Betting Intelligence Guides

The Different Types Of Sports Betting Site Bonuses You’ll Encounter

Sports betting sites are quite liberal with bonuses these days as they do their best to keep customers engaged. They dangle a welcome bonus to get them in the door and then present profit boosts, risk-free bets and much more. If you’ve been wondering about the differences in these sportsbook bonuses and what they all mean, we’re going to run through the variations you’ll encounter on your betting journey.

The Different Types Of Sports Betting Site Bonuses You’ll Encounter
The Different Types Of Sports Betting Site Bonuses

Cash / Site Credit Bonuses

Cash or site credit is what many consider to be the best bonus you can receive. Cash – as they say – is king and this type of bonus allows you to do what you want with your money. You’re free to bet singles, parlays or whatever sport you want. More importantly, if you bet with this type of bonus and win your bet, you get the winnings and the stake back.

The one caveat with this bonus is the wagering requirement. Of course, books can’t just give you cash with no strings attached. Otherwise, you’d just withdraw your money and walk away. What comes with this type of bonus is a rollover or wagering requirement. We’ll go over that in the next section.

Wagering Requirement / Rollover Associated With Betting Site Bonuses

One important factor to consider with bonus is what is the wagering requirement attached to it. For the most part, a rollover is associated with the welcome bonus but it can be a condition of some other bonuses as well.

A wagering requirement is a prerequisite you must complete before the cash becomes free and clear. For example, if you have a $100 bonus with a five-time wagering requirement, you have to place $500 in bets before you “unlock” your bonus. 

Note that some sites will consider your deposit as part of the rollover. In other words, if it’s a five-time rollover and you get a $100 bonus on a $100 deposit, then you have to bet $1000 in wagers before you can complete it.

Also, many sites will have restrictions on what counts towards rollovers such as minimum odds. You might see something that -150 or -200 is the cutoff and any favorites bigger than that won’t count. 

Lastly, double-check the timing as some of these sites will compel you to complete this within seven days, 30 days or sometimes longer. The longer the better for you. But if you don’t pay attention to this and it expires, your bonus is gone.

Free Bet Credits

A free bet credit is a form of bonus where you get the winnings from your bet but not the stake back. Here’s a look at the difference between cash and free bets:

Winning Cash Bet

$100 bet at +100 = $200 total payout ($100 profit and $100 stake)

Winning Free Bet

$100 bet at +100 = $100 total payout ($100 profit)

As you can see here, in the first scenario, you end up with a lot more money. That’s because with cash bonuses, you keep the stake. With the winning free bet, you only collect the profit.

One strategy pointer is that with free bet, there becomes less and less value to bet a favorite. For example, if you had a $100 cash bonus with no minimum odds requirements for a rollover, you might bet a -1000 favorite and turn your $100 into $110 that you take home. With a free bet, that makes a lot less sense as you end up taking just $10 home overall. Sometimes, you’re better off taking a flier with an underdog – especially if you’re hedging on the other side elsewhere – because that free bet will offer more upside.

Bet & Get

One bonus that you’ll come across in the sportsbook is a bet-and-get style. While it’s not the formal name, the setup is simple: you bet something that they ask you to bet on and get a reward for completing the mission.

For example, you might see something that says Bet $50 on any line in the New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox game and get $10 whether your win bet wins or loses.

This is often done to encourage you to have some action on either a big event or something they want to promote. 

When doing these, you want to ask yourself: is it worth the get to do the bet? If you’re hedging on the other side, these can be quite profitable. If you’re not, then you have to ask whether they are luring you into betting something you don’t really want to bet on. In other words, if you’re just going to lose $50, to get $10, that’s not a good tradeoff for you.

There are some conditions that you want to keep track of here as this type of style varies. Sometimes it’s bet and get whether you win or lose. Sometimes, it’s only if you lose (usually referred to as a risk-free bet). Also, note that many sportsbooks will give you a free bet credit as the bonus, so bet $50 cash and get $10 free bet. That makes the $10 bonus even less valuable. 

Make sure you note these dynamics as they can change whether this is a bonus worth pursuing or not.

Risk-Free Bet (Cash, Free Bet)

A risk-free bet is a popular bonus these days mostly because of the catchy title: you get to place a bet and there’s no risk to you. By now, you should probably realize that there – of course – is some risk to you.

