How to Use Your North Carolina Sports Betting Promos & Sign-Up Bonuses: The Best & Worst Ways

How to Use Your North Carolina Sports Betting Promos & Sign-Up Bonuses: The Best & Worst Ways article feature image

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There are four main types of welcome offers in U.S. sports betting, but in North Carolina, almost all books are offering the simplest and lowest-investment kind — what we call a "bet/get."

You'll just have to deposit a little (usually $10), bet a little ($5 or $10 depending on the book), and you'll get a few hundred in bonus bets, even if your first bet loses. Bonus bets are like a site credit in which you keep any profit from those bets, but not the stake of the bonus bet itself. And you can't withdraw them; they must be bet.

So what's the best way to use your bonus bets? I'd say there are four ways — the mathematically optimal way, the "safe" way, the fun way, and the bad way (which is also not fun, so two strikes there).

How to Use Your NC Sign-Up Bonuses

1. The Optimal Way: Plus-Money Wagers

The most mathematically optimal way to use any bonus bet is betting at plus money, because you don't keep the stake of your bonus bet like you do with a normal cash bet.

In fact, the higher the line, the more expected value you're getting. Expected value, or EV, is what you'd win on average if your bet was played out an infinite number of times. It's just your payout times the probability.

I'll spare you most of the math; there's a bit more in our deeper dive on using bonuses. But I've outlined the quick EV in this chart with a $50 bonus bet. If you bet something that's -250, you'll win on average about $14 in cash for that $50 bonus. If you bet something at +500, on average, you'll win almost $42 in cash.

With a bonus bet, it's mathematically impossible to get more value on a favorite than on an underdog.

OddsWin AmountProbabilityEV

The problem is that expected value doesn't deal in reality. You don't have infinite bonus bets. If you're signing up in North Carolina, you'll have about $1,000-$2,000 worth of bonus bets, depending on if you maximize the promos. If you make 25, $50 bonus wagers all on bets that are 200-1, you're likely still going to lose all of them.

So here's what we recommend instead. Bet at plus money, but follow these two principles:

  • Aim for straight bets between +300 and +600.
  • Aim for tight markets with both sides available. This means that the dog and the favorite are relatively close, like +325 on the dog and -400 on the favored side. And that there are two sides of the best. By offering the other side of a bet, the sportsbook has some accountability on the price. If they offer Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker to score the first touchdown scorer at +5000 but his true probability is +1000000, you're still getting ripped off, even though you're betting at plus money.
  • Aim for lines that are favorable relative to other sportsbooks.

Parlays are always going to be a fun option and many people will gravitate toward them, but mathematically, it makes more sense to place straight bets, since parlays have such a big, built-in house edge.

Here's an example of how my bonus bet will play out. I'll take the Nuggets team total over at +390, which checks the three boxes — +390, two-way market, favorable relative to other sportsbooks.

draftkings bonus bet example

2. The Fun Way: Whatever the hell you want

Sports betting is supposed to be fun, and it's supposed to provide entertainment. If parlaying Fred Biondi to finish top 20 at the Puerto Rico Open at +700 and Iowa State to make the men's basketball Final Four at +500 is going to be fun, I'm not going to stop you.

But I'll return to what I said earlier.

You only get so many of these welcome offers. You'll get more bonus bets later in your betting life at these sportsbooks for a variety of existing-user promotions, but they'll usually be smaller.

So if you're using all $1,000 of your bonus bets on a variety of 10,000-1 parlays, you'll still probably lose them all.

If you're crafting parlays, make sure they're in a similar range — maybe +300 to +1500 — and not too many legs. If each leg is a bad bet on its own, you're losing more value each leg you add because of the house edge baked into parlays. Same goes for same game parlays.

The modern sports bettor — usually young men with disposable income — do not want to turn a $10 bonus bet into $10 cash. Or even $30 cash. They have $30 already. They want to win so much money on Sunday that they can call their boss first thing Monday morning and say that they're no longer in need of employment.

Do I endorse this? Of course not. Do I understand it? Yes.

3. The "Safe" Way: Conversion

There is a way to guarantee you'll turn your bonus bets into cash. It's effectively a hedge in which you bet one side of the same bet with your bonus bet, and the other side at a different sportsbook with cash. In the U.S. it's called "bonus bet conversion." In the U.K., it's known as matched betting.

There are lots of tools available to find the optimal "conversions" for you, like this one at CrazyNinjaOdds. They'll even tell you the exact amounts to bet on each side, and which sportsbooks to hedge them at.

In this example, I'm betting:

  • A $10 bonus bet on Coppin State at +340 at DraftKings. A win would pay $34.
  • A $26.77 cash bet on Morgan State at -370 at FanDuel. A win would pay $7.23.

So if the bonus bet wins, I win $34 but I lose the $26.77 I put in. That's $7.23 profit. If the favorite wins, I lose my bonus bet but I win $7.23 in cash.

So no matter the result, you're getting the same amount back. Just make sure to bet something that can't end in a push or tie.

bonus bet conversion example with coppin state and morgan state basketball

There are two main reasons people avoid this method:

  1. Most bettors don't want to turn $10 into $7. They want to turn $10 into $250, or $1,000, or $10,000. It's just how modern bettors behave.
  2. If your bonus bets are larger, it's going to require a massive hedge on the other side — if you changed this example to a $200 bonus bet, you'd need to bet $535 on the other side. That could raise some red flags among the risk teams at these sportsbooks, which don't like this practice. And it's also just a lot of money to deposit, depending on your bankroll. And you likely can't get that much money down on props. Lotta problems if you're dealing in bigger amounts.

And if you do plan on employing any type of conversion, make sure you're not betting both sides at the same sportsbook. That's a recipe for an instant ban.

4. The Bad Way: Big favorites

Let's return to the chart from the top.

OddsWin AmountProbabilityEV

Using a $50 bonus bet on a favorite that's -250:

  • Will return only $20 if it wins
  • And provides much less expected value

Plus it's no fun. No one wants to turn a $50 credit into $20.

So avoid betting big favorites, or even point spreads at -110, with bonus bets.

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