The Betting Scene: Sign-up Bonuses - Yea or Eh?

An examination of sports betting bonuses and in light of some of the giant offers online right now, some advice on choosing the right bonus.

Some advice on choosing the right bonus

It's crunch time to find the right sports book for football season. It's also the time where sportsbooks offer a plethora of bonuses and contests to get you betting on sports at their shop. And they will offer bonuses, big, small, yuge. If you are looking for an offer, it's almost a guarantee that someone is offering it.

So it's time to talk about bonuses. The good, the bad and the Oh No!

Sports betting bonus adviceCurrently the average bonus is running at around 50% in free play. This means if you send in $300, you get an additional $150 in free bets. There are enormous offers out there, even as high as 200%. With a free play bonus, the bonus is listed as free bets and you have to win the bets to have the cash put into the account as if it's yours. To avoid this many players choose to look for cash bonus offers. Places like GTBets and WagerWeb offer cash bonuses almost every day, but cash offers are typically much harder to find  Cash bonus is a little different, because you can use it as cash and it's available in your account to do whatever you want with it. You don't have to win any bets to be able to cash out that money. But wait . . . you do.


Unfortunately, bonuses come with a thing called a rollover. What that oddball term means is action, betting action, dollars and cents wagered. What it boils down to is putting your money, and bonus money, into play a certain amount of times. Roll it over. And the rollover can be anywhere from 3 times to 15 times. Huge bonuses generally come with big time rollovers. 

Here's an example of how it works. John deposits $500 and takes a 50% free play bonus. He has a total now of $750 that he can wager with at his sports book. When he accepted the bonus, he took a 10X rollover. John will have to wager $7500 before he can withdraw from his sportsbook. 

It seems like an enormous figure. It is, and that's where the devil lies in taking an online sportsbook bonuses.

Don't get me wrong. There are bonuses for just about every type of player. Ones with amounts and rollovers that are acceptable and will work, for the right player.

Choosing the right bonus

The Giant Bonus - 100% or more

This is a great option for many players. Most of us don't win regularly and bet on sports for fun and entertainment. The option of getting to use double the money with a 100% bonus means twice the enjoyment of having action on the games. It also gives more opportunities to cash a few tickets. If you can't bet against your home team or college alma mater, the big bonus (100% or more), with the big rollover (more than 10X) the huge bonus with the big rollover is for you. 

Bonuses at online sportsbooksThe Big Bonus - 50%-100%
Players who are a bit more serious should look at this bonus and do the math. If you are a winning player over the years or a player who it +EV (wins more than loses) and leaves money in the sportsbook, take a look at your action vs. the rollover. In the example above with the $7500 rollover a player who bets $50 a game or $25 parlays, would have to place 150+\- wagers. During the course of a 17 week football season, that is easily within reach. If you're a player who does some research and looks for an edge, and who doesn't withdraw often, the bonus that is everywhere right now may be for you.

Lower Bonus, Lower Rollover - 20%-35%
Players who are engaged regularly, bet often and want to withdraw more quickly should look for a smaller bonus, with a lower rollover. If leaving money in your sportsbook for a month or two would make you schizophrenic, a 20% bonus with a 3X rollover should fit the bill. You get a little gambling money, AND you don't have to leave it online for months on end. Bookmaker, Bovada and YouWager are examples of shops that typically don't go the big bonus route and offer lower rollovers. If you deposit smaller amounts on a consistent basis, the lower rollover is a good option.

No Bonus
If you want to deposit today, win tonight and withdraw tomorrow, take no bonus when depositing at a sportsbook. It's easy to take no bonus and just play with your money, if you want to get it back quickly and have the option to withdraw whenever you want to. And for the less than 10% of the gambling public who are professionals, semi-professionals or  extremely good players, take no bonus. Almost every top sports book online has a rule on their website that bonuses are for "recreational players" only. If you fit into one of the above "sharp bettor" categories save yourself the headache, and withdraw as often as you like by taking no bonus.

Please Don't Take It
It almost doesn't matter what type of player you are. There are two bonuses never to take. Never take a bonus with a rollover in excess of 15X, even if you see yourself as the Giant Bonus type of player. A rolllover of 15 times is hard to achieve, but 18 times, is unattainable. The other offer never to take is a bonus that looks too good to be true. Remember the larger the bonus, the bigger the rollover. If you see a 200% bonus with a 5 time rollover, don't take the bonus and DON'T play at that sportsbook. Huge bonuses with low rollovers can easily be the death of a sportsbook or a tool  for the scam shop.

For some of the top bonuses online right now, check out our sportsbook bonus section.

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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