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Jelena Kabić
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Jelena Kabić
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Jelena Kabic is a sports betting writer that focusses on responsible gambling. A psychologist by vocation, Jelena volunteered in a rehab facility, where she worked with gambling addicts. She now reviews all our content to ensure it discusses betting in a socially responsible way.
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Ana Gomes de Almeida
About Author
Before joining the team three years ago, Ana worked for five years behind the scenes for household brands like Betway and Betsson. She knows the ins and outs of casinos and sports betting sites. Having witnessed both the positive and negative aspects of the industry, she’s eager to share her expertise with fellow bettors.
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A Complete Guide to How a Betting Bonus Works

Cover image for post Bonus Guide
Bonus Guide
A Complete Guide to How a Betting Bonus Works

Wagering requirements? Rollover? Deposit Match?

If you’re baffled by all these bonus terms, you’re not alone. It can be difficult to understand how betting bonuses work, but that is where we come in!

On this page, we explain the ins and outs of bonuses at gambling sites. We’ll look at different types of bonuses, wagering requirements, terms and conditions, and a lot more!

By the end of our guide, you’ll be a bonus pro!

In simple terms, a sportsbook bonus is free money offered by a sportsbook that you can use to bet.

While this may seem counterproductive for the sportsbook, bonuses are a great way to attract bettors and maintain a loyal customer base. This is crucial for a sportsbook to be successful in a very competitive market.

As we will explain below, these bonuses can appear in different forms.

Deposit Bonus

A deposit bonus is the most common bonus you’ll find at sportsbooks. You can also find deposit bonuses described as deposit match bonuses.

Bet99 deposit bonus

In the example above, Bet99 is offering a 100% deposit match bonus of up to $600 exclusively for our readers.

What this means is that your deposit is matched with a bonus of an equal amount. Let’s look at a few scenarios:

Deposit AmountBonus ReceivedTotal Bankroll
$20$20$40
$150$150$300
$300$300$600
$600$600$1200
$700$600$1200
100% up to $500 Bonus

The bonus matches the deposit amount except in the last example. Although we deposited $700, the offer only matches up to $600, so that’s the maximum bonus we can receive.

The vast majority of deposit bonuses will offer a 100% match, however, you can also find a 50% match that matches half your deposit.

For example, if you deposit $20 on a 50% up to $100, the bonus you’ll receive will be $10.

Top Tip!

What we love about a deposit match bonus is that you can use it for multiple bets. This gives you more flexibility and reduces your betting risk.

No Deposit Bonus

Legal sportsbooks in Canada rarely offer no deposit bonuses, but you may be able to catch one if you’re vigilant enough.

A no deposit bonus does not require a deposit and is offered to players upon registration of a new account.

888Casino no deposit needed bonus
888Casino no deposit needed bonus

In this example, 888Casino gives new customers a $25 bonus with no deposit required.

A no deposit bonus has its perks:

  • Bet at a gambling site without making a deposit
  • Faster to claim because less paperwork is needed
  • Good way to test the site without a personal money commitment.

If you think this is too good to be true, you’re kind of right.

Top Tip!

You have to be extra careful with no deposit bonuses because they have stricter terms and conditions.

These include:

  • Higher wagering requirements than deposit bonuses
  • A low cap on winnings
  • Tight time restriction for wagering requirements.

This doesn’t mean that no deposit bonuses are not worth claiming, but we advise you to always read the terms and conditions before claiming any bonus.

No Sweat Bet Bonus

The term ‘no sweat bet’ is often used as a synonym for a risk-free bet. In short, if your first bet loses, your stake returns to you (up to a certain amount) and you can wager it again.

A ‘second chance bet’ is another common synonym.

These bets are fairly frequent and not as hard to find as, say, no deposit bonuses.

This is a great way to limit your losses, especially for beginners who are just starting out. As always, do keep in mind that there are terms and conditions attached.

Take Note!

Generally, the refund is in the form of ‘bonus money’ and this bonus money needs to be wagered before it can be withdrawn.

VIP Bonus

VIP bonuses can be found at sportsbooks (and casinos) with a VIP program. A VIP program can also be referred to as a Loyalty Club.

VIP bonuses are bonuses that you would start receiving once you’ve reached a certain level on the VIP scale.

They are generally exclusive bonuses that offer bigger amounts and more favourable odds.

