If you’re a user of an online sportsbook today, you are sure to have come across a variety of free bet offers. These may be awarded when your bet loses in a certain way, when making a deposit to a site, or as a bonus for simply signing up to a site.
These free bets can come in all shapes and sizes, and to take full advantage, it is good to have a real understanding as to how each of the free bet offers work. In an industry where making a profit can be a tough ask, taking advantage of these free bets can be the difference between beating the sportsbook and losing.
This article is divided into the following sections, detailing exactly how free bets work and explaining the different types of offers you’ll find online:
How a Free Bet Works: A breakdown of the mechanics of free bets.
How to Claim Free Bet Offers: Detailing bonus codes and where to find the offers.
Types of Free Bet Bonuses: A detailed analysis of risk-free bets, free bets, match bets, no deposit offers, and money back offers.
How do free bet bonuses work?
Free Bet offers are unusual in that they are advantageous for both the customer and the sportsbook.
The customer is more than happy, as they have these free bets to play with, with the potential to earn free money on the back of them.
The sportsbooks are happy as they provide a great way of attracting new customers to their site – and sportsbooks thrive on customers.
As you’ll read below, free bets can come in a variety of ways. They might be based on making a deposit, or simply placing a bet. Generally, the free bet award will be minus your stake. For example, if you were to place a $100 free bet wager at odds of +200 and it won, you’d be awarded $200, but not receive the stake back as well. Occasionally, you might find a free bet where the stake is included – look out for these, as they can offer far more lucrative rewards.
It always pays to read the terms and conditions of any free bet offers. It’s usual practice to only offer one per household (this is to stop the one gambler in the family opening multiple accounts for every other relative who lives at the same address). Age restrictions will be in place too.
How to claim a free bet no-deposit offer
The way you’ll claim a free bet will change from site to site and be dependent on the promotion. For example, if your free bet is on the back of an initial deposit bonus, the free bet might be allocated to your account immediately.
The same prompt reward might come your way if you’ve won a free bet on the back of a loss. Other times you might have to enter a bonus code to claim your free cash. It’s always a good move to read through those terms and conditions first if you’re not sure – there is nothing more annoying than losing out on a free bet because you didn’t realize you had to enter an advertised bonus code.
Bonus codes will usually come from the site itself, although in certain circumstances, you might find a bonus code offered by a third-party company.
Any time you sign up to a new site (or even better, thinking of signing up to a new site), your first port of call should always be to the ‘Promotions’ page. This is where you’ll find all of the offers available, including the welcome package as well as any ongoing promotions and loyalty schemes.
Types of free bet bonuses
It wasn’t so long ago that free bets were almost unheard of. In the early days of online gambling, customers were simply pleased that online sportsbooks were there. People couldn’t take advantage of the offers because there were none. However, as competition within the industry has grown, sportsbooks have developed a number of ways of attracting new customers with free bet offers.
Here is a detailed rundown of all of the different types of free bets bonuses you can enjoy at an online sportsbook:
There is nothing more enjoyable than a risk-free bet. Like many of the offers listed below, these are usually reserved for new customers at a sportsbook. They will require you to make an initial deposit and then place that first wager. If the bet wins its business as usual and you’ve made a fine start with your new account. If the bet loses, the ‘risk free’ part comes in.
At this point, the sportsbook will refund your stake in the form of a free bet. You’re now free to place another bet. Effectively with this type of bonus offer you are freerolling with your first bet.
In most cases, the free bet award will not include your stake if it wins. Check the terms and conditions as there will usually be deadlines for both placing the initial bet and then placing the second bet (if the first one should lose). With generally shorter deadlines, aim to place short term wagers instead of heading to the futures markets.
A good example of a risk-free bet is the one offered by FanDuel Sportsbook, where they’ll give you a free bet of up to $500. If your bet loses, it’s like it never happened.
No deposit offers
No deposit offers are some of the most enjoyable promotions you’ll find online. The idea behind them is that you can bet for free (and potentially make some cash!) and that you’ll enjoy the site so much you’ll stick around. On this basis, you’ll usually find these offers at those sportsbooks that do offer a good service overall.
These no deposit offers are usually on the smaller side of the bonus amounts, maybe in the region of $10 or $20. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as placing the free bonus cash as a wager and withdrawing the winnings. You’ll usually find a play-through requirement with these offers. If you take a $20 no deposit offer with a 15x playthrough requirement, you’ll have to wager a total of $300 to make the cash yours.
At DraftKings Sportsbook you can enjoy a free $25 no deposit bonus – perfect if you want to ‘try before you buy’ and give your account an instant boost.
Matched bet bonuses
Another good bonus variant is the matched bet bonus. Having made your first deposit and placed that first bet, the sportsbook will give you a free bet up to the same amount. This is similar to the risk-free bet in that if your initial bet loses, you’ll have another chance with the free bet. However, this has a distinct advantage, in that if the initial bet wins, you’ll still gain the free bet.
Very similar (again) to the matched bet bonus is the matched deposit bonus. This time the size of the free matched bet is based on the size of your initial deposit (as opposed to the size of the first bet).
In both of the above cases, you might find more stringent playthrough requirements due to the greater generosity of the offer.
