Free Bets and Risk-Free Bets Explained: How Do They Work?

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Free Bets and Risk-Free Bets Explained: How Do They Work?
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You can claim the best free bet offers as a new customer - bet credits in return for making the first deposit, but there are some great free bet promotions for regular bettors too. However, some sportsbooks will offer free wagers with no deposit required. 

You can check out the best bonus bets today. Or keep reading to learn more about free bets as we delve deeper into it in this guide. Let’s start off with different types of free bets.



Free Bets vs Risk Free Bets

Free BetsRisk Free Bets
Doesn’t always require a depositIt’s necessary to place the first bet to trigger the bonus
Can be used on multiple betsRefunded credits must be spent on a single bet
The outcome of the first bet is irrelevantPromotion is credited only if the first bet loses

What is a Free Bet?

A free bet is awarded as part of a sign-up bonus or regular sportsbook promotion. You can use a free bet on any sport as long as you meet the minimum odds requirement. It enables sports bettors to have more betting fun without spending more money in the process.

How do Free Bets Work?

Free bets usually come in the form of a welcome bonus. You will either be credited with a free bet as long as you make a qualifying deposit and first bet or be awarded with free bets no deposit required. In either case, the free bets you receive can be used on any sport that you like. If your free bet wins, you get the winning sum in your account without the stake you received as a bonus.

Are Free Bets Only for New Customers?

Many free bet deals are reserved for new sign-ups. Open your account and place the first wager to earn free bets to use on sports of your choice. However, the best US sportsbooks will let regular customers win real money with free sports bets. The same terms will apply, so you’ll need to make an eligible deposit and bet first. You may even get free bets during a major tournament or final with no deposit required.

What is a Risk-Free Bet or Bet Refund?

A risk-free bet is a great way of earning free money if your first bet loses. Essentially, a risk-free wager is a refund on your first wager if it loses. All you need to do is open your account, make a first deposit and place the first bet. If it wins, that’s great – you can enjoy your winnings. If it loses, the sportsbook will refund you 100% up to a set maximum value.

How do Risk Free Bets Work? 

Example - Up To $1,000 Risk-Free Bet: Some of the top sites offer a risk-free sportsbook bonus - like a $500 risk-free bet. You’ll need to open your betting account, deposit money and bet. If the bet loses, you will be refunded with free bets. However, you can use your free bet amount on any sport and market. There will also be a time limit within which you must use your wager, plus a small wagering requirement applicable.


Types of Free Bets At Online Sportsbooks

Some sportsbooks will offer no deposit or deposit bonus free bet deals. You can start off by claiming free bets sign up bonus or continue to claim free wagers as a loyal customer. Here are the most popular options available with sportsbooks in the US.

Welcome Bonus Free Bets

Some US online sportsbooks offer a straight free wager to anyone opening a new account. You won’t have to make a minimum deposit, but there may be other T&Cs attached. The sportsbook will also deduct the cost of the free wager from any winnings you make.


  1. You download a mobile sports betting app or sign up for an online betting account from a desktop.
  2. The sportsbook credits a deposit-free wager to your account worth $50.
  3. You can now use your free wager on any sport as long as you meet the minimum odds requirement (e.g. -200 or higher).
  4. You win $100 on your bet - but you must meet the wager value of the free bet 1x ($50) before withdrawing your winnings.


First, you’ll need to place a qualifying bet. There will be a minimum odds requirement on your bet. As long as you meet the minimum odds, the sportsbook will credit your account with a free wager. You will have a time limit within which to use your free wager. There is no limit on how much you can win, but the value of the free bet will be deducted from any winnings.

Plus, there is normally a wagering requirement attached to the free or risk-free bet winnings. For example, you may have to wager the value of the free bet 1-2x times before you withdraw any free bet funds. 

Deposit Match Free Bets

You can also claim sportsbook bonuses if you are a depositing customer.

  1. Open your sportsbook account and deposit real money into it.
  2. Next, make a qualifying first bet at the requested odds or higher.
  3. The sportsbook will match the value of the first bet once it settles.
  4. You’ll be credited with free bets up to the same value.
  5. You can use your online betting free bets on any sport as long as you meet the wagering terms.



You deposit and bet $200 with your new sportsbook account. The sportsbook matches your bet 100%, so you receive $200 as a free bet token in your account. This is your deposit bonus. You then make a free wager to the value of $200 and win $400. The value of the free bet is deducted by the site, leaving you with $200. You must now wager another $200 (the value of the free bet) before withdrawing your winnings.

Free Bets for Regular Bettors

Many sportsbooks run free bet offers to all customers, regardless of when they open their accounts. Free bets are sometimes offered during major sporting events such as the Super Bowl or Stanley Cup.

