Most gambling sites offer some kind of bonus or promotion to encourage you to sign up. And many then continue to send you offers in order to keep you happy and betting with them. On this site we list both sign up bonuses and loyalty offers from UK licensed sports betting sites and online casinos.
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Something for nothing. It’s what we all crave, right? The betting industry is awash with free bet offers and enhanced betting offers to try and entice you to bet with them. Some of the offers that you pick up are great and offer tons of value, but the majority aren’t, often coming with a plethora of terms and conditions to choose from.
There is money to be made from free bets, no doubt about it, but you need to be aware of what to look out from each offer. Usually there is more than meets the eye with these types of offers, so this article will be able to guide you to make sure that you not only get the maximum out of these offers, but also know when to walk away.
Are Free Bets Really Free?
A common saying in life is “nothing is for free in this world”. Whilst we don’t think that’s strictly true, it definitely could be applied the majority of free bets in the betting industry. You will likely need to invest something to get your free bet or at least place a certain number of bets.
The best way to look at free bets is to see it as more of a top up to your account than simply getting free money. You will need to put something in, but the bookmaker is willing to make sure that as a reward, you get something back.
You need to be aware of some of the major rules that these offers often come with. The first one is that they are only open to new accounts. So, if you don’t have an account with that bookmaker and you register a new one, then you are eligible. If you already have an account with that bookmaker then you aren’t going to be eligible.
It’s worth noting that you can’t under any circumstances open a new account just to claim these offers. If the bookmaker finds out that you have done this then they are well within their rights to close both accounts and keep any money within the accounts. There have been huge numbers of people over the years try and pull this trick giving false names or addresses, but ultimately the bookmaker will track you down via their sophisticated betting analysis tools.
It’s also worth noting that you are only going to be claim these free bets once. So, once it hits your account and you use this free bet, that’s it, you are done and you can’t claim another one.
WHY DO BOOKIES OFFER FREE BETS?
The online betting industry is super competitive these days. There are hundreds of online bookmakers to choose from and each bookmaker is vying to get you to use their product. One of the ways that they do this is by offering up free bets to new customers.
The free bets are essentially used as bait to lure you in to their bookmaker and not a competitors. That’s why the free bet offers are only available to new accounts as away to get you through the door.
What Makes a Good Offer?
There are a number of things that you need to look out for when deciding if the free bet offer is going to be a good one or not.
- High free bet amount – The first port of call should be to see just how much of a free bet the bookmaker is offering. At worst you want to be looking at a 100% match, so if you deposit £10 then they will offer you a £10 free bet. The best deals are often something like bet £10 get £20 or even higher, so make sure you keep an eye for these.
- Low/no Clearing amount – You need to see how much it’s going to cost you to clear the free bet to hit your account. Most good offers will require you to deposit an amount and then wager this exact amount before the free bet is triggered. A poor offer will require you to deposit say £10 for a £10 free bet, but you need to make £50 worth of wagers before that free bet is triggered.
- Stake returned – Pretty much all free bets will not be stake returned. This just means that when you use your free bet, you get to keep any winnings, but the original stake (in this case the free bet) will not be returned to your balance. On very rare occasions, bookmakers will return the stake as well, although these are few and far between.
- No clearing on winnings – There will be some bookmakers that will require you wager through your winnings from a free bet. This could range from 2x up to 10x, but it’s something that you want to avoid. Let’s say you won an accumulator that paid out £1,000 from your free bet and they asked for a 10x clearing on winnings before being able to withdraw. You’d then have to made £10,000 worth of wagers just to get the £1,000 that you won. These terms are actually quite rare, but we have seen them included in the past.
- No market restrictions – You want to look for bookmakers that will allow you to place your free bet on any market or bet that you like. Sometimes they restrict them to certain sports and then markets within that sport. A good free bet will give you free reign to place on the bet that you want at the odds that you want.
