The betting industry changes every year but one thing remains constant; the bookmakers need new customers…
This has created a long list of different types of free bets and promotions. It’s hard to know which offer is the best in a sea of adverts, so let us break it down for you…
Why Do Bookmakers Offer Free Bets?
When you think about it, what makes a bookmaker different? What makes them stand out? After all, 5/1 at Bet365 pays the same as 5/1 at Skybet.
Essentially all bookmakers are the same, so they can only set themselves apart by offering different types of promotions and free bets.
The bookmaking game is a very crowded market now. You have smaller firms popping up all over the place, but most of these firms will lose money. Marketing is expensive these days, and with the number of people doing Matched Betting the first introduction into the UK market can be tough.
The bigger firms will always have free bets and promotions because they have the budget. Let’s break down what offers are worth signing up for…
Types Of Free Bets And Promotions
- Stake Not Returned (SNR)
- Bet Refunds
- Qualifying Free Bet
- Matched Free Bet
- Deposit Bonus
- Enhanced Odds Bonus
- Refund Bonus
- Risk-Free Bet
- Stake Returned As Free Bet
- Event Bonuses
- Early Payout
As you can see, there’s a lot! Let us know if we have missed any in the comments below. Some of these offers can be tricky to understand because of the terms and conditions attached to them, so let us explain…
Stake Not Returned (SNR)
This is by far the most common type of free bet. SNR, for short, could be referred to as a “bet token” or a “bet credit” by a bookmaker. Basically this means that you only get the winnings part of the bet and not the stake back. So, for example, a £10 SNR bet that won at 4/1 (5.0) would return £40 instead of a usual £50 (winnings £40 plus £10 stake). You’ll see this type of free bet the most as it is the most bookmakers favoured option when giving out free bets.
Bet Refunds are becoming more popular all the time. You will see promotions like “Money Back If Jamie Vardy Scores First” on Leicester v Arsenal or “Money Back if your horse finishes second” for example. Usually, bookmakers will restrict this to a certain market on football. So the bet refund offer may only apply to the First Goalscorer market for example. You’ll have to be very careful with the T&C’s of Bet Refunds as while some bookmakers do refund as cash, most refund as free bets in SNR format. This type of promotion is pretty good for the bookmaker because they can market it and it’s based on something happening; they may not have to payout.
Qualifying Free Bet
A qualifying free bet is when you have to place a bet to get a free bet. So, for example, Bet £30 to get £10. You will have to place £30 in bets on certain sports and above a certain price to be given a free bet. This is an extremely popular format for bookmakers. Usually, the free bets are given SNR but you should read the T&C’s on each offer. This is usually a good promotion to do because you can be certain of a free bet coming once you have placed your qualifying bet(s). Bet365 currently has the best offer of them all at the moment; Bet £50 Get £50. It’s a high-value offer on high profile football where you place £50 before the game starts and get a free £50 bet in-play. They will only offer this on very big games but it’s worth doing when they do.
Matched Free Bet
Getting a matched free bet usually happens when you sign up with a new bookmaker. You will see an offer like; Bet £25 and get a £25 free bet. Apart from the Bet365 offer mentioned above; you usually don’t see this type of offer for existing accounts. The qualifying stake is usually much higher than the free bet for existing accounts. This type of promotion isn’t as popular as it once was, but you still see it from time to time as new firms enter the UK market.
Lots of bookmakers will offer you a free bet for signing up with them. However, some will offer you a deposit bonus. A deposit bonus is much better than a simple free bet on sign up as usually there’s a lot more T&C’s attached. With a deposit bonus, usually, you can use it on any market. Before Matched Betting became massive, bookmakers would offer the deposit bonus as cash with a T&C that you couldn’t withdraw it. Nowadays it’s usually in the form of a SNR bet credit, but there are still firms who will offer you a bonus upon signing up.
Enhanced Odds Bonus
If you check Oddschecker daily, you’ll know what this is! Oddschecker is a sea of adverts for promotions like this one. You will usually see “Sign up today and get 33/1 on Manchester United to beat Brighton” when the true odds are around 8/13. It’s hard to know what to make of these offers. They are good for arbing but there’s still the element of not getting any value. What happens if Manchester United don’t win and you didn’t lay it back on the exchanges? You just wasted a sign-up offer that’s what happened. Some of these offers can be crazy, but you still need sporting events to go your way to benefit so there is more risk.
