If you’ve watched ESPN, or any sporting event at all on TV over the past few months, there’s a 99.9% chance you’ve seen commercials for FanDuel, “the leader in one-week fantasy football leagues”.  Lately they’ve been offering a “get up to $200 free on your first deposit” welcome bonus.  Sounds awesome, right?  Well, it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be.  This is the truth about FanDuel and their “welcome bonus”.

I signed up for FanDuel this week.  As a first time user, I entered one of their many promo codes as I signed up thinking they’d match my initial $200 deposit with another $200, bringing my account balance to $400 instantly.  The code I entered must have been old or something, because I was only offered $150 in bonus cash.  Without reading the fine print (you should ALWAYS read the fine print with sites like these), I figured I’d likely have to put all that money in play before I could potentially withdraw any of it, but from then on I’d be good to go.  I figured wrong.

You see, FanDuel doesn’t just dump the money in your account.  They release the cash at a 4% rate of the entry fee for every contest you enter.  That means to get the “free” $200, you have to put $5,000 dollars in play on FanDuel.  Now, you may be lucky enough to win your way up to $5,000 on their site and eventually rake the $200 “welcome bonus”, but chances are your initial deposit and everything in your account will be gone before that ever happens.

Don’t take it from me, here are the details from FanDuel themselves, directly from their site:

What is deposit bonus?

Deposit bonus is offered to users upon first deposit and special promotional offers. Bonuses are earned gradually after you enter and complete paid contests. Your balance is shown in your account menu as ‘Pending Bonus’ and in your My Account area. Limits and terms and conditions may apply.

How fast does deposit bonus become real cash?

Deposit bonus is released as real cash at a rate of 4% of the entry fee of the contest you enter. For example, if you enter a $25 contest, $1 of deposit bonus will be released into your main funds account. Users collect deposit bonus upon settlement of the contest entered. If a contest or entry is canceled, your entry fee will be refunded and no bonuses will be earned.

Why isn’t my full bonus received upon deposit?

Gradually releasing bonuses as you play prevents fraud and discourages multi-accounting. Please note that your deposit bonus can only be used on FanDuel and cannot be withdrawn as cash.

What are the benefits of deposit bonuses?

Deposit bonus rewards loyal users who play consistently on FanDuel. First time deposit bonuses do not expire so the funds are available until they’ve been earned and spent.