Terms and Conditions to Watch Out For
As with all offers and promotions, there are a number of terms and conditions that you need to adhere to before signing on the dotted line. Below we have listed some of the more common ones to look out for, but they will likely vary from bookmaker to bookmaker.
- One per customer – Free bet’s will be limited to one per customer and as we mentioned earlier, you can’t simply open another account just to claim the offer again. It’s worth noting that bookmakers may offer you exclusive free bets to your account (bet365 do this), but these are not part of the free bet welcome promotion.
- Minimum odds – You will likely have to place your free bet at set minimum odds. A good min range is around the 1.50 mark, but some bookmaker may ask you to place the bet as high as 3.00 and up.
- Expiry date – You will only have a certain amount if time to use your free bet before it expires. A lot them are valid for around 7 days after you have received your bet and if you haven’t used it within this time frame your bet will be removed from your account and you won’t be able to claim it.
- Bet settled – It’s likely that the bet you place with the free bet will have to be settled within a certain time period. Again, this will range depending on your bookmaker, but if you place a bet at start of the football season for a team to win the league, it’s likely this will not be settled within the allotted time and will be declared void with your bet being lost.
- Stake not included – With any winnings that you receive from your free bet, it’s highly likely that it will not include the stake from the original free bet.
- Multiple house occupancy – Free bets will be limited to one per house, email address or shared computer. If you live in a block of flats then unfortunately if a free bet has already been claimed from that address, it’s likely that you wont be able to claim another. But, this isn’t always the case and we have found that some bookmakers will let you claim the free bet if you can provide that the original account has either moved out from the house or no longer uses their account.
- Country restrictions – A lot of restrictions are in place regarding which residents from which counties can claim a free bet. Just because you have been accepted for an account from within a certain country, does not mean that you are definitely going to be able to claim the free bet as well.
- Payment method restrictions – A lot of banking methods are now prohibited from claiming free bets due to abuse of the system. The majority of these are linked to e-wallets such as Neteller, Skrill and PayPal, where essentially players are able to bank anonymously. If you are using Credit/Debit cards, then it’s likely you wont have an issue.
- Bet types – A good number of bet types will be excluded from being able to use your free bet with. These often include things such as Lotto, Tote and even accumulator bets.
Finally, it’s worth noting that if you do breach any of terms set out by the bookmaker then they will reserve the right to not only cancel that promotion but also potentially close your account as well. These days, the terms and conditions are set out to be much more user friendly and aren’t 10 pages long, so it’s worth spending a couple of minutes reading through before you sign on the dotted line.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN AN OFFER GOES WRONG?
There might be a time when you have an issue with a free bet and it gets removed from your account or just never credited to your account in the first place. Our first bit of advice would be to go an contact the customer support team from that bookmaker and explain your situation. A lot of these free bets are trigged automatically and will be applied to an account via a computer, so it could just be a technical glitch.
It’s also worth considering if you think you may have breeched any terms of conditions as outlined above. If you have, then bookmakers will likely just remove your free bet without warning, so it’s important to get your story straight before diving in with two barrels asking where your free bet is.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOUR FREE BET IS MADE VOID?
If you have breeched any of terms and they have voided your bet as a result of you not complying with the terms and conditions, then there isn’t an awful lot you can do. Generally what you will find is that once it has gone, it’s gone.
But, we would always get in touch with customer support even if your bet is made void just to get clarity on why this was. As mentioned above, mistakes can be made on their part and often these things are automated, so it’s well worth checking out. If it turns out you are in the wrong, unfortunately there are no second chances.
MY BET WAS VOIDED, WHAT HAPPENS TO MY ACCOUNT?
The most common reasons why free bets become void is down to the fact the bet was under the minimum odds or the player has let their offer expire. As mentioned, there is nothing you can do to get the free bet back, but nothing will happen to your account and you will be able to carry on as usual.
If you are in a more serious breach of the terms, such as multiple accounts or abuse of the promotion then your case may be escalated and your account could face closure.
THE OFFER WAS MISLEADING, WHAT CAN I DO?
