Betting offers is the collective term we use to describe all the sign up bonuses that online gambling sites give to their new customers – it encompasses bookmaker and casino offers.
These are also sometimes referred to as introductory offers or welcome bonuses.
Whilst the principle of all of these promotions is essentially the same (sign up and get a bonus), there are a number of categories that any individual offer can fall into which we will go more deeply into below.
Choose Your Bonus Type
How to Sign up to a Gambling Site Using a Bonus
Since all the sites are in competition with each other and want your business, the process of signing up to them using a sign up bonus is universally easy.
You will either have clicked through to the site from another site (like this one), in which case the offer you clicked on will have already been flagged and will be applied when you sign up; or you will have gone to a website direct and clicked on one of their own promotional banners, and the bonus will be automatically applied from there.
In some rare instances you might actually be asked to input a sign up code, like SignUp100, as a made up example, in which case you simply enter the code when prompted during the sign up process. This is very uncommon nowadays though.
So claiming the bonus you have found is pretty much all handled for you, and if you notice it has not been applied for some reason, you can usually contact customer services and ask for it to be applied manually by them. It may be that the system just needs time to catch up, but if something has gone wrong they are usually quite happy to oblige.
The Sign Up Form
When you get to the point of creating usernames and passwords, it’s a process you will probably have gone through before unless you have lived under a rock for the last 30 years.
They will ask for an email address, your actual address, phone number, full name, age, that sort of thing.
It’s all part of their legal obligation to prove you are who you say you are, are of the correct age to legally be able to gamble, and aren’t on any sort of opt out scheme like Gamstop, the brilliant organisation that helps people with gambling related issues.
This is also known as the KYC (Know Your Customer) process, and online bookies and casinos can be fined millions of pounds if they don’t carry out these checks properly.
Once you have accepted the terms and conditions and opted in or out of marketing communications, your account is technically set up, but there is a little more to do.
You will probably be asked to set gambling limits or regular reminder periods at this point.
Again, this is to help keep customers from spending more than they had planned or can afford. You can opt out and choose not to use these safer gambling tools, but the sites need to let you know they exist, and we would recommend using them even if you always gamble responsibly.
Think of them like a seatbelt in a car; you might almost never need them, but you will be awfully glad they are there if you ever do.
The other thing you will be asked for is bank details in order to deposit and withdraw funds. You don’t have to deposit at this point, but depending on the terms of the sign up offer you have selected, this might be your only chance to claim the bonus. Some sites give you a time limit, some ask you to do it on sign up, it just depends.
Finally, you will need to verify that you are you and not someone else pretending to be you.
For most of the rest of the required information it is simply a case of filling in boxes or selecting options from drop down menus, but when it comes to photo ID, it can get a little more complicated.
Verification Using Photo ID
Some people get the ‘ick’ at this point, as they don’t feel comfortable sharing important documents like a passport or drivers license over the internet or feel like it’s an invasion of privacy.
However you feel about it, this is something the gambling site legally has to do under the terms of their license, they would be breaking the law if they let you sign up without checking your ID, so there’s no need to be suspicious or angry about it.
We said this bit was a little more complicated but it’s nothing too strenuous.
In some cases, your identification can be confirmed using the bank details provided or through membership at another site owned by the same umbrella company – Ladbrokes and Coral are both owned by a multi-brand company called Entain, for example – but if you are new you will most likely need to upload pictures.
Technology is so good now that you can often do this using the webcam built into your laptop, or the camera built into your tablet or phone, and is checked and verified almost instantly. You can even do it via the customer service online chat box at some places.
Even if they ask for it via email (which we haven’t seen for a while now), you only need to snap a photo, send it to yourself, then forward it on to them, it’s a 5 minute job.
Just make sure the pictures are taken in good light, no part of the document is out of shot, and the image is fully in focus with no blur.
Once you are verified and signed up, you can go ahead and enjoy your bonus.
Online Casino Bonuses
Just like the sports betting offers, casino offers come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
In this next section we’ll take a look at the different types and give you pointers on what to look out for.
No Deposit Bonuses
Unlike sportsbooks, where no deposit bonuses are incredibly rare (we can count on on hand the number of bookies who have ever offered one), casinos are a little more liberal with their no deposit bonuses… but only slightly.
There are three types of no deposit bonus that you’re likely to come across in online casinos:
- Free Spins – Quickly becoming the offer of choice for modern casinos, free spins give you a set number of free goes on a slot. Sometimes the slot is pre-selected, particularly when they have a new game you want to try out, and sometimes they can be used o a variety of games. Winnings from free spins often come with wagering requirements but not always, especially not if they are small in number and for existing customers rather than new ones.
