These days it’s almost impossible for a bookmaker to make it in the online betting world without offering free bets to new customers. This has led to an explosion in the number and quality of offers and deals that are up for grabs, ranging from free bets worth four times your deposit to big deposit match bonuses and even money back in cash on your first bet if it loses.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, this site is all about those sign up offers and we list them in abundance. Our top picks of the best promotions can be found below whilst a full list of all bookmakers that we recommend can be found on our betting offers page. In addition to offers we also run a blog that covers the latest happenings in the betting world as well as a whole host of useful articles and guides.
Best Free Bets & Sign up Offers For 2021
Best Online Bookies in the UK
The previous section is all about the promotions that bookies offer to new customers. Our aim is to provide a list of the best free bet offers currently available along with a brief summary of the promo, enabling you to you can quickly compare what’s available and decide you want to claim.
In this next section we’ll talk about the sites themselves with a hand selected list of the best online bookmakers as well as what it is we like about them. You’ll also find links to our reviews which offers a run down of the key features of the site. For more detailed information about the sites, we also run ukbettingsites.org.uk which goes into a bit more detail for each betting site and also covers casinos.
BetVictor have been at the top of the pile when it comes to sports betting for over 50 years. The company have seen many changes in that time, but what’s been most noticeable has been their need for improvement and to also maintain their status as one of the best in the industry.
The sportsbook is heavily weighted around football and horse racing, which isn’t uncommon for bookmakers of their ilk. Whilst these are the two key sports, it would be unfair on the good work they have done to simply say this is all they have. They cover pretty much everything you can think of, from boxing to Britain’s Got Talent, and everything in between.
Coral have been one of the biggest bookies in the industry and have been around in one form or another since 1926. The company have been able to enjoy huge success from their offices firstly in Barking, London and now across the city in Stratford.
One of the best things about the Coral is just the fact that there is so much going on and they are constantly adding to what is already a massive bookmaker. The inclusion of features, such as their live streaming and radio station has been at the forefront of this success.
Unibet are one of the oldest online sportsbooks going. Formed in 1997 the company have seen strong growth from a range of markets and with that they’ve been able to gain a huge following around the world, but most notably across Europe. To give you idea of the scale of the company, they currently employ over 1,000 staff, impressive numbers when you consider they don’t have any high street stores.
The bookmaker is definitely one of those that you could class as an all-rounder. They cover pretty much all bases, but one that really stood out for us was their design. The sportsbook is as good aesthetically as you’re going to find, which really helps in terms of usability and functionality.
Sports wise, they are strong with pretty much all they do, but it’s horse racing and football that are the two standout sports. The market coverage is as big as you will find and over the last couple of years have been able to bring their pricing structure much more in line with industry standard and even better than that.
Betfred are one of the oldest brands in the industry. With it comes a certain responsibility to be one of the innovators as well. Over the years they’ve not only been able to stay as one of the biggest bookmakers, but also been able to set the trend with new features and betting technologies.
The company are probably best known – in sports betting – for their creation of Goals Galore, the both teams to score bet. In fact, they were one of the first to make this bet popular and these days, it's one of the highest wagered on markets in the industry.
The company has also been able to give something back to the sports that they promote, a notion that not all are able to achieve. One of the biggest and most recent has been on the back of the acquisition of the Tote, in turn pumping huge sums of much-needed money into the horse racing industry.
Over the last decade, we would go as far as saying that few bookmakers have made as big an improvement as 888. The company were much better known for their work in online poker and in their casino, but now they are one of the best sportsbooks in the industry, at least, in our opinion.
The bookmaker is able to offer a good range of markets, but we think it’s their pricing that has been the standout feature. As a result, they are one of the bookmakers of choice for accumulator bettors and have been able to push companies, such as BetVictor and Betfair, two operators famed for their consistent record of good pricing, right to their limits.
Another reason why we think they work so well is that the site is always changing. The latest design had allowed for a much better user experience and their switch to mobile betting now gives them a greater range of access for most people.
Ladbrokes is one of the oldest bookmakers in the world. They’ve been about since 1886 and have seen and done pretty much everything in that time. Starting life off-course before appearing on the high street, they made the natural progression to online where they have seen continued success over the years.
The bookmaker is definitely known as one of the best all-rounders, giving punters a huge range of both sports and markets. Like most bookies that are focussed within the UK sector, horse racing and football play a huge role, but there is much more to them than simply those two markets.
Ladbrokes have been keen to keep adding new features to their site in order to stay ahead of the competition. Features such as live betting and live streaming have been prominent within the last decade or so.
Opening their doors in 2000, Betfair have probably been one of, if not the, most revolutionary brand into the betting industry. Their niche was that of exchange betting, which allowed you not only back, but also lay bets.
Since then the company have gone from strength to strength and now that they are able to offer both traditional bookmaking along with their exchange betting, they are probably the most well-rounded bookmaker around.
