The cutthroat sports betting industry sees new companies and veterans all trying to share the same fan base. Sports betting welcome bonuses are a way for brands to attract users and our guide will break down everything you need to know about betting bonuses and how to utilize them as a bettor.
Sports Betting Welcome Offers and Its Use in Online Betting
Betting Sites With Welcome Bonus
What is a sports betting welcome bonus?
Sports betting has become a global phenomenon and welcome bonuses are used to catch the eyes of potential customers. It's how the sportsbook thanks new users for registering for their site. The sportsbook rewards users with free bets, matched deposits and other goodies, all for depositing and playing with their site. To receive a sportsbook welcome bonus offer, typically you will need to be a new user on the site, deposit a minimum amount and be of legal age in the province or country you are gambling in. From there, the sportsbook will also require certain terms and conditions to be met.
The welcome package and sign up bonus
When signing up for an online betting site, you may see the term ‘Welcome Package’ tossed around. This is similar to when a sportsbook uses the term welcome bonus (or other interchangeable terms). Welcome packages are typically a collection of different bonuses that new users can take advantage of when signing up as new users. If you see the word Welcome Package, know that it is the same thing as a new user or sign-up bonus. Some of the typical bonuses you will see as a new user include:
- Free Bets: Free bets are a popular welcome bonus. This allows the user to place bets on whatever they feel like. However, they cannot withdraw the free bet funds. You would only be eligible to withdraw funds won WITH the free bets, and not the actual free bet itself.
- No Deposit Bonus: This isn't necessarily a common bonus but many sportsbooks provide accounts with bonuses that aren't linked to a deposit. This bonus usually ranges between $5-$25 and is only tied to terms and conditions. A no-deposit bonus allows users to sign up and not feel pressured to make a deposit.
- Risk-Free Bet: This sounds exactly like it reads. A risk-free bet means a bet you place will be returned to you if the bet fails. This means you can take a gamble (within reason) and not have to worry about losing your money.
- Deposit Match: The most typical welcome bonus perk, a deposit match is when the bookie matches your initial deposit. If you deposit $100 into your account, the bookmaker will place another $100 into your account. Certain rollovers and terms and conditions apply.
- Enhanced Odds: Also known as boosted odds, bookmakers will offer enhanced odds on markets that are popular. You will see sign-up bonuses and perks for events like March Madness, NFL Playoffs and other popular sporting events. These enhanced odds give the new customer better odds than the typical line and are popular among many sportsbooks.
Are bonuses legal in Canada?
Yes, receiving and using a sports bonus is legal in Canada. As long as the online betting site you are playing with is legal in your province (or federally), utilizing the welcome bonus will be considered legal. There is no rule or law against claiming a welcome bonus. To be safe (and legal), ensure that the sports betting site you are playing with is legal in the province you reside in.
How to claim the welcome bonus
While sportsbooks may offer different welcome bonuses, actually claiming the bonus is (relatively) universal across bookies. Normally, betting sites make it straightforward for users to claim bonuses because if the process is complicated, it may impede players from joining their sportsbook.
To claim the welcome bonus, you will need to be of legal age to gamble in your respective province. As well, owning a functional device (tablet, desktop or mobile) that allows you to sign up and play is necessary. Most likely, you will also need to be a first-time user of the betting site. This last caveat is added so players don't regularly create new accounts and claim the welcome bonus.
If you are of legal age, own a device to gamble on and are a new user of the site, you shouldn't run into any issues claiming a welcome bonus.
Every betting site will have its own requirements for claiming the bonus. This usually includes a minimum deposit and other terms and conditions. Following the terms and conditions of the respective site you join will ensure that you earn the bonus and are able to keep it. When claiming the bonus, there will be betting requirements in place by the sportsbook. If they aren't followed, the site will (usually) reserve the right to remove the bonus from your account.
Accepting the bonus is easy but new bettors should be weary of the requirements in place to keep the bonus. There are stories about new users not following the proper rules when claiming the bonus, so we want to avoid that as best as possible. Certain betting sites have stricter guidelines for claiming the bonus, so due diligence is necessary before signing up and depositing.
