Free bets in sports betting are often connected to deposits and are also referred to as bonuses.
Most free bets are only available on a first deposit at that specific sportsbook. For instance, DraftKings has a $20 free play that has a number of stipulations. First, you have to deposit at least $5 into your account and then you'll get the $20 in free play money, which is not redeemable for cash. Almost every sportsbook has some kind of deal to attract new bettors and there are many different methods to draw people in.
The idea is that sportsbooks will get new people to sign up for accounts and deposit money, and if they win a few bets, maybe continue wagering at that sportsbook instead of going elsewhere.
There are positives and negatives to free bets. For starters, if you feel like you're playing with free money, you may not be inclined to put much thought into your bets. If that's the case, you may deposit $100 into your account and before you know it, your original $100 is gone as well as the $100 in free money.
If you know what you're doing and hit a few bets and come out in the positive, then the bonus is worth it, but there's a reason these offers exist. Sportsbooks not only get your information for future spamming opportunities, but they also have numerous stipulations that usually give them the advantage in the end.
Free bets look fun on the surface, but if you play into the hands of the sportsbook, they could turn into a quick negative in your pocket.
The most common methods to claim free offers are by either using a bonus code or having a minimum deposit. In some cases, it could be both of those things. Bonus codes may be emailed to a user after registering for an account or they can be found through numerous online advertisements. As for a minimum deposit, those can range anywhere from $5 to $20 and sometimes more.
Free bets, as listed above, are the most straightforward bonus. You usually get a set amount of money to bet when you deposit and that money can't be redeemable for cash. For example, if you bet the free $5 and lose, that money is gone. If you bet $5 and profit another $5, you'll be up $5 in real money.
Since you're betting free money, it may be worth it to go big like in a multi-team parlay, though some sportsbooks may limit your eventual payout.
Risk-free bets are a tad more complicated because they usually have a lot more rules. In 2020, new customers at FanDuel could get a $500 risk-free bet. This means that users could get a 100% refund on their first bet up to $500. Of course, if you want to bet the full $500, you would have to deposit that money into your account to be able to make the bet.
Again, there are a few underlying requirements that make getting this money back a tad more difficult. If your $500 bet loses, while you should get another $500 within the next few days, that money is not yet yours. That money is considered Free Bet money and if you want to get it back, you'll have to wager another $500 before you can withdraw any of it.
Match bet offers are in the same mold as risk-free bets with different wording. For the above FanDuel promotion, a match bet offer would be 100% on up to $500. That means you can get back 100% of your money on your first bet up to $500.
These are usually minimal amounts like $5 or $10 because this method is harder to retain bettors since no deposit is needed. Even if you win this kind of bet, you'll likely have to wager your winnings multiple more times for you to meet requirements and withdraw that money. This offer doesn't often amount to much and is usually for bettors to get a sense of how that specific sportsbook runs and what kind of odds they offer.
These bonuses are usually done through casinos, as that's where they were popularized. Sportsbooks will match a deposit, which often has a minimum requirement at a preset percentage, ranging from 50% to 300%.
For example, if you deposit $100, you could get another $100 in free money with a 100% deposit match bonus. Again, that free money will have to hit a few betting requirements before it can be withdrawn.