Free betting explained.
What is a free bet?
Free bets are a common bonus awarded by bookmakers to new customers. These are second only to deposit bonuses in popularity among bettors, but unlike the deposit bonus, a free bet can be given out at any time, and allows you to effectively have a risk-free bet. There are usually conditions attached to this bonus, such as a limit on the size of the free bet.
Free betting offers – There’s no such thing as a free lunch, right. But read through and you will see that sometimes there is! Bookmakers do offer their customers free money, there are terms attached but essentially they will fund your account without too much fuss. You don’t have to do too much, just deposit and have a first bet. Free bets are usually available for longer periods of time, whereas betting offers mostly apply or are on offer during a particular tournament, event or match.
You get a free bet to place a bet without risk, and get paid out if your bet wins.
The only difference between a free bet and a standard bet is that you don’t have to contribute the money yourself, so if you do win the stake won’t be refunded to you along with your winnings. Thousands of pounds of free bets are available from brand name high street bookmakers who operate online. Typically you qualify for a free bet when you first open a new account with a bookmaker and place your first bet
Terms of free betting offers
There will be terms attached to the free betting offers which due to recent enforcement by the UK Gambling Commission have to be displayed alongside every betting offer. Some bookmakers make it easy to claim free bets and may not even require that you deposit funds but mostly all UK bookmakers may require that you can use your free bet funds after placing an initial bet or a series of bets to qualify, before they release it.
To qualify for a free bet with a bookmaker…
- Sign up for an account with the bookmaker, providing and verifying your personal details.
- Register a payment method and make a deposit into your account.
- Place a bet on an event, the value of this bet will usually determine how much money you qualify for a free betting offer.
- In some cases, you may not be allowed to place your qualifying bet on odds at a minimum of evens. This is to stop people from backing odds on favourites.
- Before trying to cash in a free bet, make sure that you read the terms and conditions. Check for any play through requirements.
Free Betting Offers Bonus Types
All types of free betting offers and bonuses by UK bookmakers for: poker, bingo, casino and sport.
Extra funds given to a player when they first register. Usually prominently displayed on the homepage to inform potential customers about how much they can receive when making their first deposit. Sometimes they are also called a Matched Bonus. Depending on the betting site, these can range from free plays where no deposit is required to multiples of a first deposit.
Additional cash or credits given to a regular player when they make a deposit (can be one time bonuses, weekly/monthly bonuses or each time a deposit is made). These tend to be a lower percentage or amount than welcome bonuses, but can accumulate to significant amounts over time. The reload bonus can be tied to specific events, such as a second deposit, or via offer codes sent to specific customers.
No Deposit Bonus
A bonus amount credited to a new players account, without the player needing to pay in any of their own money first. This is usually not a large amount, but a good way to try the casino before depositing.
The ratio of deposited funds to bonus amount. A 100 bonus offer means that the player pay in amount will be doubled, so a £50 deposit will qualify for £50 in bonus funds. A 200 offer means twice as much in bonuses e.g. a £50 deposit qualifies for £100 bonus.
An offer to return a percentage of any losses incurred by the player. If a player loses £20 during a promotion period, or on eligible games, and the offer is for £25 cashback, then £5 will be returned to the players account.
Refer a Friend Bonus
Additional credits given when an existing player recommends the bookmaker to a friend, paid out once that friend has registered, deposited and played through funds up to a certain level.
High Roller Bonus
A high roller bonus is given to new players who deposit a large amount of money. This is often at a lower percentage than the standard welcome bonus, but amounting to a higher value. For example, a £300 bonus on deposits of £1000 is a £30 bonus which can be worth more in cash terms.
Poker games and tournaments which do not cost anything to play, but pay out real prize money. Freerolls are sometimes restricted to new players as a way of letting them learn the games without risk.
An offer found at some Poker sites, where a percentage of the Rake (the money taken by the House on each hand), is returned to the player.
Additional cash or bonus credits earned each time a bet is placed, generally at a rate of around £1 in credits for every £1000 staked. Once a set number of points have been accumulated, they can be redeemed via the cashier.