Sign-up Bonus/Welcome Bonus

A sign-up bonus, also known as a welcome bonus, is quite common in Canada. It’s a promotional offer provided to new customers when they first join a sportsbook.

It’s a way for sportsbooks to attract and incentivize new bettors to join their platform.

Here’s how it works:

Let’s say a sportsbook offers a 100% sign-up bonus of up to $200. If you deposit $100, the sportsbook will match that with an additional $100, giving you a total of $200 to wager with.

Sportsbooks With a Sign-up Bonus

Reload Bonus

A reload bonus is a bonus offered to existing sportsbook or casino customers when they make subsequent deposits into their sportsbook account.

It encourages bettors to continue their wagering activity on the platform.

Let’s say a sportsbook offers a reload bonus of 25% for up to $100. If you deposit $100, you will receive an additional 25% of $100, which is $25, resulting in a total balance of $125.

Retention Bonus

A retention bonus means existing customers are being rewarded for their loyalty. This encourages continued betting activity on the sportsbook platform.

Retention bonuses can vary widely in terms of structure and amounts offered.

It could be a fixed bonus amount, a percentage-based bonus, or even personalized offers tailored to individual bettors based on their activity history.

We’ve mentioned wagering requirements several times already. But what are wagering requirements, and why are they so important?

Wagering requirements refer to the amount of money you need to wager at a sportsbook before you can withdraw your funds.

Let’s say you have a $20 bonus with 5x wagering requirements.

You use that bonus to place a $20 bet on Tampa Lightning.

You need to wager $20 x 5 = $100 before withdrawing any winnings.

Top Tip!

You might also see wagering requirements referred to as playthrough or rollover requirements. These terms mean exactly the same!

Why Do Wagering Requirements Exist?

No one likes wagering requirements, but gambling sites do have a valid reason for keeping wagering requirements in place.

  • Gambling sites need to ensure bonuses are profitable for them. If you claim a $600 bonus, bet $10, lose the bet and then withdraw $590, that is not a desirable outcome for the sportsbook or casino.
  • Betting bonuses without wagering requirements can be an easy way to launder money. Enforcing wagering requirements is the sportsbook’s way to abide to anti-money laundering regulations.

What’s the Average Rollover Requirement?

The average rollover requirement in Canada differs from a sportsbook to a casino.

Take Note!

For a sportsbook, the average rollover is 3-5x the bonus amount, or the bonus and deposit amount.

However, we’ve seen rollover requirements as high as 10x at some Canadian sportsbooks.

If you compare a sports bonus with a casino bonus, you will see that casino wagering requirements are a lot higher.

In fact, it averages 35x – 45x wagering requirements for casino-specific bonuses. And we’ve even seen it go as high as 70x!

Does this mean that sportsbook bonuses offer more value than casino bonuses?

Not necessarily. Casino bonuses generally offer more attractive amounts.

For instance, at the time of writing, bet365 offers a $100 sports welcome bonus.

The casino bonus is ten times that amount with an offering of a $1000 welcome bonus.

The higher wagering requirements reflect that jump in amount.

Another factor to keep in mind is that there are two types of wagering requirements:

  • Wagering on the bonus amount
  • Wagering on the bonus and deposit amount

A lot of bettors overlook this distinction, but it does have a vital role to play. We’re going to explain how to calculate the wagering in these two different scenarios.

Let’s say that you deposited a certain amount to get a sportsbook bonus with rollover requirements of x5.

Deposit AmountBonus Amountx5 Rollover (Bonus)x5 Rollover (Bonus & Deposit)
$20$100$100 x 5
= $500
$120 x 5
= $600
$50$100$100 x 5
= $500
$150 x 5 = $750
$100$200$200 x 5 = $1000
$300 x 5 = $1500

As you can see, the type of rollover significantly increased the amount you need to wager before you withdraw.

Top Tip!

We recommend you always stick to bonus offers that restrict the wagering requirements to just the bonus amount.

Is there a way you can avoid wagering requirements altogether?

Wager-free bonuses do exist. As their name suggests, these bonuses are offered with no wagering requirements attached.

However, these bonuses are scarce and are usually offered by casinos, not sportsbooks.

Your best option is to stick to the lowest wagering requirements possible and keep some tips in mind that we’ll present in the next section.

Apart from sticking to low wagering requirements, there are other ways you can try to get the most value for money with your free bets.

