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 usually 100% is matched, and it could range from $250-$1,000.
Below, I go over the best first-time deposit bonuses, the benefits, and how to take advantage of them.
What Is a Sportsbook First-Deposit Bonus?
A first-time deposit bonus is the best out of all the possible bonuses that sportsbooks offer. For new sportsbook customers, a deposit bonus offers the best chance to make money right away when compared to other sportsbook offers like 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 offer 100% matching up to a certain amount, usually between $250 and $1,000. If you deposit $250 with a 100% deposit match, you have $500 to bet in total.
The only requirement to watch out for with a deposit match bonus is the rollover requirement. Rollover means how many times you must bet your bonus amount in order to withdraw it. For legal sportsbooks, it typically is between only one to three times.
Best Deposit Match Sportsbooks
For first-time customers depositing $250 or less, the best first-time deposit bonus offer is from the BetRivers app. BetRivers’ offer is beneficial to the customer and easy to understand.
The difference is that there is only a one-time rollover requirement. New users get a 100% deposit match up to $250 with the requirement that you only bet their initial deposit amount once on odds of -200 or better.
In addition to a great first-time deposit bonus, the BetRivers app offers hundreds of betting options on each game that include player props, game props, and other unique wagers. Additionally, the app is easy to use and they offer live streaming of certain international sports.
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 up to a $1,000 first deposit match. However, this deposit match offer is not as customer-friendly as BetRivers.
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 $1000 deposit match, over the long run this is easy to reach as some bets win and some bets lose.
Without the deposit match promo, your expected loss on a $100 spread bet is $4.55. However, with the deposit match, your expected loss is only $0.55 for a lower house advantage than virtually any other form of gambling.
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 will match your first deposit up to $500 in the form of free bets. To qualify, you must make a deposit of at least $10, and then place that amount of money in bets. It could be one single bet, or several bets, if the odds on each bet are -500 odds or better. Once your bets settle within 30 days of registering your account, you are rewarded with your free bet credits.
What makes Bet365’s offer the weakest in my opinion is that you are only compensated in free bet credits rather than cash credit like BetRivers, and DraftKings. This means that if your free bet wins, you are only awarded the winnings off the bet and not the initial stake.
For example, if you use a $100 free bet credit on a +150 money line underdog and it wins, you only win $150 rather than $150 plus your initial $100 stake.
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, you should expect to be able to withdraw $238.64 once you are done. However, with three times playthrough requirements, you should expect to withdraw only $181.82 when you are done.
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 amount 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
After losing his month’s rent money in a poker game, my grandfather began to put his betting money into a separate bankroll. 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.
Open a New Account 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 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
Future Legal Online Betting States
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.