Here’s a message for Pennsylvania’s recreational sports bettors that the sharp ones already know about: Register with all the online/mobile sites available, or you’re likely leaving money on the table.
The addition of DraftKings and Unibet in November brought the number of Pennsylvania apps to seven, although the two Rush Street Interactive sites attached to the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Rivers Casinos are essentially one and the same.
But that leaves six options, and while the odds offered by many are the same or very similar because Kambi is the partner originating the lines for Parx as well as the Rivers sites, DraftKings, and Unibet, there’s money to be made from both their individual sign-up offers and different bonuses and odds boosts offered on a daily or weekly basis.
It’s not the kind of profit that would subsidize a professional bettor, but for the casual fan who wants to make up for the sportsbooks’ vig, there’s hundreds of free dollars to wager with available at sign-up and other extra cash to be had from special offers to all customers, which typically carry a reward on bet maximums of $25-$50.
And by browsing all the sites and playing them off against one another, one can create winning opportunities even better than the “risk-free” or “odds boost” bets advertised on the sites or touted in emails sent to customers.
Thanksgiving’s NFL games showed shopping benefits
For the Lions-Bears NFL game kicking off the Thanksgiving Day action, for instance, FOX Bet offered a free refund of up to $25 for any bet on the game, while FanDuel offered to double winnings up to $50 on any successful “over” bet on the point total of 39.5.
Betting $25 with FOX Bet on the under and $25 with FanDuel on the over meant the worst scenario was losing a couple of dollars on the vig if the game went under. But you stood to win nearly $50 on the over (which was the result, from a 24-20 Bears victory) from FanDuel doubling your win and FOX Bet refunding your loss with a “free bet” credit to your account.
A savvy, safe, low-denomination play like that won’t pay the mortgage, but it provides nice funds for additional betting action for the casual handicapper.
Or consider these three odds boosts that Parx provided prior to the three Thursday games:
- The payoff on the Lions-Bears game if it went over was “boosted” from +105 to +130.
- A winning moneyline bet on the Bills over Cowboys was boosted from +240 to +300.
- The so-called boost in the Saints-Falcons game was actually a reduction in the price paid to take the Saints as first team to score, dropping it from -167 to -110.
And here’s what happened: All three of those boosts hit for bettors who opted in. The maximum wager on any was $50, but the favorably shifted odds still put some nice extra dollars into players’ online accounts.
Some offers seem random, some are logical in PA
It’s a little curious just what drives the sportsbooks’ choices of specific boosts or other special options. Some seem random, such as Unibet’s willingness Sunday to boost the payoff for 49ers tight end George Kittle to score a touchdown from +210 to +275. Others at least have a local tie-in, such as one from DraftKings where you could have bet the Eagles on the moneyline vs. the Dolphins at -480 Sunday and been compensated for that hefty price by getting $6 in free bets for every TD the Eagles scored.
Do the sportsbooks come up with these to entice bettors they want to steer in a certain direction, because they know something the bettors don’t? For instance, when FanDuel offered to double up payoffs on the “over” for all three Thanksgiving games, did it have a good idea that only one (the aforementioned Lions-Bears game) would do so, and so it still wouldn’t lose money?
Possibly, but almost certainly, they’re employing all the marketing techniques they can to tantalize bettors and keep them coming back due to an offer a competitor may not have. Whatever losses the company takes may be no more than the cost of a TV or radio ad across the state the same week — or even less than that — while building up customer goodwill.
For a recreational bettor, having six different sports betting apps on a phone may seem like overkill. But it doesn’t mean you have to use them all; just take advantage of too-good-to-ignore deposit bonuses and risk-free bets for signing up. If you don’t want to scroll through them all for daily offers once you’re established, you’ll be informed about plenty by just checking what they email to you.
With all that in mind, here’s a rundown on what new or existing customers could have taken advantage of by computer or phone in Pennsylvania this past Friday (although we may have missed a few things, because they’re not always obvious and are frequently changing):
Tied to the Mohegan Sun Pocono casino, the sportsbook is offering new customers a risk-free first bet up to $250 and a pair of free $10 wagers.
