One of the axioms of life is that nothing is free. As it turns out, online sportsbooks are a notable exception to this rule.
In fact, many of them will offer free bets to players first visiting their sites. After all, what’s more welcoming than the chance at winning something for nothing?
Below is a guide to how free bets work at online sportsbooks. Hopefully, you can use this guide to extract maximum value from all the terrific offers out there.
At first glance, a free bet may seem a bit fanciful. You may wonder whether or not these bets are truly free.
In short, yes they are! They offer you the opportunity to place a wager without any risk to your money or assets.
Should the bet lose, then that’s the end of it. If the bet wins, however, you get to keep the proceeds.
However, there are two important caveats of free bets to discuss. The first proviso is that free bets are definitively not cash. It is not possible to withdraw the value of a free bet as real dollars at any time.
The second thing to know is that if you win a free bet, you won’t get the stake from the free bet as part of the payout. If that’s confusing, see the example below.
You bet $50 on a moneyline wager listed at +200. For the sake of the example, assume that there’s no vigorish.
If the bet wins, you would expect to receive $150 as your payout. That is, you would receive the $100 payout from winning a 2 to 1 bet plus the $50 that you originally wagered.
If you made the same wager with a free bet, you would still receive the $100 payout from a successful 2 to 1 wager. However, the sportsbook would keep the $50 stake, since that was never money that you placed at risk.
You can receive free bets from online sportsbooks in a variety of ways. Depending on the promotion, a free bet may be the end result of many different activities onsite.
The first type of bonus to offer free bets is likely the sweetest. The no-deposit free bet requires no obligation or action from you, aside from (maybe) clicking a button.
In fact, it’s possible that a no-deposit bonus might appear spontaneously in your account. At worst, you will need to visit the bonus section of your account and opt into the promotion.
These types of bonuses are usually for new players, obviously. It is common for a sportsbook to allow new players to have a free shot at winning some money as their first wager.
Regardless of whether you are a new player or not, you should hop onto these bonuses whenever you can. There is literally no risk, and anything you win is free money.
A second type of bonus that may award free bets to players is the insurance or refund bonus. These bonuses incentivize players to make specified types of bets onsite.
For instance, a sportsbook might offer insurance on parlay bets up to $25 with more than 3 legs. So, you could potentially take a stab at a 4+ team parlay, even if you’re not usually a parlay bettor.
Should the parlay win, then that’s great for you. However, if it loses (which is more likely), then the sportsbook will return whatever stake you placed on the parlay.
The catch is that the refund will come in the form of free bets. So, it will be necessary to bet through that money again before it returns to its original state as cash in your account.
A deposit or match or reload bonus commits the sportsbook to contribute a certain percentage of the amount of a player’s deposit into their account. Thanks to a condition of these bonuses called the playthrough requirement, most of these bonuses are effectively free bets – even if they’re not referred to as such.
The playthrough or wagering requirement is a condition that sportsbooks and casinos attach to their bonuses. The condition mandates that players wager a defined multiple of the bonus amount before it is released as withdrawable cash.
Depending on the promotion, the requirement can be anything from a single playthrough to many times the bonus amount. Thankfully, most free bets don’t have high requirements.
Free bets are not prone to appear in your account randomly. Usually, there’s some sort of precipitating event that leads to the free bet making its way to you.
First and foremost, you may simply have to claim the offer in the bonus section of your sportsbook account. These sections are an integral part of the player account, and there should be a list of all the bonuses to which you qualify.
In order to redeem the free bet, there will usually be a button or box to click. Activating this button will render the bonus active.
It may also be necessary to enter a promotional or bonus code in order to activate the free bet. Whether you have to make a concurrent deposit or not, some free bet offers require players, more or less, to know the password.
One of the reasons that we recommend you visit PlayColorado often is that we will have the inside scoop on all these types of codes. Whenever you decide to play, swing by and see what we have listed.
Finally, some bonuses (like refunds) will automatically award you the free bet if you satisfy certain conditions. However, bear in mind that those conditions usually involve you losing a specified type of bet. In those cases, the free bets are meant to ease the sting, not add onto your existing bankroll.
Though it may seem obvious, there are several advantages to claiming free bet offers.
First and foremost, a free bet can allow you to increase your bankroll and wagering power. Extra sports betting dollars are more chances you have to profit.
Free bets also provide the ability to make wagers without taking any risk. Even if a free bet loses, it does not affect your bottom line. There’s literally no downside to betting.
Finally, free bets can give you the opportunity to try out new things in sports betting. Whether it’s new sports, new bet types, or new sportsbooks, a free bet is the best way to expand your horizons and not worry about getting hurt in the process.
There are a few disadvantages to free bets that bear mentioning.
First of all, though they work to create new bets, they are not cash. So, it is impossible to avoid betting and withdrawing the cash value of a free bet.
This issue is especially relevant if the free bet offer requires you to make a real money wager to participate. You may get an equivalent amount of free bets as a refund, but you will have reduced the liquidity of your account significantly in the process.
Secondly, the amount of a free bet is always capped, and it may be a lower amount than you would like. So, you may end up making a smaller wager than you’d like, or risk not having the full value of your bet covered under the insurance.
Finally, there are some restrictions that typically apply to how free bets can be used. Some common restrictions on free bets include:
Despite all these drawbacks, free bets are usually worth the hassle. After all, it’s still free money.