Sportsbooks are becoming more and more adept at setting lines, which means it is difficult for bettors to find success without exceptional luck. Fortunately, all major operators offer a spectrum of offers to temporarily shift the advantage back into the hands of players, so that they can entice a loyal following to their particular brand.
While sports betting in Pennsylvania is only now finally beginning to crossover from the physical casinos to the online realm, it has been possible to predict with great detail the types of bonus offers and promos that will become available to the Keystone State’s residents by observing the tactics of successful operators in other thriving markets.
Read on for a comprehensive analysis on the wide range of future promotional offers from online and mobile sportsbooks in Pennsylvania, including code-based and automatic “Welcome” packages, free bets, bonus cash, discounted fees, and bet protection.
What are promo codes and why do I want one?
Often – but not always – many of the most beneficial promotions offered by online sportsbooks will only be available through the use of a special code. These codes, which may either be openly advertised by the sportsbook or else exclusively found, must be entered into your account at the time of your first registration or during a deposit.
Typing the alphanumeric code into the clearly designated field at the appropriate time should result in the bonus being automatically applied to your account, allowing the player to simply begin normal activity while benefiting from the offer.
These codes thus function as a coupon or ticket redeemed for extra value during your sports betting activity. Paying close attention to the offers sent to you by the operator (and also monitoring sites like this one, since we can often offer exclusive bonus codes separate from or better than those shared with the general public) will result in a much better value for the active sports gambler.
For bonuses that do not require a code, in many cases, a deposit will be still necessary and/or the promotion may need to be activated from a “Bonuses” tab on your interface. In any event, generally, a player will be only a few clicks or taps away from taking advantage of the offer during regular betting.
Who will be eligible for online sports betting bonuses in Pennsylvania?
All players will occasionally find themselves on the receiving end of special offers, but some of the most tempting bonuses are usually those available only to newcomers signing up with a particular online sportsbook for the very first time.
To take advantage of these promotions one must first meet the three main prerequisite criteria to participate at the online sportsbook in the first place:
- You must be at least 21 years old, same as at the physical sportsbooks at casinos and racing locations (no matter if the online lottery only requires you to be 18).
- You must be physically within the state boundaries at the time you place a bet. This does not mean you need to be a resident, just present. Likewise, you can legally create an account and unlock a Welcome Bonus from outside the state, or activate other offers, or even deposit and withdraw funds. You must simply be in Pennsylvania to make wagers.
- Upon first creating your account, you must complete a vetting process to confirm your identity. Well-designed sites will make this a fast a painless process, requiring only a reasonable amount of personal information. But at a minimum, you will have to supply the last four digits of your SSN.
This is all that will be necessary to register at an online sportsbook, and if the Welcome package includes a no-deposit bonus or free bets then a new player could immediately begin taking advantage. Otherwise, a first deposit will also be necessary, though generally that will be occurring regardless.
Why are these bonuses offered by online betting sites?
Some prospective players may question why a for-profit business like a sportsbook would rise to the level of generosity seen in some of these offers, essentially giving away significant amounts of money to their customers.
While legal online sportsbooks are a relatively new enterprise in the U.S., the operators are by no means inexperienced. The key players in the industry have backgrounds in sports betting (land-based and online) in other markets, in online casinos, and in daily fantasy sports sites. Every sportsbook knows better than to offer a bonus that will give away their profits without some way to ensure the recipients will remain active bettors.
All bonus offers and apparent “giveaways” still come with a significant amount of fine print, and may be carefully crafted to require a certain amount of site activity in order to cash in. The actual amount may vary wildly, but these promotions are made by skilled marketing teams to spark the desires of players (new and old) to get a temporary edge.
While the bettor is playing with the promised bonus money or unlocking cash back, they are getting further acclimated to the id-satisfying environment of the site or app, and experiencing the features the operator believes makes their experience the best.
Of course, this neither means the offers are predatory nor a scam (though one should always look critically at an insanely big bonus). As long as you are aware of the requirements pinned to the particular bonus, it’s easy to tell a mediocre one from a gem that offers significant expected value for the gambler. A great many of these bonuses prove to be extremely lucrative, and while there is a worry that the benefits of these offers may be reduced in the PA market to compensate for the high tax burden and licensing fees on the book they should still prove fruitful for the player.
Take, for instance, the examples of Free Bet offers. Many operators will allow new players to have their second bet on the site at no cost, at an amount equal or proportional to their first. From the sportsbook’s perspective they may still wind up winning or losing both bets either way, but even with a tiny profit loss on one of the wagers they now have a new account holder that has participated in betting at least twice.
Meanwhile, the player has experienced one of the rare chances in life to gamble with an advantage over the house.
Types of promotional offers and bonuses at PA online sportsbooks
Based on the types of offers that other new markets have focused on, it’s easy to predict what promotions will be prevalent on Pennsylvania’s sites and apps for the near future.