Betfair have always been at the forefront of innovation and we think this shows through within their site. They were one of the first to offer live streaming and live betting, with it forcing other bookmakers to follow suit and up their game. The reputation that they have been able to forge over the years has no coincidence and it just shows that providing you offer the right service with the right products, you’re going to do well in the gambling industry.
There would be few objections if we said that 32Red are probably better known for their work within the casino sector, rather than the sports betting sector. The company are one of many who have made the leap to include sports betting and based on their recent offerings, have done so impressively well.
The sportsbook is first off able to compete with most within the sector. We won’t go as far as saying that they are up there with the likes of BetVictor or Coral just yet, but they do offer up a more than sound backup for punters looking to try something a little different.
What we liked about 32Red is that you are getting a full package. The ability to play one of the best casinos and then flick across and use a comprehensive sportsbook is not as common as you might think.
Paddy Power are easily one of the biggest and definitely one of the most recognised brands within the betting industry. The company have become famed for having hugely successful (and some not so successful) marketing stunts in the past which has been able to set them apart from much of the competition.
In terms of betting, there is little that the company don’t do well. It’s probably fair to say that football and horse racing are their biggest sports, but then this true of most bookmakers. They love to offer something a little different though and within these sports you often get to bet on some pretty obscure markets.
Whilst these market types might seem like a novelty to most, and it would be hard to argue against that, when so many bookmakers are offering up the same betting opportunities with little to separate them, it’s nice to have something a little different to work with from time to time, which is where Paddy Power really steps up.
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Frequently Asked Questions
In this next section we’ll cover some of the more common questions people tend to have – including topics relating to free bets as well as betting in general, particularly when it comes to placing bets online.
Our collective experience in the betting world – both online and on the high street – spans decades so there’s very little we don’t know about the industry so if you have a question not covered on this page, feel free to get in touch and we’ll do our best to help out.
Why Do Bookies Give Out Free Bets?
Think of a free bet like a BOGOF offer at a supermarket. You’re being offered something extra (a bonus) when you spend your money (place a bet). Just like supermarkets, bookies do this to encourage you to ‘shop’ on their site rather than a competitors.
Many betting promotions, in particular sign up offers, are run as loss leaders – meaning they actually cost the bookie money in the hope that you’ll stick around and keep betting with them once the offer is done.
Why Didn’t I Receive My Free Bet?
Many of us have been in a situation where we expecting to receive a bonus, only for it never to materialise. Here’s our quick check list to find out what went wrong:
- Is the bonus awarded immediately? Some sites issue you your free bet the second your qualifying bet has been placed, but others only award it after it has settled. In this scenario you need to wait for your first bet to be completed first. Some bookies also take a little bit of time to add the bonus (eg: up to 24 hours), but this should be listed in the terms.
- Do you need to manually claim the offer? Most bookies systems are automatic, but a few require you to manually claim the bonus by emailing custom support. Check the terms to make sure this isn’t the case.
- Are you eligible? The first thing to check is whether you’re eligible for the offer. Most welcome bonuses only apply to new accounts, so if you’ve ever bet with the bookie before then you probably can’t claim. This also often applies in situations where you’ve never bet on sports, but you have bet in their casino – especially if you’ve claimed that welcome bonus as some sites run a ‘one offer only’ policy. Most sites also restrict offers by country, so if you’re not in the UK and you found the offer on our site, then make sure that the offer is available in your country.
- Have you made the correct qualifying bet? Most free bets require a qualifying bet, but sometimes what you need to do to trigger the offer has specific requirements. In particular watch out for minimum odds (eg: evens or greater), specific bets (eg: match odds only) or sport limitations (eg: only football) because if your bet didn’t follow the rules you won’t get the freebie.
- Did you need a bonus code? A few sites use a bonus code system which requires you to enter a code either when registering or when making your first deposit. This is particularly common if the bookie has multiple welcome offers for you to choose from. If this is the case, and you didn’t enter it, then contact support before you do anything else and see if they can add it to your account retrospectively.
- What payment method did you use? If it’s a debit card, then you don’t need to worry. But some alternative methods such as PayPal, Neteller, Skrill or Paysafecard cannot be used in conjunction with offers at certain bookies. This is relatively uncommon, but frequent enough to be something you should check.
- Has the free bet expired? Once free bets are added to your account, they usually have a time period after which they’ll expire. You normally get at least 7 days, and sometimes up to 30, but we have seen offers expire after a day – meaning you need to move quickly to make sure you don’t lose them. If you have missed out on a bet, try asking support to see if they can add it again.
If none of the above help, then get in touch with the bookies customer support.
What Does Stake Returned (SR) / Stake Not Returned (SNR) Mean?
You may hear these terms banded around from time to time, especially if you hang out on betting forums. Put simply, a stake returned free bet will have the value of the free bet token included in your winnings. If it isn’t returned, then you only receive your winnings.
- Stake Returned: Place a £10 bet at evens using a stake returned free bet and if you win you’ll receive £20 back – the £10 winnings and the value of the free bet stake.
