Ever since the US Supreme Court allowed states outside of Nevada to legalize mobile sports betting, the marketplace has become competitive. Sports betting apps have had to compete with others for customers.
Deposit bonuses are a popular tactic that sportsbooks use to stand out among the competition. The way a first-time deposit bonus works is that a percentage of your deposit is matched (100%) up to a certain number, often ranging from $250-$1,000.
Below, I go over the best first-time deposit bonuses, including the benefits of each offer and how to take advantage of this promo.
What Is a Sportsbook First-Deposit Bonus?
A first-time deposit bonus is the best welcome bonuses. For new users, a deposit bonus offers the best chance to make money right away when compared to other sportsbook offers like risk-free bets.
This is because you receive bet credits in your account right away — you don’t need to lose your first wager, like you do with risk-free bets.
How Does a Sportsbook Deposit Bonus Work?
The way that a deposit bonus works is that the sportsbooks will match a percentage of your deposit up to a specific dollar amount. Typically for new customers, sportsbooks that offer deposit bonuses will provide a 100% match up to a certain amount, usually between $250 and $1,000.
For example, If you deposit $250 with a 100% deposit match, you will have a total of $500 to play with ($250 cash, $250 bet credits).
The only catch is that you need to consider the rollover requirement. This means how many times you must bet your bonus amount in order to withdraw it. This can vary across platforms, ranging from as low as 1x to as high as 5x.
For example, let’s say that I deposited $250 in a 100% deposit bonus up to 250 with 3x wagering requirements. This means that I need to bet $750 (250 x 3 = 750) before I’m able to withdraw these funds.
Best Deposit Match Sportsbooks
The most popular sportsbook that offers a deposit bonus is DraftKings. Started primarily as a daily fantasy sports site, DraftKings has a wide range of betting options available. In fact, DraftKings arguably has the most betting options available per game since they switched to providing their own odds in July 2021.
As a well-known company that aims to be the most widely-used sports betting app, DraftKings offers its new users a 20% deposit bonus up to a $1,000. This means that you need to deposit $5,000 in order to max out the offer and receive $1,000 in bonus funds.
While most deposit bonuses result in getting your money right away, the DraftKings bonus requires that you bet first before you get your deposit bonus. For DraftKings, first-time depositors get $1 added to their account balance for every $25 bet.
While this means that new bettors must wager $25,000 to get their $1,000 deposit match, over the long run this is easy to reach as some bets win and some bets lose. You need to meet this requirement within 90 days.
Bet365 is arguably the world’s most popular sportsbook, but they do not have much of a presence in the United States. To increase their American presence, Bet365 has a generous deposit match offer.
Bet365 has an offer similar to a deposit bonus in that you receive the bet credits right away. All you need to do is wager $1 and you’ll get $200 in the form of free bets. To qualify, you must make a deposit of at least $10. Once your bets settle, you will receive the bet credits.
This is a terrific offer because you only have to deposit $10 and wager $1 to receive its benefits.
How To Pick the Best Deposit Bonus Betting Sites
For the average bettor, the sportsbook will win more money if you bet more money, since the sportsbook’s edge is built into the odds. That is why it is important to look for deposit bonus offers that have the lowest rollover requirements.
If you have a $250 cash bonus that you must rollover only once, that means you only need to wager $250 in order to take out your money. Conversely, if it was a 3x wagering requirement, you’d have to bet $750. The lower the requirement, the better the offer.
Online sportsbooks typically only offer 100% matches once, when signing up, which means you should take advantage of that and get the largest possible amount from the sportsbook — or at least the largest you feel comfortable depositing.
Cash Bonus vs Free Bet Bonus
Cash is king, which is why you should pick a cash bonus over a free bet bonus. For cash bonuses, you are best off picking safe bets like spread or slim money line favorites for baseball, as you get your initial stake back in addition to your winnings.
For free bets, you are best off using them on longshots, as you either make a large sum of money if your bet wins or you lose nothing if your bet loses.
Figuring out how to win a bet is hard enough let alone if there are convoluted requirements that make withdrawing funds more difficult. This means you should try and find the fewest restrictions possible.
Ideally, for deposit bonuses, you want the lowest rollover and most flexibility in what you can bet on.
The best thing you can look for in a sportsbook is one that you would want to use long term. As a bettor, you should look for sportsbooks that offer competitive odds.