A risk-free bet is a wager where you’ll get your full stake back paid back to you if your bet loses. However, the catch is often that the stake is paid back in free bet credits. Some sites like FanDuel will pay you back in site credit, which is essentially cash, but most will give you a free bet credit. That’s not exactly a good trade for you – if you lose. Of course, if you win, then you’re way ahead but you have to think about worst-case scenarios.

If you’re going to hedge these types of bets, then they’re very profitable to use. If you’re not going to hedge these bets, just be aware whether you’re getting cash or free bets, and what rollover comes with it – if any. That will give you a better idea of how much risk is associated with your risk-free bet.

Restricted Risk-Free Bet

There are a number of sportsbooks that have risk-free bets beyond just the welcome bonus. Usually, if the welcome bonus is a risk-free bet, then you’re free to wager on whatever you want. At the same time, if it’s a weekly or special promo that’s a risk-free bet, it’ll often have some type of conditions.

For example, DraftKings will often drop-in a risk-free bet for Major League Baseball. The conditions usually go something like this:

  • It has to be your first MLB bet of the day
  • There’s a max bet
  • There are minimum odds
  • You have to opt in

If you meet all of those conditions and your bet loses, you’ll get the reward at the end. It’s important to read through and make sure you meet all of the conditions. A lot of bettors don’t pay close enough attention and end up losing their initial bet, and not getting the reward because they missed a stipulation. Always double-check, so that you don’t take on that extra risk.

Profit Boost

If risk-free bets reward you when you lose, profit boosts are the opposite: they reward you when you win. Sportsbooks will often dangle these as they encourage players to get in the game. 

How it works is you can make your selection and then add it to your bet slip. Once there, you’ll be able to check off or click something to apply the profit boost. You’ll see just how much your payout changes.

If you’re hedging these types of bets to lock in a profit, then these boosts can be as advertised: profitable. If you’re just letting the action ride, keep in mind that you obviously need to win your bet to get the bonus. It’s not easy to be a winning bettor and this pushes you to hit the bullseye before you get your sweetener.

Parlay Insurance

Many companies will offer parlay insurance and the reason for it is because parlay bets are among their biggest moneymakers. They’re risky bets where you need multiple outcomes to connect before you get your payday. They’re hard to win and sportsbooks know this. As a result, they’ll do their best to encourage you to go down this path.

A common promo you’ll find is you’ll get your bet back if only one leg loses. That means if you play a four-game parlay and manage to go three-out-of-four, then you’ll get your stake back. While that sounds like a friendly offer on paper, note that it’s hard to specifically go three-out-four with a parlay. Sure, it’s nice to have just in case but it’s not really a great promo. There are some sportsbooks that offer your money back if none of the legs hit but that’s also just as hard to do. 

If you like your parlays and understand the risks, go for it. This promo gives you a little bit of a safety net. Some of the better ones are where the whole parlay stake is returned in cash such as the FanDuel risk-free Same-Game Parlays that they offer from time to time. Those come with almost no risk as if you lose, you get money right back in your account.


Free Spins

Although this won’t be relevant to all states and provinces, if the sportsbook you’re playing at offers casino gaming in your state, don’t be surprised if they drop in some free spins for you. Many of these gaming brands try to get sports bettors to try out the casino and this is one of the most common ways of doing it. It might be as simple as logging in each day to get 10 free spins or maybe they hand a few over to you when they launch a new game. Some books offer free spins as a reward after you place a sports bet of some sort.

One thing to track with these is what the free spin amount is. If it’s two or 10 cents, it’s not great but free is free. If they’re giving you free spins at $1 dollar, those can prove to be quite valuable.

In some cases, winnings from free spins are simply your cash to keep. In other cases, like MGM, you’ll have to wager the winnings a certain number of times before it’s yours to keep. 

Don’t Miss Out On The Bonuses

Sportsbook bonuses are a great way for players to get ahead. It’s tough enough to win with sports betting in the long run as the odds are not exactly in your favor. However, if you continue to pick up on these profit boosts, deposit bonuses and risk-free bets, your odds will improve. Take what the books are giving you as each bonus is an opportunity to put some profits in your pocket.

Outlier Team
August 4, 2023
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