Opening legalized sports betting during a pandemic has not been easy. Since Illinois legalized sports betting in June of 2019, there was an opening planned for 2020 that ultimately had to be delayed. Then opened again, then the in-person sign-up requirement was revoked, then reinstated, and then removed again right before the NFL season kicked off.
That allowed sportsbooks to begin to open up in September of 2020, and there’s been no looking back since. The revenue is up, customers and operators are happy, and the expectation is that the Illinois sports betting market is only going to grow.
It is pretty easy to claim Illinois free bets from sportsbooks operating in the state. Of course, there are other things to consider when choosing a sportsbook besides the free bets. You want a wide variety of betting and sports options, and an easy to use website and mobile app. You also want it to offer fast and safe financial transactions.
When a sportsbooks ticks all of those boxes, you can look at the free bets on offer. It is now standard in the industry for sportsbooks to offer attractive packages of free bets and bonus offers. These help to get the new bettor-sportsbook relationship off to the best possible start. However, it’s a buyer’s market, so don't rush into the first deal you come across. Instead, be sure to find the offer that best suits your personal betting needs and habits.
A big-time daily fantasy sports provider, Draftkings is now a full-scale sportsbook. It offers new customers a $50 free bet after you make your first wager. That's followed by a deposit match bonus of up to $1,000. All new customers of the DraftKings sportsbook are eligible for both welcome offers.
If you’re not yet familiar with the Rivers Casino brand, you’re sure to become familiar with BetRivers sports betting. They are entering every new market in the country and offering a deposit bonus of 100% of up to $250. With a playthrough requirement of just 1x, it is one of the best bonuses out there.
Another of the DFS operators turned sports betting provider, FanDuel, is giving its new customers a risk-free bet of up to $1,000. All new customers qualify, and the first bet you place becomes your risk-free bet. If that bet loses, the amount of the bet, up to $1,000, will be deposited into your account in the form of betting credits.
The Australian sportsbook provider offers new Illinois customers two different welcome bonuses. First, all customers get a $500 risk-free bet on their first fixed-odds wager. Second, customers also get a $1,500 risk-free bet on PointsBetting wagers. PointsBetting is a PointsBet innovation. It increases the winnings or losses of a bet based on the number of points that it wins or loses by.
A leader of the sports betting industry in the UK, William Hill also operates in the US. It is currently giving its new Illinois customers a $500 risk-free bet. Only new customers are eligible, and the first wager a player places is the risk-free bet. If the bet loses, the customer receives betting credits in their account. They must use that bet within seven days, otherwise it will expire.
Legal sports wagering existing all around Illinois - in Iowa, Indiana, and Michigan. The desire to keep Illinois sports betting dollars in Illinois means that competition between operators is fierce. There are so many options in this ever-growing market that they must do something to compete for your business.
There really is no better way to get players through the virtual doors than by offering free bets. Of course, a sportsbook doesn’t just want a one-time customer. They want you to be loyal and wager with them long-term. Free bets are therefore the sports betting industry’s version of 'first month rent free'. And the approach works.
Sportsbook bonuses come in a variety of different forms and help sports bettors in very different ways. Whether you're a novice or a high-bankroll bettor, there is something for everyone. The most common types of bonuses are as follows:
This bet works exactly as it sounds. When you sign up as a new sportsbook customer, you will receive a free bet. There may be some minimum odds requirements, but otherwise, it is yours to use as you see fit.
The amount of the bet typically is not a lot - just $10 to $20. That’s because the money is coming directly from the sportsbook with no strings attached. Even though the amounts are modest, these are great bonuses to get. Free bets are added to your account automatically, and all of winnings from the free bet are yours to keep.
The chief difference between a free bet and a risk-free bet is who puts up the money. A free bet is paid for by the sportsbook, whilst a risk-free bet is paid for by the customer. Because you are the one who is fronting the money, risk-free bets can be more valuable. It isn't rare for risk-free bets to be worth as much as $1,000.
These are the very first bets you place after opening your new account. The sportsbook will tell you how much money they will guarantee if the bet loses. And if that bet does lose, then the amount of the bet will be refunded, up to a stated maximum. The refund will be added back to your account in the form of free betting credits.
No deposits are required for a sign-up bonus. Just sign up for a new sports betting account, and the sportsbook will add money directly into your account. This allows you to try the operator without risking a penny of your own cash.
