Returning to Sports with Free Bets

After a shutdown of all professional sports and sports betting in the UK and many other parts of the world due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many major sports are returning to activity such as UK horseracing and the English Premier League which have already restarted races and games respectively.  This, whilst adhering to health and safety protocols and social-distancing rules which are still in effect in many places.  And alongside sports, of course bookies are returning to offer sports betting which for many UK sports fans, is not only a big part of their enjoyment of sports, but an integral part of their British culture.

As most aspects of life, the pandemic also changed sports.  Thus leagues, events and competitions all look very different to what we were used to.  All major league sports are now subject to strict health checks and safety protocols for athletes, coaches and staff.  In addition, no spectators are allowed in the stands.  And similar to sports, sports betting also changed significantly in the post COVID-19 era.  So whilst sports fans are waiting for things to get back to normal and for them to be allowed back to the stadiums and racetracks, for now betting on football, horse racing, or any other sport is becoming one of the major ways for sports fans to take part and participate in the action.

The Playright team of experts has constantly been adding to the Playright website new reviews for the best online sportsbooks in the UK, as well as regularly checking and updating existing sports betting sites that are featured.  Being passionate about sports betting, our experts decided to share some exciting post COVID-19 betting news, as well as tips and things you should know in order to get the best free bets and free sign-up bonuses from the UK’s top sports betting sites.

  • There is more competition amongst online sportsbooks nowadays. The return to sports betting after the forced shutdown created a new playing field.  After a few months where punters had no reason to log into their sports betting accounts, the marketplace is now opening up again and online bookies see this as an opportunity to capture more market share by signing up new customers.  So even if you already have an account with an online betting site, shop around for attractive new sign up bonuses and offers and see what competition has to offer.
  • Retail betting shops will rely more on their online betting sites. Due to social-distancing rules that are still in effect in many places, many large UK retail betting-shop operators are providing on their websites attractive odds, free sign-up welcome offers, free bets and more in order to grow their online betting footprint.  If you are used to place your bets in a retail betting shop, make sure you check and compare the online offers of this, and other sportsbook operators.
  • Reliance on betting technology brings innovation. Because no fans allowed to attend sports events, reliance on TV, live streaming and event broadcasting is growing.  In addition to live streaming of sporting events, sportsbook operators are busy investing in their technical infrastructure and rolling out many great new technical improvements as we speak.  From state-of-the-art mobile betting apps, to new and dynamic betting features and user interfaces.  When choosing an online sportsbook site or app, look at features and usability to make sure it is the best sports betting site for you.
  • Sporting events are different than before the COVID-19 era. There are many differences in the settings, formats, protocols and facilities of the sports leagues and competitions now.  Health and safety rules, different competition formats and empty stadiums with no fans, all take time getting used to, and may affect teams and individual player performance.  When devising your betting strategy, consider how well players and teams adjust to the new settings.
  • Always check the terms and conditions. Although all the sports betting sites we review and feature on our website are all regulated and comply to the highest standards of fairness and trustworthiness, it is always good to understand the ‘small print’ of the free bets and sign up free-bet offers.  Check our reviews, where you will find details about the wager requirements, restrictions, etc.  Or check the Terms & Conditions section of the sports betting site itself for further details.
  • Keep safe, protect your health and remember that health risks are still looming. The coronavirus is still here, and will probably be with us for a while.  So enjoy sports and sports betting whilst still keeping all hygiene and social-distancing rules for protecting yourself, family and community.
  • Keep your gambling in control. Remember that like all forms of gambling, sports betting is meant for entertainment.  If you feel that it is becoming more than pure fun, and you find it hard to control, stop immediately and seek help.  It is best to set limits and specific time periods for playing.  Once your time is up and you reached your money limit, take a break and stop betting until your next planned round is due.  Our team at Playright sees your health and safety as our top priority, so please feel free to contact the resources we list on our website, or any other gambling-addiction support forum.

Online Betting Offers Guide

Free bets’ offers with first deposit deals are very common, and you can find them offered by bookmakers who are keen to sign up new accounts.

If you’re familiar with online casinos, ‘free bets’ offers with deposits are the betting world’s equivalent of a casino sign-up bonus – a little sweetener to encourage you to choose one provider over the next. While these promotional bets are a little less well known, they’re still widely offered, and they can be used to good effect in getting your new betting account off to a winning start.

