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If you’re into online gaming, you’ve doubtlessly heard of free bets, but for many, they remain a mystery. Fortunately, we’ll clarify the ins and outs so that you don’t make mistakes along the way.

Read on to learn the basics of how different kinds of free bets work, ways to claim them and how you can use the funds they provide. You can also visit any of our other pages to discover more about specific free bets and bookmaker offers.

Why Should You Take Advantage of Free Bets?

Just what are free bets? Contrary to popular belief, the concept isn’t that complicated. When you begin betting with many online bookmakers, you’ll receive some free money to start your gaming experience off right! The difference lies in what form the betting credits take and the terms you’ll have to follow to claim them.

When you work with an online bookie website, you have to create an account. This serves as a repository that lets you keep track of your winnings. It’s similar to how casino banks work in real life, but you don’t have to lug a pile of chips or a wad of bills around all day.

Bookmakers know that people are wary of signing up for new websites, regardless how promising they seem. Gamers are even more cautious about making deposits at venues they’re unfamiliar with. By offering free betting, bookies give players incentive to join. A great example is bet365. They offer a 200 GBP deposit bonus incentive for new players.

Online gaming gives you way more options than regular casinos; in many cases you can change everything from the colour of the poker table to the size of the fonts. Free bets let you take a new site out for a spin. They’re great for discovering how various gaming features work without sacrificing a lot of your own cash in the process.

Even if you’re already accustomed to the world of general online gaming, you can use free bet deals and promos on other sites to learn more about alternate options. If you’re unsure whether you’ve been working with the best bookmaker, this is a good way to gain clues on what you might be missing.

How Can Bookies Afford to Offer Free Bets?

This is one of the most common questions we receive. Gamers wonder whether the fact that bookmakers are offering free bets means that they’re desperate or hard up for customers. While there are a few operations that absolutely have to provide these wagers because they just don’t have the reputations to support their own businesses otherwise, these are easy to avoid here at our site; we simply don’t list them.

So what about the betting and gaming venues we do catalogue? These firms generally draw their free betting funds directly from their revenues and marketing budgets.

Most casinos, poker rooms and other gaming establishments don’t advertise the same way your local supermarket or electronics shop does. Gaming houses get most of their business by word of mouth, and the most effective way to promote word of mouth online is giving away free bets.

How Do Free Bets Work?

There are numerous free bet mechanisms out there for gamers to enjoy. Here are a few of the basic free bets you’ll probably encounter:

Matched Bets

Matched bets are when bookmakers give you additional cash for every bet you place. For instance, you may receive a free bankroll of £30 to complement the first £30 you wager. These bonus offers usually have upper limits; you can’t expect the good times to go on forever, but if you’re careful with your wagering, you may be able to make your money go farther or even win your initial deposit back.

Although most matched betting amounts are pretty small, some surpass the norm. One of the nice things about our site is that you can find these deals easily by searching our constantly updated database for new offerings and seasonal promos. We also make it really convenient to compare competing bookmakers and see what each provides.

Average Matched Betting

Some bookmakers offer wager matching for gamers who bet an average that surpasses a specific threshold over the course of multiple bets. For example, say you get a £50 free bet as a reward for your first £50 bet. You could also be eligible for another £50 free bet for every four successive bets you place as long as these four average out to £50. While this does mean you have to keep betting at the same level to obtain bonuses, it’s not a bad way to go if you’re already used to gaming on other sites.

Straight-Up Cash

Some bookmakers go the extra distance by simply offering account cash. While you can’t make a withdrawal without actually betting the money, you’re given free reign to spend it how you want, whether you fancy casino slots, poker tournaments or football and NBA wagers.

Like matched bet offers, cash bonus amounts change from time to time as bookies develop new promos and come up with better ways to support your love of gaming. This is one of the reasons our repository of bookie data comes in handy; you can distinguish between new offers to see how they actually compare to previous cash bonuses.

Say you find yourself attracted to a specific betting site because it offers a 500 euro bonus for creating a new account. If you don’t do your research, however, you might just miss out on an upcoming springtime promo that increases the bonus to 750 euros. Although you’d still get a bonus either way, you can only create a new account once, and the extra 250 euros would definitely help your gaming.

So how do we help you stay abreast of these kinds of bonuses so that you get the most cash? In short, we do a ton of research, boil it down to the essentials, and then publish updates on a regular basis, so don’t forget to check our blogs and social media posts for the latest hot info.