William Hill New Jersey operates a scheme along these lines, where once you’ve deposited and placed bets up to the value of $50 or more, they’ll give you a free $50 to play with.
Money-back free bets
One of the most interesting developments in bonuses and promotions is the introduction of money back bets if a wager loses in a certain way. Here’s some good examples of these free bet offers:
Back a baseball team and they lose in extra innings.
Bet on a basketball team and they lose in overtime.
If a bet on a soccer team fails due to a goal being scored after 80 minutes.
Place a soccer wager on a selected market and have the game finish without a goal.
In all of these cases, your free bet award will be without the initial stake, so you’ll only receive the winning portion should your free bet win.
At some sportsbooks, like FanDuel, you’ll also find insurance bets which work in a similar way. These promotions work with parlays with a minimum number of selections. If one leg of the parlay lets you down, you’ll receive your initial stake back as a free bet.
Many of the above offers (including the overtime in basketball, the extra innings in baseball and the goal scored after the 80th minute in soccer) are available at BetStars New Jersey.
Other free bet offers
As well as the popular methods employed above, you might also find many other ways of enjoying free bets.
Particular promotions might state that if you wager a certain amount on a given sport during a set time period, you’ll be awarded an additional free bet.
For example, at BetStars Sportsbook if you bet $25 within any given Monday and Sunday, you’ll be awarded a free bet of $5. Another good example is at William Hill, where they’ll refund you 20% of your losses as a free bet on any 4-team losing parlays in baseball. MGM runs a similar promotion, offering you 10% back on any losses during the NBA playoffs.
Loyalty schemes are a good way to enjoy free betting too. Many online sportsbooks offer reward programs, where you’ll earn points every time you place a bet. You’ll be able to turn these points into cash or free bet credits. These loyalty schemes are usually linked into VIP clubs too, which can lead to further benefits – the quicker you earn these points, the larger range of additional benefits will come your way.
Advantages of free bets offers
Obviously, any time you receive a free bet, it will feel like a bonus. However, when you look at it from a numbers point of view, these free bets can make a real difference.
Every time a sportsbook offers odds on an event, they have their own ‘juice’ incorporated into the odds. For example, in a two-way market, you’ll usually find odds of -110 for each side of the market. This effectively means that in a 50/50 bet, you’ll get slightly less than double your money back – this is where the sportsbook takes their cut (this is a necessary evil, as without that cut, sportsbooks wouldn’t exist and none of us would be able to place a wager).
If you incorporate these free bets effectively into your betting strategy, instead of the sportsbooks having the edge, you can turn it around and have the edge yourself. Many of the offers detailed above can effectively double your initial deposit or bet, turning those odds hugely in your favor.
These free bet offers usually come when opening a new account, so can add to the feel-good factor with that account and give you added confidence in your selections too. Knowing, for example, that you have a risk-free bet first up with a new account, you have that element of freedom. If the bet wins, you’re off to flying start at the new sportsbook – and if it loses you’ve got a second bite of the cherry.
Disadvantages of free bets?
It seems strange to talk about disadvantages when it comes to free bets. However, at times you have to be a little careful, especially when around lesser well-known sportsbooks.
For example, you might find a free bet offer where there is a huge playthrough requirement. This could effectively mean that you’ll be tied to placing an impossibly large number of bets (sometimes within a short time scale) to clear the free bet funds. In these instances, the sportsbooks will have more than got their money back through the juice gained by placing all of these additional bets.
Again, always check the terms and conditions when signing up to a new site. A good piece of advice is to stick with the regulated and state-sanctioned sportsbooks. These perfectly legal sportsbooks want to keep their customers happy, so their offers and promotions are geared to give the good sports bettor an increased chance of success.
Rules and regulations with no deposit bonuses
Whenever there is a free bet offer, you’ll usually find a series of rules and regulations around the free bet offer. It’s always handy to know exactly what these are, so head into those terms and conditions again to find out exactly what you need to do – just to ensure you don’t fall foul and lose out. Here are some common rules around free bets:
The free bets must be placed at a minimum odds level. This will usually be odds of around -200 (or 1.5 in decimal).
There will be a time limit. Usually, you’ll have a longer time limit to place any qualifying bets, with a short time limit (of possibly just seven days) to place the free bet.
Free bets usually need to be placed as a straight wager. Parlays might be allowable too, but bets such as round robins (where you can hedge your bets a little) are usually not allowed.
Free bet offers are usually limited to one per household – so even if you are genuinely opening a new account, the sportsbook might deny the promotion if a family member has already taken it up.
Many sites will require location verification, ensuring you are indeed betting from within the state/country you say you are betting in. This can be done through using the appropriate settings on your mobile device, or location software added to your desktop/laptop. Ensure you’re the appropriate age too!
Free bets overview and advice
With so many sportsbooks bombarding you with free bets and other promotions, it can pay dividends to spend a little bit of time choosing the right one. Head to their promotions page and check out exactly what each site offers. You might want to take advantage of a large risk-free bet or be more drawn to that impressive matched bet bonus. Check out what offers are available on your favorite sports too – there’s no point in joining a site that is geared towards offering NFL promotions, if you’re going to be baseball betting throughout the year (and vice versa).
Choose the right free bet offers and your sportsbook account could enjoy a nice, healthy boost.