a potentially higher opening bonus worth up to $1,000. But it only matches your deposit up to 20%, so you would need to deposit $5,000 to reach a bonus of $1,000 in site credit.
Additionally, these opening bonuses require a playthrough of one or more times. Sometimes these playthrough requirements can be quite lengthy, as is the case with DraftKings’ opening bonus.
Money back free bets are a rarer type of opening bonus that only applies if your wager loses in a particular way. These are similar to risk free sports bets but are more limited in scope and only apply in particular cases. Furthermore, they don’t apply at all if you win the wager in question. Because of these limitations, they aren’t usually as popular compared to other bonuses, and only some sportsbooks offer them.
DraftKings does offer these from time to time (called “money back specials”). The sportsbook occasionally offers $100 money back bets if you lose a wager related to big sporting events, like the Super Bowl.
Absolutely. Free bets are fantastic additions to any sportsbook’s overall offerings. They’re also great ways to determine which sportsbooks you want to try out — think of them as tiebreakers after considering all the other features, like market depth and variety, user interface and app lag.
Remember, the majority of free bet bonuses have requirements that you must meet before you can withdraw or cash out.
Usually called playthrough requirements, they mean you must use any refunded or won site credit at least one time in another wager before it can leave your app’s account. This does mean that you can potentially lose your bonus credit if the resulting wager goes south, but that’s the inherent risk of using sportsbook opening bonuses. For example, BetRivers requires you to play though any deposit match money once before you can make a withdrawal.
Even with this fine print, future sportsbook free bet bonuses in New York will likely be worth your time to check out. Just be sure you understand all the applicable terms and conditions before signing up so you aren’t taken by surprise.