Specific Eligibility

Some sites entice you by offering eligibility bonuses. For instance, you might sign up at a specific NBA online betting site and gain automatic entry into a fantasy league tournament as a reward. Similarly, poker rooms commonly give new players the option to participate in special mass tournaments.

While this might not seem as good as just getting cash or receiving a matched bet, some of the buy-in amounts for these tournaments are extremely high. Bookies often raise entry fees to create more thrilling stakes and bigger prize pools, but this practice can prevent new gamers from participating. Free buy ins are a great way to access such windfalls when you’re just starting out, especially if you’re not ready to lay your entire initial deposit on the line for one event.

Money Back

These bonuses aren’t only for new players. Commonly encountered in the world of professional sport, money-back bets are unique ways to potentially minimise your losses.

Say you bet with a bookmaker who’s offering a money-back wager on the big upcoming Swansea vs. Westham match. The bookmaker will provide a special condition, and if that condition is met during official play, all losing bets will be refunded or compensated.

Money-back conditions generally incorporate extremely specific in-game events. For instance, bookies might refund losing bets if a final ball from either side decides a cricket match or when a specific horse falls at the last jump of a race.

So if the odds of your favourite player being the last to score are relatively low, what’s the point of placing this kind of bet? In most cases, people play these wagers simply because they’re more fun, but it’s also important to consider what you’re betting on. Because the condition for the money-back offer usually doesn’t affect your chances of winning the original wager, these free bets are perfect if you were already going to bet on an event.

Just remember that these deals are intrinsically tied to the specific event in question, so it’s critical that you understand the sport you’re betting on. This is the only way to evaluate whether the money-back condition is likely or a long shot. While the difference may not matter too much if you’re only wagering a small sum, you’ll definitely want to be certain before putting up a huge percentage of your account funds.

Odds Multipliers

Commonly seen in the form of double-odds bets, odds multipliers are similar to money-back wagers in that they also come with event conditions. If the conditions are satisfied during the game or match and you win, your bookie may apply the multiplier to your odds and increase your prize accordingly.

Because these odds are extremely popular, many bookmakers limit their availability. If you’re not in the know in advance, you may miss your chance to capitalize, so it’s best to keep up with what’s going on with your betting houses.

Banking Bonuses

Many online casinos maintain partnerships with various digital pay services, such as Skrill (formerly Moneybookers), Neteller, PayPal and others. Some even accept digital currencies like Bitcoin. If you maintain accounts with these services, you may be eligible for related deposit bonuses.

For instance, a site that offers a percentage bonus for Skrill deposits may provide new gamers with 20 percent matched cash up to a certain pre-set limit. Bookies that accept payments from services you already use could also make it easier to minimise transfer fees in order to maximise your gaming funds.

Bet Type Specials and Free Games

Bookies may offer deals on single, double, accumulator, tricast and other kinds of bet. These specials are generally only available for a limited time or during a certain sporting event, but some bookmakers stand out because they offer them on a repetitive basis.

Similar free betting structures are commonly reported by those who play in online poker rooms. If you win a free bet from a poker website, you’ll have to claim the prize on another poker game; you can’t transfer it over to your favourite sports betting site without cashing out and making a deposit first. These bets may also be limited to specific game types within a site, such as a free entry ticket that only applies to a certain Bejeweled bingo webgame.

Prize Selection Bets

In some cases, free bets function as combination deals where you can select alternate prizes. If you choose more free bets instead of money, you may be able to increase your bankroll without depositing a whole lot of funds, but this strategy is dependent on your ability to pick winners.

With prize options, it’s important to consider the overall odds. For instance, say you won the first NBA bet because you got lucky, but you really have no idea about how the next Finals game will go. At this point, you may simply want to cash out. Use the money for something else, like a football bet.

Free Bet Limitations

Although almost every online bookie offers free bets for people who open accounts, you shouldn’t be fooled into thinking they’re just generous people. These bookmakers still need to make money off of gamers, and they usually do so by imposing terms and conditions on any bonuses they provide. Here are a few stipulations you might run into along the way:

Deposit Minimums

These limitations are pretty straightforward. Before you can claim any of the free bets you earned for signing up, you’ll have to make a minimum deposit into your account.