While new formats will be rolled out experimentally in their own time, here are the standard offers likely to be common:
No-deposit promotions are the easiest and least risky type of bonus available to players, and make it possible for a new gambler to experience the rush of sports wagering before adding any of their own money into the mix.
These types of bonuses are generally only given as a first-time offer for new accounts, and often require a promo code entered on account creation. Usually, then a credit is immediately available to start making your first bets.
Keep in mind that even if you can begin betting this small amount (typically $10 or $20, but up to $50 is not unheard of) right away, you will still need to complete the wagering requirement before you can cash out your winnings. Make sure to be aware of the multiplier on this requirement, so you can prioritize sites that make it easier to unlock your bonuses (sportsbooks with 1X or 5X will be out there, so you don’t need to subject yourself to 20X or more).
Some sites will have extra stipulations on collecting this bonus. There may also be a need to make an actual deposit before you can withdraw, even if you build up a sizable amount of money just from repeatedly winning with this initial small amount.
While a no-deposit bonus is a common enough welcome perk, it may be not wise to sign up for every possible site at launch since you will have a limited window of time in which to complete the requirements before the promotion expires.
Free bets are probably the most common bonus offer at online sportsbooks, especially those that focus on sports betting exclusively and don’t also dabble in casino gambling. They are usually the perk for new sign-ups.
In these promos, the gambler is given a one-time chance to bet with the house’s money, which disappears after the bet but any winning amount converts to cash.
The bettor is given the freedom to play it smart and safe with a very good chance of converting the bonus gift into a small amount of free money, or else dump it on a crazy long shot that has the smallest possibility of turning into a huge fortune since there is no loss to you either way.
There are a few different varieties this type of offer can take:
- Free second bets: DFS giant DraftKings introduced this style of bonus to the New Jersey market, in which a bettor makes a first wager as normal, and then is granted another bet for free valued at a set percentage of the original amount (but usually 100%). DraftKings is likely to offer the same 100% match ($500 cap) in Pennsylvania if they finally get a license secured, and if the higher tax rates don’t force them to dilute the terms.
- Deposit-match bets: Similar to a standard deposit bonus, except in this variation the amount you deposit into your account is not matched by bonus cash but instead the same amount available for a single extra bet. These types of bonus bet usually have a very low maximum value, but are still an extremely advantageous play for the bettor.
- Risk-free bets: Less lucrative than the aforementioned, but becoming more and more common, risk-free bets allow players to receive a full refund (up to a specified monetary cap) should their first wager lose. The downside here is pretty obvious — if the first wager wins, then players do not receive any sort of bonus. In short, think of this like a loss-prevention offer.
In an ideal arrangement, the free bet is offered regardless if you win or loss, but it is worth noting that FanDuel Sportsbook, which has recently overtaken DraftKings in NJ, has its Welcome Bonus framed as this kind of “Risk-free Bet” returned as site credit.
However, both offers are quite good and have a $500 maximum in NJ. FanDuel Sportsbook is also expected to be one of the first online sites to launch very shortly in PA.
|Site||Free Money||Promo Code|
|Future FanDuel||Best guess: Up to $500 risk-free bet||n/a|
|Future DraftKings||Best guess: Up to $500 free bet||n/a|
|Future BetStars / FOX||Best guess: Up to $500 free bet||n/a|
|Future Harrah's||Best guess: $10 Free||n/a|
Deposit match bonuses
Fans of online casinos are already familiar with easy-to-understand deposit bonuses as the most frequently offered promotion, though for some reason they aren’t nearly as common with online sports betting yet (mostly available from sportsbooks with the most successful casino game sites).
You add additional funds to your account, sometimes with a code or else just at a specific time, and an extra amount is added on top as bonus money that must be unlocked over time. These offers will be clearly marked as to the upper limit of the offer and the percentage of match, though either 100% or 50% are pretty typical.
A good example to look at for this kind of offer in Pennsylvania will be the Rush Street properties, SugarHouse and Rivers. In addition to being likely candidates for the first online launches in Pennsylvania, they are expected to offer a similar Welcome Package to that of the PlaySugarHouse site in NJ, which has a 100% deposit match of up to $250.
This is significant because while some other operators will offer much larger potential matches ($1,000 is very common) these sites might have a wagering requirement of up to 10-30X the bonus amount, while in NJ SugarHouse famously maintains a wagering requirement of 1X. If you deposit $250 and bet $250 you’ve earned $250.
It is a constant fact that the operators’ vigorish, more commonly referred to as the “juice”, is a frustrating but necessary element in the sports betting equation. Unfortunately, it is also true that in many emerging markets the sportsbooks have extremely high vigs, at least compared to the olden days of Las Vegas betting.
The amount will of course vary from sportsbook to sportsbook, and certainly a few online operators in the U.S. stand out as above the pack, but many are very disappointing. Factoring in the extremely high tax rate in the state, one should be especially concerned that the vigs at PA sportsbooks could be even worse.
