Everything You Need To Know About Free Bet Offers

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Bettors, perhaps more than any other consumers in the world, are familiar with the importance of checking that a good deal is all it’s cracked up to be. What looks on the surface like a can’t-miss, no-brainer kind of offer can often turn out to be less than perfect when you’ve checked beneath the bonnet.

If you’re going to bet, you owe it to yourself to do your research — and there is one area in particular where this is most pertinent: when choosing which bookie to sign up with.

Signing up sounds simple and straightforward, of course. While we all expect we’ll need to evaluate a bookie’s range of sports and markets, for the most part, we expect that choosing the right bookie for our sports betting is relatively simple. However, there is a complicating factor in this debate: free bet sign up offers, and how they can colour your thinking when choosing which bookmaker may be suitable for your needs.

Perhaps the biggest issue when looking for bookies to sign up to is a question of terminology. Bookmakers continue to promote free bet offers — no deposit required — and similar exciting-sounding deals. Who would turn down a free bet, after all? The use of the word “free” is enough to convince many a punter to sign up to a bookie without looking much deeper into the matter… and that’s where the problems begin.

In an effort to ensure that the next time you sign up to a bookmaker it’s for all the right reasons, below, we’ll put “free bets” under the microscope. Read on for all the essential information you need to know.

#1 – Most “Free” Bets Aren’t Free

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Some bookmakers use the word “free” extremely loosely, and this is something it’s important to bear in mind when you see them publicising free bet offers — no deposit necessary deals. Any time you see the word “free” on an offer from a bookmaker, take the time to look at the terms and conditions of the offer. Sometimes, what you find there will contradict the bookmakers’ claim that these bets are really “free”.

Often, the deposit will be dependent on you signing up, depositing money, and then meeting a wagering requirement in order to receive your “free” bet. Now, read over that sentence again, because part of it should stand out as rather dubious: “depositing money”. This means you have to give the bookmaker money before they will give you a “free” bet… so it isn’t actually free at all. What’s more, there may be other terms and conditions to take note of. For example…

#2 – Be Wary Of Playthrough Requirements

The majority of, although not all, “free” bets are subject to playthrough requirements. This can take them a long way away from being “free”. It’s entirely possible for these offers to cost you more than you would have ended up paying if you’d eschewed the whole idea of a free bet and just placed standard bets instead, so the potential for playthrough requirements is definitely an area you’re going to need to investigate further.

You may reasonably be wondering what “playthrough requirements” actually are at this point, so let’s take a moment to explain the term. Simply put, when you are offered a “free” bet — we’ll say at a stake of £10 as an example — the bookmaker may place restrictions on it. When these restrictions take the form of a playthrough requirement, it means that any winnings from the free bet can only be withdrawn once your initial stake amount has been bet a certain number of times over.

So, taking your £10 stake, let’s say you placed it on a First Scorer market, at odds of 6/1 (7.00). The player you backed scores the first goal, so you’ve won £60. However, if you try to withdraw that amount, you may find yourself unable to do so, because it’s not been played through. If we apply a fairly standard 5x playthrough requirement, then in order to make your withdrawal, you need to bet a further £50.

If you’re thinking you could just put £50 on a cast-iron certainty — like a champion boxer beating a journeyman opponent — then think again. As well as needing to bet a certain amount, you need to bet it at particular odds or longer, which means you can’t play through without a certain amount of risk. Ultimately, playthrough requirements could see the winnings from your “free” bet eaten up just through you betting to try and make them withdrawable.

#3 – Be Aware Of Minimum Odds Requirements

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If you have accepted that you’ll need to pay something to access free bet offers — no deposit-free options having materialised — then you will also find yourself running into the bookmaker’s definition of a “qualifying” bet. This can apply both to the bet you place to gain the “free” bet, and to the “free bet” itself.

The bookmaker might stipulate that your bets need to satisfy certain conditions. In the vast majority of cases, there will almost certainly be a minimum bet amount. This is usually £5, or £10, but can be higher. Additionally, as with playthrough requirements, it is highly likely that the bookie will specify minimum odds. In other words, to qualify for the bonus bet, you’ll need to bet some of your own cash.

Unfortunately, the issues with these kinds of requirements don’t end when you finally have your “free” bet and are ready to wager. For example, when it comes to using your bonus bet, you can’t just place it on a sure thing and guarantee yourself a win. You will almost certainly have to place the bet on unfavourable odds, where the chances of you winning are rather slender. However, that’s not to say it’s impossible that you’ll win the bet you use your bonus bet on, but minimum odds requirements do make it unlikely.

