Sports Betting Bonus Programs
Online casinos and crypto sportsbooks compete for your business in several ways; some sites brag about having the latest technology, the most gambling options, or the most significant number of customers. But the primary way that online books (like online casinos) try to attract customers is by offering signup bonuses.
These rewards are promises of free cash in exchange for signing up for a player account and placing a specific number or amount of bets. Signup bonuses at sportsbooks closely mirror promotional offers at their brick-and-mortar cousins. Casinos with sportsbooks can hand out complimentary food and drinks for their best customers, offer free rooms or room upgrades, and even hand out cash and other goodies in exchange for a customer’s loyalty.
Offering signup bonuses at online sportsbooks led to a rise in the practice of what is known (in rather a harsh language) as bonus whoring. Bonus whores are people who sign up at sportsbooks or online casinos to cash in on a bonus offer, then move on to the next giveaway, rarely sustaining a membership long enough to make the giveaway worth the book’s effort.
It’s only natural for people to try and take advantage of these offers; land-based casino customers often decide where to play based on which casino makes them the best freebie offer. Online bonus whoring is just an imitation of the behavior of traditional casino and sportsbook customers who take advantage of comps and bonuses without really paying the establishment it’s due. Learn more about it on our guide of Matched betting.
A Brief History of Signup Bonuses
In the early days of online gambling, signup bonuses were more accessible to earn than today. It is probably the practice of bonus whoring that made today’s online gambling signup bonuses much harder to earn. As of this writing, wagering requirements for signup bonuses are high enough that only a genuinely committed sportsbook customer stands to earn any real money.
When the first online books started offering signup bonuses, wagering requirements were much lower than they are today. Looking around at the most popular sportsbooks is proof that these bonuses are harder than ever to earn. Wagering requirements are the hurdles gamblers have to jump to earn their bonus cash; different at each site, and these requirements establish a minimum amount of cash a gambler has to spend to claim their signup bonus. Sometimes called a rollover, these requirements ensure that the book doesn’t lose money, handing out bonus cash to new depositors who don’t stick around after getting a little free dough.
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Here’s an entirely made-up example of a rollover requirement and how it might work at today’s online books. Let’s say you’re shopping for a new book to call home, and you see that they offer a 50% signup bonus worth up to $100, and when you read the terms and conditions, you see that the site has a 10x rollover requirement. To earn the max bonus ($50), you’d have to wager ten times your deposit plus the amount you want to earn as a bonus. That means placing $150 in wagers ten times over or $1,500 before getting your free $50 in bonus money. It doesn’t sound like much of a bonus. That’s because today’s online bookmakers have designed their bonuses to avoid the practice of bonus whoring.
In the good old days, a book may have offered a 200% signup bonus worth up to $500 with a rollover of just 5x – meaning gamblers could earn $500 free for placing just $3,750 worth of bets. If you’ve got the cash to wager nearly four grand at an online sportsbook, a gift of $500 would be well worth the investment, see our guide on ROI. If you placed those $3,750 worth of wagers according to a solid sports betting strategy, you’d probably win out on a few of those wagers anyway, meaning you’ve just earned free cash and won a little bit the legitimate way well.
But most sportsbook bonus whoring in the early days was done with much smaller money. Gamblers would deposit $50, place a few hundred bucks’ worths of bets, and clear out after their bonus cash came through.
Signup Bonuses at Today’s Sportsbooks
These days, sportsbooks that operate online have gotten wise to the behavior of bonus chasers, and it’s challenging to get away with legitimate bonus whoring. Let’s take a look at some popular sportsbooks’ signup bonus offers.
As you can see from the above examples, it isn’t as easy to go shopping for free cash from online sportsbooks as it used to be. However, bookmakers still use signup bonuses to attract new customers and convince old customers to reload their accounts with cash. If you have a systematic approach to betting and a big enough bankroll, you can still chase sportsbook bonus cash; it’s just not as easy as in the early days of online sports wagering.