This is also why it is important to always keep an eye open for a discount on the juice. Certain sportsbooks may very often offer a brief limited-time promotion for better odds/decreased fees on a certain sports or particular game (usually involving a local team or star player). Seizing these opportunities when they come will result in a great amount of savings compared to the amount of juice ordinarily paid.
Cashback bonuses and bet protection
The unfortunate downside of all sports wagering is that some of the time you will lose. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be gambling.
Sometimes pride convinces us to support a favorite team, sometimes you pick a long shot just to see what happens, and sometimes you go with a smart safe bet and luck just isn’t on your side.
While losing is an inevitable aspect of the game, there are occasionally small chances to lessen the damage in the form cashback refunds.
In these instances, the operator offers a promotion where a certain specified percentage of your losses will be returned to you as a bonus credit (up to a clearly stated maximum).
Of course, this bonus will still have its own betting requirement after (and while the bigger the offer the better, always check the multiplier beforehand). But, if luck wasn’t with you before you still have to hope it will be with you the next time.
Loyalty programs and VIP bonuses
Generally, an online sportsbook will offer some sort of Reward Program or VIP Club, with the better options being those sites that are tied to good casino partners.
An ideal program awards redeemable points for every dollar bet (which can either be converted into cash or used to place free bets) but also allows bettors to ascend through a series of tiers that will result in progressively better rewards the higher you roll.
Frequent bettors thus earn many benefits and are motivated to keep betting frequently. Eventually, spoils become available like gifts and merchandise, comped travel to the physical resort, higher point multipliers, extra bonus cash or scratch tickets, better point multipliers, and VIP treatment.
Typically in most markets, the same program will be linked to the operator’s online casino and/or poker room and the brick-and-mortar casino (and, if applicable, a network of other similar properties). For this same reason, frequent visitors to a particular land-based casino in PA will in some cases find themselves starting out at a high tier once the online programs launch. PA’s unique branding rules on sports betting skins may affect this slightly.
Once again, many eyes are focused on SugarHouse and Rivers thanks to the reputation PlaySugarHouse NJ has earned for their iRush Rewards program, regarded as the best in that market.
If you have spent your time anxiously awaiting legal online sports betting in Pennsylvania by talking about it with your friends that are also anxiously awaiting, you are in a good position to take advantage of the inevitable referral offers that most operators will have.
On signup a new bettor will be able to indicate the username (or a unique generated code) of the person that convinced them to join the site, awarding that person a moderate bonus amount of usually $20-$50 (but sometimes even up to $250) once the new account has bet a required amount.
In many cases, the bonus goes both ways, with the newer player also receiving an extra reward as well. Sports gamblers that are friends with other sports gamblers should never ignore this opportunity when starting out on a new site.
How to find the very best bonuses at Pennsylvania’s online sportsbooks
- Always check the fine print, especially betting requirements: Hopefully the wagering requirements for most promotions will stay low, but it’s not unheard of for otherwise appealing promotions to wind up requiring 30 times the amount of the bonus be wagered. If your expected value to actually received the reward outweigh the reward you have wasted your time and money, so try to pursue offers that keep the requirement multiplier below 20, or even 10.
- Be aware of the nature of cashback offers: Many of the better bonus offers are those that award cashback for losses, essentially giving you a chance to bet with reduced risk. But the term “cashback” is not always used in an honest and literal way; while some sportsbooks will refund your money immediately as cash in your account, others will instead award it is “bonus cash” with a significantly high betting requirement thus enticing you to lose even more to earn it. Always keep your eyes open for true cashback.
- Keep track of expiration dates: Every bonus offer you receive has a time limit in which you can redeem the reward. An offer is worthless if you overestimate your ability to complete the wagering requirement in time, so if you aren’t likely to capitalize on the promotion then skip it outright.
- Do not cancel a bonus early: Even worse than getting partway through an offer and hitting the deadline is choosing to end it outright: the nature of most bonuses is that they unlock after the requirements are met, so if you’ve already played through part of the cost before recouping any of the reward you are worse off than if you haven’t started at all. This does not mean you can’t back out of an offer if it stands in the way of a better one, just be wary that you haven’t paid a price for anything.
- Prioritize matched free bets: Jump on offers for a free bet in exchange for another real-money bet. If your wager results in an extra bet of anywhere from 20% to 100% of the original amount, you have increased your odds enough to give you an advantage on most reasonable picks. It’s rare to get to play with an edge over the house, and the opportunity should not be wasted.
- Consult this website frequently for exclusive offers.
The common theme here is simply to be aware of the finer stipulations of promotions and choose those that will not be self-defeating to fulfill. This may be even more important if the less-hospitable regulatory environment in Pennsylvania forces operators to offer less valuable terms than in other markets.
However, since this amount of homework requires much more time and effort than some players have at their disposal, this site will do much of the work for you in finding the best bonuses and explaining them as clearly as possible in our reviews.
Subscribe to our list and we’ll alert you when internet gambling goes live in PA.