If you are looking at -112 on a spread compared to -110, you will lose $.81 more per $100 bet. Additionally, if you find a site that offers -105 on a spread vs. -110 elsewhere, you should expect to lose $2.17 less per $100 bet.
Most sites will let you use existing customer promos to meet your deposit bonus rollover requirements. For example, a sportsbook may offer boosted odds on a game. If you bet on that promo, your wager will typically count toward the deposit bonus wagering requirements.
Deposit Bonus Tips & Strategies - Best Ways to Use Your First-Deposit Promo
Cash vs Free Bet Strategy
For cash bonuses, you should use your bonus on low-risk bets, since you can win your initial stake back. If you have a free bet deposit bonus like at Bet365, you should use your bonus on longshots as you only get your winnings and not your initial stake on winning bets.
Small Unit Sizes
If possible, you should split your bonus and initial deposit into small unit sizes to limit variance. Give yourself the highest chance to retain most of your deposit bonus as you build your sports betting bankroll.
Low House Edge Betting Markets
Markets where only one option is given such as same-game parlays, multi-game parlays, most player prop markets, and championship futures should be avoided for most of your bets when trying to grind out a deposit bonus.
As a bettor, you want something quick where the house has a low theoretical edge like MLB money lines, or NFL and NBA spreads.
Withdraw Some Money After Meeting Bonus Requirements
As a bettor, you should withdraw some of your money to at least have some money to use on other sportsbook offers.
If you meet the app’s rollover requirements and you didn’t like the app, you should withdraw all of your money. However, if you enjoyed using the app, you should keep some money in the app so you can make bets when the app has a soft betting line.
Open a New Account at a Deposit-Bonus Site
With the money that you took out of your first sportsbook account, you should open up another sportsbook account to start the same process over.
Once you are done, you’re likely to have even more money added to your sports betting bankroll. Additionally, you will have another outlet for placing bets.
Sign Up at a Risk-Free Betting Site
Risk-free betting sites offer “risk-free” bets where if your first bet loses, you are awarded a free bet as compensation. If you have a large bankroll, you should use these offers to make one big bet on a team you like.
If you have a small bankroll which is most bettors, you should bet the side you think is going to lose on the risk-free betting site and bet the side you think is going to win on the site where you already have an account.
For example, if you believe that a +200 moneyline will lose, you should bet $250 on that underdog on the risk-free betting app and $500 on the other team to win at -220 on your existing app.
If you are right, you will lose only $22.73 but will have a $500 free bet. If you are wrong, you don’t get a free bet, but you will break even.
Benefits of Using First-Deposit Bonuses
If you are starting out as a bettor, you should have a bankroll. This is a pot of money only for betting to ensure that you aren’t losing money you can’t afford to lose. With deposit bonuses, your bankroll can grow, and as a result, you can feel comfortable taking more risks.
If you want to make a risky wager, such as betting on a (+800) moneyline underdog, having a larger bankroll is something you need. Ultimately when your heavy underdog loses, your bankroll should not be taking a hit.
Decreasing The Sportsbook’s Edge
The sportsbooks aren’t giving you money because they like you. They are giving you money because in the long term they expect you to give them that money back by losing. With a deposit bonus, the house advantage is temporarily negated.
How to Sign Up For a First-Deposit Bonus Online
- Choose a sportsbook: Once you find a sportsbook that suits you, download the app.
- Set up an account: To set up an account, you submit your personal information. To verify your identity, they might need a photo of your ID.
- Opt-In: Some sites require you to opt-in to be eligible for a first-deposit bonus.
- Make your deposit: Your first deposit will trigger the betting promotion.
Where Can I Legally Bet Online?
Current Legal Online Betting Locations
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
- Washington D.C
- West Virginia
Choose More Than One Deposit Bonus Sportsbook
The best thing that any bettor can do to win or at least limit their losses is to have as many sportsbook accounts as possible. This is because each sportsbook has different odds. For a sport like baseball, for example, you can decrease the sportsbook’s edge to around 1% just by betting the best lines on your preferred side.
In terms of deposit bonuses, it is worth taking advantage of as many deposit bonus offers as possible to grow your bankroll. These sites are literally giving you money if you bet with them. My advice is to sign up for a site, use a deposit bonus, and withdraw all your money if you don’t like the site.
If you do like the site, you should leave some money in as you want to be able to take advantage of that site when they offer favorable odds.