- Bonus Cash – Sometimes called ‘free chips’ in the States, these are simply bonuses you receive without having to deposit your own money. For example, you may receive £10 in bonus money upon registration. These bonuses normally have turnover requirements attached, and sometimes a maximum withdrawal as well.
- Free Play – A bit of a dinosaur in the online casino world, but still found from time to time. Free play gives you a healthy chunk of chips to bet with – say £1,500 – but before you get too excited, it’s not real money and can never be withdrawn. However any winnings from the free play (or a proportion of them) will often be turned into proper bonus cash, which can be withdrawn after meeting the site’s wagering requirements.
A deposit bonus is one you receive after making a deposit, although the size and value of the bonus varies significantly between casinos. One might offer to match your deposit 100%, turning £10 into £20 playable cash, while another might offer to match it by 200%, as an example.
Bigger isn’t always better though.
It’s important to look at the wagering requirements when comparing bonuses, as a 200% bonus with a 20x wagering requirement is a much better deal than a 400% bonus with an 80x wagering requirement, despite the latter being a bigger matched percentage.
There are also two different types of deposit bonus:
- Cashable – With a cashable bonus, the bonus amount itself can be withdrawn once the wagering requirements have been met, not just the winnings. So if you deposit £100 for a £100 bonus, you’ll have £200 to play with. If you meet the wagering requirements with a balance of £400, then you would be able to withdraw the whole £400 – including the £100 bonus money.
- Non-cashable – A non-cashable bonus, on the other hand, cannot be withdrawn. Here you will receive the bonus and can play with it for as long as it lasts, but you can never withdraw it. Using the above example, you would only be allowed to withdraw £300 of the £400 balance, with the £100 bonus vanishing back into the system somewhere. That said, at some casinos they leave the bonus amount in your account to keep playing with (sometimes called a ‘sticky’ bonus).
It should be clear that a cashable bonus is preferable to a non-cashable one when the amounts and matches are like-for-like. However, you’ll often find non-cashable bonuses to be for much higher percentages than cashable ones as the casino isn’t on the hook for the bonus amount. For example, you may get a cashable bonus of 100% up to £100, but a non-cashable one of 400% up to £400.
Deposit bonuses will always have wagering requirements attached, and we’ll discuss those later in the page.
Sports Betting Offers
Generally speaking, there are four different types of sports betting bonus – a no deposit bonus, matched bet, second chance bet and deposit bonus – which are described below.
No Deposit Bonuses
These sorts of bonuses are a bit of a rare breed when it comes to betting sites and are more commonly found at casinos or bingo sites, if at all. They’re pretty self explanatory – you just sign up and receive a free bet without needing to make a deposit. For a list of these types of bonus see our no deposit page.
Matched bets are the most common form of betting bonus and are the type used by almost all online arms of the big UK high street bookmakers. They are fairly simple – you sign up, then deposit and place a bet with your own money. Once the bet has been settled you will then receive a free bet token worth the same as your qualifying bet.
All matched bets are either for a fixed amount such as £25, or have a minimum & maximum range you can choose from – such as between £10 and £50.
For the first example in the above paragraph you would need to deposit and bet at least £25 after which you would receive a £25 free bet (even if you bet more than £25), and for the second example your bet could be anything over £10 and your free bet will be for the same amount, up to the maximum of £50.
Occasionally you will find a bookie who is offering a bet that is for a different amount to your qualifying bet (such as bet £5 and get a £10 free bet), but in most cases it’s a like-for-like bonus.
Second Chance Bets
Second chance bets are a little bit like matched bets, except that you only receive a free bet if your qualifying bet loses. For example, if a bookie offers a £25 bet you would need to sign up, deposit and bet at least £25.
If your bet loses you would then receive a £25 free bet token, whilst if it wins you wouldn’t receive anything other than the winnings from the bet with your own money. In some cases you’ll receive money back in cash after a loss, but this is rarer and it most often comes in the form of free bets.
The final type of betting bonus we’ll look at is a deposit bonus. Here you receive bonus funds relative to the amount of your first deposit at the betting site.
So for a 100% deposit bonus, if you deposit £100 you would receive a bonus worth £100 on top. Most deposit bonuses are either given immediately when you make the deposit, or are ‘released’ after you have placed a certain number of bets.
Whilst on the surface it may look like deposit bonuses aren’t as good as a matched bet, they do hold some advantages.
First, they are usually for larger amounts than straight matched bets – some bookmakers offer deposit bonuses worth hundreds of pounds.
Second, most matched bets are released as a single free bet token – meaning you have to bet it all in one go. Conversely, bonus funds can be split into multiple smaller bets so the risk is being spread.