Promotional ‘free bets’ offers with deposits work hand in hand with a range of other promotions and incentives, all designed to get you signing up and betting through a particular sportsbook. But what are the common ‘free bets’ offers with a deposit and promotions you’ll come across, and what do they mean for your account?

Matched Free Bets

Matched Free BetsMatch free bets are promotions where the bookie stumps up a free bet equal to or greater than the amount of your bet on a given event. It’s ‘matched’, because it’s pegged to your bet – you bet a certain amount and the bookie matches it with a free bets for the same amount.

These offers are typically most common for new players, as part of the welcome bonus to incentivize you to create an account. But they are not solely for new punters, and from time to time, you’ll see other matched free bets offers popping up, especially for big sporting occasions like the FA Cup Final or the Grand National.

Matched free bets promos are categorized as either stake-returned, or stake-not-returned, depending on the particular restrictions of the offer with stake not-returned being the far more common type of offer.

How it Works In Practice

Say you’re betting on an event at Evens at £10. If your result comes in and you’re playing with real money, you’d win back your stake, plus an Evens return – £10 plus £10 = £20 total back, for your £10 stake. With a stake-returned free bet – you win your free bet back as £10 cash, alongside your winning £10 bet. If it’s a stake-not-returned bet, you’ll just win back £10, while forfeiting the promotional bet. For stake returned free bets its best to choose a low odds bet but for non-stake returned the best strategy is to choose a high odds line as you’re not getting your stake back so you might as well take a punt with a higher return.

Bookie Free Bet Bonus Minimum Bet Wagering Requirements Minimum Odds
Betfair SportsBetfair£30£10x3x8
Titanbet ReviewTitanbet£200£2001/5Evens
Free bet bonus: £30
Minimum bet: £10
Wagering requirements: x3
Minimum odds: x8
Titanbet Review
Free bet bonus: £200
Minimum bet: £200
Wagering requirements: 1/5
Minimum odds: Evens

This is a great example of the nuance of promotional bet offers. Titanbets’s headline ‘free’ bet amount of £200 when you deposit the required amount is certainly eye-catching, especially for high-rollers seeking to maximize the value of a new member offer. But if you’re betting smaller amounts, Betfair’s offer has many advantages.

For starters, you only need to place one £10 bet to get your hands on promotional bets worth 3 times as much. To claim your full £200 in promotional bets from TitanBet you’d have to bet the full amount with your own money first. Another point goes to Betfair for the 3x wagering requirement, compared to the 8x required by TitanBet. Finally, Betfair allows you to place bets at minimum odds of 1/5, which is again more generous than TitanBet’s minimum odds of evens.

Matched Free Bets vs Matched Betting

Quick terminology clear-up here – ‘matched free bets’ are not to be confused with ‘matched betting’. While they look and sound similar, they are in fact two completely separate things. Matched betting is a technique using free bets to hedge outcomes across two different bookies, so you can effectively back and lay the same result for a guaranteed profit.

The return equates to an average of around 70% on stake not returned bets, but it requires a matched free bet to put the strategy to work. So while matched betting is a betting technique, matched free bets are the bonus bets you’re looking for.

Enhanced Odds

Enhanced Odds Betting OffersEnhanced odds is another type of promotion offered up by the bookies from time to time. Essentially, enhanced odds promos give you over the odds, offering a greater return than the regular odds would allow.

You might get 10/1 in-play for the next goal, where ordinarily you would be priced at 2/1. Or it might be that you get enhanced odds on multiples, as a one-time promotional deal. Enhanced odds are designed as promotions to get you betting, and they offer excellent value over and above the regular odds of an outcome.

You qualify for these types of offers by placing a bet in the minimum amount on the enhanced odds offer. For example, SkyBet offers a series of Enhanced Accumulators, offering you better odds than those you’d get for manually adding the same to your betslip. LeoVegas Sports offers 10% enhanced accumulators on Fridays as a promotion, while BetStars offers a range of enhanced odds and similar promotional offers on horse racing.

