Knowing that a betting company is willing to give you a free bet is one thing, but having a firm grasp on the rules and regulations around the free bets you’re offered is something entirely different.
Here we’ll have a look at some of the most common questions asked about free bets and bonuses to help you get the best from the offers you use. It’s not an exhaustive list, but hopefully it will answer at least some of your questions. Click on any question to jump straight to the answer. For answers to general gambling related questions see our betting FAQ and Account FAQ.
- Why Do Free Bets Have Minimum / Maximum Odds?
- Why Do Free Bets Expire?
- What Happens If Your Free Bet Is Made Void?
- How Long Will It Take Before I Get My Free Bet?
- Can You Claim A Sports and Casino Bonus From The Same Betting Site?
- Can You Use A Free Bet Each-Way?
- How Does A Dead Heat Affect A Free Bet Payout?
- What Are Wagering Requirements, Rollovers & Play-Through?
- Do You Still Have A Wagering Requirement If You Lose Your Bonus?
- Is There A Limit On How Far In The Future A Free Bet Can Settle?
- What Is A Risk Free Bet / Risk Free Bonus?
- Why Can’t You Use A Free Bet On The Totepool?
- How Can Bookmakers Afford To Provide Welcome Offers?
- Are Winnings From Free Bets Always Cash?
- Do Bookmakers Pay Tax On Free Bets?
- What Is The Law About Advertising Free Bets?
- Why Can’t I Claim A Bonus With Some Payment Methods?
- Why Didn’t I Get My Free Bet?
- Can Someone Else Give Me Their Free Bet?
Why Do Free Bets Have Minimum / Maximum Odds?
As much as we might like to imagine otherwise, betting companies are businesses that are there to make as much as possible, rather than just hand us winnings left right and centre. When it comes to free bet offers they are aware that there’s the risk of them being in a situation where they’re just giving away money.
In order to mitigate the risk put on them, betting companies ask people placing free bets to ensure that they’re betting on something that meets its minimum and maximum odds requirements. It’s a delicate balance for them as minimum odds that are too high will put people off betting with them at all.
That being said, they want to avoid a situation in which they’re essentially offering people free money, so there has to be a risk of the bet losing and stopping people from placing their free wagers on bankers is a solid way to do that. Equally they want to limit their exposure, which is best done by limiting how big the odds can be.
Why Do Free Bets Expire?
Whilst companies offering free bets without an expiry date has become a more common occurrence in recent times, the reality is that the majority of them put a date on the free bet by which it has to be used or else it will expire. There can be numerous reasons for this, of course.
Sometimes a bookmaker’s offer applies to a specific event, such as the World Cup or Champions League knockout rounds. In those cases an expiration date has to be applied or else the competition could end before punters have had a chance to take advantage of their free bet.
Another reason for an expiration date applying to a free bet is that companies want to avoid a situation where people just hold on to their bet until a really appealing wager comes about. They want people using the free bet and then spending their own money as soon as possible.
What Happens If Your Free Bet Is Made Void?
Bets can be made void for all sorts of reasons, with the commonplace response of bookmakers when that happens to be to refund a person’s stake money. Obviously when the bet you placed was a free one things work slightly differently, with bookies uncomfortable with simply converting it to cash.
Different bookmakers will handle this differently from each other, but in some cases your free bet stake is simply lost. More generous bookies might give you another free bet and it’s always worth jumping onto the online chat to ask if you can have another one to replace it, but don’t be surprised if it’s just lost to the ether.
How Long Will It Take Before I Get My Free Bet?
The answer to this question depends largely on the type of free bet you’ve been offered and the qualifying criteria laid out for it. In most cases it will be instantaneous, with the free bet hitting your account as soon as you’ve done what you needed to do to get the free bet in the first place.
If you’re unsure about the details of your free bet then make sure you have a read of the terms and conditions of the offer, which will usually offer you some clues. If it takes any longer than a day for your free bet to be credited then, unless that’s been specified, it’s worth contacting the bookmaker to ask why.
Can You Claim A Sports and Casino Bonus From The Same Betting Site?
Whilst it’s quite boring to continually say you need to check out a company’s terms and conditions, it’s also an important thing to do. The majority of betting companies are unlikely to offer you both a sports bonus and one for their casino, but that’s not a hard and fast rule.
It’s becoming more and more common for betting sites to have both a sportsbook and a casino combined offer, so it stands to reason that they’ll be trying to target users who enjoy both. What they don’t want to do, though, is lose money, which is why it’s common to be asked whether you want the sport or the casino bonus.
Can You Use A Free Bet Each-Way?
