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In order to tempt punters to play on their site, online casinos and bookmakers offer some lucrative free bets. But how do these free bets work, and what are some of the finer details when using them?
Free bets are primarily offered to new customers of online bookmakers or casinos to entice them to join. The free bet can take several forms, but is most commonly a matched amount. Once you've deposited a certain value into your new account, the site will gift you with a free bet: usually matching the amount deposited, but sometimes more, up to a fixed multiplier.
A matched free bet is the most commonplace of the free bet types, and will be limited up to a certain amount. For example, once a player has made a £50 bet, their account is credited with back with that amount or a multiple of it (i.e. a 200% free match bet would offer £100 on this example). This cannot be withdrawn, but rather must be used to make further bets.
The deposit matched free bet works in a similar way, where players do not have to make a bet but instead credit their new account with a certain sum. Once the account is sufficiently filled, the bookmaker will then offer the free bet, usually matching the initial deposit amount up to a certain limit.
Some casinos also offer no deposit free bets, which the player receives once they have registered a new account and verified their details. These bets tend to only allow you to keep any winnings, so you will not be credited with the initial stake as well if you are successful. However, some casinos do offer keep stake free bets, with which players not only keep any winnings earned but also the original amount wagered.
As the saying goes, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”, and online betting doesn't prove this old adage wrong. While the bets are technically free, many of the free bet offers available require a deposit by the player before the bookmaker will equal the bet up to a certain amount or percentage of the original wager.
There may be other stipulations with regards to the free bet. For example, if the free bet is on casino games, you may only be able to place the wager on certain games with a distinct house advantage. If it is on sports, it may only be eligible on certain sports, or even tied to specific games.
If you are one of the lucky punters to win with a free bet, you may find that the money is tied up in your account for a certain period of time, or more commonly, that you have to make a certain number of bets or wager above a certain figure in order to withdraw the winnings.
Players would do well to read the terms and conditions of any free bet offers. As well as the issues highlighted above, many of the free bets have a very limited half-life, and must be used in a short time period following the new account being formed.
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