Best Sportsbook Sign-Up Bonuses (Ranked)
As we embark upon football season, it’s an inevitability that we’ll all be bombarded with an outrageous amount of ads touting gambling apps that continue to be legal in more and more states. If you’re going to be spending a meaningful amount of time participating in them, it’s crucial from a bankroll management perspective to open as many accounts as possible.
It may seem counter-intuitive that the optimal strategy is to have a half-dozen gambling accounts or more since this makes it more challenging to keep track of your bets and balances and to stay organized, but there is variance between the books in terms of lines for individual games, props, and futures. There are also a myriad of positive expected value promotions across the books and I’m going to be identifying those in (football and other sports) at 4for4.
Finally, there are big sign-up bonus enticements at each book. Even if you don’t plan to bet often, there are literally several thousand dollars out there to be grabbed just by capitalizing on the promotions the books have for new users. I am going to break down and rank the sign-up bonuses in this article. Some of them can be a matter of personal preference on which are better, but regardless, this should give you an informed decision on which accounts to open.
Sports Betting Sign-Up Bonuses Rankings
1 (tie). William Hill/Caesars (NJ, WV, CO, IN, IA, MI, VA)
Caesars announced in their most recent corporate earnings call that they would be spending $1 billion on sports gambling user acquisition, and you can see that on display here with this eye popping promo where you get a "free bet" refund on your first bet, up to $5,000, if it loses. This is a high positive expected value promotion, but there is some variance as the winnings of the free bet are paid but not the principle if you lose your first bet but win your second. Here is the expected value breakdown on coin flip bets, where the standard line is -110, or risk $110 to win $100, if you bet the maximum $5,000.
- 50%: Win first bet -- +$4545.45
- 25%: Lose first bet, win second bet -- -$454.54
- 25%: Lose first bet, lose second bet -- -$5,000
Therefore, this adds up to an expected value of about $909. As we'll explain with FanDuel next, it's essentially a matter of personal preference and risk tolerance about which of these two is better.
1 (tie). FanDuel (NJ, PA, WV, IN, CO, IA, IL, TN, MI, VA)
The risk-free bet up to $1,000 on FanDuel is actually better value than the same wording in promotions from other books. On FanDuel, if you lose your first bet, it is refunded in site credit. There is a distinction between this and what is called a “free bet” refund on other apps. While the free bet promotions still represent significant positive expected value, they are not worth a full dollar like a dollar in site credit is at FanDuel.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s say your first bet is at +100 odds, which means even money. If you win your first $1,000 bet, you now have $2,000. If you lose your first bet, you have $1,000 in your account that needs to be “played through” before it can be withdrawn. You can divvy it up however you want, and if you win the bets you get your winnings plus the principal back. Therefore, let’s say you bet the whole $1,000 on a second +100 bet and win then your account would have $2,000 in it.
On many other books, like William Hill above, the first bet refund comes in the form of a “free bet,” which needs to be used all at once, and where only the winnings post to your account. On those apps, if you win a $1,000 free bet at +100, your account would have $1,000 in it.
Ultimately, the $1,000 risk-free first bet promo on FanDuel has a very similar expected value to the $909 from William Hill, albeit with more flexibility since you can spread your refund money around on multiple bets if your first one loses. There is much less risk, but also substantially less reward in the event you win your first bet.
Additionally, if you do not want to risk depositing a sum as high as $1,000, FanDuel has a Week 1 NFL promotion where you can bet $5 to win $200 on any NFL team to win their game. This replaces the $1,000 risk-free promo, but it is a good way for risk averse bettors to start building a small bankroll.
3. Unibet (NJ, PA, IN, VA)
Unibet is like FanDuel where the refund in site credit is beneficial. However, instead of it being up to $1,000 refund, it is up to $500. They also throw in a $40 free bet.
4. BetRivers/SugarHouse (NJ, PA, IN, CO, MI, IA, IL, MI, VA)
This is a deposit bonus that actually could have no risk if that is the way you want to play it. The $250 match posts to your account and you can bet with it, and if you so choose, you can withdraw your initial deposit.
5. DraftKings (NJ, PA, WV, IN, CO, IL, IA, TN, MI, VA)
Having a DraftKings account is essential because of the value of the promos and boosts they provide on a daily basis. However, the deposit bonus of $1,000 is a little bit tricky to capture in full. Since it’s a 20% bonus, to get the full amount you’d need to deposit $5,000. Then, because $1 accrues for every $25 you bet, you’d need to bet a total of $25,000 to get the full grand. It’s totally understandable if this is a level of betting that is out of your comfort zone. However, DraftKings also typically has new user promotions where you get extra money for free. For example, they have a new user promotion right now where you win get $200 in free bets to be used for NFL and college football in return for depositing $5 as a new user.
6. PointsBet (NJ, IN, IA, IL, CO, MI)
The $250 deposit match comes in free bets, which aren’t quite the same as the deposit match on BetRivers and SugarHouse because on these bets the winnings post to your account but the principal does not. For example, if you win a $250 free bet on a +100 wager, you would have $250 posted to your account, not $500.
This does not mean the free bets are automatically worth just 50 cents on the dollar. In fact, you can make them effectively worth about 90 cents on the dollar or even more if you use them on futures wagers (or other bets like first touchdown or something of that nature) of 9-1 or longer. This is because the multiplier effect of these wagers makes it so that the return of the original principal of the bet is less significant. Midshot futures hit more often than you may think—I won $2,000 earlier this year on a free bet from PointsBet in which I bet Tom Thibodeau at 20-1 to win NBA Coach of the Year.
7 (tie). BetAmerica/TwinSpires (NJ, PA, IN, TN, CO, MI)
This promo is similar in formula to the one at William Hill, but with substantially less risk and substantially less reward. Using the same calculations model, it has a positive expected value of $182. If you are feeling risky, you could make the expected value a little higher by putting the $1,000 free bet on a futures bet or other wager that pays out multiples, but that requires a tolerance for even more variance.
7 (tie). BetMGM (NJ, PA, WV, IN, CO, TN, IA, MI, VA)
The math and promo are the same as with BetAmerica and TwinSpires. The one nice differentiation about BetMGM's introductory promo is they let you spread out the free bets as opposed to having to make a single one for $1,000.
After FanDuel, Caesars and Unibet, you could have an honest debate about where to rank numbers 3-7 on here based on your personal preferences and appetite for risk.
9. FOX Bet (NJ, PA, CO, MI)
If you lose your first bet they match it as a free bet up to $500. FOX Bet isn't in as many states as some of the other apps, but if you live in one where it is available it is another account worth utilizing to take advantage of the various promotions they run throughout the week.
Frankly, as overwhelming as it may seem, it makes sense to open accounts on all these apps. They by and large have different lines from each other. While it may not seem like much, a few cents on the dollar here on a game or prop bet combined with getting bigger multipliers by shopping the best line on futures adds up to a substantial distance over time. Compounding this, all of these apps have their own promos, many of which are positive expected value. Capitalizing on line differentials and promos is key to succeeding in sports betting over the long term.