Each-Way wagers are essentially two bets: a Win bet and a Place bet. They are put into one bet to make it easier for punters to place them and know what bet they’re placing, but they still work in the same way.
Some betting companies will specify that the free bet must be used on a ‘Single’, which means that Each-Way bets can’t be used. Unless it’s specifically said in the Ts & Cs, though, it’s fair to assume that an Each-Way bet will be fine to place with your free bet token.
How Does A Dead Heat Affect A Free Bet Payout?
In a standard Dead Heat scenario, the stake that you have placed will be divided by the number of entrants that finish in the same position. Let’s imagine a relatively easy scenario and say that you’ve placed a £10 bet on a horse that finishes tied with one other horse in a photo finish.
In that instance your stake will be reduced to £5, with the winnings paid out accordingly and the £5 part of your stake returned with your winnings. If you placed you bet using a free bet token then the same thing will happen, except you won’t get your stake back with your winnings.
Different betting sites will handle this scenario differently from each other, but it is common for the bet to simply be handled like a normal wager with the exception of what happens to the stake. Always check the terms and conditions for more information.
What Are Wagering Requirements, Rollovers & Play-Through?
Online betting sites promise a degree of generosity with their free bet offers, but they’re not charities. They aren’t in the business of just giving money away, so it’s not exactly shocking that they’ll often apply requirements to the free bets that they give people.
Waging requirements are simply the conditions that must be met in order for the money that you’ve won to become withdrawable as cash. There may, for example, be a requirement to wager either your stake or your winnings twice before you can withdraw winnings into your bank.
In some instances a company will ask you to rollover the stake, whilst in others it will ask you to do so with the winnings, so make sure you check the small print and know what you need to do to have your cash made available to you.
Companies call these requirements different things, but whether it’s a wagering requirement, a rollover or a play-through, it’s all the same thing. If you’ve won £50 and your wagering requirement was to play it twice, you’ll need to bet £100 before you can withdraw winnings.
Do You Still Have A Wagering Requirement If You Lose Your Bonus?
Online betting companies want to avoid a situation in which they’re giving away money for free, but they that doesn’t mean that you’re going to be punished simply for taking out an offer with then. If you lose your bonus then they’re not going to be at risk of giving away money to you.
With that in mind, it’s safe to assume that if your bet is a losing one then you don’t need to worry about the wagering requirement. That only comes into play if there’s some winnings for you to withdraw so that companies can try to win at least a bit of it back.
Is There A Limit On How Far In The Future A Free Bet Can Settle?
Many punters have specific things that the like to bet on, with races such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup or the Grand National sitting high on the top of the list. The problem is that they only come around once a year, so what if it’s not the time for them when you’ve got a free bet to use?
The answer is that, in most cases, it doesn’t matter. The majority of betting companies will allow you to place a bet on whatever you want, regardless of how far away it is in real terms. You can use your free bet for whatever you want, whenever it’s due to take place.
Some companies are a little stricter with this, but they’ll say as much in the Ts & Cs of the bet. The main example of when that’s not the case is when the free bet has been offered on a specific event, such as the Olympics, in which case there’s a clear time limit at play.
What Is A Risk Free Bet / Risk Free Bonus?
Risk free bets sound like the most ideal of all of the various offers that bookmakers put forward. There’s a good reason for that, seeing as though they’re basically saying that you can’t lose.
This sort of bet asks you to choose a market, place a wager and then, if your bet loses, you’ll be given your money back. In the past ‘risk free’ didn’t necessarily mean there was no risk as many operators would refund your stake as a free bet, which of course needs to be wagered meaning you could lose.
In recent times however advertising law changes now mean if an operator (in the UK at least) gives you something ‘risk free’ it must refund you in cash.
These offers are therefore highly valuable when you can find them, but of course they are now less common given the bookie needs to refund in cash if you lose.
Why Can’t You Use A Free Bet On The Totepool?
The Totepool is a very popular form of betting with horse racing lovers, yet you can’t use a free bet token to place a bet in it. The reason for this is that the Totepool pays out winnings according to how much is staked by all players.
As you don’t get your stake back with a free bet, it means that it can’t be counted as cash and therefore would confuse the Totepool in figuring out the sums of what people will have won. That’s why only cash bets are allowed.
As an aside, it’s important to note at this stage that there’s a difference between the Totepool, which is specifically for pooled betting, and Totesport, which is a bookmaker.
How Can Bookmakers Afford To Provide Welcome Offers?
Bookmakers play the long game. They know that the margins that they’ve built into the odds that they offer on events mean that they will always win over time, so taking short-term hits is no problem for them.