All customers currently can access parlay payoff boosts of 10% for three-teamers, 20% for four-teamers, and 30% for five-teamers. They also can receive $25 in their accounts for referring friends who sign up new with Unibet.
And on Friday, it had a total of seven odds boosts available on NBA, NHL, and NFL weekend action, including the Kittle TD. Among other offers: If Lakers stars Anthony Davis and LeBron James both scored 30 points vs. the Wizards, the payoff would be +775. (Unlike some competitors, however, Unibet does not spell out how much “boost” is being offered from what is deemed the original price.)
The big company that entered Pennsylvania through a partnership with the Meadows Racetrack & Casino and that casino’s owner, Penn National Gaming, offers new customers a deposit bonus of 20% up to $500, although the bonus is only gradually earned by getting $1 released for every $25 wagered by Dec. 31.
On Friday it also advertised for newcomers a “risk-free betting weekend” with net losses covered up to $200.
Anyone, meanwhile, could take advantage of a “Black Friday sale” in which you were credited with 10% back on any five individual bets of up to $50 made that day.
In addition to the Eagles scoring special vs. the Dolphins, DraftKings offered eight “odds boost specials” involving football, basketball, and hockey.
The one of most interest to Steelers fans offered them a boost from +150 to +175 if they gambled on Pittsburgh beating the Browns and third-string QB Devlin “Duck” Hodges getting over 224.5 passing yards.
Another offer was touted as a “Harbaugh brothers special,” in which the payoff for a combination of Michigan beating Ohio State and the Ravens beating the 49ers was raised from +458 to +550.
For new players, the site affiliated with Mount Airy Casino Resort matches an initial deposit of up to $100, with no restrictions. It also provides $20 in betting funds just to reward you for signing up.
Its “Black Friday deal” advised customers that if they bet $25 or more that day, they were immediately entitled to a $10 free wager of any kind.
FOX Bet was offering multiple odds boosts on Friday’s college football games, such as lifting the reward to +215 from +185 if either Troy or South Florida won, and raising it from +260 to +290 if Appalachian State and University of Central Florida both covered.
Due to its ties to the FOX network, there are always also a bevy of promotions to click on that are tied to different FOX announcers, many of them involving boosted parlay pay or modest guaranteed refunds for certain losing wagers.
The most popular online sportsbook in Pennsylvania, the partner of Valley Forge Casino Resort offers new sign-ups a very simple and attractive reward of a risk-free first bet of up to $500.
On Friday it was also providing nice refunds of various kinds for all bettors:
- With “NFL close-loss insurance,” if you made a moneyline bet on a team that ended up losing by 6 points or less, up to $50 from your wager was refunded to your account. The same offer was available for moneyline wagers specifically on the Ohio State-Michigan and Alabama-Auburn college games.
- Similarly, with “NBA third quarter insurance,” if your moneyline team was winning after the third quarter but ended up losing the game, you got up to $50 back.
- If you bet a parlay involving multiple wagers on the same game, you were due a refund of up to $25 if exactly one leg didn’t hit.
The Bucks County casino’s app doesn’t offer as many promotions as competitors for existing customers, but it sure has a nice enticement for new players: a risk-free first bet of up to $500. It might only be available through Dec. 31, though, based on the terms described on its site.
Originally the site of just the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, this is the online location Rush Street Interactive intends to use going forward with ties to both that casino and Rivers Philadelphia, which was initially called SugarHouse Casino and started the PlaySugarhouse app and online site.
BetRivers is generous with new customers, avoiding the “risk-free bet” condition and simply matching a first deposit up to $250 dollar for dollar, with a 1X play-through required over 30 days.
Its special offers for existing customers were more limited than most of its competitors Friday. Rather than touting odds boosts and dangling refunds to players or looking ahead to Sunday’s NFL action, it listed three “Friday specials” in the NBA and NHL:
- If you gambled on the 76ers, Bucks, and Lakers to all win that night by at least 10 points, a successful ticket paid off at +660.
- A LeBron James triple-double ticket was worth +300.
- If you wanted to risk the Penguins winning as a favorite plus the Predators and Blues winning as underdogs, that three-teamer paid +770. (As it so happened, the two underdogs won, but the Pens fells short.)