Price Boosts

Price Boosts Betting OffersPrice boosts are fairly similar to enhanced odds, but they tend to be offered across the board to existing players. Enhanced odds are more commonly incentives aimed at new players, whereas price boosts happen in the ordinary course of business for an online bookie. Keep your eyes peeled for promotional price boosts in-play, or to mark certain big sporting occasions, like boosted odds on an Anthony Joshua fight, or boosted odds on the Champions League Final.

For example, SkyBet offers regular price boosts, like 2/1 from 6/4 on Djokovic to win the first set against Klizan 6-0, 6-1, or 6-2. NetBet routinely boosts the odds of favourites at big race events like Cheltenham, making it even more worthwhile to back a sure-thing. And you’ll find regular price boosts across a range of football matches every week at Betfair.

Popular Betting Offers

Bet Bundles and Accumulator Free Bets

Acca Betting OffersBet bundles are pre-determined by the bookmaker, like off-the-shelf accumulators that you don’t make up manually. These often come with enhanced odds over and above the price you’d get for manually adding these results to the same line, and because they’re multiples, they usually already come in at long odds. Similarly, accumulator free bets are free bets which can be used on a series of results on the same line, forming an accumulator, or ACCA.

You’ll also come across accumulator-specific promotions like ACCA insurance, where you get your stake returned for qualifying accumulators where one leg fails. This is a nice backup to your ACCA, and softens the all-or-nothing proposition of any ACCA-style bet.

Let’s look at a specific example, where you could use ACCA insurance to reduce your downside risk.

Newcastle v Man City – 1/4
Crystal Palace v Arsenal – 4/5
AC Milan v Inter (draw)
 – 23/10
Aberdeen v 
Partick – 40/85
Hamilton v Kilmarnock – 19/10
Hearts v Hibs – 21/10

6 Fold odds = 98.16, £10 returns £981.60.
ACCA Edge Insurance odds = 90.33, £10 returns £903.30, or £10 cash if one leg fails.

Choosing the 6-fold odds gives a significantly higher return, but if one result fails, you’ve also lost your stake, as well as you chance of securing the £981.60 win. With Betfair’s ACCA Edge, you’re getting less generous odds, but the guarantee of at least your stake back, even if one of your results goes south. Bet bundles are fun but even with the enhanced odds they favor the bookie so go in with your eyes open on these types of offers.

Deposit Bonuses

Betting Deposit BonusesThe 2nd most common type of welcome offer – deposit bonuses are the sports betting equivalent of those big money casino bonuses you see advertised. It’s a bonus in the form of a betting credit tied to the amount of your first deposit to an account, usually 100% match on your first deposit up to a certain limit. As such, it’s usually restricted to the first deposit you make when setting up your account, but there are some exceptions.

In order to qualify for these types of bonuses, you need to be setting up your first account with the bookmaker running the promotion. Then you need to deposit at least the minimum threshold amount to claim the bonus, and you’ll need to meet wagering requirements before you can withdraw on the bonus (note that there are betting sites with just £5 minimum deposit that will give you a bonus). Nevertheless, this can be a good bonus to kick-start life with a new bookie, and players often feel they might as well claim a bonus like this if they’re going to setup an account and deposit anyway. Like a sticky casino bonus, you can’t usually withdraw the bonus credit but you can use it to bet for real money winnings.


No Deposit Bonuses

No Deposit Betting OffersSomewhat rarer than most of the other bonuses we’ve looked at, free bet no deposit bonuses are free bets that don’t depend on any deposit amount to qualify. These are free bets you’re given simply for signing up, and provided you meet the wagering requirements thereafter, as good as free money.

SkyBet offer a free £10 bet with no deposit required, for new players only. These are stake not returned bonuses, so you only get back the winnings from these bets, but this is still a decent bonus simply for signing up for a SkyBet account.

Best Odds Guaranteed

Best Odds Guaranteed OffersIn the spirit of staying as competitive as possible, it’s now increasingly common to find bookies offering best odds guaranteed . This can be seen with Betfair, for example, which commits to best odds guaranteed on all UK and Irish races. The guarantees are exactly that – a guarantee that the bookie will provide or match the best odds available on any given race event, whether the odds at the time of betting or the starting price. It’s always a good thing to look out for with racing, especially when it’s so important to get the best value for your bets. Of our recommended sportsbooks, all of them offer best odds guaranteed on all UK and Irish racing.


