In todays market bookmakers attract new customers by offering attractive sign up bonuses, a selection of the better ones are listed on our site.
Bookmakers Bonus Offers History
Bonus offers are a relatively new marketing promotion that only really came to prominence in the internet gambling era. As little as a dozen years ago sports betting was confined to betting on course (attractive as there was a 9% betting tax on off-course wagers), smoky betting shops or telephone betting accounts. Some of the “telebet” accounts began the precursor of today’s more competitive offers, but the majority weren’t overly attractive. As a comparison at this moment in time Will Hill are offering a free £25 bet matching incentive. The same William Hill in the late 1990′s used to offer new customers a free tri-cast on that days televised big field handicap. Anyone with a cursory understanding of probability can see that the Will Hill offer of present is significantly better than the 1998 vintage.
Typical Bonus Offers
The typical offer is for a bet matching. As of this moment in time the Ladbrokes offer is fairly typical in that as a new account if you deposit and bet £50 you are credited with a freebet to the same stake. Another variation is a sliding scale freebet offer, this model being popular with Bet365 and Stan James. The current Stan James offer (as of Spring 2012) is for bet £10 get a free £10 wager, then bet 2X£20 for a free £20 wager, 3 X £30 for £30, 4 X £40 for £40 punt, and finally 5X £50 for a free bet of £50. So if you progress through the entire cycle you turn over £540 for freebets to the value of £150.
Over the past few years the UK government relaxed television advertising regulations and now allow bookmakers to advertise within the confines of strict parameters that aren’t seen to glamorise, and overly encourage gambling. However the majority of these adverts do actively promote the free bet offers.
Tiziano Crudeli gets ticked off by John McCririck in Ladbrokes advert
Bonus Abuse Methods
Obviously for anyone with an eye for value it’s not difficult to see how a bonus can be utilised. The line between availing oneself of a good offer, and abusing that offer is the same as for other promotions in day to day life. My personal view is that bonuses offer a good incentive to try out a new bookmaker, and unless my experience is horrendous I will continue to bet with that bookmaker if they offer good odds about my fancy.
Bonus Abuse method 1: Hedging a small loss in qualifying bonus
As a typical example in a tight and competitive betting market a punter backs the 6/4 favourite with a stake of £50. The example is in a three runner race, ideally this will be a stand out price offered by the firm giving the bonus, with the other bookmakers perhaps only showing at 11/8. The punter would then back the other two runners (say priced at 5/2 and 2/1) at the best prices with other bookmakers to cover most of his loses, perhaps outlaying £25 on the outside, and £30 on the favourite). So in the actual qualifying race a small loss of around £10 is realised. However then the free bet of £50 is subsequently given (typically credited in 24 hours) and the process can be repeated to lock in a profit of £20-30 in a race on the next day by following a similar process
Bonus Abuse method 2: Laying off on Betting Exchange
Another common method that regular bonus abusers employ is to back a best priced runner for the qualifying bet, and then lay that same runner on the betting exchanges. If the price is a stand out one the lay price on Betfair won’t be too much bigger, and after commission is factored in (should horse not win) the loses on the race will be minimal when off set against the free bet
Bonus Abuse method 3: Straight punting or value squeezing?
Some bonus abusers will always seek to hedge their free bet by repeating a derivative of the above, this way they will tend to guarantee themselves a typical return of £20 whatever the result of the free bet transaction. Other punters take the value that it is a free bet, so by definition any bet will be value
Typically bookmakers require the qualifying bet to be placed at even money or greater. So bonus abusers either back the other eventuality (or eventualities) or alternatively lay the same runner on a betting exchange. To maximise returns bonus abusers make sure that the qualifying bet is a good price (i.e. best priced in the market) so that they are giving away little of the potential returns. A bonus abuser wouldn’t mind losing £10 on the qualifying bet if they will make £20 from the free bet. If done properly there is little risk in the transaction.
Morals of Bonus Abuse
My view is that a bookmaker who offers a good promotional sign up should be trialed (if looking reputable, see our reviews!). The incentive is one that I treat like a restaurant offering a free 1/2 price meal to a new patron. If I like the look of the menu, setting, and type of food I will most likely be tempted in by the offer. However, the following week I will be unlikely to don a false moustache (not stubly enough to grow my own!) and try to sneak in again. Likewise the week after I won’t be sporting an eye patch before tucking down to my grub! That, in my view would be bonus abuse, and to be honest isn’t something I personally recommend engaging in.
