Whether you are a seasoned gambler, or someone who has never placed a bet before, you are sure to have heard of the term ‘free bet’.
In this guide, we will give you the breakdown on what a free bet is, and how to make the most of them.
But first, let's start with an updated list of the current available free bets and bonuses offers:
|BetOnline||Up to $1000||Get your Bonus!||ComeOn||Up to £25||Get your Bonus!|
|5Dimes||Up to %50 bonus||Get your Bonus!|
|888sport||Up to %300 Bonus||Get your Bonus!|
|Intertops||Up to $20||Get your Bonus!|
|bwin||Up to £20||Get your Bonus!|
|william hill||Up to £30||Get your Bonus!|
|leovegas sports||Up to %100 Bonus||Get your Bonus!|
|Betway Sports||Up to $30||Get your Bonus!|
|Pinnacle||Always The Best Odds||Get your Bonus!|
What Is A Free Bet?
The best way to think of a free bet is like a buy one get one free offer. The bookmaker is trying to entice you to sign up to their service, and in return they are going to give you something free.
In this case, it is usually a betting token of a specific amount. However, promotions can vary between bookmakers, so don’t always expect them to be the same.
Why Do Bookmakers Offer Free Bets?
The online gambling industry is extremely competitive. New bookmakers are opening all of the time, and are in a fight for a slice of the pie.
There aren’t many ways to differentiate themselves as their products are largely the same. Most bookmakers offer the same big events, so that won’t entice customers.
And people tend to be lazy. It’s not like a supermarket where they buy one product from one shop, and another product from another shop.
Once an online bookmaker has lured you in they know that you’ll generally stay with them and that most people don’t shop around too much.
Free bets are actually run as loss leaders, which means that the bookie loses money initially and hopes to make it back later on.
How Do Free Bets Work?
There is a lot of confusion over how a free bet works. The main reason for that is there are numerous types of free bet, and they differ from company to company.
But we will explain the most common scenario you’re likely to face.
When you sign up to the bookmaker, you typically have to make what is known as a ‘qualifying deposit’. A qualifying deposit is a set amount of money that makes you eligible for the advertised bonus.
Once you have deposited that amount into your account (typically £10/£20) you must place that on a bet.
The selection you must place that bet on is usually restricted to certain sports, or must be above a particular price.
For example, the terms and conditions may say something like: “Qualifying bets must be placed on Football markets at odds greater than 2.0”.
Once you have placed your qualifying bet, you must typically wait for that bet to be settled. Once it has been settled, the bookmaker credits your account with your free bet.
It is then down to you to place your free bet on a selection of your choice. Please check whether it is a stake returned, or stake not returned free bet. This will alter the winnings you should expect to have returned to you.
What Does Stake Returned and Stake Not Returned Mean?
Stake returned free bets are exactly as it says. You place your free bet on a selection as normal, and your free bet amount is returned to you with your winnings.
However, sometimes, the stake is not returned. This means that when you place your free bet, you will not receive the free bet amount in your winnings.
Stake Returned: If you place a £20 free bet at odds of 2.0, your return will be exactly as you would expect placing a normal bet. You will receive £40 which consists of your winnings (£20) and your free bet amount (£20)
Stake Not Returned: If you place the same £20 bet at 2.0 on a SNR free bet, then all you will receive back as winnings is your profit of £20.
What Is A Risk Free Bet?
Occasionally, the bookmakers offer what are known as ‘risk free bets’. These differ slightly from free bets because the bookmaker doesn’t physically give you a betting token to use.
Effectively, they are giving you a free shot. You place a bet with your own money on a selection of your choice. Then, if the bet wins, happy days, it’s time to count your winnings!
However, if the bet loses, then the bookmaker will refund your stake into your account. Typically, you can withdraw this, but sometimes it’s in the form of a betting token, and there are wagering requirements attached.
Other Types Of Bookmaker Promotions
Sometimes instead of a free bet, a bookmaker will offer what is known as a ‘welcome offer’.
This is typically in the form of an enhanced price which is massively above the regular odds. For example, in a Football match, Barcelona are odds of 1.05 to win a match. But the bookmaker is offering new customers odds of 5/1 with their first bet once they sign up.
Usually, your bet will be limited to around £10. Also, any winnings above the regular odds may be paid out in free bets. But occasionally, these welcome offers are more lucrative than the standard free bet promotions that are offered.
How To Place A Free Bet?
Placing a free bet differs between each bookmaker, but it’s typically the same.
Once they have settled your qualifying bet, they will credit your account with a free bet token.