The free bet market is now heavily regulated and bookmakers are under stricken rules to make sure that any promotions they offer are clear and concise. 10 years ago this wasn’t always the case, but now the powers that be are definitely on the consumers side and they work tirelessly to make sure that adverting these offers are fair.
As these offers tend to change so often these days and the promotions are that frequent, there may be times where these advertisements or offers are misleading. For example, an offer might read that you get a £10 free bet just for registering account, only to find that you actually need to wager £20 before that offer could be credited to your account.
If you feel that an offer is misleading or not fair then you can contact the ASA (Advertising Standards Agency) and put your case forward. They have the power to remove the advertisement and also make sure they do it again.
Casino bonuses can be a bit of a minefield if we are being honest. Pretty much all casinos have them and they are a great way to get people to sign up. But, they aren’t always that attainable and the majority of players will not actually be able to claim the full or even any amount of the bonus.
That’s not to say it’s impossible though, far from it, but you need to be aware that these offers come with a fairly large number of wagering requirements. These requirements are standard with these types of offers and we are going to run through things you need to look out for within this article.
Different Types of Bonus
There are a number of different casinos bonuses that you are going to be able to get your hands on. They range in quality if truth be told, but it’s important to realise which one is going to best suited for you.
The most common that you are going to find is the deposit match. It’s pretty simple in that the casino will say that they will double your deposit up to a certain limit. Each casino will differ in terms of the deposit match on offer, some will be a 100%, but then this number can rise up to as much as 500%.
With each of these offers the bonus will come with a maximum amount that you can claim. We’ve seen them as low as £10, but then we’ve also seen them as high as £5,000. Remember, it’s not always going to be best to just go out and get the biggest bonus as you might be able to clear the full amount making it pointless.
Another common form of casino bonus is when they are split up over several deposits within that casino. So, it might state that it’s a 100% match bonus up to £400. But, that bonus could be split over your first 4 deposits up to £100 for each.
Sometimes you will find that the range of bonus will differ from each deposit and also the percentage of deposit match might range as well. So, whilst the offer states a £400 bonus over your first 4 deposits, it could actually be broken down into something like this:
- 1st deposit: 100% match up to £100
- 2nd deposit: 50% match up to £200
- 3rd deposit: 200% match up to £50
- 4th deposit: 75% match up to £50
After you have worked through your welcome package it’s likely that at some point down the line the casino is going to offer you a reload bonus. This is where they allow you to claim another bonus based on similar terms as your welcome bonus.
There are some casinos that actually run this as an on-going promotion, which you are able to claim as many times as you like. There are others that might give you 1 reload after your initial bonus and finally there are some that might offer you this depending on how much you have played at the casino.
REFER A FRIEND
There are fewer stronger marketing tools that word of mouth and the casino industry is no different. A lot of casinos will allow you to refer friends to their casino and in return they will give you a bonus as a reward. In some cases you will find that both you and your referral are given a bump in rewards, but this isn’t always the case.
We have actually seen that some casinos offer you straight up cash for getting other players through the door, although this is much rarer these days.
GAME SPECIFIC BONUSES
There are numerous bonus these days that are targeted toward specific games. Later in the article we are going to discuss more about how some games are restricted from certain bonuses, but game specific bonuses are a great way to get around this.
Often a casino is going to give you the chance to choose which bonus you want depending on the games that you are going to play. You might find the following offers for example:
- Slots: 100% up to £100
- Blackjack: 50% up to £50
- Roulette: 200% up to £200
- Video Poker: 150% up to £300
Terms and Conditions To Watch Out For
All casino bonuses are going to come with a huge number of terms and conditions that you must adhere to. Below we have listed some of the more common ones, but we always recommend that you check with the casino before signing up to any welcome offer or casino bonus.
We’ve spoken briefly in this article about what they are, but we wanted to go into a little more detail. Wager requirements are applied to all casino bonuses. They are in place so people don’t just get their bonus and then withdraw without even playing a game. Makes sense really!
