A competitive sports betting marketplace allows multiple sportsbooks to operate, which is currently the system employed in most of the states with legal online betting, including Illinois. This is good for bettors because sportsbooks are forced to earn their business and loyalty.
So to try to attract as many customers as they can, sportsbooks offer a wide variety of promotional offers — commonly known as free bets — to entice new customers and reward loyal ones as well.
These are simultaneously good for bettors and the sportsbooks alike; bettors are rewarded for simply placing wagers or signing up, while sportsbooks get new customers and are able to maintain old ones
Since these free bet offers come packaged in many different ways, bettors should understand all of them so that they can fully take advantage of such offers when they come across them.
Top free bet offers in Illinois
After online sports betting was given the green light in Illinois in the summer of 2020, many sportsbooks jumped at the opportunity to offer sports bets in the state and many more are still projected to open up.
You can expect to find free bet offers at the following top Illinois sportsbooks:
- DraftKings Sportsbook — This was one of the first online sportsbooks to launch in the state. It has widely been heralded as one of the best sites for fantasy sports and is now also considered one of the country’s best sports betting sites. Since it is an industry leader, it prioritizes giving customers value. This is perfectly exemplified by its deposit match bonus of up to $1,000.
- FanDuel Sportsbook — FanDuel launched in Illinois shortly after DraftKings. It has some of the best odds in the industry, coupled with lots of sporting options that are guaranteed to satisfy the needs of all types of sports fans. Additionally, it also has fantasy sports for different leagues. If you’re a new customer on the site, you can get risk free bets of up to $1000 after signing up.
- William Hill Sportsbook — William Hill, a globally respected sportsbook, entered the online sports betting scene in Illinois in September 2020. Its website and app are both very easy to use, so users of different experience levels will find it easy to navigate on either platform. The sportsbook also offers some of the most competitive lines in the market. With a $300 risk free bet offer, new customers can easily take advantage of William Hill’s great lines without breaking the bank.
- PointsBet Sportsbook — This sportsbook has grown in popularity because of its unique points betting approach that increases a bettor’s payout based on the number of points won. So, bettors looking to maximize profits should definitely opt for this sportsbook. Additionally, they offer all new Illinois bettors two risk free bets that total $2,000.
Types of online sports betting bonuses
There are a wide variety of sportsbook bonuses available. Since they all differ in their applications, it’s best for bettors to fully understand how all these bonuses come packaged and how such bonuses can be withdrawn.
Your preference for one type of free bet or the other may also play a crucial part in helping you choose the best sportsbook for you.
Currently, the most common bonuses that you’ll come across at Illinois sportsbooks are first deposit bonuses, risk free bets, match bet offers, and money back free bets.
First deposit bonuses
This is one of the most common bonuses that new users will come across. A first deposit bonus is a signup offer from a sportsbook where it matches the very first amount that you deposit into your new betting account.
This bonus is given after a new user completes the signup process and, depending on the bookie, the deposit amount being matched is often awarded in the form of site credit.
This offer is also commonly known as a matched deposit bonus. You’ll typically come across this bonus offer as 100% deposit matched up to x amount.
For example, let’s say that DraftKings offers a 100% first deposit match of up to $1000. This means that if you deposit any amount below $1000 on your first deposit, DraftKings will match that exact amount. So, if you deposit $900, you’ll be gifted an extra $900 in the form of site credit that you can use to wager with.
Another bookie might offer a 50% first deposit match up to $1000. In this case, if you deposit $900, you’ll get an extra $450 to wager with. If it were 25% and you deposited $1000, you’d get an extra $250, etc. So always take note of the percentage and the maximum amount that the sportsbook will match. Others have a minimum amount that they will match, so always keep that in mind as well.
As stated before, many bookies offer this in the form of site credit. This means that you have to play with the bonus first before you can withdraw it. Some bookies attach strict wagering requirements — e.g. a minimum amount of odds/games — while others are lenient about such requirements.
Always check the terms and conditions of these offers if you want to know the specific withdrawal requirements, because they vary between sportsbooks.
Risk free bets
This is another bonus offer that is reserved for new users.
Risk free bets are exactly what they sound like — bets where the risk of losing money is on the sportsbook’s side. This is because on such offers, when one loses their bet, the sportsbook refunds the user with the staked amount that they’ve lost. Bettors can then use that refund to place another bet. So, technically, a risk free bet ensures a new user’s first wager.
For example, FanDuel offers new customers a risk free bet of up to $1,000. You make a deposit of $500 and use that full amount to place your first bet. Unfortunately, your bet ends up losing. Fortunately, however, since you had qualified for a risk free bet, FanDuel refunds you $500 to play with again. It’s almost as if that first loss never happened.
It’s important to note that a risk free bet is only applicable to a new user’s first bet. Additionally, if your first bet wins, you aren’t awarded any bonus and the risk free bet offer immediately ends.
