Why Free Bets Come At A Cost

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When searching for the perfect sports betting website it’s important to remember that while the signup bonus is an incentive for signing up with a sportsbook you shouldn’t base your decision solely on which sites offer the best bonus out of the gates. It’s important to consider the cost that comes with those signup bonuses and whether or not the incentive is good enough to use that site. Here is a look at why free bets come at a cost.

Terms & Conditions

Anybody that has ever signed up for anything that has terms and conditions usually understands the importance of reading the fine print in order to make sure they aren’t missing key details. Bookmakers will offer their promotions with creative language to disguise the actual terms of their signup incentives and make them seem like much better value than they actually are. Here is a look at five misleading “free bet” phrases that could be misunderstood.

Promo Cash

Some sportsbooks use the term “Promo Cash” when they give you an amount to bet with. However, your stake isn’t returned if you win, as you only receive your winnings. For example, if you are given $50 to bet with as Promo Cash and win $22 on the bet, then you receive the $22 but the $50 disappears. There are also restrictions to what you can bet on. This is important to remember because the Promo Cash will show up as part of your potential winnings but when you actually win it will not be part of the total.

Free Bets

Sports betting sites will also use “Free Bet” as a term to advertise a chance to bet without risking your own money. Remember that free bets only return the winnings and not the stake. Here's are two examples to illustrate the difference:

Cash Bet

$100 bet at +110

$110 profit + $100 stake = $210 returned

Free Bet

$100 free bet at +110

$110 profit + $0 stake returned = $110 returned

As you can see, there's a significant different in return here. You'd rather a cash bonus over a free bet because in this case, you'd get about double your money back. Typically, free bets are worth about 65% of the cash value.

Also note that the books often require you to make a small deposit in order to earn that free bet. It might look something like “deposit $500 and get a $500 free bet”. The best sportsbooks usually won't have many strings attached. You might need to bet your cash three or five times over before you can withdraw. Some sportsbooks will make you jump through hula hoops and in that case, the free bet might not be worth it.

Risk-Free Bet

The “Risk-Free Bet” allow you to place a bet and reclaim your money if you lose. While that may be true, you will still have to use your own money on an additional bet to qualify. Sometimes the sportsbook will make you do multiple bets. That's their way of ensuring that you aren’t actually making a bet that is completely risk-free.

A Risk-Free bet usually requires you to invest some of your own money. You have to deposit, bet on NFL, NBA or whatever else. If you lose, you get something back. More importantly, you have to note how are they paying you back.

If you take $1000 in cash and place a moneyline bet, and then lose, you're down $1000. Let's say they pay you back $1000 in free bets instead of cash or site credit. That means you're not really getting $1000 back. A free bet only pays you the winnings; not the stake. Typically, free bets convert to cash at about 65%, so if you get a $1000 in free bets, that's really only $650 cash.

Risk-free bets sound great on paper. If you use our risk free bet calculator, you'll see how to convert them into cash. However, just note that you've lost $1000 cash and are not getting exactly $1000 back. It's the book's way of offering you something that looks the same but isn't quite.

There's No ‘Free' Lunch

There is nothing wrong with taking advantage of the signup bonuses offer to new members because they could actually help you gain an early edge. However, it’s important to remember that while you might gain a small advantage it is still more likely than not to come with a cost. Make sure you do your research to find the best available signup bonuses. Then read the terms over before you sign up so you understand exactly what you are getting when you join a sportsbook.