How Much Are You Worth? Sportsbooks Want To Know

Jack Andrews
July 29, 2021

Free Money From SportsbooksHow much are you worth? No, not your net worth. How much are you worth to a sportsbook that wants to BUY your loyalty? Are you worth $50? $100? $500? More? Hopefully you have a high valuation for yourself, because most sportsbooks in states new to regulated sports betting have put a price on what they’re willing to spend to acquire your business. You may be surprised to learn how much they’re willing to spend and how you can maximize it.

 

Sportsbook Signup Bonuses

Let’s start with WHY these sportsbooks are willing to do this. The average casual sports bettor will only use one, maybe two, apps to make their sports bets. Of course, the Unabated sports bettor knows that the more books you can choose from, the lower the synthetic hold you’ll be betting into. However, casual bettors gravitate to just one or two brands. If a sportsbook can incentivize a bettor to give them all or most of their business, they stand to profit. 

They refer to the money they expect to extract from you as the LTV, Lifetime Total Value. The price they are willing to spend to get that business is the CAC, Customer Acquisition Cost. To them it’s just a simple math problem, if the LTV exceeds the CAC then they have a +EV situation for themselves.

The trick for the sportsbook, and what their investors want to see, is how to maximize LTV while minimizing CAC. This is why you see such a wide range of new user sign up offers. Before things got competitive in the US, it was common to see a new user sign up bonus of only $50 or less in Nevada. When legalization proliferated we quickly saw the bar being raised. Sign up promos quickly ballooned up to $500 or more. During competitive times of the year, they often go even higher than that.

Conversely, the trick for the savvy sports bettor is to maximize the CAC and hopefully minimize their LTV so that this inefficiency in market economics works in their favor, not in favor of the sportsbooks. 

 

Finding Good Bonuses

In figuring out how much you are worth, let’s first start with how much the sportsbook thinks you are worth. As you can probably guess, their exact algorithms around LTV & CAC are closely guarded marketing secrets. However, the operators which are public companies have a fiduciary obligation to disclose how much they’ve been spending on things like this. Shareholders need to know. Digging through the quarterly earnings reports I’ve created a picture of what the publicly traded operators have been spending on average per customer acquisition:

sportsbooks customer acquisition spend

This chart doesn’t mean that you can expect a higher sign-up promo from PointsBet than from Barstool. A large part of this chart is explained through brand recognition. DraftKings and FanDuel can get away with spending less because they benefit from higher brand recognition in the US as well as a natural crossover from DFS for many players. 

Meanwhile, Barstool benefits from a user base that is loyal to that brand for other reasons. It is worth noting that these costs include advertising and other marketing costs, such as payment to affiliates. However, the point remains, these sportsbooks are willing to spend several hundred dollars to acquire you as a customer. 

Sportsbooks would love it if you signed up without a promo, deposited a big amount, and wagered every game on the board, parlaying most of them. Fortunately, you are smarter than that. If you’re going to add their app to your daily sports betting routine, then you expect to get paid. There is going to be a push from operators, especially the publicly traded ones, to reduce their CAC going forward. 

We’ve seen that so far in this nascent industry. Sign up promos were originally deposit $500 and get $500 free. Then they became your first wager is risk-free up to $500 (knowing that most recreational bettors won’t want to chunk out $500 on their first wager anyway). Now we see the emergence of the $100 can’t lose promo. You bet $1 to win $100 on something certain happening in the game. Either team scores a touchdown, or either team hits a 3-pointer. When I see a promo like this, I can’t help but feel anyone who takes advantage of this offer is drastically undervaluing themselves. 

 

Current Sportsbook Signup Deals

Let’s look at how much the various types of popular signup promos are worth. First, here’s a quick rundown of the various types of sign-up promos available these days. 