The wager requirements mean the amount that you need to bet at the casino. This could be a £10 spin at the slots, £50 roll on the roulette wheel or £100 bet on blackjack. It all adds up towards the requirements set in place.
The requirements will range quite dramatically between each casino that you come across, but the majority will be between 20x to 50x your bonus amount. One key area that many people overlook is if the wager requirements are just the bonus you get or the deposit amount as well, often with casinos opting for the latter. This actually makes a huge difference, and here’s why (assume offer is 100% up to £100):
- WR of 30x with just bonus = £100 bonus x 30 = £3,000
- WR of 30x with bonus and Deposit = (£100 bonus + £100 Deposit) x 30 = £6,000
As you can see, from this offer with the bonus and the deposit, you would need to wager through £3,000 extra in casino bets.
Most, if not all bonuses will come with an allotted time that they need to be cleared in. Again, the range in time can be vast, with some being as little as 3 days, whilst others can be as long as 90 days. It’s important that you recognise this part of the bonus as it will allow to work out if you think it will be attainable or not.
Generally, you are looking for a bonus over as long a time period as possible. A great advantage would be is to work out what you are likely going to wager within that time frame and then work out how much of any potential bonus you can clear.
Not all games are going to be eligible to clear for your bonus with. A lot of casinos will limit low variance games (blackjack, roulette etc.) and encourage high variance games (slots).
The majority of games will contribute in some way, but the contribution could be as little as 5%. So, by this we mean that only 5% of each wager you make will be taken off your required balance to wager through. Below is a list of the game percentages to clear your bonus taken from one of the major online casinos in the industry:
- Video Slots & Slots, Scratch card, Keno, Race, Arcade, Dice and all other games that do not appear in the table = 100%
- All versions of Roulette, Pai Gow Poker, Caribbean Poker, Triple Card Poker & Poker table games = 20%
- All versions of Blackjack, Live Casino games, Hi-Lo, Video Poker, Power Video Poker, Baccarat = 10%
- Craps = 5%
As you can see, unless you are playing slots or a variant of that game, then playing other games is going to put you at a serious disadvantage when clearing this bonus.
Most casino bonuses are going to limit you to the stake that you can make for each qualifying bet. As with all terms, this is going to range between each casino.
For example, the casino could allow bets from £5 to £50 to contribute to clearing. The minimum bet is often fairly uncommon, but the max bet is pretty much standard. The reason behind it is that it prevents a player from just being able to wager the full or near full amount of the wager requirement to get their bonus quickly.
For example, let’s say that you needed to wager £3,000 to clear your bonus. A high roller could just make one £3,000 spin and the bonus would be cleared. If their spin won great, they get the winnings from that plus the bonus and if the spin lost, then they still get the money from the bonus. So, the limit is in place essentially to prevent situations like this occurring.
PROHIBITED BANKING METHODS
You are going to find that most casinos will only allow you to claim bonuses if you use a certain range of banking methods, usually things like Visa, MasterCard and other regulated banking methods.
Often you will find e-wallets are not too friendly with casinos and bonuses, with the likes of Neteller, Skrill and Paysafecard’s pretty much being banned across the board. The reason for this is down to security and a number of casinos seeing players take advantage of multiple bonuses from these non-verified banking methods.
WHY ARE CERTAIN GAMES EXCLUDED?
We mentioned previously about certain games that excluded or carry a lower contribution to clearing a bonus than other. There are a number of factors that contribute to this…
The main one is to prohibit players from grinding out low volatility games in order to hit their wager requirements. Above we showed you a typical example of what percentage you could expect from certain games, with slots being the highest and table game such as blackjack and roulette being the lowest.
If we take roulette as our example, theoretically you could sit there and just bet black every time over and over again until you reached your required clearance amount. This is probably one of the lowest house edges of any bet within the casino and more often than not after a good few hundred hands, you will likely be around the break-even mark or slight better/worse.