Minimums are some of the most common limitations placed on free bets, and they’re also some of the most important ones you need to be mindful of. If you sign up for a site that has a huge £1,000 free cash bonus thinking that you’re about to be in the money, you’ll be sorely disappointed to discover that the bonus also requires you to deposit £500 of your own. Avoid heartache in advance by checking with us and reading terms carefully before you sign up for anything.

Free Bet Conditions

Most commonly associated with odds multipliers and money-back bets, conditions dictate specific situations for promo eligibility. While these terms vary widely from one betting event to the next, many bets incorporate some common elements.

Maximum stakes are often included in bets that offer potentially higher returns. For instance, your double-odds wager may be limited to £50 or some similar amount. In many cases, these bets cannot be placed following the start of a match, and they may have maximum multiplier limits as well.

Finite Time Limits

Like many prizes, free bets and offers often include expiry dates. The 600 euro bonus you receive may not be claimable after a few months, or the very nature of the tournament you’ve gained eligibility for may make it impossible to claim the prize after the event is complete.

Site-specific Rules

Some of these bonuses are limited by the conventions established for the website you’re using. Many online bookmakers, such as Paddy Power and Bet365, have their own special promos and terms. These may be recurring events, deposit bonuses, or once-off betting deals that let you participate in high-stakes competition or themed games and tournaments. Because these promos are so unique, however, it’s harder to make side-by-side comparisons.

So how do you distinguish between one bookie’s Halloween Madness promo and another’s Autumn Double-or-Nothing special? It’s essential to break things down step by step. Using a review site like ours and your own research, take a look at the particulars of each programme. Consider the following:

  • Payout amounts
  • Event time limits
  • Odds multipliers
  • Condition likelihood

Where Can I Find the Best Free Bets?

It’s very difficult to point to one single bookmaker that offers the best betting deals and free incentives on a consistent basis. Most bookies change their offer terms periodically, and no two are really alike. Even if two bookmakers are promoting the same amount of rakeback or free bankrolls of similar sizes, you have to look at the whole picture to get a good idea of where to spend your money.

When comparing deals, ask yourself about how each bookie operates when they’re not offering specials. Does the site provide you with free bets for other reasons besides starting accounts, such as during big sporting events like the World Cup or the US Open? Are there major price differences in the minimum amount you’ll have to wager or deposit to be eligible for free bets after the initial signing-up period? Do you have to use a specific type of funding to be eligible for the offers? Without asking comprehensive questions like these, it’s impossible to judge the quality of the free bets provided by a specific bookmaker.

A few sites, like Skybet, offer £5 free bets on a weekly basis. Sites that are more forthcoming with their free offers are also more likely to provide one-off bets on random things like political events and entertainment shows, so you’re not just limited to sport. For serious gamers, these venues are great places to bet for free because they facilitate regular play.

Make Your Research Easier…

Check out our pages for details on specific types of online betting, like horse racing betting and NBA betting. You’ll find that different genres of sport and gaming generally provide similar kinds of free bet offers and regular betting. For instance, the money lines common to low-scoring events like football matches aren’t quite as popular with basketball or American football.

When comparing different offers, staying within a certain sport may make it easier to see how bets match up. Because many of the free bets you’ll encounter are dependent on the odds of the sport in question, comparing two bets for the same event is the best way to find out which one is actually offering more value.

…But Don’t Discount Anything

Be thorough when you’re trying to learn more about finding free bets. As you’ll soon discover by reading any of our sports-centric reviews, some bookmakers are known for their seemingly random offers. These free bets come with little warning, and while our information can definitely help you catch specific events in time to register or participate, you’ll want to keep an eye on as much as you can.

Follow Social Media

Check in on Twitter and Facebook from time to time. Even if you’re not a big fan of social networking, many online casinos and betting houses post information about their new deals and upcoming expiration dates for ongoing ones. In some cases, they release details over social media before they even send out emails or put up new banners on their own sites. These platforms are great ways to get the jump on other gamers during temporary offers and limited-registration events, such as poker tournaments and fantasy sport leagues.

Should I Avoid Some Free Bets?

In life, the fact that something is free doesn’t necessarily make it good, and the world of betting is no different. Gaming offers that don’t really thicken your bankroll or help you have fun are just frustrating; in the arena of skill-intensive games like poker, they can actually detract from your focus and potentially make you slip up later.