PromoExplanationEVStrategy
DraftKings Bet 1 win 100Bet $1 to win $100 on a certainty. Bonus paid in four $25 Free Bets. Free bets are use-once wagers where only winnings are paid. You’re letting the sportsbook buy your loyalty too cheaply with these promos.$50-90You’re essentially getting four $25 free bets for signing up. Wager those free bets on long odds situations. 
BetMGM Signup OfferPlace a single wager up to their specified amount. If it loses, you get your money back in the form of free bets where only the winnings are paid. This is better, but not the best. Your EV depends on how you approach the bets.$200-$350You’re getting two bites at the apple. Bet the initial wager on a long shot. If it loses, bet the subsequent free bet on a long shot (or hedge it out for guaranteed profit). 
Fanduel signup offerJust like above, you get a risk-free wager. However, with this promo, the losses are refunded as site credit, not free bets. Site Credit can be wagered like real money. Much better deal for the player. They only need to make a longshot bet once in the process. $500-$900Wager on the longest odds possible. Treat the refunded money as normal bankroll.
BetMGM Deposit MatchThe deposit match is becoming more rare. The money is added to your balance but you must meet wagering requirements before you can cash out. As good as cash in hand if you can find low-margin or arbitrage situations. $1900-2000Check wagering requirements and then find low-margin or positive EV ways to wager. If busting out fulfills the requirements then look for arbitrage situations where this money is on the side less likely to win. 

To calculate your Expected Value (EV), you just need to calculate each possible result. In the case of a risk-free bet where your money is refunded, you just need to multiply the potential winnings by the odds of that bet winning. For instance, in the case of a $500 risk-free wager:

If you wager on an event where both sides are priced at -110, you will win your bet 50% of the time, the other 50% you will lose and get refunded. 

Win: 50% * $454.55 = +$227
Your EV would be $227. 

In the table above I recommend using your risk-free bet on a long shot. The reason for this is because your wager amount is capped at $500 (or whatever the risk-free wager limit is). However, your winnings are not capped. The longer the odds, the more your potential winning on that capped bet amount. Here’s a quick look at how your EV climbs with longer odds:

EV of a $500 Risk Free Wager (assuming 4.5% market vig)

Odds
Expected Value (EV)
+100
$238
+200
$318
+300
$359
+500
$398
+800
$424
+1000
$434

For promos where you need to wager the refunded wager as additional free bets, you need to go through this exercise of trying to win long shots multiple times. Given the aversion to losing many sports bettors humans have, you can also explore finding ways to “flip the script.” I talk about it in this popular YouTube video. If you haven’t watched it before, it may do a better job of explaining how to handle risk-free bets than I’m doing in 1500 words here. 

 

How To Find The Best Signup Deals

Sometimes the best promotion isn’t the big splash on the front page of a site. Sometimes it may be hidden or require a certain promo code. Here’s where bonus hunting requires a discerning eye. 

My advice is to first check the Promotions section of the website. There may be more than one sign up promo listed there and you can decide which one has the best EV. Some of you will try to search Google, but you’re going to be hit with a LOT of crap. 

Affiliate marketing for these sportsbooks is BIG business. Many websites try to optimize their search engine ranking to be the first link you see when searching Google for sportsbook promos and bonuses. If you see one that sticks out through the muck, be certain to check if it is still valid. 

The best time to find a good signup deal is shortly after an operator enters the market. Not immediately on their first day of operation though. Typically, the first month for a sportsbook is a feeling out process. Then they ramp up and try to compete with the rest of the market. 

Beyond that, there are three times during the sports calendar when sportsbooks typically bring out the big guns for sign up deals: the start of the NFL season, the Super Bowl, and March Madness. That’s when the nation’s attention typically turns to sports betting, so they are looking to take advantage of that. 

 

Will Taking Full Advantage Of A Signup Deal Flag Me As Sharp?

Some players worry that taking full advantage of a signup promo will immediately put them on the radar of the sportsbook as a sharp player. The LTV for you is greatly diminished if you are immediately limited to $4.82 per wager. However, with the exception of sportsbooks that share a common player management backend, I have not seen a sportsbook take action that quickly. 

The signup promo is largely a sunk cost already factored by the operator. In other words, they are expecting you to beat them with it. The plan to get the money back in spades later. You are far more likely to draw their attention feeding on daily promotions than on the signup deal. My advice is to take full advantage of signup deals at the peak times of the year and do so as often as you can. 

 

Key Takeaways

  • Sportsbooks are more than willing to pay you to be their customer. They believe they’ll recoup that investment over time.
  • Sportsbook sign-up promotions are getting less generous as operators bow to shareholder pressure.
  • The Expected Value a new sign-up gets from a promotion varies based on the type of promotion offered.
  • Know how the promotion is structured.
  • Maximize the value of the promotion, maximize your self worth.
  • Sportsbooks are fairly tolerant of sign-up promotion winners.