For many bettors, choosing a bookmaker is no longer a decision based on the best value on offer but who is offering the most eye-catching promotion. While “free bets” and bonus incentives might be appealing at first glance, a closer look at the terms and conditions show what these offers are really worth. Find out why there’s no such thing as a free bet.
Why do bookmakers offer free bets?
Is a free bet a gesture of good will? Is it a bookmaker’s way of saying thank you for choosing to bet with them? Not at all. Free bets, bonus offers and other promotions are simply a way of acquiring new customers at a high rate using a low-risk incentive.
How do free bets work?
The most common and well-known type of free bet on offer is the classic “no risk” free bet. However, this contradictory offer is never a no risk proposition for the bettor. In order to qualify, you must be a new customer with no other previous account history and you can not live in the same household as another account holder.
As soon as you find any value and take advantage of one of these offers you’ll be banned for “bonus abuse”.
Once you have signed up and accepted the lengthy terms and conditions, you must deposit a specified amount and bet that amount with odds over a specific threshold (commonly 1.50, sometimes 2.0) before you receive the same amount you deposited as a free bet - obviously the bookmakers who use this offer don’t think a bet at odds of 1.50 or greater classifies as a risk.
As if all that wasn’t enough, most bookmakers will also enforce rollover requirements - if you win after using your free bet you must bet through your original deposit amount (this can be up to 10x your deposit) before you can actually withdraw any winnings.
As an example, to qualify for a €10 free bet currently on offer you need to deposit €10 of your own money and play through the free bet amount with €100 worth of bets (possibly more) with odds above a certain threshold before you can ever withdraw any of the money.
In addition to the common “no risk” free bet, some bookmakers will offer what appears to be a lucrative deposit bonus - this can range from €10-€250. While the monetary figure on offer is central to bookmakers’ marketing campaigns, it is the fine print that bettors should pay attention to.
If we look at one bookmaker’s €200 deposit bonus offer more closely, we can see why it doesn’t offer any real value. In short, the bonus offer is broken down into segments of maximum deposits that are matched by the bookmaker - the most a bettor can deposit at once and get back in the offer is €50.
This means to qualify for the €200 advertised you must deposit €200 of your own money in four separate instalments of €50. Each €50 must be bet at odds of over 1.50 before the next bonus can be activated.
It is also important to note that only the profit (not the original stake as well) from any winnings earned when using this bonus offer will be paid into your account - if you bet your €50 deposit bonus at odds of 2.0, instead of getting the €100 return you will only get the €50 profit.
Another headline-grabbing offer used by bookmakers is enhanced odds specials on specific events. These wildly inflated odds - sometimes up to 51.00 instead of 1.50 - might seem like great value but of course, there’s more than meets the eye.
these promotions offer customers little to no value at all and are simply there to get you to sign-up and bet with inflated margins.
An example of a real life enhanced odds offer is Manchester City to beat West Ham at odds of 29.0. Considering the odds for this match were actually 1.26, it isn’t surprising that these kinds of offers garner plenty of interest.
When you discover that the maximum stake is €1 and all winnings are paid in free bets, all of a sudden the offer isn’t so appealing.
Cash-out & Acca Insurance
Accumulator insurance and cash-out are product innovations that appeal to punters with the offer of more control, but these additional options come at a very high premium.
Cash-out offers never reflect the true in-play odds during an event and the potential benefits of accumulator insurance (your stake back if one selection doesn’t win - normally a minimum of a six selection multiple) are outweighed by the increased margin bettors are forced to take.
Though they don’t fall under the same umbrella as new customer incentives, both of these promotions function by shrouding the true value behind a façade of incentive or control.
The promotions arms race
The promotions described above are standard-fare for most bookmakers in what is becoming an increasingly saturated market. A lot of bookmakers are now competing against each other, trying to create more enticing offers that can fool bettors into thinking they are getting something for nothing.
Bettors are caught up in what is effectively a promotion arms race where all bookmakers are taking the same basic premise and wrapping it in a clever new package to make it seem appealing.
The problem is, the bookmakers that provide these offers don’t know how to manage the customers who know what they are doing. As soon as you find any value and take advantage of one of these offers you’ll be banned for “bonus abuse”.
Money back as a free bet and early payouts are just a few examples of the latest variants on the traditional promotional offers served up by bookmakers as they move further away from their fundamental function of laying bets, and spending more energy on marketing.
Just like all the others that have come before them, these promotions offer customers little to no value at all and are simply there to get you to sign-up and bet with inflated margins.
Instead of spending money on outlandish promotions that hinder customers, Pinnacle focuses on offering the best value odds, the highest limits online and providing a unique winners welcome policy. If you bet to make profit then these unique selling points should resonate with you.