When betting on sports, it's recommended that you prepare a strategy. The same can be said for when new users are signing up for betting sites. Since welcome bonuses can be an indication of how the site is run, researching and preparing how you will utilize the bonus should be a strategy you adopt.
The first thing you want to understand is how to use the welcome bonus. There will be restrictions for the bonuses, like certain sports and events. Sometimes, bettors will be limited in their betting options as new users (for the bonus), so unraveling which limitations (if there are any) on the bonus is key.
We don't recommend using the bonus on one single bet. The most common welcome bonus features a matched deposit and we would suggest spreading out your wagers. Placing one single wager with your bonus is a gamble we're not willing to take. Instead, find smaller bets and options you can use the bonus on. Diversifying your bets will help the bonus have longevity as well.
Reading the terms and conditions (which we will cover) is another important factor. Some bookmakers have loose T&Cs, while others are strict. When joining a site, dig into the terms and conditions of the welcome bonus so you aren't blindsided by potential mishaps.
Terms and Conditions
Every sports book you use will have Terms and Conditions handcuffed to the welcome bonus you receive. These T&Cs can seem innocent, but they need to be scrutinized. Terms and conditions commonly linked to sports betting bonuses in Canada will usually revolve around rollover amount, the number of bets placed, wagering limitations (minimum odds) and your first deposit. Before depositing and accepting a bonus, doing thorough research on the terms and conditions is a must.
- Bonus Amount: Bonus Amount refers to the amount you receive from the bonus. It is calculated by how much you initially deposit and how the sportsbook awards the bonus.
- Rollover: This is the wagering requirement set out by sportsbooks that you need to bet before a bonus becomes eligible. If a deposit of $100 has a 10x rollover amount, this means you need to make $1000 worth of bets before you can ever withdraw that money.
- Minimum Odds: Minimum odds are how sportsbooks ensure you aren't betting on heavy favorites or desirable matchups to keep your bonus. The bookmaker will set the lowest possible odds eligible for your welcome bonus.
- First Deposit: This may sound silly but a first deposit bonus means your initial deposit is the only deposit eligible for the bonus. So, a $5 initial deposit will be what the bonus is based on. It's important to confirm how much you're depositing and how it affects the bonus you receive!
How to choose the correct betting site based on their welcome bonus
Now that we're aware of what a sports betting welcome bonus is, we're going to look at how to choose the correct betting site based on the welcome bonus.
The first thing we want to look at is the bonus amount. If you are going to take advantage of a welcome bonus, we want to see how much you are going to get. This is usually tied to your initial deposit. Seeing things like a 100% matched deposit is a good sign as a welcome bonus.
The minimum deposit is another factor. If the minimum deposit is small, that is good for new users. Steer clear from bookmakers that want a large initial deposit for your first financial transaction. Normally, you can begin playing with as little as $5. Some bonuses have a maximum deposit as well (for the welcome bonus). Comparing the minimum and maximum amounts will provide a ton of information.
Of course, factoring in the Terms and Conditions and Rollover requirements is another HUGE aspect. This is where the bookmaker can take advantage of new bettors if they are not cautious. Rollover amounts relate to how much you need to gamble before you withdraw your funds. We've seen rollover amounts as little as 1x, all the way up to 20x! That is a significant difference and arguably the most important element of a welcome bonus.
Expiring bonuses need to be accounted for as well. Some bookmakers may have an expiration date for the bonus, meaning you need to hit all of the rollover requirements within a certain timeline to remain eligible. Hypothetically, you may have 6 months to complete these transactions. If you do not check all of the boxes before the expiration date, you run the risk of losing your welcome bonus. Generally, a longer expiration date is better because you won't feel as pressured to consistently wager. It also allows you to play at your own pace, which is important as a new bettor.
Sportsbooks generally don't try to screw their customers. Regardless, they are a business and they want to ensure they are doing right by their company. As a new bettor, choose a sportsbook based on bonus amount, a longer expiration date and low rollover requirements. This will allow you to not feel stressed with your initial deposit as we want to ease into sports betting.
