What Are Casino and Sportsbook Bonuses

Online gambling and sports betting are now legal in some states, HOORAY! Now you’re doing your research and you’re wondering “what are casino and sportsbook bonuses.” Every site has them listed in every possible area of their website.

It’s in our name, so it must be important!

They are very important for you and the casino. They’re important for you because they’ll let you play more than if you didn’t have them.

They’re important to the casino because they get to use it as a marketing tool to get you to choose their casinos over others.

The problem is that bonuses aren’t always the most straight forward as they appear to be on the surface.

Today we are going to show you:

  • What is a bonus?
  • Why casinos and sportsbooks give bonuses?
  • How to decide if you want to take advantage of a bonus
  • Different type of bonuses
  • How to cash out your bonuses

It’s an intimidating list but after reading this, you’re going to be a bonus connoisseur who never makes a bad decision on a bonus again.

What does it mean to get a bonus

When a casino or a sportsbook gives you a bonus it means they are giving you “something” extra.

Some of the extras may include money, free slot spins, credits, or additional perks on their service. We’ll go more detail into the different type of bonuses later but it’s important to remember that they can come in many forms.

When you accept a bonus, you need to understand and accept the operator's terms to receive the bonus. Some examples of this are having a minimum deposit, placing minimum number of bets, wager specific value of money, and more.

$100 USD rolled up and rubber-banded.

Now that you have the bonus in hand, you can now use it in the casino or sportsbook who offered it. Depending on the bonus you can use it to bet on your favorite sports team, play some slots, or use it on a table game without having to spend your own money.

What I just said may sound too good to be true and the casinos are crazy to let you do that for “free” but when it comes to bonuses you’re not the only one gambling, the operators are too…

Why casinos and sportsbooks give bonuses

Like grocery stores or gas stations that offer the same or similar products, casinos need “deals” to get people through the door.

So instead of your local grocery store offering 50 cents off your favorite brand of cereal to get you into the door to buy items, casinos and sportsbooks will offer gambling bonuses to entice you to play with them.

Why are casinos and sportsbooks willing to give you free money?

Plain and simple they’re taking a gamble themselves. The logic is if they can get you to deposit money or play some games you're more likely to stick around.

Think about it for a second, the process to sign up for a casino requires you to give a lot information.. You’re walking through the whole process of: 

  • Signing up with your email with your info
  • Verifying your identity and your age
  • Entering your banking details
  • Waiting to confirm banking details

This process takes more effort than your typical email or social media sign up. This is their way of bribing you to go through this process.

What I just described above about creating an account is an example of a sign-up bonus but there are a lot of different bonus “tools” that casinos and sportsbooks use.

Each casino and sportsbook have their own rules for bonuses and should always take the time to understand them.

How to decide if a bonus is good or bad

You found a bonus and now you’re ready to go rake in your winnings.

Before you dive head first into accepting a particular bonus, you should always carefully consider the return along with the terms and conditions surrounding the bonus.

Your return is pretty simple and we will cover it more in depth later but in a nutshell, it’s the amount your account balance is increased against your deposit. For example, if you deposit $20 and your account balance is $40 after the bonus then they increased your balance by 100%.

The real meat and potatoes of a bonus’ value are the strings attached (terms and conditions) that apply to them.

Just like every person has their own boundaries, every casino and sportsbook have their own rules (or terms) when it comes to bonuses.

In some extreme cases by not following the terms you could forfeit your winnings or even be banned from placing any bets with the casino or sportsbook.

The complexity of these terms varies greatly from operator to operator. Some operators may have easy to understand policies, while other operators have a set of terms that require an attorney.

To help you understand some of the more common terms that you will see when receiving bonuses. We’ve broken them down to their layman meanings. We always advise you to read every term yourself (including their general terms) prior to accepting. 

signing a contract

If some of the details around terms seem fuzzy to you, then it’s best to contact your attorney to help you interpret what you just read.

Play through requirements or Wager Requirements

A lot of casinos in Europe and around the globe have play through requirements prior to redeeming your bonus or any winnings associated with it. Play through requirements isn’t a common practice in US domestic casinos yet because they are fighting for market share.

It’s still important to understand what a play through requirement is because eventually, the US market will start combining these terms to bonuses.

A play through requirement is a minimum amount of betting that must be done before you can withdraw any winnings or money.

Let’s imagine you get a $100 bonus through Caesar’s Casino with a 10x play through requirement.

If you do the math, you would have to place $1,000 in bets. To put the requirement into perspective, if you were playing blackjack at $50 dollars a hand, you would need to play 20 hands before you can think about withdrawing any money.

