Free Bets at Illinois Sportsbooks

IllinoisBet.com

By Martin Green

Sports bettors in Illinois can unlock a number of lucrative free bet bonuses by simply signing up for accounts with various online sportsbooks. FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, BetRivers, William Hill and many more leading brands are aggressively competing to seize market share from one another in the state.

These online sports betting sites in Illinois do not really care about earning a profit right now. Customer acquisition is the name of the game, and they are investing heavily in promotional credits as they vie for supremacy. That is great news for sports fans in Illinois, as it means you can grab all sorts of free bets. This guide explains the various options you can choose from and explains how to get the best bonus offers in Illinois today.

Understanding A Free Bet Bonus

A free bet bonus is primarily a marketing tool used by Illinois gambling sites in a bid to entice new customers. They can be lucrative, but you should not think of it simply as free money. After claiming free bet offers, you will need to jump through a few hoops before you can actually make a cash withdrawal. Of course, you also need to make successful wagers. It's important to know how free bet bonuses work before diving in.

The terms and conditions attached to each free bet offer will differ from one sportsbook to the next. However, they all have some strings attached. Sportsbooks are happy to lose some money as they bid to grow their customer bases, but they do not want to be taken to the cleaners.

They impose various wagering requirements on their free bet credits to make it a little challenging for new customers, and it also gives them time to impress you and try to turn you into a loyal, long-term customer. At the same time, it gives you time to essentially test drive the online sports betting sites and see if you want to continue playing at them in future. These are some of the wagering requirements you might find attached to bonus money:

Minimum Odds Level

Many sportsbooks impose a minimum odds requirement upon their free bets offers. For example, you will be required to use it on a sports betting option like an NFL Bet with odds of at least -200. This is to prevent you from simply wagering it on huge moneyline favorites that are almost guaranteed to win and then walking away.

Wager Value

You may be required to use your entire free bet credit amount on just one bet. Other sportsbooks will release the site credit in a series of increments. For example, you may be given four free $50 bets as part of a $200 bonus. Make sure you read the terms and conditions underneath the bonus code.

Wagering Requirements

Online sports betting sites and Il casino sites attach specific rollover requirements to their free bet offers. This is designed to prevent you from quickly withdrawing the funds and never returning. Most of the sportsbooks in Illinois attach a generous 1x wagering requirement to their sports betting bonuses. That means you only need to play the bonus money through once before you can make a withdrawal.

However, others will force you to play the money through several times before you can request a payout from that pot. For example, Illinois DraftKings attached a 25x release requirement to its matched bet bonus, meaning you need to place a large number of wagers before the funds will be released into your real money account for withdrawal.

You will also typically find very onerous rollover requirements attached to no deposit bonus offers. Once again, this prevents you from simply claiming free credit, making a swift withdrawal and never returning. You can figure out whether you like the site while playing through your no deposit bonus funds, while the sportsbook has an opportunity to sell its wares to you.

Time Limits

You will always be given a set period in which you must use your free bet bonus funds. The funds are typically released after you make your qualifying bet, and then you might have seven days or 28 days in which to complete the wagering requirements. If you fail to meet the requirements in the specified timeframe, your free bets will be forfeited, and the credit will be removed from your sportsbook account.

Betting Type Restrictions

Most sportsbooks require you to use your free bets on straight wagers such as moneylines, spreads and totals. Some allow you to place parlays – they will often specify a minimum odds requirement for each leg of a parlay – but you will generally be unable to place teasers or futures bets. You will also be unable to use the early cash out function when fulfilling wagering requirements at the leading online sportsbooks. The good news is you can wager on multiple sports to meet the betting requirements which allows you to try your hand at betting on the MLB, NHL betting and other sports bets.

How Are Free Bets Paid Out?

Any winnings will be credited to your general account balance after you have completed the specified requirements. You can then withdraw anything you have earned from winning bets or use those funds to place more wagers.

Sports betting bonuses generally fall into two categories – cash bonuses and free play bonuses. If you receive a cash bonus, you get to keep your stake (risk amount) on any winning sports bets you place with the bonus money. For example, if you were to place a successful $100 bet on the Illinois NBA team the Chicago Bulls to win an game at +150, you would be returned $250, including $150 in profit and the return of your free bet stake.

If it is a free play bonus, you will not get your stake back. In the example used above, you would be returned $150 if the Bulls were to win, as you would get to keep the profit, but not the risk amount.

Types Of Free Bet Offers

The free bet bonuses available to Illinois sports fans can take several different forms. These are the key types of free bets you need to familiarize yourself with:

Risk Free Bet

Many sports betting sites offer a risk-free bet when you sign up for a new account. You make an initial deposit with your own money and wager it on a sporting event that appeals to you. If your first wager wins, you get to keep the money, just like any other bet.

However, if your first wager loses, you get your initial stake back as a free bet. You can then use this site credit to place another wager, and you will be allowed to keep any winnings you earn from that bet.

The maximum risk free bet amount varies depending upon the sportsbook you visit. For example, FanDuel Illinois offers a risk-free bet worth up to $1,000, whereas Illinois BetMGM offers a risk-free bet bonus worth up to $600. In 2021, William Hill in Illinois decided to offer customers a risk-free bet worth up to $2,021.

It is important to bear in mind that your refund will not take the form of cash. In that regard, it is not truly a risk-free bet. Your refund will always take the form of site credits, but most sportsbooks impose just a 1x rollover on those funds.