Free Bets vs Deposit Bonuses

Two of the most common types of bonuses you’ll come across are matched free bets and deposit bonuses. While these, on the face of things, seem pretty similar, there are a number of key differences.

With the matched free bet, you’re given set free bets in exchange for betting on specific events at the required odds or greater. With a deposit bonus, you’re given free betting credit in exchange for a deposit into your betting bankroll. That means you have more flexibility with the latter in terms of how you apply your credit, and when and how much you should bet – the bonus only depends on the amount you deposit, and if your deposit qualifies, you’re golden.

Contrast that with matched free bets, where you need to deposit and then bet according to the qualifying criteria. If you’re a regular bettor who is serious about betting then  matched free bets are probably the better offer, not being subject to wagering requirements. For casual players, the deposit bonus is probably preferred, as this bonus can often be applied to other gambling verticals through the same account – in other words, you can often use your deposit bonus for sports betting, as well as for casino or arcade betting under the same account.

Football Promotions

Football Betting PromotionsFree bets for football are incredibly popular, and one of the main ways the bookmakers drum up interest amongst new punters. Similarly, you also find draw money back offers, goalscorer offers, and various other combinations of promotional bets, all with the aim of winning over new punters with a penchant for football betting.


Free Bets

Genting offers a free £10 insurance bet on football, which only comes good if your original bet doesn’t win. To qualify for the offer, you need to bet at least £10 on an even with odds equal to or greater than 2.00, or multiples where each bet is priced at 1.40 or greater. Or, for free bets with fewer strings attached, you can check out the standard free bet welcome offer from Betfair, worth up to £100 in free bets matched to your first deposits.

Draw Money Back Offers

Bet365 offers a ‘Bore Draw Money Back’ offer, where selected fixtures are paid money back if they end up as a draw. The stake is refunded on losing bets only where the highlighted matches finish 0-0, and bets that are amended in-play are void. Otherwise, this is a good promotion for getting more value out of those watching-paint-dry goalless wonders. Sites similar to Bet365 will often have identical offers.

Goalscorer Offers

Goalscorer offers are commonplace, depending on upcoming fixtures and man-of-the-moment players. Harry Kane is an excellent example, with tons of promotional offers around Harry Kane first scorer bets. For example, Coral offered 20/1 on Kane to score for England vs. Scotland in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup – a very decent price promotion, in terms of bet value.

Racing Promotions

Racing PromotionsAs one of the most popular sports for UK bookmakers, horse race betting remains a key focal point for promotional bets. You’ll most commonly find best odds guaranteed promotions, which are offered across virtually all the major bookmakers we recommend, along with free bets and Totepool promotional offers.


Best Odds Guaranteed

Best odds guaranteed means you get the best price on your bet, between the odds you took the bet at, and the starting price. So if a horse drifts from the odds at the time of your bet, you get maximum value. This promotional offer is available across all the bookmakers we recommend, including Betfair, SkyBet and 888sport.

Free Horse Racing Bets

While there are free bet offers aimed at horse racing in particular, the majority are simply repackaged welcome bonuses – free bets you get anyway for signing up and depositing to your account, whether or not you choose to bet on horse racing. Like Betfair’s up to £100 in free bets for signing up, which can be used in part to bet on horse races of your choosing. Stake is not usually returned in these types of bets, but they are a completely risk-free betting proposition.

Totepool Offers

Betfred offers Totepool promotional offers, like the Big Money Scoop6 Rollovers, which gives players the chance to win life-changing jackpots from their stake. You can also find similar offers across other bookmakers that support Totepool betting.

Tennis Promotions

Tennis PromotionsTennis is another key betting market for bookmakers, and one of the most popular amongst serious sports betting fans. Tennis betting has similarities with football, and as you’d expect, this means you see the same types of bonuses and promotions cropping up. Most commonly for tennis betting, it’s the likes of ACCA insurance, enhanced odds, and free bets.


ACCA Insurance

ACCA insurance is a promotion where you get your stake returned if one leg of your ACCA falls short. This is commonly offered as a promotion for tennis punters. One example is BetVictor, where until recently, players could get their stake returned up to £50, for any tennis ACCA with 5 or more selections at odds of 1.25 or over.

