The world of online casinos is full of different promotions and offers, often of a generous nature. With so many names out there trying to fight off all the competitions, handing out gifts to new and existing customers is very much standard practice.
For those of you with a sports betting background, you will no doubt know this already. Free bets (or other similarly named bonuses) are frequently dished out at sportsbooks, allowing players the chance to win real money with a promotional stake (usually having qualified for the free bet using a real money stake).
Casinos also offer these kinds of free bets and offers but they often take a slightly different form and have different rules attached to them. In this article, we’ll run through the main casino “free bets” to help you understand how they tend to work. First though, let’s just clarify what we mean by a sportsbook free bet to give us a comparison.
Free Bets With a Casino Bonus
Here you'll find the free bets that are currently on offer from UK bookies that also come with a casino bonus, making it a double whammy of a sports free bet and a casino free bet.
What Is a Sportsbook Free Bet?
To help make the distinction clear between casino and sports free bets, let us give a brief overview of what the latter would look like. Typically, upon joining a bookmaker, you would be asked to stake some of your own money and in return, whether your bet wins or loses, you would receive a free bet (or free bets) to a certain value. For instance, £5 or £10 or sometimes more. You would then be able to place this across a range of sports, either as a single bet or as a double/treble/accumulator. Your selection may need to have odds above a certain limit (for example, evens) but usually free bets do not come with too many restrictions.
Providing you redeem your free bet before it expires (usually within a few days), you will stand to win the ‘full amount’ of money. By this we mean, if you use your £10 free bet on a 6/1 event and it wins, you will receive £60 back. The only difference between this and a normal bet is that you do not receive the stake back. Had you bet £10 of your own money, you would receive £70 back in total as your initial stake would also be returned. There are many variations on free bets with various rules attached, but this gives the general picture of how most of them work.
Do Online Casino Sites Offer Free Bets?
A general definition of a free bet is where a customer receives a non-exchangeable or withdrawable stake that allows them to bet and win real money. We have covered what this means at a sportsbook but what about at an online casino? Here, a “free bet” can take several different forms, and they are more likely to be called “casino bonuses” rather than free bets. Just like at a sportsbook, usually you will need to place a deposit to qualify for the offer but the free bet/bonus itself will be held in a separate wallet/balance.
Bonus money features heavily as part of casino welcome offers. A basic deal will see players able to claim a 100% bonus on their first deposit, meaning if they deposit £50, they will get £50 extra to play with. Bonus rates can go much higher than this though (200% or 300% is not uncommon) and the maximum available bonuses can reach as much as four figures at some casino sites. As such, in general, you will find casino bonuses are much larger than their sportsbook counterparts.
Attached to any bonus money will be several important key terms and conditions. One of these key terms is the wagering requirement, which is the number of times you need to spend the bonus amount before it turns into withdrawable cash. Note that different games contribute different amounts to the wagering requirements and not all casino games will be eligible.
As such, unlike most sports free bets that only require you to place them once, with casino bonuses it is not simply a case that you spend your £50 bonus in one go, or across multiple smaller bets, and the cash – assuming you win – is yours. Most often we will see an online casino stipulate that bonus funds need wagering 40 times over but it can be anywhere between 20 times and 80 times. This turnover figure can relate to just the bonus amount, or to the bonus and the deposit amount combined.
While these types of offers are usually dependent on making a real-money deposit, at some casino sites it is possible to access bonus funds without making any payment. No deposit bonuses, as they are known, are rarer than they used to be but they still exist and these ensure a completely risk-free betting experience. Exclusively for brand new players, just sign up at a casino offering such a deal and you will be issued your free funds shortly afterwards. Often these will have slightly more restrictive wagering requirements than standard casino bonuses, however, and sometimes they might be restricted for use on just one game or a handful of games.
Another kind of free bet/bonus we regularly see offered by online casinos is a helping of free spins. These are either issued all at once or staggered over several days. Sometimes the free spins are limited to a particular slot game, or a small number of slots, but this is not always the case. With free spins, inevitably what you will find is that each spin is worth the minimum stake for the particular virtual slot, most likely 10p. So, 50 free spins is effectively like getting £5 free to spend on slots.
You may find your free spin winnings need wagering through a certain number of times before you can take the cash out but this does not always apply. Even when it is, the turnover required is often less than it is with bonus money, so not 40 times or 50 times. We should also point out that free spins are just as likely to win as normal spins. Online slots do not discriminate between the two, except on games with a progressive jackpot. In such cases, using a free spin will usually exclude you from winning a jackpot prize.
No Deposit Spins
These are exactly like the free spins mentioned above but with one key difference. To unlock these, no money is required from the player. To get normal free spins you will either need to make a qualifying deposit or simply be an existing player who has previously made a deposit at some point in the past. With no deposit spins though, you will receive your allocation of spins just for signing up and before needing to make any payment. Such offers are seen as being among the most attractive for a lot of gamblers.
Free Bet Tokens
While it is bonus money and free spins that compromise the largest chunk of casino offers, it is not the only thing available. One promotion, often reserved for existing customers, that select casinos provide involves free bet or bonus tokens. These work much like they do at a sportsbook with the casino issuing you £2/5/10 to spend and any winnings are yours to keep, minus the stake amount.
There is sometimes one key difference though in that you may not need to spend the entire amount in one go, indeed you might not be allowed to in some cases. It is regularly a stipulation for sports free bets to be spent in one wager but at the casino, you could spend your £10 roulette free bet token, for instance, across 10 x £1 bets. Once you have used the full amount, the token has been exhausted and you will need to start betting real cash. As these types of offers tend to be complete freebies, rather than being linked to a deposit, the amounts offered do not tend to be that high but £5 or even £10 is not to be sniffed at.
‘Golden Chips’ deals work in exactly the same manner except that for these you are usually required to use the entire chip stake in one bet. A standard golden chip offer would be to issue a customer with 5 x £1 chips, thus giving them five bets to place on any eligible game.
Wager Free Bonuses
As stated earlier, with bonus money or your winnings from free spins, most casinos put a wagering requirement in place. This is not always the case, however, as wager free bonuses are something you can find at select online casinos. For such promotions, whatever money you win with the free bet(s) is yours to keep. Just be aware that the bonus amount itself is not withdrawable – only the winnings resulting from the wager free bonus.