Also remember that there are thousands of bookies and even more free bets to choose from out there. It’s impossible to take advantage of all or even most of them. With these factors in mind, here are some additional guidelines on how to pick which free bets are the most worthwhile:

Understanding Value

Even if you win, the value of a free bet isn’t just about the profit you make; you also have to think about the time you’ve invested. If you’re a big baller, the beginner-level free bets that are so common on the Internet may be little more than distractions. This is especially true if you could be enjoying yourself more by placing bigger wagers elsewhere.

On the other hand, you may not always be in the mood to risk large sums or be able to devote your complete attention to gaming. On these occasions, small prizes and minimal poker pots are ideal because you can do other things while you play.

Some large free bets require you to sign up for accounts and jump all kinds of through hoops just to deposit funds. Others may not be as lucrative, but they’re quicker to participate in because they’re on websites you already use. Always think about value in terms of the money you’re spending for the potential gains you’ll realize, but don’t forget to incorporate the time it takes to go through the process as well.

How Bookmakers Advertise

What if you already maintain an active account with an online bookmaker, like the popular Betfair? This doesn’t mean that you can simply ignore the free bet information we routinely publish. As you search for free bets on our site, you might be surprised to find out about Betfair offerings that you weren’t aware of, even though you’re a regular gamer there.

You’re not alone. A number of dedicated gamers who use our reviews tell us that they’re constantly encountering new offers, and the secret to this trend lies in the way bookmakers advertise.

Bookies don’t always make it easy for regular customers to discover new offerings; the main point of most promos is to get new players to visit. Although you can definitely find these deals with a little hunting, they’re often buried in page after page of menus and other web junk.

The sheer volume of offers available from Betfair and similar large-scale bookmakers makes it hard to find applicable programmes without a handy guide. Unless you’re willing to spend hours sifting through listings, it’s almost impossible not to overlook good deals.

Also remember that most modern websites use cookies and other technology to store your preferences. While this does make it easier to login to your betting account and reach your favourite gaming page in record time, it also means that you may not get to see the welcome screen with the special monthly deals any more. Take these basic functionality features into account when you’re looking for free wager offers.

Free bets that seem too good to be true often are. While the best bookmakers keep the hype down to a minimum, most include tons of flashy graphics and web content to entice gamers. Again, be certain to evaluate free bets based on the criteria we cover instead of going by looks alone, and if you’re not sure what an offer means, ask us for advice via Twitter, Google+ or other social media.


When it comes to free betting, a bookmaker’s reputation is critical. The whole point of free play is enjoying winning and earning payouts, and bookies that are more established pay better. They’re less likely to delay transfers or make you wait for your deposits to clear, and you can usually claim your free offers and prizes faster.

Many of the bookmakers you’ll discover online, like Coral and Paddy Power, also maintain physical high street locations in the UK, Ireland and other locales. These firms are known for their reliability because they spent years building up capital and bankrolling gamers before getting into the digital arena. Although there’s no such thing as a perfect bookmaker, many people have great experiences trying free online bets from well-known real-world bookies.

If you’re out hunting for good gaming and you discover a free bet from a site that nobody has ever heard of, you may just want to move on. Bookmakers that don’t display some kind of credentials, like Responsible Gaming logos, or tools, such as self-imposed deposit limits, may not be as fun as they advertise, regardless how many free bets they offer.

Building a Bankroll

Now it’s time for some serious strategy. Although we pointed out that most free bets have limitations, like minimum deposit requirements and expiration dates, there’s nothing from preventing you from using free bets to climb the ladder from the lowest value offers to the high-roller promos.

Sign up at one of the lower value free-bet sites on our list. After winning some money, cash out. Use your earnings to meet the deposit minimum for one of our other offers. If you’re careful, you may eventually be able to take advantage of much bigger pots and prizes than you were able to access when you were just starting out.

This basic strategy is slow going, but it can help you minimize your personal losses. Even if you don’t win big at the higher-stakes games and bets, you’re using the free money you earned at one online casino or bookmaker to fuel year earnings at another instead of paying a huge deposit with your own money.

How Do I Claim My Free Bets?

If you don’t actively take steps to claim your free bet or similar reward, it usually won’t automatically be applied to your account, even if you were eligible when you signed up. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’re going to receive the prize just because you followed a specific link in the process of creating your account.

Make sure to find out how to actually claim the prize. Here are some common procedures you may have to follow:

Entering Signing-Up Codes

The free bets that you can claim upon signing up for an account may be associated with some kind of short alphanumeric code, such as “FREEBET50.” Write the code down or copy and paste it from the website you discovered it on before heading to the signing-up page.

