Sports Betting Bonus Offers

Bookmaker BonusMany sports betting sites use sign up bonuses as a method to attract and retain clients. These bonus offers come in unique shapes and sizes – Most commonly “risk free bets” or “free play credits” are offered, but some betting sites do offer true cash bonuses. In this guide I’ll use actual current bonus offers, to cover each type of bonus in detail. It is important to read closely because you’ll soon see; the size of the bonus alone does not determine its true value.

Free Play Credits

Free play credits are quite popular at US facing sportsbooks. is a very popular US betting site that offers 20% in free play credits, for all deposits made on a Tuesday or Wednesday. This applies to existing players as well as newly registered accounts. It also applies to credit card deposits made using a Visa credit or debit card (and yes, these will be approved at Bookmaker even if your card has been declined at other sites – Bookmaker is a world leader in US credit card processing *Visa only / no MasterCard*). Clients are required to rollover their deposit plus free play bonus 5-rimes prior to making a withdrawal.

The first thing you need to understand about free play credits is a free play credits are not cash. With cash when you make a wager on the New Orleans Saints -110 (91/100 UK / 1.91 European) risking $100.00. If you win you’ll get back your $100 stake + $91 win, so you have $191 returned. If instead you bet with $100 in free play credits you’ll get back only $91 on a win. This because your “free play credits” have now been used; they are not returned in order to make another free play wager. So, as you can see, there is a big difference between free play credits and cash.

Cash Bonuses

Bet365 accepts players from all over the world accept for the United States, Hong Kong, Turkey, France, Netherlands and Australia. If you live in any countries other than the ones I just listed, Bet365 is the best choice for a bonus, because they offer a 100% initial deposit match. This bonus is credited instantly as cash and you need to meet just a 3-time rollover requirement for it to become free and clear for withdrawal. The bonus is capped at 100% up to €100 (Euro), £100 (GBP), $200 (USD), $200 (CAD) or Rs. 2500 (INR). For details of the bonus in other currencies, or to claim a bonus already listed, visit their website at

Risk Free Bets

Risk free bets are a common offer of UK bookmakers. If a betting site offers £20 risk free, this means you’ll need to register, make an initial deposit and then stake £20 on a match. If your wager loses you’ll be refunded the £20, which is why it is risk free. This form of bonus is extremely straight forward and again common. An example is the Betfair £20 risk free bet promotion.

Comparing Bonus Types

If you place a wager at UK odds 91/100 (-110 American / 1.91 European) for an odds/even bets (same odds on both sides) risk free bets are worth 45.5% of their face value. This because on a $100 risk free bet 50% of the time you’ll win $91, and 50% of the time you’ll break even. This averages to 45.5%. When using a free play credits on a straight bet the same is true as this bet works exactly the same.

When wagering with bonus “cash” (as opposed to free play credits) you’ll need to shift you thinking a little to understand its value. The money is technically not yours; it was given to you for free. So if you have a $100 cash bonus and risk it on a -110 line 50% of the time you get back $191 and 50% of the time you break even. Therefore a $100 cash bonus is worth $191 50% of the time, so it’s worth 95.5%. However, all bonuses are worth far less when you consider rollover.

Understanding Rollover

You see at most betting sites you’re required to rollover your bonus anywhere from 3-times to 20-times. Let’s take the case where it’s just three times. Here we don’t want touch our own cash we want to instead wager with the bonus. So in the case of a 100% bonus at Bet365 we’re going to rollover only the bonus portion of it 6-times (3 times overall). So let’s say our deposit was €100 so we got a €100 bonus, we need to make €600 in wagers. We decide to make 600 wagers of €1.00 at 91/100 odds (-110 / 1.91). Stop! Betting site calculates rollover as the greater of risk or potential win. So we’re only getting credit for €0.91 on a wager of risk €1.00 to win to win €0.91, so what we going to need to do here instead is make it 600 wagers of €1.10 to win €1.00. Using this, here are the results:

* Half the time we’re going to win 1.00 and 300x€1=+€300
* Half the time we’re going to lose 1.10 and 300x-€1.0= -€330

Conclusion: We’ve lost €30 of this $100 bonus so it was only worth 70%.

Comparing 25% Free Play (5-times Rollover) is one the few absolutely rare cases where the bonuses has significant value. First off most bonuses are not cash (they are free play credits) but there are few others that offer cash. For example, Intertops offers a 25% cash bonus. In this case let’s say we deposited $100 and got a $25.00 bonus. We have $625.00 in rollover we have to meet. So let’s see what happens if we make 125 wagers of $5.50 to win $5.00 each.

* On average: Half the time we’re going to win 5.00 and 62.5*$5=+$312.5
* On Average: Half the time we’re going to lose 5.5 and 62.5*-$5.5= – $343.75

Conclusion: Yikes! Our bonus was only $25.00 and by the time we rolled it over we lost $31.25! We’re $6.25 in the hole.

Comparing a 50% Free Play (5 times Rollover)

Let’s check a 50% free play bonus with a 5-time rollover. Here we deposit $100 and get a $50.00 free play. We now need to make $150×5=$750 in wagers. We decide this time to make 10 wagers of $82.50 to win $75.00 each.

* On average: Half the time we’re going to win 75.00 and 5*$75= +$375.00
* On Average: Half the time we’re going to lose 82.50 and 5*-82.5*= -$412.5

This time we lost $37.50 and have a $50.00 free play. Remember in first paragraph of this section I established free plays are only worth 45.45% of their face value, so a $50 free play is worth about $22.73 cash. Here we’re $14.77 in the hole.

Cash Bonus is worth 2.2 times a Free Play

If you’ve paid attention you should now realize that a a 25% cash bonus is a FAR better option than a 50% free play bonus when the rollover for each bonus is the same. When comparing free play bonuses and cash bonuses with the same rollover, know that for them to have equal value the free play bonus must be 2.2 times the size of the cash bonus. So a 55% free play and a 25% cash bonus have about the same value, so long as rollover is the same.


If you live outside the United States you most certainly want to take advantage of the 100% bonus offered at You can read my Bet365 review where I cover all the other reasons I absolutely love their site. For everyone else, bonuses are just as a incentive that provide better odds. The bookmaker still has a small advantage, but a lot of it is negated when you take advantage of offers, such as a 20% reload bonus offered every Tuesday and Wednesday at