Go For Long Odds

Since a lot of betting bonuses will not return the stake as part of the payout, you need to find a way to reduce this impact.

One of the best ways to do this is to bet on long odds rather than short odds.

For example, if you bet $50 on favourite with odds of 1.3, the total is $65.

$65 – $50 original bet = $15 in your pockets.

On the other hand, if you bet $50 on the underdog with odds of 4.00, the potential total is $200.

$200 – $50 original bet = $150 in your pockets.

That’s quite the difference!

Of course, you can argue that the underdog has a far less likelihood of winning, but use the opportunity of a bonus to conduct research and spot value bets.

Split the Bonus

Top Tip!

When you can, do split your bonus into smaller bets. This helps you minimize your risk as one loss does not mean losing your total bonus amount.

We recommend you stick to deposit match bonuses for this as they offer more flexibility and allow you to split the amount up.

Other Terms and Conditions to Consider

We’ve looked in detail at rollover requirements for betting bonuses, but they’re not the only terms and conditions you’ll encounter with bonuses. Here are some common ones:

Minimum Odds

A sportsbook bonus offer will nearly always have minimum odds to stop you from betting on sure favourites.

The minimum odds are usually around 1.5 – 2.00, although we manage to find odds as low as 1.25.

Comparing minimum odds is a good way to verify which bonus is right for you.

For example, if you have a specific bet in mind with odds of 1.3, but the sportsbook bonus has a minimum of 2.00, then you can’t use that bonus for that bet.

Time Limit

Time limit comes in two different forms. First of all, you need to use the bonus within a specified period. The sportsbook generally gives you between a week and 45 days.

Secondly, you need to meet rollover requirements within the specified time period.

Top Tip!

30 days to meet rollover requirements is common, but it can go down to a week or even three days for specific bonuses.

Deposit Limit

For bonuses that require a deposit, there will be a minimum deposit listed. The minimum deposit is relatively standard and stands at $10 for most sportsbooks.

Max Winnings

Gambling sites need to protect themselves from wins that will result in a massive payout. They generally do this by introducing a cap on winnings.

For example, you can win a maximum of $200 with their sports offer.

Sports Eligibility

If you have a specific sport in mind, double-check that the bonus offer allows you to bet on it.

The same goes for bet types; sportsbooks might restrict prop bets, for example.

The terms and conditions mentioned above are crucial to keep in mind because they will affect your withdrawal.

Withdrawal requirements might vary from one sportsbook to the next, but generally speaking, you need to first complete your wagering requirements before withdrawing your winnings.

Take Note!

If you do not complete your wagering requirements, you forfeit your bonus and any winnings.

Also, keep in mind other terms and conditions that might affect this withdrawal, such as a time limit and maximum cashout.

Moreover, the original bonus amount is not present at withdrawal.

Whether sports betting bonuses are worth it is dependent on a lot of factors, mainly:

  • Terms and Conditions
  • Your bankroll

As we’ve explained above, favourable terms and conditions can make all the difference in the world when it comes to your payout.

If for example, the rollover requirements are very high and you don’t want to wager that amount of money, then a sportsbook bonus might not be ideal for you.

What we suggest is to do a quick calculation of the rollover requirements and then ask yourself:

  1. Do I have a big enough bankroll to wager this amount in order to withdraw my winnings?
  2. Will I be able to wager this amount in the specified time period?
  3. Is the sport I want to bet on covered by this promotion?
  4. Is the type of bet I want to place covered by this promotion?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, that sportsbook bonus might not be worth your time.

If you answered “yes”, keep in mind our rollover strategy to help maximize your profit.

Yes, you definitely can! Although sportsbooks usually advertise a bonus on the sign up page, this doesn’t mean that you need to claim it.

If you don’t feel that is the right option for you, then opt out of it.

There are usually two ways of going about this.

Some sportsbooks will ask you to tick a box if you want to claim the sportsbook bonus. This happens on the registration page.

Other sportsbooks might let you register first, and then you have the option to select the bonus you want from the post-login account section. In this case, just don’t select any of the bonuses.

Top Tip!

When in doubt, you can always reach out to customer support and they will guide you accordingly.

Gambling Responsibly While Maximizing Bonuses

At Legalbet Canada, we prioritize responsible gambling and ensuring that our users have an enjoyable and safe betting experience.