Enhanced Odds

These commonly crop up around about big tennis events like the majors, and in particular, look out for excellent enhanced odds offers in and around Wimbledon each year. Andy Murray often benefits from enhanced odds, with 40/1 available at Coral for Murray to win the Australian Open this year – cracking value. Read our Wimbledon betting 2019 guide for more details.

Free Bets

Look out for free bets that can be used on tennis, as a more straightforward promotion type. Betway offers a free bet of up to £30, plus a weekly £10 free bet which can be used on tennis events of your choice. 1x wagering at odds greater than 1.75 applies to trigger the free bet, and a £25 minimum stake is required to trigger each of the additional £10 free bets.

Rugby Promotions

Rugby PromotionsRugby offers are less common, but nonetheless an increasing feature for promotional activity across the leading UK sportsbooks. You tend to find promotions that revolved around accumulator offers, enhanced odds and money back promotions, like the examples we’ve found below.

Accumulator Offers

William Hill offers its ACCA Five promotion, a type of ACCA insurance that pays back your stake on a five leg ACCA if one leg fails to come good. This covers a range of sports, which includes both Rugby League and Rugby Union, provided every selection on your slip comes in at 1.2 or more.

Enhanced Odds

Enhanced odds are a common feature around the Rugby World Cup, international tours, and the Six Nations, which between them, attracts the bulk of annual betting activity for the sport. For example, Betfair was offering 60/1 on the British Lions to beat New Zealand, significantly enhanced odds beyond true value.

Money Back

Money back promotions tend to crop up around big events. Unibet were offering money back on H2H matches during the Rugby League World Cup, for any teams that lose from the 60th minute onwards. The promo covered all bets up to £50 stake.

Golf Promotions

Golf Betting PromotionsGolf betting promos tend to be most commonly found around the majors, though you can find particular offers throughout the tour season if you know where to find them. These are most commonly reflected in accumulator offers, money back promos and enhanced odds, as set out below.


Accumulator Offers

TitanBet offer ACCA insurance promotions for golf, covering 2 or 3 ball 4-fold accumulators on any PGA or European Tour event. Up to £25 is refunded as a free bet if only one of the selections loses. Minimum odds of 1.2, or 1/5 are in force to qualify for this offer, but it’s just one example of the types of accumulator-based offers you can expect when betting on golf.

Enhanced Odds

Enhanced odds on particular golfers are another common promotion, and you’ll commonly find promotional odds on winner-only bets for major tournaments like the Open and the US Masters at Augusta. For example, Paddy Power were offering a whipping 30/1 on Rory McIlroy at the US Masters 2017, as part of an enhanced odds promo that was offering ultra-competitive odds on some of the biggest names in the sport.

Money Back

Money back offers are commonly tied to golfers missing the cut, or finishes second to another named players. For example, TitanBet were offering money back as a free bet if a backed player finished in second place to Jason Day. Quite a specific condition, but a decent promotion nonetheless if you’re looking to get some skin in the game for a major golf event.

Terms and Conditions

Terms and conditions vary depending on the type of bet or promotional offer on the line, and the specific sport you are betting on. If you think about it, free bets on a football match are intrinsically different to ACCA insurance for a tennis five-fold, so it makes sense that the terms and restrictions should be unique. As a result, you need to familiarise yourself with the structure and the terms and conditions on each specific promotional offer, so you know how to qualify for the offer.

Minimum Odds

Minimum odds set the minimum odds of each selection required to qualify for a bonus offer. For example, Betfair expects minimum odds of 1.5 on each of its free £10 bets, as part of the £100 free bets bonus.

These odds apply across the board, regardless of the sport you are backing from free bet offers. Sports specific promotions may have their own minimum odds requirements, so it’s always worth reading the small print for minimum odds before accepting a particular bonus.

Wagering Requirements

Along with minimum odds, you’ll also find wagering requirements. These apply to deposit match bonuses rather than free bets, and stipulate a minimum number of times you need to playthrough, or wager, the bonus (and sometimes deposit), before you can withdraw from the bonus.

At Betway, the deposit match offer of up to £30 is contingent on a 1x wager at specified minimum odds. That means that before the bonus kicks in, you need to wager the full amount one time at the required odds, in order to trigger the bonus.

By contrast, the Betfair free bets offer has no wagering requirement because it’s a pure free bet rather than a deposit match. While the stake is not returned, this functions as a x0 requirement, which makes the bonus much more valuable than a comparable deposit bonus with a higher wagering requirement.