Once the wagering requirement has been fulfilled, then the bonus can be withdrawn as cash. For example, if £100 is deposited for a matched bonus (£100), leaving your account balance at £200, then after any wagering requirements are fulfilled, the full £200 can be withdrawn (plus any winnings).
A welcome bonus that cannot be withdrawn. The benefit to this type of bonus is that real money games can be played (earning comp points where applicable) without any risk to the customer’s own cash. Any winnings made from the bonus can be withdrawn after any wagering requirements are met. This is a good way of trying out multiple different games before depositing any funds.
In-Play Bonus (Casino)
A bonus provided by certain online casinos, which provide a small bonus if certain in-play conditions are met. For example, Sky Casino have paid in-play bonuses if two consecutive 13s are rolled in Roulette or if you have a run of bad luck and lose 10 consecutive hands in Blackjack.
In-Play Bonus (Sport)
A bonus offered by online bookmakers usually targeting specific games or events, where the in-play bonus is offered for free after a pre-match bet is wagered. For example, Bet365 have previously offered a ‘risk-free’ in-play bonus where a refund of up to £50 was given if the first in-play bet lost. Both the pre-match bet and in-play bet required payment up front so the bonus in this case is not a cash bonus.
An enhanced odds bonus is targeted for specific sports/tournaments and offer better odds for a new customer (generally) than can be found elsewhere. For example, the best odds for an England win against the Netherlands in a football friendly at time of writing was 3/4, but Coral was offering greatly enhanced odds of 8/1 to new customers with the additional incentive of a free £5 bet should you lose.
Free spins are a popular way to try out a new casino or new game as they are frequently given as a welcome bonus or as a promotional bonus for new game launches. Whilst certain promotions require a cash deposit in exchange for hundreds of free spins, welcome bonuses tend to offer fewer spins (5-20) but without having to add any cash up front.
Casinos with VIP schemes, such as Bet365, offer increasingly exciting bonuses with progression up the VIP ladder. Whilst all clients are ‘bronze’ level at Bet365, accrual of 50,000 ‘comp points’ triggers the award of £50 worth of bonus chips. 150,000 comp points and promotion to Silver status returns £100 of bonus chips, increasing to £350 on bonus chips with 500,000 comp points at Gold level. As with most generous bonuses, wagering requirements must be followed before any bonus can be cashed. In this case, the bonus must be played 20 times on real money games in 30 days.
Mobile Only Bonus
As smartphone usage is becoming more and more popular, the market potential for ‘betting-on-the-fly’ is one that bookies are keen to capture. Bonuses for using your mobile or tablet for the first time are typically up to £50 but are payable regardless of whether you are a new or existing customer. For example, at the time of writing, Bet365 were offering a £100 bonus with a qualifying bet of between £1 and £50.
An accumulator bonus is a linked single bet over a series of events such as horse racing or football leagues. For example, winnings from a £5 bet placed on the first race/game are placed on your next selection plus an accumulator bonus of x. If this also wins, then the total is placed on your third selection with an increasing accumulator bonus and so on and so on. If your selection continues to be fruitful then potentially the final event could have a large stake placed on it, accumulating your low initial bet into something life-changing. The disadvantage being that if the final bet fails then it feels like a substantial amount of money has been lost rather than the original £5 wager.
The amount a player will need to place in bets before being able to withdraw any money back to their own bank. Usually a multiple of the combined cash deposit and bonus amounts. As an example, if a player deposits £50, and gets a £50 bonus, and the wagering requirement is stated as “20x”, then the amount that needs to be placed in bets is £50 + £50 x 20 = £2000. Only after a total of £2000 has been staked can any withdrawal request be made.
This is the highest amount of bonus funds possible. If a bonus is advertised as “100 up to £100”, then any money deposited over and above £100 will not qualify for any bonuses.
Bonuses are generally paid in the form of credits, which can be used to fund game play, not actual cash. When the wagering requirements have been met, only the winnings made with the bonus credits can be cashed out. The actual bonus amount is deducted from the players balance.
A bonus amount that can be converted to cash and withdrawn once the wagering requirements have been met.
The timescale by which the wagering requirement must be met, typically around 30 days from the date of claiming it. If the requirement is not met, unused bonus credits are likely to be removed from the account.