- Stake Not Returned: Place a £10 bet at evens using a stake not returned free bet and you’ll receive £10 back – made up of the £10 winnings only.
Whilst it’s obviously more preferable for the stake to be returned, it isn’t up to us and more and more bookmakers are leaning towards the SNR model. Knowing how free bet stakes are handled makes a big difference in how you want to use that offer.
What Is A Risk Free Bet & How Does It Differ From A Free Bet?
In principle the idea of a risk free bet sounds awesome, but in reality they’re actually a step down from free bets because you only get a bonus if your qualifying bet loses. If it wins, you won’t get anything.
This is different to a free bet where you receive the bonus after meeting the qualification requirements, regardless of whether your bet wins or loses.
What Are Wagering Requirements (WR)?
Wagering requirements are more common for deposit bonuses, but some bookies apply them to the winnings from their free bets (especially if it’s a SR bookmaker). Here you need to place a certain volume of bets before you can withdraw your winnings. These are normally given as a multiplier of the bonus, such as 3x. So if you have a £50 bonus with a 3x WR, you need to place £150 in bets before withdrawing the bonus or the winnings.
How Do I Make A Complaint Against A Bookie?
If you’re having problems with a bookmaker, either online or on the high street, your first port of call should be to their customer service. Most issues can be resolved fairly quickly if you speak to the right person, and the bookies are keen to keep your business and avoid bad press – so you’ll often find them to be quite agreeable when it comes to settling disputes.
However, if you’ve tried this approach and not had any luck then there are a few more things you can do. What you do in your next step, however, depends on what your issue is:
- Missleading Offers – If your complaint is about an offer and you think you’ve been missled, then your complaint should be directed towards the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA). The ASA oversee’s all advertising in the United Kingdom, including UK licensed bookmakers. You can find more information on how to complain here.
- General Complaints – If you have a more general query, then head over to IBAS. This stands for the Independent Betting Adjudication Service who act as a third party mediator for complaints about betting. In order to act on your complaint the operator need to be registered with IBAS, but most are. You can check a bookie’s status here.
- Severe Complaints – Provided the bookie you’re betting with is licensed in the UK, then you can complain directly to the gambling commission. Although they do ask that you exhaust all other possibilities first and are primarily interested in issues which could be considered a breach of license (such as allowing underage gambling or money laundering). Complaints can be made via email or post.
Please note that none of the above services will be able to return legitimately lost money to you, regardless of the reason.
Is Betting Online Legal?
In the UK, yes it’s completely legal provided that you only bet with a UK licensed operator. All of the bookies that you see on bookiesfreebets.co.uk are licensed in the UK, meaning they’re 100% legal. You can check the status of an operator on the Gambling Commission’s website.
Do I Have To Pay Tax On My Betting Winnings?
Since the abolition of betting duty in 2001 there has been no tax to pay on wagers or winnings of any sort. This includes bets place online, on the high street or in a casino. Instead the bookies pay a 15% tax on their profits made from anyone betting in the UK (known as a point of consumption tax).
Why Has A Betting Site Asked For Photo Identification (ID)?
Bookies have a legal requirement to identify their customers through a process called KYC (Know Your Customer). This is to make sure that everyone betting is of legal age, and to prevent money laundering.
There are a number of ways the bookies check you are who you say you are and often ID checks are done without you even knowing (for example, via a ‘soft search’ of your credit file which doesn’t show up in any reports, but does prove who you are).
The more you bet and the bigger sums that are involved the more likely you are to have to verify your identity by sending in ID. This could be a scan of your driving license or document showing your name and address. The bookies have a legal responsibility to protect this data, so you don’t need to worry about it falling into the wrong hands.
Another reason bookies may ask for ID is if you’re depositing larger sums of money. Here you may be asked to prove that the payment method you’re using is yours, and provide a written statement to say that you personally made the deposits – this removes the ability to perform a ‘charge back’ against the bookie.
What Is The Best Method For Depositing At An Online Betting Site?
There are a few decent options for depositing at an online bookie, with pros and cons for each. Our favourites include:
- Debit Card – Good old plastic is one of the best deposit methods at a casino. Not only are deposits instant, but they also have the highest limits out of any payment method. The downside is that withdrawals often take a few days to hit your account. You should also note that we’re only talking about debit cards here – credit cards are a terrible way to deposit as they’re seen as cash advances and attract interest immediately. They’re also now banned in the UK for gambling purposes.
- In Cash – That’s right, with some bookies you can deposit and withdraw in cash using a high street betting shop. This is obviously limited to online bookmakers who also have a high street presence, and not all of them offer it, but there are a few decent options. Including Coral and Ladbrokes.
- PayPal – Most people have a PayPal account, and transactions to licensed operators are permitted from within the UK (the rules may be different if you’re in a different country). The nice thing about PayPal is that transactions are very quick, meaning you can move your money around from one bookie to another without waiting for it to hit your bank account. Be warned though, a small number of bookmakers do not give bonuses to customers depositing via PayPal, so double check the terms of the offer you’re claiming if you want to use this method.