While bonuses can enhance your gaming experience, it is crucial to gamble responsibly.

Here are some key points to consider when using bonuses:

Frequency and Amount

It’s important to use bonuses in moderation. Set limits on how often you utilize bonuses, as relying on bonuses can mean you’re betting more often than you should, simply because you don’t feel like you’re actually losing any money — that is until the rollover requirements come knocking.

Avoid chasing losses or using bonuses as a primary source of income.

Recognizing Problem Gambling

It’s essential to be aware of the signs of problem gambling. If you notice that gambling is negatively impacting your personal life, finances, or mental well-being, it may be time to seek help.

Common signs include spending more time and money than intended, difficulty controlling or stopping gambling, and neglecting other important obligations.

Responsible Gambling Tools

We encourage our users to make use of responsible gambling tools available on legal sportsbooks. These tools include setting deposit limits, wager limits, session time limits, and self-exclusion options.

They provide you with greater control over your gambling habits and help prevent excessive or impulsive betting.

Understanding Risk

While bonuses provide opportunities to increase your winnings, it’s essential to remember that there are no risk-free bets. Gambling always carries the risk of losing money, and eventually, you may need to make personal deposits without relying solely on bonuses.

It is crucial to approach gambling as a form of entertainment rather than a guaranteed way to make money.

Bonus Abuse: What It is and Why It Doesn’t Work

Bonus abuse in sports betting refers to the intentional misuse or manipulation of bonuses provided by sportsbooks to gain an unfair advantage.

This can involve various practices that violate the terms and conditions set by the sportsbook and, as we’ll see later, can lead to severe consequences to the bettor.

Here are the two most common examples of bonus abuse:

  • Multiple Account Creation: Creating multiple accounts to claim the same bonus multiple times is a clear form of bonus abuse. This is often done to exploit the sportsbook’s generosity and increase the chances of winning without adhering to the intended rules.
  • Bonus Hunting: Bonus hunting refers to the practice of selectively targeting and exploiting sportsbooks’ promotional offers without genuine interest in long-term betting. Abusers may deposit the minimum required amount to claim a bonus, place low-risk wagers to fulfill the wagering requirements, and quickly withdraw their funds, effectively profiting from the bonus while avoiding significant betting activity.

Prevention & Consequences of Bonus Abuse

Sportsbooks take several measures to prevent and combat bonus abuse:

Robust Terms and Conditions

Sportsbooks establish clear and comprehensive terms and conditions for their bonuses.

These outline the rules, limitations, and restrictions associated with each promotion.

Important!

By explicitly stating the terms, sportsbooks discourage abusive behavior and have a basis for taking action against abusers.

If you find a good bonus on any of Canada’s legal sportsbooks, be sure to read through T&C to make sure you’re following the rules.

Account Monitoring

Sportsbooks employ sophisticated monitoring systems to track user activity and detect suspicious behavior. This helps identify patterns consistent with bonus abuse, such as multiple accounts linked to the same individual or unusual betting patterns indicative of professional bettors.

Account Verification

Sportsbooks in Canada always require users to verify their identities and provide supporting documentation, often before they can claim bonuses or make withdrawals.

This verification process helps prevent the creation of multiple accounts by a single individual and reduces the risk of bonus abuse.

Bonus Usage Restrictions

Sportsbooks may impose restrictions on how bonuses can be used. This can include limitations on eligible markets, minimum odds requirements, or wagering requirements that must be met before withdrawing bonus funds.

These restrictions aim to discourage abusers from exploiting bonuses without engaging in genuine betting activity.

Penalties and Account Suspension

Finally, when sportsbooks identify instances of bonus abuse, they typically take swift action. This can involve voiding any associated winnings, confiscating bonus funds, and imposing penalties on the abusers.

In more severe cases, the sportsbook may suspend or permanently close the abuser’s account to maintain the integrity of its platform.

By implementing these preventive measures, sportsbooks aim to foster a fair and transparent betting environment, protect genuine users, and discourage abusive practices that undermine the integrity of the platform and the overall betting experience.

Want to Ask Us a Bonus Question?

Have we answered all your queries about betting bonuses? Leave a comment below with any questions you may have, and we’ll do our best to help you!

You can also find out more about the influence of Black Friday on betting deals here!

If you feel confident about your bonus knowledge, and want to claim a bonus, check out our list of recommended betting sites for Canada!

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