It’s important to remember that the terms and conditions available to new bettors differ hugely between bookmakers. In fact, reading through the T&Cs and deciding which bookie offers terms you’re happiest with is a decent way of differentiating between all the different bookies that are available. This is well worth doing, as the differences can be surprising. For example, you may find minimum odds as generous as 1/5 (1.20). Other bookmakers will set the minimum odds at Evens. The difference between these two options is huge and could make a real difference to the overall success of your bonus bet, so do your research— when it comes to sports betting, reading the fine print is always a sound idea.

#4 – Free Bets Exist, But You Won’t Find Them Often

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While it is possible to look at the range of caveats that exist for what bookmakers claim is a free bet, and assume that there is no such thing as a real free bet, that’s not strictly true. Real free bets do exist, but they are exceptionally rare.

Frankly, it’s hard to blame the bookmakers for the scarcity of real, genuine free bets. If bookies offered genuine free bet offers, no deposit required, to customers just for signing up, then they’d quickly find themselves in a financial hole. Bettors would sign up, take their free bet, bank their winnings and move on, never to grace that bookie with their presence again. When looked at through the eyes of a bookmaker, the relative lack of genuine free bets is easy to understand. Punters might wish for more real free bet offers but, realistically, they’re just not feasible.

However, it is possible to find free bets on occasion; very, very rare occasions, but they do occasionally crop up. If you happen to hear of genuine free bet offers, no deposit needed, and the lead turns out to be completely legitimate, then treat it as the wonderful anomaly that it is and make the most of it.

#5 – You Won’t Get Your “Stake” Back

Bettors are used to the idea that when you make a winning bet, you get your stake back. Essentially, it becomes part of your winnings. In fact, when you see 8/1 expressed as Decimal odds, it’s given as 9.00. Decimal odds count in your stake before the bet is placed, but either way, if you place £10 at 8/1 you will get £90 back if the bet wins. This is true unless that £10 is a “free” bet. In that case, you’ll get £80. The amount that you have won will be yours (playthrough requirements permitting), but the amount you have bet will not.

This is not a criticism of the bookmakers, but a warning to bettors to remember not to count the stake into your potential winnings if you do make this kind of bet. Think of it as the bookmakers lending you money to make a bet. If that bet wins, you pay them back and enjoy what you’ve earned. If it loses? Well, everyone was aware that was a possibility, and the money’s gone now. Either way, it’s not real money. It exists for the duration of the bet, and when the bet is settled for good or bad, it disappears.

#6: Not All “Free” Bets Are Alike

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While it is a fact that the vast majority of supposed free bets are nothing of the sort, it seems unlikely that bookies will stop calling them that. So, when you see the term “free bet” used by a bookmaker, by all means you should mentally note that there at least some caveats to the term. Nonetheless, it shouldn’t stop you comparing the offer with others that make the same erroneous “free bet” claim.

Promos that offer a bet at long minimum odds, with demanding playthrough requirements attached, are obviously less attractive than ones which offer lower risk and easier cash-out. Then there are other offers, such as a “Bet 10, Get 60” promo, which will offer to multiply your initial stake in the form of “free bets”. Often these will contain several caveats, including the fact that much of the “free” cash must be wagered in their casino. It’s important to note that these deals aren’t truly free bets, as they require some level of investment to achieve.

The Benefits Of Not-Really-Entirely-Free Bets

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However, it’s worth noting that these “free bet” offers might not be free, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth your time. Many reputable bookmakers will offer a bonus bet or matched deposit deal under the banner of a “free bet”, so it’s always worth checking with the best in the business to learn more about the promos they have on offer. Bookmakers like William Hill, Betway, and Bethard frequently offer not-fully-free-as-you-have-to-deposit deals that might not be classic, 100% free bets, but they can still boost your overall betting experience. In the end, it’s up to you to make the decision on whether a betting offer represents value to you. Even “free bets” can be beneficial if used correctly, so while you wait for a genuine 100% real free bet deal to emerge, try the reputable sites’ promos — they might not be free, but they’re still worth engaging with.

In Conclusion

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Without a doubt, the world of “free bets” is a confusing one. Hopefully, having read through the above, you are now informed of the realities of “free bets” and what you need to do to navigate the issues that the term can create. While true “free bets” are as rare as hen’s teeth, there’s still plenty of decent offers that can enhance your betting experience exponentially.

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