July 21, 2024
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There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Introduction

Those who subscribe to DansDeals are used to getting valuable offers. With that ”deal” mindset, many may think that deals from online casinos offering risk-free bets and seemingly free money are bargains worthy of Dan himself.

Casino ads are everywhere—online, YouTube, train stations, billboards on Route 80 and more. Casinos offer you free initial risk-free bets for their online sportsbooks, with enticing offers such as risk-free bet up to $500 or $1,000 risk-free bet bonus. They seem to be a risk-free way to make money. It’s the nirvana of gambling—betting with no risk.

In the irrational exuberance of having the casinos show you their money, most betters signing up don’t seem to have read the Terms & Conditions (T&C). If they did, they’d know that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch in the betting world.

These offers sound too good to be true because they are. If they were made without the T&C, the casinos would lose large amounts of money.

Gambling and Halacha

There are serious halachic issues with gambling. Entering a casino or using a betting app requires discussion with a competent halachic authority as to its permissibility.

Rabbi David Hirsch, rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University and rav of Kehilas Bais Yosef of Passaic, has many shiurim on YUTorah outlining gambling issues. He notes that gambling isn’t a new phenomenon, as there were Rishonim who dealt with it.

Details

The casinos make it eminently clear in the T&C what you are getting. While they’ll give you, say, a $500 initial free bet, what you can do with that and what you can wager on is often highly restricted.

Even if you place that initial $500 bet, you can’t just take your payout, cash out and walk away. Most of the T&C requires you to bet your bonus before you can cash out. Even though you thought you had $500, the T&C often make you lose it before you can get it. For example, only by playing through $500 in real bets can you cash out funds from your account.

Casinos know what draws people in. Free food, low-cost rooms and complimentary drinks are loss leaders that ensure bettors return to casinos. Now that casinos are operating at limited capacity due to COVID, they use the same marketing tactics to get bettors to use their apps or online sites.

Casino operators know that the $500 ”risk-free bet” is, in fact, only risk-free for them. They get people in and understand that the vast majority will keep betting after they run through their “free” initial bet.

Deciphering a T&C

Understanding what you are getting into and the many requirements (time limits, play-through requirements, etc.) is complicated. T&C are written by lawyers using legalese and betting jargon, making understanding the intricacies of redeeming these offers tricky.

Consider these T&C from DraftKings to the Signup bonus up to $1,000 awarded as a risk-free bet + deposit bonus! offer:

User’s first deposit (min. $5) qualifies the user to receive up to $500 in bonus funds in the form of site credits that can only be used on DraftKings.

Bonus amount is equal to 20% of that deposit amount, not to exceed $500 (user must deposit $2,500 to be eligible to receive the maximum possible bonus amount of $500).

Bonus funds will be awarded to the user according to the following play-through requirement: for every $25 played on DraftKings in DFS/Sportsbook/Casino, user will receive $1 in bonus funds released into their account (e.g., $2,500 deposit requires user to play through cumulative total of $12,500 in daily fantasy contests, sportsbook (-300 odds or longer), casino products, or any combination thereof to receive maximum possible bonus amount of $500).

Play-through requirement must be met 90 days from the date of first deposit to receive maximum bonus.

After such date, you’re ineligible to earn any additional bonus funds as part of this promotion. Customers who previously made a deposit on DraftKings are ineligible for this promotion. Limit one deposit bonus per user.

Promo ends 11/1/20. First bet matched up to $500.

Free bet must be used within 30 days of first bet.

Free bet amount is not included in any returns or winnings.

Free bet is also not redeemable for cash, non-transferable, and non-refundable.

If this was confusing to you, consider that this was a relatively straightforward T&C. Want to have your mind spin? See this T&C from Caesars Casino, which must be read in conjunction with the Caesars Casino Terms of Service, Bonus Policy and General Promotion Rules. If there’s a conflict between the Bonus Policy and/or General Promotion Rules and the specific promotion terms, the specific promotion terms prevail. In event of a conflict between the Terms of Service and specific promotion terms, the Terms of Service prevails. In plain English, these T&C were written to ensure the profitability of the casinos.

These T&C are written on the backs of the suckers that fall for these promotions. Casinos know that these bettors’ naivete is no match for their lawyers and well-written T&C.

Knowledge Is Power

Casinos are business savvy, and these for-profit businesses aren’t giving away money. They understand the power of marketing and the irrationality of their consumers. The offers come with so many constraints, detailed in the T&C, which ensure that the sportsbooks get their money back and more.

There are countless reasons why you should never sign on to these betting offers—many of them practical and economic, some of them halachic.

The importance of reading the T&C can’t be overstated. Because once you do that, you’ll know that you are signing up for what will almost certainly be a losing offer.

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