Sports Betting Bonus Programs

Online casinos and sportsbooks compete for your business in a number of ways; some sites brag about having the latest technology, the most gambling options, or the largest number of customers. But the main 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 certain 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.

The practice of offering signup bonuses at online sportsbooks led to a rise in the practice of what is known (in rather harsh language) as bonus whoring. Bonus whores are people who sign up at sportsbooks or online casinos just 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 kinds of offers; land-based casino customers often decide where to play based on which casino makes them the best freebie offer. Online bonus whoring is really just an imitation of the behavior of traditional casino and sportsbook customers who take advantage of comps and bonuses without really paying the establishment its due.

A Brief History of Signup Bonuses

In the early days of online gambling, signup bonuses were easier to earn than they are 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 truly 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. A look around at the most popular sportsbooks right now is proof enough that these bonuses are harder than ever to earn. Wagering requirements are the hurdles gamblers have to jump in order to earn their bonus cash; different at each site, these requirements establish a minimum amount of cash a gambler has to spend in order 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.

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. That means in order 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 a total of $150 in wagers ten times over, or $1,500, before you get your free $50 in bonus money. Doesn’t sound like much of a bonus, does it? 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 kind of cash to wager nearly four grand at an online sportsbook, a free gift of $500 would be well worth the investment. If you placed those $3,750 worth of wagers according to a solid sports betting strategy, you’ll 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 as well.

But most sportsbook bonus whoring in the early days was done with much smaller amounts of money. Gamblers would deposit $50, place a few hundred bucks’ worth 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 difficult to get away with legitimate bonus whoring. Let’s take a look at some popular sportsbooks’ signup bonus offers.


TopBet offers a 50% signup bonus to their sportsbook customers. This offer maxes out at $250 and has a 5x rollover for wagers on sporting events. To earn the max amount, a gambler would have to deposit $500 and place $2,500 in bets, not a bad deal but nothing like the offers in the late 90s and early 2000s.


Bovada’s sportsbook signup bonus offer is slightly easier to earn than TopBet and other bookmakers – a 50% signup bonus worth up to $250, but it only requires a 3x rollover on sports bets. That means after betting just $1,500 on sporting events, you can earn a free $250 from Bovada.

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.