Matched Bet

Several sportsbooks offer matched bet bonuses in a bid to attract new customers. You will be required to make a deposit after signing up for a new account, and then the sportsbook will match a percentage of your initial deposit in the form of free bets.

There is generally a minimum deposit requirement of around $10 to unlock a deposit match bonus. The maximum amount you will receive varies. For example, Ilinois BetRivers will give you a 100% matched deposit bonus worth up to $250. You would need to deposit $250 of your own money to receive the full $250 in free bets.

DraftKings offers a 20% matched deposit worth up to $1,000. That means you would need to deposit $5,000 of your own cash to unlock the full $1,000 in matched bet funds. You will then find various wagering requirements attached to these bonus funds, and you often need to place an initial bet – known as a qualifying bet – to claim the bonus.

No Deposit Bet

This is an attractive free bet offer, because it does not require you to deposit your own money. A no deposit free bet bonus is generally a lot smaller than the bonuses mentioned above, and it will typically include strict rollover requirements. However, it allows you to play for free, and you can eventually walk away in profit if you make astute sports betting decisions.

Some sportsbooks will combine a no deposit bet with a deposit match bonus. For example, DraftKings often throws in a $50 no deposit bet alongside its $1,000 matched deposit welcome offer.

Cash Back or Money Back Bet

Some sportsbooks will give you a refund – in the form of a free bet – if your bet loses in a certain way. For example, a bad beat special might see you get a refund if you lose two consecutive spread bets by half a point. Parlay insurance offers will result in a free bet if just one leg of a parlay lets you down.

How to Get The Best Free Bets

Follow these steps to ensure you claim the best free bet offers in Illinois:

Create Accounts at Multiple Sportsbooks

Create accounts with several different Illinois online sportsbooks. This ensures that you will receive several different types of a free first bet. You can claim multiple risk-free bets, matched deposit bonuses and no deposit bonuses by simply signing up for several different accounts at rival sites. It also means you can quickly grab the best available odds on any sporting event you want to wager on.

Loyalty and Rewards Programs

Make the most of loyalty programs. Many sportsbooks automatically enroll you into a rewards plan when you sign up for a new account and place your first bet. You will accumulate points as you play, and these points can later be redeemed for free bets and other rewards. You will also climb up to higher loyalty tiers over time, and that allows you to unlock more appealing rewards. DraftKings and BetMGM are renowned for offering excellent loyalty programs.

Refer A Friend

Most sportsbooks will give you free bets in exchange for convincing friends to sign up. You will be given a referral code, which your friend can enter during the registration process. The sportsbook will then give you a free bet, which is linked to the amount of money your friend deposits after signing up. Your friend will often receive a free bet too.

How to Redeem Risk Free Bets

You will typically be able to claim risk-free bets during the sign-up process. You will either be required to enter a promo code or to simply opt-in. Make a deposit, place your real money wager and keep your money if it wins. If the bet loses, your account will be credited with risk-free bets equivalent to the amount you wagered.

How long do bonus funds take to arrive?

This varies from one sportsbook to the next. Some sites will credit your account with free bets as soon as your first bet is settled, but it can take 72 hours for bonus funds to arrive at other sites. Check the terms and conditions below free bet offers to check.

Pros and Cons of using Free Bet Bonuses

Pros

  • Free bet bonuses provide you with the opportunity to boost your bankroll.
  • Claiming free bets can ultimately reduce the inherent house edge on sports betting markets.
  • Risk-free bet offers allow you to take bold wagering decisions, safe in the knowledge you will be refunded if the bet fails.
  • You can use arbitrage in tandem with free bet bonuses to lock in guaranteed profits.
  • Most sports betting bonuses are easy to understand.
  • The free bet bonuses on offers in Illinois often come with an attractive 1x rollover.
  • You can sign up for bonus offers at competing sites to unlock more value and receive the best free bet offers.

Cons

  • In certain cases, it can be hard to meet the wagering requirements.
  • Risk-free bet offers only provide you with bonus funds if your initial wager loses.

FAQ

Most free bet credits can be used on any sporting event that appeals to you. However, some online sportsbook operators require you to place bets at minimum odds, such as -200. Make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully to learn about any requirements imposed upon the bonus money.

There are several types of free bet. A common offer is a risk-free bet, whereby you get a full refund – in the form of site credits – if your wager loses. Another popular promotion is a match deposit welcome, which gives you a percentage of your first deposit back in free betting credits.

A risk-free bet requires you to deposit your own money and place an initial wager on a sporting event. If it wins, you keep your money. If the bet loses, you get your money back as a free bet, giving you another chance to secure a winner.

Some online sports betting sites require you to enter a promo code to claim your welcome bonus or an ongoing promotion. Others simply require you to opt in. We will provide you with the correct bonus codes to claim sign up offers at online sportsbooks where necessary.

You can generally withdraw any winnings you earn after using your site credit. That implies a 1x rollover requirement. However, some sportsbooks impose a more onerous rollover requirement upon your free bets, meaning you must play the funds through several times before you can make a withdrawal.

Contributors

Martin Green

Reviewer since April 2019

Martin Green spent five years working at William Hill before becoming a journalist in 2009. He has a degree in English Literature and he has edited a number of magazines, newspapers and websites during his career. He began working as a sports writer and professional tipster in 2014, and his work has featured in a large number of top publications across the web.

Interests: Online sportsbooks, Online sports betting