This makes it easy to clear and as a result you are going to clear your bonus cheaply and with very little variance.
The casino is almost forcing you to make a progressive contribution to the games within that casino as well. It’s likely that you wouldn’t play your normal casino ‘strategy’ like this, with it simply targeting the clearing of the bonus. So, limiting the amount that each bet contributes from certain games keeps the casino ticking and encourages you to play higher variance games such as slots as a result.
Is it Better to Play With or Without a Bonus?
Whilst seeing a casino bonus that say’s you can earn up to £2,000 in bonus when you sign up is all well and good, but the reality is that for some players it’s actually going to be detrimental to their time within that casino.
The answer to the question will basically come down to each individual player and it’s up to them to decide what’s going to be best or more importantly, if the bonus attainable. Below we have listed some pro’s and con’s of taking or leaving the bonus.
WITH A BONUS – PRO’S
The main advantage to having the bonus is that you are going to get more money to play with at the tables. The majority of bonus will be a deposit match, so, if you deposit £100, they might give you another £100 in bonus money, giving you £200 in total. This is going to be a very enticing start to life at the casino!
The next pro is that the money is going to give you a lot more game time. Depending on the bonus amount, it’s going to give you more chances to play more games over a longer format. Makes sense really that £200 is going to be better than £100.
Some of the bonuses on offer are actually huge and we’ve seen some casinos offering up to as much as £5,000 for their welcome offer. If you are able to clear the bonus it’s essentially free money and the casino are paying you to play. You need to savvy about the choices you make and the amount you are able to clear, but a bit of bankroll management and the knowledge about which games you are likely to play along with average stakes will go a long way to help you clear your bonus.
A good way to play with the bonus is to not see it as money that is yours and will never be yours. It may sound daft, but a lot of players see it as free money to browse through the casino with in order to get to know different games and just how the casino works. If they do manage to clear to bonus then this is an added bonus – no pun intended – but if not, they’ve not lost anything and can target their favourite games with their own money.
WITH A BONUS – CON’S
The major pitfall to casino bonuses for most players is that they all come with a wagering requirement that you need to attain before being able to withdraw the bonus. What you will usually find is that most casinos will ask you to play from anywhere between 20x and 50x the bonus amount. So, if your bonus is £500 and comes with a 30x wagering requirement, you will then need to make £15,000 worth of wagers before you can withdraw that money.
A lot of casinos wont let you withdraw –any – money from your account whilst your bonus is still live. So, if you decide that you want to withdraw some funds, even if it’s your own money and not your bonus, which likely isn’t withdrawable at that point anyway, your bonus will be forfeited along with any winnings from the bonus money as well.
A lot of people lose sight of the end goal within an online casino, which is to have fun and hopefully make some money. The bonus almost forces people to play more than they would if they are trying to clear it and can take some of the enjoyment away.
WITHOUT A BONUS – PRO’S
If you are playing without a bonus then you are simply just taking the casino on head to head and there are no worries about having to reach a certain target by a certain date. It’s the old school way of doing it and more often than not, you are going to have more fun doing it this way.
You are going to be able to get hold of your money at any point, which is imperative as far as we are concerned. There are some, albeit few, online casinos that won’t let you withdraw until either your bonus has cleared or the allotted time that comes with your bonus has expired.
It’s possible that you could have a massive win from a casino game using your bonus money. But, if you fail to clear the bonus then your winnings from the bonus money will also be forfeited. If you were playing with your own cash then you get the big pay day and wont have to play a ton more hands within the casino to get your money out.
WITHOUT A BONUS – CON’S
The biggest downside to not taking a bonus is that you are leaving potential free money on the table. Some of the offers these days can be quite lucrative and you have the opportunity to take hundreds if not thousands of pounds off the casinos, which is an added bonus!
You are also going to be leaving a ton of value on the table. If you do decide that the bonus isn’t for you then that’s fine, but we would recommend that you at least do your homework to see if you have any chance of clearing it prior to simply dismissing it altogether.