New customers bonuses vs. Existing Customer
Yes, welcome bonuses are tied to new users. But what happens when you are no longer a newbie? Welcome bonuses are used by bookmakers to attract new users but as a longtime customer, you also want to be appreciated. Thankfully, respectable sports betting sites will run promotions and events throughout the sporting season that new and old customers can enjoy.
Some promotions and bonuses existing customers can expect to include:
- Referral Bonuses: Earn bonuses with each friend you refer to the site that signs up and deposits!
- Enhanced Odds: Certain matchups and games will have enhanced odds that existing customers can take advantage of. These bets usually have limitations as well.
- Special Events: Bookmakers will give existing customers an opportunity to bet on special events with promotions. Events like the Super Bowl will see promotions tied to that specific event, which existing customers can take advantage of. Bookmakers will also have season-long promotions for specific sports as well.
New customer vs existing customer bonuses
From experience, new users get a better INITIAL deal when signing up for a site. What we mean is that the welcome bonus (usually in the form of matched deposits) is an easy way to double your money and build a decent bankroll when you start betting. However, the rollover and terms and conditions of the bonus can be hard to overcome, so we don't recommend creating new accounts constantly to take advantage of the bonus. This also goes against the terms and conditions of the site, meaning your account and all funds could be wiped if users are caught.
Instead, we recommend playing straight. Join as a new user and then once the initial T&Cs of the sports welcome bonus are completed, begin taking advantage of the promotions and bonuses offered to existing customers. The terms and conditions for existing customers are generally less strict than the ones for the welcome bonus, so you can usually bet freely. Depending on the site, you could also reach milestones and VIP status if you continuously play under one account, which wouldn't happen if you regularly create new accounts.
What is a welcome bonus?
Welcome bonuses are a way to entice new users to join a sportsbook. Consider it a gift for deciding to play with a certain bookie. All legitimate sportsbooks will offer a welcome bonus and not all bonuses are built the same. These bonuses usually come in the form of a matched deposit or free plays, which are presents for users signing up with a bookie.
What types of welcome bonuses are there?
Welcome bonuses vary between sportsbooks but the most common welcome bonus you will see is a matched deposit. This means that the bookmaker will match your initial deposit (usually 100%) with a minimum deposit. This means an initial $100 deposit will leave you with $200 to wager with. Other bonuses include free plays on the sportsbook and casino, as well as free spins with online casinos.
Who is eligible for a welcome bonus?
Welcome bonuses are usually reserved for new customers only. New customers provide a credit card, phone number, e-mail and other personal information so sportsbooks can track the accounts on their website. With the link between passports and government-issued IDs, creating a new account on sportsbooks can be challenging.
What's the catch with welcome bonuses?
There isn't a catch per se. However, each sportsbook has its own requirements when claiming and using the welcome bonus, so signing up and following the terms and conditions is important. If not, sportsbooks (usually) have the right to remove the bonus from your account.
What if I don't follow the terms and conditions?
If new users sign up and claim a welcome bonus and DON'T follow the terms and conditions of the bonus, the bonus will be removed. Sportsbooks usually have rollover requirements or other targets new bettors need to hit to fully claim the bonus. If these metrics are not hit, you may not be able to withdraw any winnings or the welcome bonus funds could be removed.
Welcome bonuses are an important factor when signing up for an online sportsbetting site. For those looking to compare sportsbook bonuses, they should compare the terms and conditions, rollover amount and minimum deposit amount. When joining an online betting site, bonuses can help kickstart your betting career and provide hours of entertainment. Every legitimate sports book will offer a welcome bonus and to take advantage of these bonuses, ensure all terms and conditions are met. This will give you the most success as a new user when sports betting online.
Patrick covers the NHL, MLB, and NCAA football for BettingTop10 Canada. He's a huge fan of both sports – as well as many others. He is a huge Ducks and Cardinals fan, despite them being nowhere close to his birthplace of Ottawa, Canada. Patrick always wanted to be a writer, and sports were his favourite thing in the world, so he combined the two to make a career. As he says: "I have been a long-time gambler and sports betting writer that isn’t afraid to look at the underdog or specials."