Match bet offers
Match bet offers work in almost the same way that risk free bets do. After you make a deposit and place your first bet, you’ll be awarded a free bet that matches a certain percentage of that amount staked — usually 100% up to a previously specified amount.
However, unlike a risk free bet, you’ll get this free matched bet whether your first bet wins or loses.
For example, let’s say that DraftKings has a 100% match bet offer of up to $250. If you place a first bet of $200, you’ll be awarded with a $200 free bet that you are supposed to stake within a specified period — usually seven or fewer days.
Money back free bets
These free sports bets are money back promotions that guarantee bettors to get their stake back if the bet that they’ve placed loses in a specific way. Bookies usually attach strict restrictions and requirements to these. Some of the terms that you may see accompanying money back free bets include the following:
- Stake amount limited to $10 – $50
- Only for select sporting events
- Minimum odds/selections apply
Such restrictions shouldn’t scare you. Money back bets are pretty common and fun. Examples of money back bets include the following:
- Money back on your soccer bet if the game ends goalless
- Money back on your basketball bet if the team that you pick ends up losing in overtime
- Get a free bet on your parlay if you end up losing by one selection (must have a minimum of five selections)
In these scenarios, you’ll receive the stake that you placed as bonus credit that you can then use to place another bet with.
How do free play bonuses work?
As stated before, all free bet bonuses have specific requirements that prevent the bonus amount from being withdrawn instantly. These requirements are known as rollover requirements.
It is important to take note of the rollover requirements of a bonus because such requirements play a crucial part in helping bettors settle for the least stressful bonus offer. Of course, bettors want bonus offers with less stringent requirements that allow them to get their hands on the winnings earned in the shortest time possible.
Rollover requirements work in this way: you have to play the credited bonus and the amount deposited a specific number of times before you can make a withdrawal.
For example, a 100% match deposit bonus might have a 3x rollover requirement. So, if a bettor deposits $100, they’ll have $200 to wager with after the bookie has matched their initial deposit. For one to be able to withdraw the bonus, you have to wager this $200 three times. Most bookies won’t necessitate that you make three separate bets, but that you find odds that will, at the very least, triple the $200 to a minimum of $600.
Before you opt for a certain bookie or bonus, always check the rollover requirements to help you decide. Bookie X might have a 5x rollover on a 100% match deposit bonus while bookie Y might instead have a 3x rollover on a 50% match deposit bonus. Despite bookie X offering a higher bonus, you have a greater chance of withdrawing your bonus from bookie Y because of the less stringent rollover requirements.
Also, taking note of the maximum amount that accompanies such offers is crucial, especially if you have a large bankroll and want more free money to play with.
How to claim your sportsbook bonus
There are multiple ways to claim bonus offers.
The simplest and most common way is by inserting promo codes when signing up. There is usually a dedicated space on the registration page where new users are supposed to input promo codes. Other sportsbooks may request a promo code when making a deposit, so keep both of those in mind.
The bonus is instant and will be triggered when one finishes registration and makes a deposit. If you’re wondering where you can get Illinois promo codes, they can easily be found on websites like this one you’re reading right now.
Other times, instead of having to go through the hassle of entering promo codes, you can do so by clicking on welcome affiliate links that will redirect you to the sportsbooks giving out the promo offers. That way, you won’t have to enter any codes when signing up but your bonus will still be gifted to you after you make the first deposit.
Bookies also reward loyalty and are known to have many ways of rewarding loyal customers, mainly through loyalty programs. Other bookies may also give you bonuses if you refer someone and they end up signing up.
Restrictions on bonuses
Though bonuses are mostly good, it’s important to note that all bonuses have some sort of restrictions that bettors should always keep in mind.
One such restriction is the aforementioned rollover requirement that hinders bettors from being able to manipulate such offers. Additionally, most bonuses have to be wagered at certain minimum odds, around -200, meaning that you still have to take some risk with them.
Another restriction is that most bonuses have a short expiration date. Free bets usually have a time limit of seven days, so you can’t place futures bets with such bonus offers. If you fail to use the bonus within this given time, it will disappear and you’ll have lost a great opportunity.
Many bookies also limit free bet offers to one household. So, if a member of your family from the same household has already claimed the offer, then you may not be eligible for a bonus offer since the bookies will see that it has already been claimed. Again, this is done to protect the sportsbook so that a person doesn’t end up abusing the system by creating several pseudo-accounts.
Concluding thoughts on free bets
New users are not only advised to use free bets, but encouraged to do so. This is because online free bets are greatly advantageous to all types of bettors whether new or old, skilled or amateur.
New users also don’t have to deposit too much to get a hefty amount to play with after unlocking bonuses. Additionally, you can use free bets to familiarize yourself with a sportsbook without risking too much investment. And who doesn’t love free money?
So, take some time to go over the available free bet offers that you come across and also go through the requirements that accompany those offers. Then, pick the most appropriate offer for you and you’ll soon be ready to begin crushing the bookies with their own money.