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How do bonus bets work?

Bonus bets fall under one of two major categories: deposit bonuses and betting promotions.

A deposit bonus is awarded to an existing player at the discretion of the bookmaker. Bonus bets in the form of betting promotions are more complicated. Betting promotions come in various forms and normally require the user to earn a bonus bet by wagering on a nominated event, or by placing a bet that meets a certain qualification. It’s important to understand how both forms of bonus bets work.

Methods differ with each bookmaker

Precisely how bonus bets are awarded, and the process of redeeming then, varies according to the bookmaker. Each betting agency handles bonus bets in a slightly different manner. This page describes more broadly how bonus bets work.

Securing a bonus bet

For existing customers, a deposit bonus is awarded upon notification from the bookmaker. Betting promotions work slightly; differently, they are often earned as a result of meeting a certain requirement, eg. Placing a losing head-to-head bet where your team led by 24 points or more at any stage during the match.

Betting companies

When will it appear in my account?

Bookmakers handle the machinations of bonuses differently. For most, though, if all qualifications for a bonus bet have been met, the free betting amount will be credited to your account within 24 hours, but in most cases, it happens instantly.

Where does the bonus appear?

The bonus bet amount will normally appear in a section of your account marked ‘bonus’. It’s important to understand how bonus bets work with each company that you bet with so that you don’t waste any free bets.

Using bonus bets

What can I bet on?

In most cases, you can use your bonus bets on any sports or horse racing event. However, some bet types are excluded; for example, many betting sites don’t allow the use of bonus bets on exotic horse racing products like trifectas and quaddies. Some operators even preclude the use of free bets on multi bets.

The other significant exclusion is that you cannot use your bonuses to obtain another bonus bet. So this means, you cannot use them on any promotional market offered by the bookmaker.

Odds requirements

Most bookmakers don’t allow the use of bonus bets on any fixed odds market where the price is less than $1.50.

Placing the bet

The exact process of placing a bonus bet will vary between operators. Normally though, the option to use a bonus bet will appear in your betting slip when you go to place a bet. See the image below:

Bonus bet splitting allows you to select how much of your bonus money you would like to use, however; not all betting sites offer this feature.

Winnings and calculations

With both sign-up bonuses and betting promotions, if the bonus bet is successful, the bookmaker will only return the winnings from that wager, not the betting stake. This is standard practice in the UK and throughout the online betting world.

Bonus bet winnings explained

Also, any bonus bet winnings must then be turned over before withdrawal.


Before you can withdraw any bonus bet winnings, you will likely have to turn over or bet through the amount at least once in full at odds greater than $1.50. This condition is standard amongst most betting agencies, but it pays to read through the terms and conditions of each promotion so that you understand your obligation should the bonus wager win.


Understanding the process of securing and using bonus bets will help you to avoid disappointment when a betting company turns around and says you are not able to withdraw funds yet because requirement ‘B’ has not met. While it may seem tedious at times, clearly understanding what’s involved with each promotion will help you to gain an edge and bet more successfully.