A bonus is something to be enjoyed, but when I am actively registered with a bookmaker I do like to bet with them as a genuine customer, I don’t simply take the bonus and leave. As a bettor my view is that when I have used the free bet it is up to the sportsbook to keep me there by offering a good service. At present 90% of my betting is done with Bet365, this is because I like the simplicity of the site both on mobile and web versions, they do best price guarantee and regular free bet offers. I originally started with Bet365 because of a sign up bonus but stay with them because they let me on, and their service is good.
Criminality and Bonus Abuse
The extreme end of the bonus abuse spectrum see’s individuals register multiple accounts to continually exploit the same company over and over again. Bookmakers quite rightly won’t let you set up an account using the same name, date of birth, credit card and other key details if duplicated with an existing account that is already registered. At this juncture some people take it to the next level, a level that the courts view as criminal and have started clamping down on. In Spring 2012 Southwark Crown Court sentenced a man to three years jail for using a variety of false identities. The individual had used fake utility bills, passports and other identifiers to exploit the offers of a bookmaker.
In the above two paragraphs I have made my views none on this practise. Below I detail some of the methods of bonus abuse that people use, though obviously don’t need to mention the extreme criminal ones.
Bookmakers Terms regarding Bonus Abuse
The bookmakers terms regarding bonus abuse tend to be quite explicit and clear. In that it’s not something they encourage and if they find evidence of it they reserve the right to void bonuses, transaction and accounts. The following three examples all detail that bonus abuse is prohibited by bookmakers:
StanJames terms on Bonus Abuse
3.1 Stan James reserves the right to refuse to open any account or to close or suspend any account at any time in its absolute discretion. Where an account is closed or suspended, you should contact our Contact Centre for further information. Stan James reserves the right to cancel any bets win or lose if Stan James has reason to believe that you have acted in any way in breach of these Terms, the Rule Book and/ or any applicable specific rules.
3.2 You may open only one account. If Stan James has reason to believe that a customer has more than one account Stan James may treat those accounts as one single joint account. You agree that you will not open more than one account for any reason including to receive the benefit of any offer or promotion more than once.
3.3 All new accounts are subject to verification of the identity of the account holder. In instances where Stan James is unable to verify the identity of an account holder, to Stan James’ satisfaction, Stan James reserves the right to suspend the account and cancel all Bets.
BetVictor terms on Bonus Abuse
11. Customers shall not abuse in any way any online betting or gaming or any bonus offer or other promotion scheme offered by us.
12. Customers shall not participate or attempt to participate in any online betting or gaming by methods means or ways not intended by us, in particular by the use of “hacking” or unauthorised computer programs or “robot” players or other means.
13. Customers shall not in any way manipulate or attempt to manipulate any betting or gaming software or ascertain or attempt to ascertain information concerning such software or its code. Any betting or gaming by a Customer which uses any such information, whether obtained directly by such Customer or as a result of circulation of such information by a third party, is not permitted. We reserve the right in our absolute discretion to cancel any transactions arising as a result of any such matters.
28. BetVictor reserves the right to refuse any offer to any player for any reason, or to withdraw an offer at any time. No correspondence will be entered into.
29. BetVictor reserves the right to withhold any bonus payment if it believes that the promotion has been abused and/or where the terms of the offer are not fulfilled, or any irregular betting patterns are found. The decision of BetVictor is final.
30. BetVictor reserves the right to refuse all future promotions and bonuses to players who do not comply with these conditions.
Bet365 terms on Bonus Abuse
9.Where any term of the offer or promotion is breached or there is any evidence of a series of bets placed by a customer or group of customers, which due to a deposit bonus, enhanced payments, free bets or any other promotional offer results in guaranteed customer profits irrespective of the outcome, whether individually or as part of a group, bet365 reserves the right to reclaim the bonus element of such offers and in their absolute discretion either settle bets at the correct odds, void the free bets or void any bet funded by the deposit bonus. In addition bet365 reserve the right to levy an administration charge on the customer up to the value of the deposit bonus, free bet or additional payment to cover administrative costs. We further reserve the right to ask any customer to provide sufficient documentation for us to be satisfied in our absolute discretion as to the customer’s identity prior to us crediting any bonus, free bet or offer to their account.
10. All customer offers are limited to one per person. Offers only apply to customers who have made a real money deposit with bet365.
11. Bet365 reserves the right to amend, cancel, reclaim or refuse any promotion at its own discretion.