Validity Periods

Fairly straightforward, this term deals with the amount of time you have to use your free bet or bonus before the offer expires. This is commonly with 7 days of triggering the bonus, but as ever, terms vary by bonus, sport and provider.

SkyBet offer their free £5 bet every week, and by definition, this promotion requires a tight timeframe for punters to place their qualifying bets. You need to bet £25 by midnight on the Sunday of any week to receive a free £5 bet for the follow week, and the free bet must be used within that period.

With 888sport, you have 7 days to claim the free bets bonus from signing up for your account, and the first qualifying bet must be placed within 30 days of account opening. As you can see, the timeframes allowed vary by different providers, offer types and even sports, as with all bonus terms and conditions.

Payment Method Restrictions

Welcome promotions may also be restricted by payment methods. Some promotions exclude players who deposit by e-wallets like Skrill and Neteller, for example, while others will have the effect of excluding players who deposit by bank transfer or other, slower means of payment. Again, check the individual offer terms and conditions to see which payment methods are supported or excluded from any promotional offers.

Round Up on Betting Offers

We’ve seen in some detail how different betting bonuses, free bets and other promotions and incentives work. But when the dust settles on all these restrictions and terms and conditions, is it actually possible to make any money from these free bets? Emphatically yes, though of course, not all bets are as good as each other.

Deposit match bonuses are generally worse than free bets, because they invariably set a wagering requirement. Why take the risk of 5x, especially when it’s deposit + bonus (so effectively, a 10x wagering requirement), when you can take a no-stakes-returned £10 free bet? It doesn’t take a genius to work out you’re probably better with the latter, rather than the former.

The best advice you can take away with you is to thoroughly read bonus terms and conditions – not the most gripping reading material, but essential if you want to be betting with your eyes open. The bigger bookies tend to offer more competitive terms, but be careful when you’re dealing with smaller or newer bookies – they have a more pressing need to keep their terms tight, and in some cases, they probably go a little too far in terms of eroding value for the player.

On balance, don’t be too swayed by free bets – if you find a site offering the best odds, like those we recommend above, the bonus is a sweetener, rather than the be all and end all. Ultimately, whether you profit from it or not, your free bonus will eventually come to an end. Then you’re left with the bookie you’ve chosen, for better or worse. Prioritise better, more competitive odds, good in-play betting and a decent app over the flashy bonus any day of the week.


With a free bet bonus you are allocated an amount of credit, often held separately in your online account, which you can apply to any bet. If your bet wins, you’ll get paid the odds, and sometimes you’ll even get the stake back. Free bet winnings may be capped or otherwise restricted in their scope, but they can still be a good way to win some money essentially for free/a deposit you were going to make anyway, with your new betting account. There are terms and conditions unique to every free bet and promotion, so it’s essential to read these before putting your free bets to work.

As the name suggests, the difference is whether the free bet stake is returned or not. Stake not returned free bets are the more common type of free bets bonus, here when you place a bet the stake part is not returned. If you place a £10 bet at odds of 3.5, you would receive £0 of the stake and £25 profit. With a stake returned free bet, £10 free bet would see £10 of the stake and £25 of the profit i.e £35
No, you are not obliged to take the free bet and some choose not to for various reasons. Again, the bonus terms and conditions are your friend here - they will explain on an offer-by-offer basis whether and how you need to claim your free and promotional bets. Often its possible to cancel a free bet or deposit bonus which appears on your account offer by contacting customer support.
Minimum odds is the lowest odds outcomes on which you can bet with your free bet. This is usually noted in the terms and conditions, and all free bets must adhere to minimum odds if they are to be eligible. This is usually expressed as e.g. ‘odds of evens (2.00) or greater’, which means any event you are betting on must be at odds of 2.00 or longer before you can use a free bet.

Enhanced Odds is another type of promotion that often goes hand in hand with free bets. Here, the bookies boost the odds on a particular event to offer a better return for gamblers - often at implausibly good rates, designed to attract new customers.

Enhanced Odds are a marketing promo and you certainly won’t see them every day. But these can be a good bonus to take advantage of whenever it pops up, with most of our recommended sports betting sites using enhanced odds alongside free bets as part of their promotional offering.