The leading online sportsbooks will offer regular free bet credits to all customers as long as they make a qualifying deposit. As with welcome bonuses, there may be requirements on wagering attached to the free betting offers. It’s always good to check the terms and conditions before you jump in.

It’s a great way for sportsbooks to keep customers on their platforms. You can expect these types of promos with any popular event throughout the year.

How to Use Free Bets Offers

You can claim sportsbook bonuses in different ways, but you’ll have to be an account holder before you start claiming. First, open your account online or by downloading the mobile sportsbook app. You must be 21 or older and located in the state where the sportsbook is licensed. 

  1. ✔️ Step 1: Download the sportsbook app or open your account online
  2. ✔️ Step 2: Set up your account by creating a username and password
  3. ✔️ Step 3: Provide some key personal details such as full name, date of birth, and home address. You’ll also need to provide part of your Social Security Number (SSN) to verify your ID.
  4. ✔️ Step 4: You may have to confirm your address by providing a copy of your passport, driver’s license, or home utility bill.
  5. ✔️ Step 5: Enter a promo code on the registration form if needed.
  6. ✔️ Step 6: Make a deposit. Make sure it qualifies according to the terms of the sign-up deposit bonus.
  7. ✔️ Step 7: Opt in to the free bets promotion when you log in. Make your first qualifying bets within the permitted time period. You’ll then receive your free bets. There is normally a strict time limit within which to use your free bets, around 7-14 days.


For example, Michigan sportsbooks and Pennsylvania sportsbooks allow you to make online bets, among many other states. Sportsbooks use sophisticated geolocation tools to ensure you’re within the state when you fund your account, claim your deposit bonus, and place bets.

On the other hand, if you’re already registered, you can head over to the promotions section at a sportsbook and see whether there are any ongoing free bet promos available. Opt in for a promotion and follow the terms to meet the free bet requirements.

Example of How to Claim a $250 Free Bet

Often, to claim a free bet offer whether you are a new or existing player. Just make a qualifying bet (for example, at minimum odds of -200) to receive a bet credit in your account. 

For example, imagine you bet $250 on the NFL games tonight at +110. Once the bet settles, the sportsbook will credit your account with a $250 free wager. 

You can use your free bet on any sport in the lobby, but the $250 will be deducted from any winnings you make. You will also have to gamble $250 (1x the cost of the free wager) on other markets before withdrawing your winnings.

What are the Advantages of Free Bets and Risk Free Bets?

Free bet promotions are perfect for gamblers who know how to find good odds and are confident about meeting wagering requirements. They also carry no risk if your bet loses. That way, bettors can have more fun betting without any additional risk to their bets. In the end, it might lead to potentially higher winnings.

Free Bets and Risk-Free Bets Pros and Cons

Great for earning bonus cash at a new online sportsbook.
You can earn free bets just by opening your account
Take a shot with a risk-free bet and earn a free wager if you lose
You can also claim free bets even if you’re a long-term customer
Get different types of free bet deals as part of a VIP / loyalty scheme
Some operators have low wagering requirements on free bet offers
There may be strict wagering terms on free bet funds
The free bet amounts awarded might not be to your level
Wagering conditions may be unachievable
Maximum free wager amounts can be low
Strict time limits for usage of these risk-free or free bets may apply
The cost of the free bet is usually deducted from total returns

Understanding Terms and Conditions on Free Bet Bonuses

It’s important to check the fine print when you’re on the hunt for free bets and other no deposit free bet sportsbook promotions. Here’s how you should choose your free sports betting deals. Every sports betting promotion carries some sort of condition. Bonus terms vary from site to site but will normally cover:

  • Bonus expiration dates
  • Minimum betting odds
  • Minimum/maximum bet amounts
  • Sports and market restrictions
  • Playthrough requirements

Wagering Requirements and Minimum Odds Requirements

When you use a free wager or are trying to qualify for one, always check for minimum odds requirements. It’s tempting to make a first qualifying bet on the biggest favorite at odds of -500. However, this will likely make you ineligible for claiming any free bets.

Typically, you’ll have to make the first wager at odds of -200 or higher. As long as your bet carries the right odds, you’ll qualify for any further free bets. In addition, you may have to meet a wagering requirement to release any free bet winnings.

Imagine you receive a $100 free bet and place it on an NFL moneyline odds of +110. The bet comes in, and you receive $110 (minus the cost of the free wager, which goes back to the sportsbook). In order to unlock your profits, you must first wager $100 of it (the cost of the free bet) on another game.

Wagering requirements on the best free bets are normally small – 1x to 2x – so you won’t have to clear a lot of cash.