A refund bonus may sound exactly the same as bet refunds, but not in the bookmaker’s eyes. We have seen offers like this creep into the mainstream lately. You will see things like “Get 10% of your tennis losses back each month.” William Hill and Skybet currently run that promotion. Any bonus is welcome when you lose money, but it’s not something that most Matched Bettors would chase. It’s good for existing account users rather than people opening new accounts.
Risk Free Bet
You’ll have to be very careful with the terms and conditions here. Every bookmaker is different and some class the term “risk-free” differently to others. Ladbrokes do a completely risk-free £1 bet for all customers from time to time, and then you will see a promotion called “risk-free bet” but the money back will be returned as a free bet and that free bet will be SNR. That’s hardly risk-free, considering if you placed £5 on a loser – then you’d need to pick a winner at 1/1 (2.0) or bigger with your free bet to get your £5 back. You won’t see a true “risk-free” bet often, however they do exist – like we said that Ladbrokes offer is the true meaning of risk-free – however it’s only £1!
Stake Returned As Free Bet
Again, this is becoming more popular with bookmakers. You will see sign up offers like “Back Manchester United and if they lose get your stake returned as a free bet.” Usually, there’s a cap on how much of your stake will be returned. This is a good offer for the bookmakers because again you’re relying on a sporting event. It’s nice to have a second chance of getting your money back, but there are way better sign up offers out there. This is a very good offer for existing customers though.
Event bonuses usually apply for existing account holders. It’s all based on something happening in a sporting event for the promotion to kick in. Think of Betfred’s Double Delight and Hat-trick Heaven offer; if a player scores first and again, you get double the odds. If he scores first and get a hat-trick you get treble the odds. This is a fantastic offer for existing account holders because you have the chances of a big win and don’t have to jump through any sign-up offer qualifying hoops.
We have saved the best for last. This is the best type of promotion. You will see Bet365 and Paddy Power paying out on selected football competitions if a team goes 2 Up. This is an excellent offer for anybody who likes doing some Matched Betting. For example, if you backed Liverpool and they went two goals ahead and lost – the bookmaker would pay out as a winner on Liverpool and you would win your Liverpool lay on the exchanges. A double win! Bet365 has no maximum payout too. Betway always offer this on handful of sports, but the max stake is £25. This is definitely an offer worth doing, and existing accounts can avail of it too.
Will Bookmakers Always Offer Free Bets?
We don’t know for certain, but it’s 99.99% likely they will. Like we said above; free bet offers and promotions are the only way bookmakers can separate themselves from the competition. When the likes of Cheltenham and the Grand National come around each year; bookmakers will be falling over themselves to offer free bets and different kinds of promotions.
If you a Matched Bettor, it’s absolutely brilliant for you. In reality, the common punter has never had it better. They can avail of all sorts of sign up bonuses, have plenty of existing account offers like 2 Up’s and then there’s also a chance of “justice refunds or winnings” these days too. If you don’t know what a “justice refund or winner” is; it’s basically when something happens and everyone kicks up a fuss on Twitter. Putting pressure on bookmakers to pay out as a “gesture of goodwill.” You will see this when horses stay in the stalls or something like that happens.
What Type Of Free Bets Or Promotions Are The Best?
This is an interesting debate because obviously everyone will enjoy doing something different. We feel that the Early Payout offers are definitely the best. The number of options you have with an early payout are just massive. For example, when Liverpool went 2-0 up against Manchester City recently, they were still trading 1.36 on Betfair – if you had hedged for a small loss either side of the market beforehand you could then trade out locking in a profit.
An Early Payout will also mean you’re getting cash too. Not an SNR free bet or bet credit for example. It’s definitely the best offer an existing account holder can do. New account signs up have more options but in terms of the day-to-day offers then nothing compares to the early payout.
Another offer worth doing is the Qualifying Free Bet. For example, Bet £30 Get £10 on the Euro 2020 Qualifying or something like that. This is worth doing because you know that there’s a free bet coming, you just have to meet the qualifying criteria.
We’ll definitely see different types of free bets and promotions come onto the scenes as bookmakers look to get more creative. Will we see anything better than what we currently have? Let us know in the comments below!
Related Read: Guide to Matched Betting: is it Worth Your Time?