Upon filling in your new account details, you should be confronted with a place to enter your prize code. Transfer it exactly as you found it to ensure you won’t miss out. Then complete the rest of the account creation process. If you satisfied the eligibility conditions, your new bonus should show up somewhere in your account inbox or balance details.

Claiming Repeat Bonuses

If you want to take advantage of a free bet on a site you already utilise, simply follow the specific instructions provided by that bookie. Many account centres include some kind of permanent claim page that you can use to enter codes. In other cases, you’ll find a claim button on the page describing the bonus, but make sure you’re signed into your account to ensure that the cash gets credited properly.

What If I Can’t Claim My Bonus?

If you can’t confirm your account details after following one of the preceding claim methods, contact the bookmaker’s live help staff. Representatives can usually clear up any issues and credit your account. If you forget to make a claim at the appropriate time, they may be able to send it through on your behalf, but it’s best to save yourself the potential trouble by following claim instructions.

Finding Other Bookie Options

Let’s talk about exploring your options. Many experienced gamers avoid free bets like the plague because they think that they’re some kind of gimmick or they feel content with their current bookmakers. While there’s nothing wrong with finding a betting house you like, don’t get too set in your ways in the process.

One of the best things about free betting is that it minimises your gaming costs. In a few minutes, you can sign up for a new account, place some wagers, and see how you like working with a specific bookmaker. When you don’t have as much money on the line, it’s far easier to experiment with website settings, tweak game parameters, and explore new ways to use your funds.

Finding the right bookie is vital because the betting venue you use makes a big difference in your winnings. In addition to having a direct influence on the odds you’ll enjoy, your choice of bookmaker has more subtle consequences.

You may find that a specific site layout changes how you assess high-stress situations or negatively impacts your judgement speed because you get distracted by all the clutter. Sites that don’t have the statistics you need close at hand could make it harder to actually win with the free bet money you earned for joining. Converting free bets into funds and using those funds at other sites is critical to discovering a gaming niche you like.

Free bets also help you benefit from the psychology of risk. When it’s your own money on the line, you feel less comfortable about trying new things, even if you’re currently working with a betting system you don’t really like. With free bets, on the other hand, you’re more likely to fix outstanding issues in your gaming methodology.

Making the Most of Free Bets

Suppose you’ve found some free bets and claimed them. Don’t let the fact that they were listed as free stop you from being smart about how you use the funds, especially if you fancy yourself a professional punter.

The psychology of risk we mentioned earlier can work like a double-edged sword. If you’re not careful, you’ll burn through your free bankroll faster than you can blink. The best way to avoid making bad bets when you didn’t risk anything is to remember that from a technical standpoint, free bets aren’t always free.

Think back to the terms and conditions you agreed to in order to take advantage of the free bets. You may have been forced to make a deposit, place another cash bet or sign up for a long-term account. Balance the free money you’re using now against these expenses before placing it all on long shots.

Don’t Rush to Spend It All

Some sites offer so much free credit that it’s imprudent to try to use it all at once. When you receive a hefty £1,000 bankroll, for example, it definitely pays to sit back and savour it. Use it over time to get the maximum enjoyment out of it. As long as you’re careful about how you allocate the funds during your gaming excursions, you’ll probably be able to profit.

Also remember that those free bets might become lifesavers later on. If you exhaust your deposit but you’ve still got some free bets left over from earlier, you may be able to save yourself from the brink by cashing in on those claims now. These bets are better used in high-stress situations where you’re unsure your luck will come through to save you.

Trying Free Bets

Now that you understand what free bets are and how to choose between them, why not experience them for yourself? Although it’s great to discuss the pros and cons of different kinds of free bets, nothing beats actually using them to your gaming advantage.

Don’t think of free bets as a complete replacement for regular wagers; they’re nothing of the sort. These bets are mainly for supplementing your gaming enjoyment and ensuring that you have fun.

Also remember that free betting is a great way to improve your gaming skill. For instance, using the free bets you earn to try wagering on something that you’re not familiar with, such as American university swimming or Big Brother UK, is a great way to gain valuable experience. You can easily go through the learning stages without risking your own wallet.

Finally, don’t forget to take advantage of our expertise and advice every now and then. There are far too many free bets online for any one gamer to keep track of. Instead of stressing yourself out by trying, just let our teams of reviewers collect the vital information for you so that you can have a good time.