Betting Restrictions on Sports and Markets

The best free bet offers normally let you gamble on any sport with no restrictions. You can place your wager as long as you meet the minimum odds requirement. However, some deposit free bet offers are targeted toward specific markets. 

For instance, you may receive weekly free bets to place on in-play markets only or player props and team props. Some free bet bonus deals are reserved just for moneyline or outright markets in major events such as the Super Bowl.

Time Limit/Expiration Date for the Free Bet Offer

No welcome bonus lasts forever. You’ll only have a few days to use your free wager so you’ll need to plan ahead if there’s a game you really want to bet on. For instance, you may have a few weeks from opening your account to place your first real-money wager. When receiving your free bet, you may have 14 days to use it.

Payment Method Restrictions: Depositing and Withdrawing Money

A sports betting site may also have restrictions on what payment methods you can use in order to receive free bets. The rules vary from sportsbook to sportsbook but you may have to make your first deposit via debit card or online bank transfer to collect your deposit bonus. Prepaid vouchers or e-Wallets such as PayPal may be ineligible. Always check the terms for new customers before you claim your offer.

Compare Free Bets at Different US Sportsbooks

We always compare betting sites with a free bets bonus code, and so should you. We recommend you open new accounts with every online or mobile sportsbook if you’re able to. That way, you can take advantage of a range of special promo code offers. That way, you’ll be able to pick the best free bets promo.

How We Select the Best Free Bet Offers

At, our team of reviewers goes through every sports betting site to find the very best deals and free wager promotions. We find the easiest terms for making an initial deposit and clearing funds. Plus, our top-rated sites offer a host of ongoing promotions that reward loyal customers. Here's how to choose a free bet offer and what to look out for:

  • Free Bet Total

    Free Bet Total

    Every sportsbook offers a different amount of deposit free bets. You might get $250 just for signing up and making a deposit. However, some sites may only give you $100, but there will be no deposit required. You need to take all factors into consideration before declaring a winner among the free bet offers.

  • Wagering Requirements

    Wagering Requirements

    Many online sports betting sites offer bonuses that carry strict playthrough requirements. You may have to gamble the value of the free bet once or twice over before you can release any of your winnings. Some sportsbooks, however, insist on no wagering requirements: whatever you win is yours to keep with no playthrough needed.

  • Minimum Odds

    Minimum Odds

    Many free bets are awarded as long as you make the first bet. Your initial bet must be made at the minimum odds or higher, as stated in the terms and conditions. We do a thorough check on the minimum odds each sportsbook puts in its terms.

  • Expiration Date

    Expiration Date

    A free bet offer will always carry a strict expiration period. You may only have a week to two weeks to use your free wager amount.

  • Choice of Promotions

    Choice of Promotions

    Good sports betting sites offer a host of promotions. You can choose from a sportsbook bonus, including free bets or go for a straight deposit match. A risk-free bet offer is great if you want to make a large bet and receive bonus funds if the wager loses.

  • Regular Deposit Bonuses & Deals

    Regular Deposit Bonuses & Deals

    You can also claim free bookie bets and other sportsbook promotions if you’re a regular customer. Get money-back free bets on losing wagers through the week or claim free bet deals on your in-play betting. You can also join a VIP scheme which lets you earn player points every time you place wagers.

Mobile Free Bets

You can also use a promo code and claim risk-free bets or a sign-up bonus if you gamble on mobile. Download the smartphone app and open your account to claim free bets or a risk-free bet.

In fact, many US states only support mobile sports betting in 2023. Complete your mobile registration in person at a retail sportsbook and start using your free bets on NFL, NBA or any number of sports. As long as you have Wi-Fi and GPS switched on, you can place bets from anywhere in the state.

Summary and Top Tips for Using Free Bets

Free bets are a great way of claiming extra cash just by gambling online on your favorite sports. Enjoy sports betting on football, baseball, and basketball and claim free money with none of the risks.

The beauty of free bets is that the wagering requirements are often quite low. You may find it straightforward to clear the bonus funds if you’re smart about picking the right games to bet on.

Most legalized US states now offer a choice of sportsbooks which you can sign up for right now. Best of all, every top US sportsbook offers some sort of online gambling deal. Check out your home state today and see what free wager deals are available.


Are free bets real money?

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How do I use a free bet?

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Is a no deposit bonus the same as a free bet bonus?

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Are free bets only available on sign-up?

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How should I select free bet offers?

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Are risk-free bets worth it?

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Can I win cash with a free bet?

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How can I claim free bets without a deposit?

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Can you withdraw free bet winnings?

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Are free bets taxable?

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what is the catch with risk free bets?

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Do you get your money back on a risk free bet?

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Jon Young

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