How do free bets work

When choosing a bookmaker, incentives are especially appealing – but how do free bets work? Unfortunately, a read through these bookmakers’ terms and conditions show that it’s not just free money. Read this article to learn how free bets work & their drawbacks.


Continuing on from our previous article – Why Free Bets come at a Cost – where we discussed free bet terms and conditions, this time we’ve actually investigated free bets from various bookmakers to learn exactly how they work – including their drawbacks.

One bookmaker – we’ll call them Regret Victor – has a £25 Free Bet offer for new accounts. Upon closer inspection of the offer, it is then revealed in the T’s & C’s that you have to place a bet with your own cash that must contain at least one selection with odds of at least 2.00, unless it is a four-fold or greater. They will then match this bet with ‘promo cash’ up to £25.

Essentially, the bookmaker is telling you what to bet on with your own money before it will give you anything. And at 2.00 or greater, it’s a punt with a chance of winning under 50%.


  • Free Bets usually require you to match the bookmaker’s investment with your own
  • Bookmakers steer you into less profitable or losing markets
  • To make a withdrawal you need to make ever more bets

Having fulfilled that condition, you are only able to withdraw any winnings from the promo cash once you have staked at least four times the value of your initial bonus amount and these bets are fully settled.

So even with the £25 in promo cash you would need to place a further bet of up to at least £100 of your own money before you could make any withdrawals.

More Money, More Conditions

Some bookmakers – like one we’ll call Daddy Power – try to lure customers by enticing them with a huge free bet – Power offer up to £250.

This isn’t however a gratis gift; to get the money you would need to place a bet of £50 to have it matched by the bookies, and then place another four bets of £50 to receive a second free bet of £50. After another five bets of £50, they then get another free £50, while a further ten £50 bets are needed to reach £250.

The whole scheme requires a punter to bet £1,000 of their own money in order to get £250 worth of free bets. Oh, and all bets must have minimum odds of 1.50. Now is that what you would expect from a £250 free bet?

Another bookmaker – we’ll call them Bet 123 – has a different take on its high-value free bet. It offers a bet of up to £200, provided it is matched by the same deposited amount, and played on events with minimum odds of 1.50.

You then need to successfully rollover (rebet) your total deposit and bonus value three times before you can withdraw anything. This means that if you did deposit £200, you would have to wager £1,200 {£200 Deposit*3 + £200 Bonus*3} before being able to withdraw anything. Additional conditions require that you do not place bets on Asian Handicap, Goal Line and Baseball money line markets.

Risk Free Bet

Another slightly different approach to incentives, but equally deceptive, is the risk-free bet. You qualify for the free bet only if you lose your first bet (up to a certain amount), which essentially gives you your money back. However it is not as straightforward as it appears. This so called risk-free bet requires you to risk your own money first, and you have to bet more than the risk-free bet to be able to withdraw.

A bookmaker –we’ll call them DoBog – offers a £10 risk-free bet, although a £10 bet (from your own money) must first be placed on a bet with odds of at least 2.00 before you receive the £10 bonus. The bonus amount then needs to be rolled-over up to three times at odds of 2.00 or greater prior to any withdrawals.

Conclusion: Don’t Waste Time & Money

These so called incentives are a waste of both time and money. You have to spend time learning the exactterms and conditions if you want to see your cash again, while the poor value odds these bookmakers offer (having enticed bettors in with promo offers) end up costing bettors in the long run.

It’s far better to use a low-margin bookmaker like Pinnacle Sports, which offers much better odds than incentive-offering bookies.

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