One of the main reasons for choosing online sportsbooks over land-based ones is that you’ll gain access to a variety of sports betting signup bonuses and promos. Practically every UK betting site has a bonus reserved for newcomers, while regulars can take advantage of periodic promotions and loyalty benefits.
If you’re new to online betting and don’t understand the first thing about how these bonuses work, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll list some of the most popular types of sports betting bonuses, explain how they work, and show you how to unlock them.
Different types of sports betting bonuses
Online sportsbooks create a variety of creative ways to reward their customers — both new and existing ones. Regardless of your status, you’ll constantly chance upon free bets, deposit bonuses, loyalty benefits, and other freebies. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular bonuses found on top UK betting platforms.
A free bet is the most common betting promotion. With it, you’ll receive a fixed amount of “free” money that you can use to place a bet. If the bet loses, the free money is gone, and if the bet wins, you’ll be credited with the net winnings.
However, keep in mind that the potential winnings acquired from the free bet cannot be withdrawn right away. Instead, they must be wagered a few more times before being cleared for a withdrawal.
Here’s how a free bet promotion looks on Betfair, one of the UK's most prominent online sportsbooks.
As you can see, you’ll first need to place five bets with a stake of at least £10. Once those bets are settled, you’ll get a £20 free bet, and you can repeat the process five times to get the most from the offer — £100 in free bets.
Risk-free bets (money back)
A risk-free bet is similar to a free bet (as the name suggests), but there are some key differences between the two. Namely, with a free bet, you are betting with the money given to you by the sportsbook, and the potential winnings are tied to wagering requirements.
On the other hand, a risk-free bet implies betting your own money that you’ve previously deposited. If the bet loses, you’ll be reimbursed with cash, a free bet, or some other type of bonus. If the bet wins, it’s business as usual — you receive your winnings and your stake.
You will also find this offer referred to as money back on some UK sportsbooks. Here’s an example from 10bet.
This sportsbook states that if your first bet on a horsing race is a losing one, you’ll receive your stake returned up to a limit of £10. You simply need to make a bet and wait for it to settle. Note that you are free to bet more than £10 on your first wager, but the bookie will only reimburse you to a maximum of £10. If your risk-free bet is a winning one, you’ll get to keep your winnings and regain your stake.
Match deposit bonuses (Welcome or Sign-up bonus)
A first deposit bonus is an offer that you’ll receive once you fund your account for the first time. This is also known as a Welcome bonus for new customers. The sportsbook will match your deposit and give you bonus money that you’ll need to wager before completing a withdrawal.
10bet has an interesting bonus of this kind.
With this new customer offer, you must make a deposit of at least £15. Once the deposit goes through, you’ll receive 50% in the form of bonus money. For instance, if you deposit £30, you’ll receive a bonus of £15.
UK sportsbooks will often reward you for spreading the word about their website to your friends. For example, if you invite another person to the betting site via a special referral link, you could get a nice bonus in return.
Here’s how this kind of offer works on Unibet.
You can refer up to three friends. Once they join and take part in the sportsbook’s welcome promotion, you’ll receive £30, £50, and £70, respectively.
Also called enhanced odds, price boosts are betting promotions that allow you to take advantage of better odds on certain events and markets. Many UK sportsbooks offer price boosts on a daily basis and usually on several different marquee events.
We discovered that LV BET has an interesting enhanced odds promo that runs daily.
Every day, LV BET will suggest a bet slip that anyone can wager on. The selections on that bet slip will come with bigger odds than usual and up to 20% higher. So, if the regular odds were 2.00 on a given market, you’ll potentially get to wager on that same market with the odds of 2.40.
Most sports betting bonuses are unlocked once you deposit and make a qualifying bet. However, cashbacks work a bit differently. With this offer, there aren’t any extra betting funds, but you will get a chance to earn back some of your losses.
Here’s what the cashback promotion looks like on SkyBet.
In this particular promo, all losses from bets made on in-play football matches during the week are added together, and the person participating in said promotion is eligible to get 10% of those losses back, up to £50.
So, for example, if you bet on in-play football and lose £250 over the course of one week, you’ll be credited with £25 back.
Weekly cash bonuses
Online sportsbooks in the UK incentivise their regulars with weekly bonus offers. This can be a cashback bonus that we’ve explained about earlier, a free bet, or a simple cash bonus.
888sport has a nice weekly bonus for esports betting enthusiasts.
If the sportsbook recognises that you’re a long-term customer who shares a lot of money with them, they might offer you certain benefits through their loyalty programmes. Many bookies will have a multi-tier system which ranks their customers in terms of loyalty.
For instance, you’ll receive points for every bet you make, and if you gather enough points, you’ll reach a tier that comes with a unique set of benefits.