The sign-up bonus is the smallest of all of the bonuses. However, even a $10 bonus can be valuable when you’re first building up your bankroll.
These are the best bonuses because they can add plenty of wagering potential to your account. Simply sign up for a new sportsbook account and make your first deposit. The sportsbook will match that deposit from anywhere from 20% to 100%. In some rare cases, even higher bonuses can be offered.
Because these are big dollar bonuses, they usually have something called a playthrough requirement. This means you must wager the total amount of the deposit + bonus a designated number of times. Only when that has been done does the bonus money convert to cash. The playthrough requirement can be as high as 5x but in some cases as low as 1x.
Operating in partnership with the Casino Queen in East St. Louis, DraftKings continues to be a leader in markets across the country. They have the largest handle in Illinois. It's easy to see why when you look at the size of their bonus offer to new customers.
A $50 free bet is awarded upon making your first bet of at least that amount. DraftKings also offers a deposit match bonus of up to $1,000. It’s only good for new customers making their initial deposit, but it only matches at 20%. That means you would need to deposit $5,000 to max out the bonus. Still, this deal is one of the biggest in the industry.
On the other side of the spectrum is BetRivers. The deposit match bonus here maxes out at only $250. However, it is matched at 100%, so you won't need to deposit as much of your own cash to max it out.
BetRivers were the first online sportsbook to go live in Illinois. It operates unders a license held by the Rivers Casino Des Plaines. In order to unlock the full $250 deposit bonus, the playthrough requirement is just 1x. Use the bonus code: 250MATCH when making your initial deposit.
FanDuel is the other daily fantasy sports provider turned fully functioning sportsbook. They offer Illinois sports betting under a license held by Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria. New customers here can take up a risk-free bet offer worth as much as $1,000.
No bonus code is required. Simply sign up for a new account and deposit enough to cover your first bet. If that bet loses, you will be credited the amount of the loss, up to $1,000. This will be in the form of free betting credits.
The innovative Australian sportsbook came to Illinois through a partnership with the Hawthorne Race Course located just outside Chicago. They offer two different bonus offers for the two different types of betting they offer.
First is a $500 risk-free bet on your first fixed-odds bet. And second, you are offered a $1,500 risk-free bet on your first PointsBetting wager. PointsBetting is a means of wagering that pays you more money for bigger wins. Win your bet by five points, get 5x your winnings. However, if you lose your bet by five points you'll lose 5x your stake.
The long-time British sports betting operator is in Illinois through a relationship with Grand Victoria Casino Elgin. Along with decades and decades of industry experience and innovation, William Hill offers its news customer a $500 risk-free bet.
If the very first bet you place ends up losing, William Hill will refund the amount of that bet. The maximum refund is $500, and will be awarded as betting credits to your account. Once the free betting credits are awarded, you will have seven days to place the free bet. Otherwise, the credit will be forfeited.
Anyone who is at least 21 years old can legally have an account in Illinois. If you want to place bets and use Illinois free bets and bonuses, you must be located inside state lines. Geolocation technology will be used to verify your location.
You do not need to be an Illinois resident to have an account, place bets or claim bonuses. Anyone aged 21 or over who is visiting the state is legally allowed to make sports bets. Rven if it’s just for a connecting flight at O’Hare,
Illinois offers most of the same deposit methods that you’ve seen at sportsbooks in other states. You can pay with your Visa or Mastercard. (Most sportsbooks do not take American Express or Discover.) ACH/eCheck is fast and easy, as is using online bill pay and other means of bank transfer. You can also use PayPal, PayNearMe, or cash at an affiliated retail casino and sportsbook.
Bonus offers from sportsbooks do not count as gambling winnings, and therefore they do not have to be reported to the IRS. But if that bonus is converted to cash and is then withdrawn from your account, it does officially become gambling winnings. Any amount that you make over $600 must be declared as income.
On the flip side, all sports betting losses, up to the amount you win, can be written off if they are itemized.
You can place wagers on all Illinois professional sports. It’s also worth noting that PointsBet is the official betting partner of the Chicago Bears, which means you will find several Bears specific bonuses and promotions at PointsBet, including guaranteed spreads and money lines.
You can also place wagers on NCAA sports, but with an exception. Betting on Illinois-based college teams and athletes and college events taking place in Illinois is not permitted.
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