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Technically, there is no such thing as a free bet, instead most bookies will offer a match on your initial deposit so you can start off with more money to play with.
Sports books are always looking to get new customers, and will offer a range of matched bets and other deals in order to persuade you to sign on the virtual dotted line with them. It's not as shady as it sounds, sure, they're after your money, but it gives you a lot more cash to win with!
This article will go through a few of the most common types of "free bets" offered by online sports books, and what you can expect to achieve when using them. You can also claim a huge range of offers in the table above.
Want to keep up to date with all the latest free bets from UK bookies? Head over to our betting offers section, where we publish daily offers and free bets.
This free bet is the most common type of free bet that you'll find at an online sports book. If you make a deposit at the site, then the site will match whatever you deposit with the same amount of cash as a free bet, up to a certain limit. You can then use your free bet money to make further bets.
You will not be able to withdraw your free bet money until you've wagered it a certain number of times. For example, if a matched deposit free bet deal comes with wagering expectations of 'five times', then you will need to make wagers with your own money totalling five times the amount of free cash you amassed. So, if you receive a £10 free bet, you'd need to make five times that - £50 – in wagers before you can cash out.
Wagering expectations usually come with 'minimum odds' too – that is you can only place wagers that contribute to meeting your wagering expectations on events with a minimum odds caveat, usually around Evens. This is stop you from meeting wagering expectations by gambling solely on 'dead certs'.
Now we are talking! Some online betting sites will give you free bets just for signing up with them. Usually such bets are of the slimmer variety – typically between £5 and £10. Once you have completed the sign-up process, you will find that you will have some 'free' money in your account.
This money will not be withdrawable – you will HAVE to use it to wager. Again, the 'minimum odds' caveat is likely to come into play, which means you will only be able to use your free bets on specific events (again, no 'dead certs').
There is one consistent factor about ALL no-deposit free bets across ALL sports books – your 'free bet money' is not returned as a stake when you place a wager if that wager is a winner. For example, if you used £10 your own money to bet on West Ham beating Liverpool at 2/1 (3.00), you would expect to receive back £30 (£20 winnings and your £10 stake back). If you use a free bet, then your stake would not be returned. In the above case, you would only receive £20, as opposed to the £30 you would otherwise expect.
This is not a typical free bet in the true sense of the word, but it is still a great way of getting some free cash from an online sports book.
You use your own money when taking advantage of a 'no risk' bet. You are usually not bound by 'minimum odds' restrictions, meaning you are free to bet on any event from any market as you so wish. If your bet is a winner, then go celebrate. If your bet is a loser, then the sports book will refund your stake (up to a specified limit – don't think you can plonk a grand on Arsenal winning UEFA Champions League and then get a grand back when they get knocked out in the group stage), but as a free bet.
A free bet from a no risk bet typically has all the same caveats as mentioned above in the item about no deposit free bets.
Again, this is not a typical 'free' bet, but is another way you can earn yourself a brilliant welcome deal when you sign up at an online sports book. This offer will give you so-called 'enhanced odds' on a specific event – say for Arsenal to win away at Liverpool. The 'normal' odds for this event are priced at Evens (2.00), but for the enhanced odds deal Arsenal are actually priced at 4/1 (5.00).
If you were to place a £10 bet on Arsenal (there is usually a minimum and maximum stake to contend with) you would receive back £50, as opposed to the £20 you would have otherwise been rewarded with.
The only real caveat to this deal is that any money you win over the normal odds is paid out as bonus money. In the above example, you would have your stake of £10 returned, £10 in 'normal' winnings and £30 in 'enhanced odds' winnings. Your enhanced winnings would then be subject to the typical free bet terms and conditions, or wagering expectations.