Here’s what some of the benefits look like in The Ten Club — a special VIP club from 10bet.
As you can see, a member of The Ten Club receives a personal account manager, customised deals, private customer service, and other exclusive offers and benefits.
Bonus terms and conditions that you should pay attention to
Sports betting bonuses and promotions often sound too good to be true when you read them on a promotional banner. Well, that’s because they mostly are. If you read the fine print associated with these offers, you’ll see that each promotion comes with a set of strict rules and limitations.
These terms and conditions can affect the actual value of the promotion. A £20 free bet is not necessarily better than a £10 free bet if it comes with higher wagering requirements and minimum odds limits.
This is why you ought to pay close attention to the fine print before claiming any sports betting offers. Here are some details that you should be on the lookout for:
- Minimum deposit — Many betting promotions will become available only once you make a qualifying deposit. The minimum limit for that deposit can vary depending on the offer, but it’s usually somewhere between £5 and £20.
- Minimum odds — Most promotions will only work if you bet on markets with certain odds. The minimum odds depend on the type of offer, but they are usually around 2.00 (1/2).
- Wagering requirements — This condition indicates how many times you need to wager the received bonus funds before being eligible to cash out any leftover winnings. For example, if you win a £10 bonus and the wagering requirements are 8x, you’ll need to wager a total of £80 before being given the green light for withdrawal.
- Eligible sports and markets — Every top-rated UK sportsbook offers betting on thousands of events and markets, but a given promotion might only be compatible with a select few. For example, enhanced odds will only be offered on limited events and markets, while some promotions can only apply to specific sports.
- Validity period — Always pay attention to the timeframe you have to meet the associated wagering requirements. This can be anywhere from one week to one month.
- Cashout limits — Certain sportsbooks might limit how much you are allowed to cash out once you win with their bonus. Again, the range of this limit depends on what the promotion is and how it’s structured.
How to unlock a sports betting bonus
Claiming any sports betting bonus is easy, even if you’re a total beginner. The sportsbook will have clear instructions about how to unlock its bonuses, and you can always contact customer support if you need additional help.
Assuming that you’re interested in the bookie’s welcome promo, here’s what the claiming process typically looks like:
- Go to the betting site of your choice.
- Once you’re on the homepage, click on the Sign Up button (some sites might have it labelled as Join or Register).
- Complete the sign up procedure by entering your identification details — full name, date of birth, residential address, phone number, and any other additional documentation required. This is also the area where you’ll establish your login credentials (email/username and password).
- Then, check the website’s intro promo that you’ll now be eligible for as a new customer. Specifically, verify the minimum deposit and wager that you need to make to unlock the bonus.
- Go to the Cashier page, choose one of the available payment methods, and place a qualifying deposit. The payment should be processed in a matter of seconds.
- Make sure to use any bonus codes if necessary.
- If the intro promo consists of a deposit match, you’ll be credited with extra money immediately. In case of free bets and money back, you’ll usually have to place a qualifying bet first.
- Once you acquire the bonus, make sure to activate it in the bonus tab on your account page.
- Start using the bonus as you see fit while paying attention to all key terms and conditions.
Are sports betting bonuses worth it?
Sports betting bonuses allow you to win money using extra funds. You won’t convert those funds into withdrawable cash every time due to restrictive terms and conditions, but it’s always worth giving it a try, as you won’t be investing additional money from your own pocket.
What is the difference between a free bet and a risk-free bet?
A free bet is a bet consisting of funds given to you by the sportsbook. If your bet is a losing one, the funds will be gone. However, if it hits, you’ll receive the winnings in the form of bonus money that you must wager before cashing out.
On the other hand, a risk-free bet is a bet made with your own funds. The sportsbook will give the money back to you if you lose. However, it will usually be in the form of a bonus that needs wagering. If the bet wins, you’ll get to keep the winnings.
What is the typical minimum deposit for unlocking a sports betting bonus?
A typical minimum deposit is around £10.
Can I use a sports betting bonus for betting on any sport?
In most cases, yes, although there might be limitations on certain types of bets and markets, as well as minimum odds. Alternatively, you’ll find bonuses that are specific to a single sport or even a single competition.
Which betting site has the best sports betting promotions?
It’s difficult to say which UK sportsbook has the best betting promotion, as they change constantly. The best way to find the best offer for you is to browse between several top-rated betting sites and see which ones have the most valuable offers.
We hope that this guide has helped you to learn about some of the most popular sports betting promotions and their inner workings.
While bonuses are a nice way to top up your bankroll, it’s important to understand that they are not the only thing that you should concern yourself with when choosing a betting site. Apart from looking at the bonuses, you should also check for things like the quality of odds, range of sports and markets, available payment methods, and other aspects that can affect your betting experience with a given platform.