The fact that they’ll always win doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll always lose, though. You could never lose a bet with your bookie of choice and yet they’ll still remain in the black because another punter might never have won one.
By offering free bets and other welcome offers, bookmakers tempt you to join their service. They know that there’s a high percentage chance that you’ll bet more once you’ve placed your first wager, so they like their chances of winning their money back.
One of the most famous sayings in betting is that the house always wins, with bookies being the house in this instance. They even insert their own edge into free bets by not giving you your free stake back with any winnings. They won’t go poor any time soon.
Are Winnings From Free Bets Always Cash?
The answer to this question is slightly complicated for the simple reason that it depends on the bookmaker, the bet and the offer you’ve taken out. Most of the time it’s common for bookies to pay your free bet winnings in cash, but that’s not always the case, for example, some free bets require you to bet through any winnings at least once (and in reality are more akin to a bonus)
If you were take up a risk free bet offer, for example, you’d place your initial bet with cash and then receive your stake back as cash if your initial wager was a loser. With a standard free bet you are given a token after placing a qualifying bet, if the second bet with the token was a winner, though, then you’ll almost certainly get your winnings as cash at that point.
If you’re unsure about whether to expect a payout in cash or via some other means then make sure that you read the small print associated with the offer. The vast majority of bookmakers and betting companies are happy to communicate openly with you, so use the free chat tool too.
Do Bookmakers Pay Tax On Free Bets?
In short, the answer to this is yes. George Osbourne confirmed as much in 2016 when he was the UK Chancellor. The requirement to do so came into effect in August of 2017, at which point operators had to pay a tax of 15% on all betting duty.
This included both free and discounted bets, with the amount eventually being raised to 21%. It is part of the Point Of Consumption tax that came into being in 2014.
What Is The Law About Advertising Free Bets?
Gambling companies have to adhere to strict rules and regulations when it comes to how they advertise themselves and no exceptions are made when it comes to the world of free bets. The Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice of the Gambling Commission outlines this.
The key thing is that adverts are not allowed to contain any false or misleading information, which there is an increased chance of when they’re referring to ‘free’ bets. Any significant conditions of the offer must be displayed prominently in any advertising.
The Advertising Standards Authority reports that the majority of complaints that it receives around free bets come in the form of people being annoyed at having to make an initial deposit and others disappointed at the amount of times they must rollover funds before withdrawing.
It’s for that reason that significant terms & conditions should be displayed prominently so that consumers can understand the offer immediately, whilst others must be no more than one click away in online adverts.
Why Can’t I Claim A Bonus With Some Payment Methods?
If you’ve ever read through the terms & conditions that apply to free bets and bonus offers then you’ll no doubt have seen reference to the fact that your initial deposit cannot be made with certain payment methods. There is a key reason for this from the bookies’ point of view.
The likes of Skrill and Neteller are often forbidden as payment methods for the main reason that they are prone to bonus abuse. In the past, for example, numerous players have created syndicates and transferred money between various eWallets.
The other key factor is that eWallets have the ability to allow players to be anonymous, which is a problem for online betting organisations who have to carry out due diligence in order to ensure players are not engaged in money laundering.
Why Didn’t I Get My Free Bet?
Whilst it would be untrue to suggest that bookmakers never try to pull a fast one over punters, it is a much more rare occurrence than many bettors would believe. For that reason, if you haven’t received your free bet then it’s unlikely to be because of something nefarious.
Most of the time there is a much more simple explanation, with the most likely one being that you haven’t met all of the requirements laid out in the terms and conditions. Most of them time there are the likes of minimum odds you’ll need to reach, as well as a need to place an initial wager.
If you haven’t received a free bet token and you aren’t sure why not then the first thing to do is to read the terms and conditions of the bet and see if there’s anything that you can’t done. Did you need to enter a code when you signed up with the bookie, for example?
If you are confident that all requirements have been met and you’ve left it a suitable amount of time but still not been given your free bet, jump on the online chat or call the company up and ask them what’s going on. 9 times out of 10 even if you have done something that made your offer ineligible the bookie will still give you the bonus if you ask them as the whole point of offers is to incentivise you.
Can Someone Else Give Me Their Free Bet?
In short, no. Free bets are dished out to specific accounts, most commonly new ones in the hope of getting the person who has received the free bet to place wagers more regularly. You’re not, therefore, able to move your free bet to someone else to allow them to use it.
Bookmakers are quite strict over this sort of thing and if they believe that that’s what you’re doing then they’re likely to withhold any winnings from the free bet as well as to suspend both your account and the account of the person you’ve allowed to use your bets.