Online sportsbooks offer various welcome bonuses, including free bets and deposit bonuses. Each bookmaker typically only features one of these types of bonuses to new gamblers.
In certain cases, though, betting sites can present both types of deals. You may wonder which is the most valuable offer in this situation.
This guide discusses the basics of deposit bonuses and free bets. It also covers their value and which deal ultimately provides more money per dollar wagered.
How Does a Deposit Bonus Work?
With a deposit bonus, bookmakers match your deposit up to a certain percentage and amount. For example, they might feature a 100% match bonus worth up to $250.
If you deposit $150 under this deal, you’d be betting with $300 total. Of course, you don’t get to withdraw the extra $150 whenever you feel like doing so.
Instead, you need to satisfy terms behind the offer. Common betting bonus terms include:
- Claim time frame – You have a limited number of days to claim a deal.
- Rollover – You must bet a multiple of the bonus before cashing out funds.
- Rollover time frame – Sportsbooks give you a certain number of days to satisfy wagering requirements (e.g. 90 days).
- Odds restrictions – Bookmakers require you to bet above certain odds so that you don’t just use heavy favorites to meet rollover.
Upon satisfying terms and conditions, you can cash out the bonus. Or, you can simply continue gambling with the funds.
What Kind of Value Do Deposit Bonuses Offer?
The average deposit bonus offers you more money than a free bet. In some cases, you may be able to earn up to $500 or even $1,000 through one of these deals.
With that said, the sheer amount of money is the big advantage to choosing a deposit bonus over a free wager. But you also have to meet higher rollover with these offers.
Depending upon the bookmaker, you may need to satisfy anywhere from 20x to 40x rollover. Here’s a look at how these high wagering requirements affect a bonus’ value:
- An online sportsbook offers a 100% match bonus worth up to $100.
- You deposit $100 and qualify for the full bonus amount.
- Rollover is 30x.
- 100 x 30 = 3000 must be wagered
- 100 / 3,000 = $0.03 per dollar in rollover
How Does a Free Bet Work?
Many sportsbooks offer you a free wager worth up to a certain amount. For instance, you may qualify for a bet worth up to $25.
These deals give you an opportunity to earn back losses stemming from the bet. You gain more value by wagering the maximum amount covered by the offer.
Here’s an example on taking advantage of these deals:
- You qualify for a free bet worth as much as $30.
- You place a $30 wager and lose.
- You now have an opportunity to get the $30 back.
A sportsbook doesn’t immediately award you the money. Instead, they expect you to satisfy terms and conditions before giving the losses back.
Terms and conditions behind a free wager are essentially the same as those involving deposit bonuses. The key difference, though, is that you won’t face as high of a rollover.
Most free bets only feature between 6x and 12x wagering requirements. You’ll have an easier time earning your losses back as a result.
What Kind of Value Do Free Bets Offer?
You need to lose to actually gain anything from a free bet. Upon winning, you simply collect your profits and move on.
Assuming you win 50% of your wagers, for example, you stand a 50/50 shot of benefiting from free bets. This aspect contrasts a deposit bonus, which rewards you no matter if you win or lose.
Therefore, you must take into account that you only stand roughly a 50% chance of capitalizing on free wagers. Going further, you should consider the 50/50 proposition when calculating a free bet’s value.
Speaking of which, here’s an example on what you stand to gain with a free wager:
- A bookmaker presents up to a $30 free bet.
- You wager and lose $30.
- Rollover is 8x.
- 30 x 8 = 240 must be wagered
- 30 / 240 = 0.13
- 13 / 2 (50% chance of winning/losing) = $0.07 per dollar in rollover
Comparing the Value of These Offers
You can see that, on average, a free bet offers more theoretical value. In the example presented above, you stand to earn $0.70 for every $1 in playthrough. Meanwhile, a deposit bonus provides just $0.03 for each $1 in wagering requirements.
If you’re looking to get the most free cash per dollar, then you want to go with a free bet. You’ll enjoy over 2x the value with these deals.
Of course, you also take the chance that you’ll win the first wager and get nothing from the offer. While winning delivers guaranteed profits to your account, it robs you of a chance to capitalize on the bonus.
A deposit offer, on the other hand, doesn’t require you to lose to get rewarded. Instead, it provides free cash regardless of if you’re winning or not.
You simply need to meet terms and conditions to benefit from these deals. The catch, though, is that you’re earning less bonus money for each dollar wagered.
The example discussed below shows you getting $0.13 per dollar in playthrough verses $0.03 for the free bet. Again, a free wager usually provides the most value when wagering requirements are taken into account.
Which Type of Bonus Should You Choose?
You need to consider what type of sports gambler you are when forced to choose between a sports betting deposit bonus and free bet.
The latter is best if you’re a low roller who’s looking for value rather than lots of free money. After all, free wagers provide more cash relative to the rollover.
The problem with free bets, though, is that they don’t give you an opportunity to earn much extra money. In fact, you won’t gain anything if you win the first wager.
The only benefit is that you get insurance on your first bet. Again, this aspect is great if you’re a low-stakes gambler. But it’s not going to satisfy you when you’re looking to collect serious bonus funds.
A deposit bonus is perfect if you bet higher stakes. It provides an opportunity to earn more money based on your deposit amount.
Of course, the amount of bonus cash you’ll earn varies based on the bookmaker. Generally, though, you can look forward to at least $100 with one of these deals.
Assuming you’ll be doing lots of betting anyway, you might as well go with the deposit bonus. It ensures that you have an opportunity to earn plenty of free money.
The other side of the coin is that you may not feel like meeting high rollover, especially if you’re only a casual bettor. You might place wagers for what seems like an eternity before benefiting from these offers.
Free bets may not offer the most money. On average, though, they deliver more bonus funds for each dollar in playthrough. If you’re strictly looking at value, then you should definitely consider free wagers.
However, deposit bonuses also have their merits. These deals are usually worth much more than a free bet. You may score hundreds of dollars through one of these offers.
Ideally, you’ll choose a bookmaker that offers both a free bet and deposit bonus. This package gives you the best of both worlds!
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. …