When you think of betting, ‘risk-free’ probably isn’t what springs to mind. However, with sports betting, you can get your hands on ‘risk-free bets’. In this guide, we’ll tell you all you need to know about what they are and where you might find them.
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How Do They Work and Are They Really Risk-Free?
When looking through welcome offers and UK free bets from our list of top UK betting sites, then you might stumble across a risk-free bet, but how does it work and is it worth it?
Well, the clue really is in the name. Risk-free really means that you can’t lose. However, that doesn’t mean that they guarantee your bet will win – they just have ‘insurance’ for your first bet if it does come through for you.
If you sign up with a betting site, claim the offer, place your bet and it wins, you win. However, that also means you don’t really benefit from the welcome offer. This welcome offer only benefits anyone that signs up, makes a bet and the bet loses.
If your first bet does lose, then the site offers to refund your stake money – however, this isn’t in the form of cash. They will credit your account with either an equivalent free bet amount, betting credit, or bonus money. Bonus money is not the same as cash. You then need to use that money to make another bet on the site – you cannot withdraw your original stake. Whether you get betting credit, a free bet or bonus cash, there will always be terms and conditions attached, which you need to read through carefully.
Using a Risk-Free Bet
So, how do you actually use your risk-free bet? Well – let’s look at an example…
You find a welcome offer of a £10 risk-free bet. So, you decide to join up and make a deposit. You then make £10 on a sporting event of your choice. You can do this safe in the knowledge that if your bet loses, you will still have another £10 returned to your account.
So, imagine you make a bet of £10 on over 5 goals at 4/1 when Liverpool takes on Chelsea. The score ends up as 5-3, so your bet comes in and you win £40 plus your original stake. Your return is £50.
However, if the score is 3-1, then your bet loses. Then, your betting site will then credit your account with either a £10 free bet or £10 bonus money.
Claiming Your Free Bet
Betting with the resulting credited £10 will be different from betting with your own £10 cash, so you need to be aware of this.
The biggest difference is that when using the bonus or free bet, you won’t get your original wager back. So, using the previous example, you win your bet of £10 on over 5 goals. Your winnings will be £40 BUT you won’t get your original £10 bet return, so your overall profit will be £30 (£40 minus your £10 stake).
However, this free bet isn’t guaranteed to win, so you could still lose the free bet as well as your original bet – so you lose your £10 stake. As such, although it’s a 2nd chance bet, it isn’t strictly a risk-free bet.
For this reason, although this is a very nice bonus – and quite handy if you want a second chance, we generally don’t rate these as highly as free bets or match deposit bonuses when it comes to welcome offers. The first bet is ‘risk-free’ in terms of a refund, but your money wagered isn’t risk-free, as you could end up losing it on the second bet.
So, to answer our original question, no, risk-free bets lessen the risk, but they are not really risk-free. You could still end up with £0 in your account when all is said and done.
The Best Strategy for Risk-Free Bets
If you do want to take your chance with a risk-free bet, then it’s good to have a strategy.
One strategy is maybe trying an arbitrage betting solution (read more in our arbitrage betting guide). So, you find another site offering the same bet – then you can bet on both sides of a 2-way bet, you can then guarantee yourself a win and that you will get some money out of it. It is hard to find an arbitrage bet that will see you win some money guaranteed, but you might be able to if there are special odds or an odds boost offered by a betting site on one particular match.
An example might be if you get a £10 risk-free bet and decide to use it on Man City v Man U. You use that risk-free bet to bet on Man United at 3/2. You then find a betting site that is offering an odds boost offer for Man City to win at 2/1. You decide to put a £10 bet on that too (not risk-free).
If Manchester United win, you will get a £15 return plus your initial £10 bet – so £25. However, you then need to take into account your £10 loss on Man City. So overall, you’re up £15.
If Manchester City wins, then you will lose your bet but get a £10 free bet/ bet credit. You will also see your other bet win at 2/1, so you’ll win £20 plus your initial £10. You then have £30 winnings plus a £10 free bet. So it’s a guaranteed win… and thus a ‘risk-free’ bet.
The toughest thing about this is finding a bet with two outcomes on two different bookmakers that will see you come out with a win no matter what happens. This is very rare, so keep your eyes peeled!
Other Ways to Use Your Risk-Free Bet
Although these might not necessarily still be risk-free, they are still options limiting the risk or taking advantage of the added insurance. You could use the freedom you have of knowing you’ll get your £10 back by placing the £10 on a big acca bet, with the hope that it comes through, and if it doesn’t then you still have another £10 to enjoy.
You could also put your money on a really safe bet – and make it as risk-free as possible. However, you won’t get much return with this strategy.
Risk-Free Bet Terms and Conditions
You need to be aware, that like any betting offer or promotion, there will be terms and conditions attached. These could include:
- Your initial qualifying bet must be a single bet
- A minimum/maximum odds criteria attached to the qualifying bet
- There may be payment methods not accepted for your initial wager, such as Neteller, Skrill or PayPal.
There may also be terms attached to the free bet received such as :
- Minimum odds
- Wagering requirements attached to any winnings
- Your winnings may be capped
- Certain bet types excluded (such as each-way, multiples etc)
- You generally cannot use the free bet or bonus money on features such as bet builder, edit bet and cash out betting.
However, each betting site and each offer has different requirements attached, so make sure that you read the small print carefully!
Risk Free Bets FAQ
Risk-free bets may not be the best betting bonuses available in our opinion. However, there is certainly a place for them in the betting market. Although they are not really risk-free, they do take away a certain amount of risk and they allow you a little more freedom when making your first bet. You can afford to go big, knowing you’ll get a second chance if it goes wrong. However, that’s really what it is. A second chance bet… but you have to remember that this is not like betting with your original stake, there are T&CS attached, which you need to be sure are totally fair. So, while we’d rather opt for a free bet bonus, if there’s one on offer, it’s definitely worth a look.