The Betting Scene: Ins and Outs of Sportsbook Bonuses

An examination of bonus stipulations at online sportsbooks, where every book on the globe has rules that must be met before the free money can be cashed out.

Online sports books offer players free betting money, but often cashing that out can be confusing . . . and tough

Wether you are depositing at a sportsbook in Costa Rica, England or New Jersey, sportsbooks provide free play (or in some cases cash) money as an incentive to get started. The rules vary at almost every book and with almost every promotion, but one thing is universal, the free money is often difficult to cash out.

For over two decades sportsbooks offshore have given away large bonuses. It is not uncommon to see 100% or higher, especially prior to football season. But, over the years the amount of times a player must play-through the deposited funds PLUS the bonus money has increased. This play-through figure is commonly referred to as the "rollover', which refers to how many times the money must be "rolled over" before a player can cash out.

Sports book bonusesAround the turn of the century, it was easy to find a 100% bonus with just a five time rollover. But in today's ultra-slim margins and now with global competition knocking on the door, lower rollovers are long gone. A typical rollover for a 100% bonus is a whopping 12 to 14 times. For the average player these larger rollovers are never met, but the big bonus will mean extending the amount of time a bankroll will last.

Calculating the Rollover

Generally the rollover is the amount of the deposit PLUS the bonus PLUS any fees associated with the deposit, times the number of rollovers. For example:

($500 deposit + $500 bonus) x 12 or $12,000. 

This means that the player in this example must wager at least 12K before being able to withdraw. Of course, this sound like a huge figure (it is), but a player who sends in $500 is not betting $20 on his college alma mater, so the rollover is achievable if the player sticks around for the better part of the football season.

Still, the large rollover makes it rough to cash out the bonus money.

U.S. sports books don't make it much easier

A quick look at some of the providers for sports betting in New Jersey reveal much smaller bonuses, often with conflicting and confusing rules. Of course, these new operators must comply with state law which does not give them the freedom to offer too much or two outlandish of a promotion.

One operator in the early days of online casino play in New Jersey told us that she had to submit the bonus offer to the regulators in the state, who would review it and come back with any changes or updates. Then they would have to revise it, and resubmit it. Trying to get a worthwhile or timely bonus out for players became a major mission and often they would just stick with something 'standard' to comply with state requirements.

DraftKings is currently offering a $500 Deposit Bonus, plus a $200 free wager. The bonus amount is equal to 20% of a players' first deposit amount, not to exceed $500 (must deposit $2,500 to be eligible to receive the maximum possible bonus amount of $500). They handle the rollover this way: For every $25 wagered in the DraftKings sportsbook, the bettor will receive $1 in bonus funds put into his player account. A $2,500 deposit requires a user to play through a cumulative total of $12,500, which is essentially a 5X rollover. You basically 'earn' the bonus with this model, but there is also a time frame element. According to the DraftKings website, "the play-thru requirement must be met by 12/31/19 to receive maximum bonus."

At FoxBet, make your first deposit and they will match it with free cash up to $100. the bonus funds are issued as cash and need to be turned over one time at minimum odds of -200 (decimal odds of 1.50) before a customer can withdraw. In addition, the bonus funds are used first when wagering. So FoxBet is not only telling players what they have to bet on, but when they can use the free cash to bet. The good news? It is a 1X rollover before withdrawal! FanDuel also has a 1X rollover on their free bet promo used at a minimum odds of -300. But, the bad news with their offer, according to their website, is "The Promotion Bonus value may be reported for tax purposes as required by law."

It is easy to see that new U.S. sportsbook have lower rollovers, but also lower offers with even more stipulations attached to them. But, regardless of any rules, all of these sportsbook bonuses do have one thing in common for the average Joe betting games - they do extend the bankroll and provide a little extra enjoyment (see gambling money) to the online sports betting experience.

The Bottom Line

The number one thing with bonuses is to read through everything. Ask questions on anything that appears vague and before sending in any money understand what you are getting into.

Check back every week for The Betting Scene as we will highlight new items of interest in the world of online sports betting. 

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