If you lose the bonus money after playing 15 hands and you deposit more money, to withdraw the money you deposited or get another bonus, you would still have to play 5 more $50 hands.

Once you play your 5 more hands for $50 each you’ve successfully met the 10x requirement.

If what I just said gives you borderline anxiety, then these types of bonuses are not the best for you to accept. 

Activity after redeeming a bonus

This goes hand-in-hand with the prior playthrough term we just went over. It’s very straight forward and almost all operators have this term as part of their bonuses.

In layman’s terms, it means that any betting or gambling before redeeming a bonus does not count towards your wagering requirements to redeem a bonus.

If you plan to take advantage of bonuses, wait for the bonus funds to be deposited into your account before making any bets or wagers. Doing this will make sure all your bets count towards your wager requirements.

“Forfeiting this bonus will result in loss of bonus and winnings related”

This is a really weird term that you might catch from time to time. Essentially what this term does is make it impossible to do anything better than break even.

This type of bonus means that any money you win with the bonus funds and the bonus funds themselves will be removed from your account once you wish to no longer take advantage of the bonus.

In most casinos and sportsbooks, bonus funds “play first” and is the reason why the best you could ever hope to do with this type of bonus is to breakeven or worse lose money.

If this doesn’t sound ideal to you then ensure these bonus funds are not applied to your account prior to playing any games or making any bets. We never recommend applying these types of bonuses to your account unless it’s no deposit and you want to play games for leisure knowing you can’t come out ahead.

Bonus funds cannot be used for XYZ game

As you can imagine, this simply means you cannot use your bonus funds for certain games. More often than not these funds usually restrict the use for live dealer games.

This doesn’t mean you can’t play those games but it’s important to note that you’re likely using your own funds for these games and it’s not counting towards your wager requirements.

If live blackjack, craps, and other table games are your games of choice its best not to claim a bonus as they won’t give you much benefit in this case.

What are the different types of bonuses

You’re educated on what potential strings are attached to your bonus and how to decide if it’s worth claiming the bonus, let’s talk about something more fun, the different bonuses you’re going to get offered.

Just like the wide variety of terms that are attached to bonuses, there are a wide variety of different bonus types.

Some are more generous than others but your ultimate decision to take advantage of a bonus is the terms and conditions that apply to the bonus, especially when it comes to your style of play.

Match Bonus

A match bonus is just like it sounds. If you deposit money into a casino, they will match your bonus up to a percentage.

Let’s say you a casino is offering a 100% match up to $500. That means if you deposit anything between $1-500 the casino will deposit the same amount of money into your account.

If you deposit $600 into your account then the casino will only deposit $500 because they’ve capped it at $500 in this example. That means you would have $1,100 in your account because the casino is only matching $500.

The bonus may not always be 100% but it’s really easy to calculate. Just take the % amount and multiply it by the amount you’re depositing.

This bonus is typically reserved for first time players at casinos or sportsbooks to entice you to make their first deposit and deposit as much as possible.

No Deposit Bonus

Another deposit with an obviously descriptive name.

Based on the name, there’s a basic understanding that you don’t need to put money in your account to have a casino or sportsbook give you money. The way you claim a no deposit bonus can be different between operators.

In some cases, all you need to do is register your account and the money will is automatically deposited into your account.

Sometimes you may have to jump through hoops like claiming your bonus via email or filling in a contact form on their site. The hoops aren’t too difficult to get through but they are still hoops.

Just because these bonuses are “no deposit” it’s still critical to read the terms and conditions relating to them. Watch for withdraw caps (maximums), playthrough wagers amounts, and the most ironic, a deposit of any amount to withdraw your winnings.

No deposit bonuses are usually reserved for new players also, especially in the US because of the infancy and competition between the operators.

Free Money Bonus

This catchy named bonus is also a great bonus to take advantage of. The way a free money bonus works is the casino or sportsbook will ask for a minimum deposit and they will add additional money.

An example of how the bonus works is when a casino or sportsbook offers you $150 when you deposit a minimum of $50. When you deposit $50 dollars you can expect to have a total of $200 in your account ($50 deposit + $150 Bonus = $200).

If your main concern is maximizing the bonus then make sure to only deposit the minimum.

In our previous example, if you deposited $100, the operator would still give $150 on top of your original deposit making your balance $250.

You may look at this bonus and think it’s not the best because you are limited to $150 but it’s better than the matching bonus I described before.

The matching bonus example only gave you a 100% increase on your deposit while the free money bonus example gave you a 300% increase on your deposit if you only deposit the minimum.

If the terms match your style of play, we always recommend that you only deposit the minimum with these bonuses because the bonus’ value decreases with every additional dollar deposited.