This is normally displayed alongside your main balance, in a separate section that says ‘free bet total’. This is useful because it stops you from becoming confused between free bets and your own money.
When you want to place your free bet, you must find a selection you wish to bet on and add it to your bet slip. On your betslip, where you add your stake amount, there will be a box to tick that says something like ‘use free bet’.
To use the free bet token, it is as simple as clicking on ‘use free bet’ and hitting submit. One useful tip is to always check the bet receipt to ensure the bet has been processed correctly.
How Long Before A Free Bet Is Credited?
This is solely down to the bookmaker and it differs from company to company.
Some of the more technologically advanced bookmakers will send you a free bet the second your qualifying requirements have been triggered.
Meanwhile, some others take between 24 to 72 hours. If you haven’t received a free bet within that time frame then it is worth contacting the bookmaker to see why. Usually they will then credit it automatically.
What Are Wagering Requirements?
Wagering requirements are the amount that you need to bet in order to release your bonus funds.
With many free bets and bonuses, you must wager your bonus and qualifying deposit a certain number of times before you can withdraw your bonus funds, which are locked.
For example, if your qualifying deposit is £10 and your bonus is £10 and you have to wager both 3x. In this case, you must place £60 worth of bets before the bonus amount, and any winnings associated with your free bet can be withdrawn.
Wagering requirements vary from bookmaker to bookmaker. It is worth checking what the wagering requirements are beforehand to ensure they aren’t too restrictive.
Reasons Why You May Not Have Received Your Free Bet
One of the most confusing things for new customers is when they sign up to a bookmaker, and then don’t receive their free bet.
Usually, this is because they haven’t triggered the qualifying terms. Here is a quick checklist for you to run through which may explain why you haven’t received it.
It’s also worth going through this checklist prior to acquiring your free bet to avoid mistakes.
1. When do the terms say the bonus will be released?
This is always the first thing to check. As we said previously, the release of the free bet varies from site to site. Some gambling companies will release your bonus to you immediately after completing your qualifying terms.
Other bookies can take some time to send your free bet, and in some cases it can be up to 72 hours after your qualifying bet has been settled.
With that in mind, it is always worth choosing a qualifying bet that is scheduled to start quite soon.
2. Is the bonus triggered automatically?
Not every bookmaker sends you the bonus automatically as they do not have the technical capabilities to do so.
While others choose not to send it automatically and leave the responsibility in your hands to claim your bonus.
So check the terms as it might say that you need to email customer support to claim your free bet.
3. Have you checked your eligibility?
Online bookies have numerous rules in place to ensure that people aren’t misusing their bonuses.
As a result, they have a detailed eligibility list. If you are found to not adhere to these terms and conditions, you may not receive your bonus despite meeting the qualifying terms. It’s as simple as that.
Things that can make you ineligible are multiple accounts from the same household, or you having had an account with the bookmaker previously.
Also, free bets and bonuses can sometimes be restricted to certain countries. So it is always worth checking you’re in a country that is included in the promotion.
4. Is your qualifying bet correct?
This is one of the most common ways people fail to claim a free bet correctly. The exact requirements that you must trigger are laid out in the terms and conditions of the promotion.
It is worth scanning through these, and writing them down prior to betting so you can be sure you’ve noticed all of them. Then check these off against your chosen bet before submitting it to ensure you won’t have any problems.
Things in particular to watch out for are minimum odds of your qualifying bet, only being able to bet on specific sports, and only being able to bet on specific markets.
5. Check to see whether you need a specific bonus code
Not all promotions are automatically triggered once you sign up and meet the qualifying requirements.
Some bookmakers require users to input a special bonus code when they sign up or make their first deposit. Usually this is the case if the bookmaker has multiple sign up offers and is their way of letting you choose between them.
If you realise that you failed to add a code, it is always worth contacting customer support. Explain that you have followed the requirements and hopefully they will credit your free bet still.
6. Some payment methods are ineligible for signup offers
When you make your qualifying deposit, every single bookmaker allows a deposit via debit card.
However, you may not meet the free bet requirements if you choose alternative payment methods such as Paypal, Neteller, Skrill or Paysafecard. This should always be checked as it is quite common for these deposit methods to disqualify you from a promotion.
7. Free bets have an expiry date
Unfortunately, the free bets won’t stay around in your account forever. You will normally get between 7 and 30 days before your free bet vanishes from your account, never to be seen again.
This sometimes includes the complete use of the free bet including fulfilling any wagering requirements. So if you have placed one bet, but need to roll it over 3 times, this must be completed in full before the 30 days are up.
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