Free Spins

If you’re an online slot player then you’ll love these. Free spins are when you get to play a slot game without wagering real money to win.

You can expect these to happen in the form of a welcome bonus or an occasional promotional period.

online slot machine

JJust like the other bonuses, they’re subject to the terms and conditions. Most commonly free spins have playthrough requirements and/or have a time clock attached to them before they’re considered invalid.

If you’re not a slot player, you should avoid these types of bonuses because they could prevent you from withdrawing winnings from other games or sports betting depending on what strings attached to it.

Sticky Bonus

No this isn’t a bonus that comes with a sticker like a dentist office. This bonus is when a casino or sportsbook gives you money to play with but you can only withdraw when your winnings exceed the bonus amount.

It’s common that this type of bonus has a playthrough requirement also.

Once you make a withdraw, the bonus money that was deposited will be removed from your account. Let’s say you receive a $3000 with 20 times playthrough. This means you have to make $60,000 in bets and have a balance above $3,000 to withdraw.

The money the operator is giving you is “play money” and since you can’t withdraw it, it’s one of their favorite types of bonus and why they are very generous with these bonuses.

These bonuses can be a gift and a curse by giving you the ability to play max bets using their money. Doing this can multiply your wins very quickly but on the flip side, you can make you lose much faster.

Exclusive Bonuses

We’ve got you covered like a raincoat with exclusive bonuses. These type of bonuses are given by a website, like ours, that you can’t get anywhere else.

The way the BonusDragon team get’s these bonuses is by building relationships with various sportsbooks and casinos to get exclusive bonuses that no one else can offer.

The way we determine which bonuses we want is by listening to you and understanding what you want. We then take that to the operators to get what you want or as close as possible.

The bonuses can be any of the various types we just described to you and we’ll always explain the terms simply when we offer it. Obviously, you should read the terms on your own and get a lawyer for areas you don’t understand.

Loyalty Bonus

Another somewhat obvious name but we’ll explain it anyways. If you remain loyal to a casino or sportsbook, there’s a chance they will notice and give you a bonus.

It’s very similar to a physical casino giving you comped food, rooms, or entertainment when you’re a high roller or frequent visitor casino. Online operators do the same when you bet or play with them frequently.

These bonuses come in a wide variety, some being free, while others requiring you to play through a certain amount of money. Whatever they offer you, just make sure you’re reading the terms and conditions.

Moneyback Guarantee Bonus

This is a sportsbook specific type of bonus and only applies to the first bet you’ve placed.

This bonus usually sets an amount of money the sportsbook or casino is willing to give back you back should you lose your first bet.

MGM banner for moneyback guarantee

An example of this would be that you sign up for a casino or sportsbook for the first time and they offer up to $100 moneyback guarantee on your first bet.

If you were to bet $50 on a money line of +200 on your first bet and lost, then they would give back your $50. If you won they will pay out $150 based on the moneyline odds.

Let’s take the same scenario but this time you decided to bet $200. If you lost you would back $100 and lost the additional $100 you bet because the sportsbook capped the money back at $100. If you would have won, then your payout would be $600 based on the moneyline odds.

Our suggestion would be if you’re going to take advantage of this type of bonus is to bet at the cap. If you bet less you’re missing out on potential additional winnings. If you bet more than the cap you’re now risking your own money.

How to withdraw your bonus

Withdrawing your bonus can be very straight forward or a little complicated. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you should always make sure that you understand the terms and conditions of the bonus.

The terms and conditions will dictate when and if you can redeem your bonus. Once you have met all the conditions of the bonus then it should be very straight forward when it comes to redeeming the bonus.

The process will vary from operator to operator but they will all make sure you meet the bonus criteria first.


There’s way more than meets the eye when it comes to bonuses.

I have a strong feeling that casinos and sportsbooks are going to continue to be aggressive when it comes to offering bonuses for the next 2 to 5 years to get more US gambling market share.

There won’t be a better time to take advantage of bonuses for this reason.

When you see a bonus opportunity you should first consider the return on the bonus and is it significant enough to entice you to play.

Then review the terms and conditions that relate to the bonus to make sure you can meet the requirements and they match your style of play.

Review the type of bonus that’s being offered. Does it match your budget, style of play or the type of game that you play? If you’re not sure, don’t take it but if you think it does then take them up on it.

Finally, start playing and win fists full of cash!

If you take into consideration what we talked about in this article then you’ll never have to worry if you made the right move taking a bonus.

Think we didn’t cover something well enough for you? Let us know below and we can clear up the confusion ASAP.

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