One of the key pieces of marketing for online betting sites is the free bet offer.
This is used very often when targeting horse racing punters, and when the deals are used correctly, they are more than a little handy for us when betting on horse racing.
Free bet deals can and do come in various forms.
We go through the different types of horse racing sign-up offers available on the market, which betting sites offer the best free bets, and we also delve into existing customer offers given daily to punters.
Best Free Horse Racing Bets
Bet £10 & Get £30 in Free Bets for new customers at bet365. Min deposit requirement.
Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits and are available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit.
Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply. Registration required.
Quinnbet are an Irish bookie with a strong focus on horse racing. Their welcome bonus offers 50% back as a free bet worth up to £35 if you end your first day in the red. Whilst this might not be the biggest bonus, what we really like Quinnbet for are their ongoing horse racing promotions which are well worth checking out.
- Sign up and make a real money deposit
- Place bets on any sports markets (including racing) at odds of evens or more
- If your account has losses at the end of the first day you'll receive 50% back as a free bet (max £35)
- If your account wins on the first day, you'll receive a £5 free bet
- Win or lose, you'll also receive 10 free spins
BetVictors welcome offer comes in two parts. To claim you'll need to sign up, deposit and bet £20 after which you'll receive a total of £40 in free bets. The first part of the bonus is given as soon as your bet settles as a two £10 free bets, with two further £10 free bets being issued on days 2 and 3.
- £10 Free Bet - Any Horse Racing market
- £10 Free Bet - Any Lengthen The Odds market
After One Day:
- £10 Free Bet - Any Daily Racing Specials market
After Two Days:
- £10 Free Bet - Any Horse Racing market
Both the qualifying and free bets have minimum odds of evens.
The welcome offer from Betway may sound like it's more aimed at football punters, but it can also be used for racing - provided you're happy placing an accumulator.
To qualify you'll need to place a bet of between £5 and £30 on a multi-leg acca with three or more selections. The minimum combined odds are 2/1.
You'll then receive a free bet for the same amount should your acca lose. Plus, regardless of how the bet fares, you'll also receive 50 free spins on the slots.
How Free Bets Work
Free bets are often handed out to online bookmaker’s customers, to be used on various sports including horse racing. The free bet can be used in order to win real cash from successful bets, though of course there is no stake returned.
Many different free bet types exist, each featuring various terms and conditions. It’s utterly boring to trawl through, we know that, but it’s crucial to understand those terms as they will tell you in advance whether or not the free bet offer is worth taking.
Free bets given by bookmakers usually come as some form of ‘bet credit’ rather than cash. You won’t be able to take, for example, a £10 free bet from your bookmaker and then withdraw the money. Instead, the £10 or whatever figure you’re given must be placed as a bet and any winnings thereafter minus the theoretical stakes are yours to keep.
Free bet offers are given by leading bookmakers fairly regularly to existing customers, but mostly they are used to draw in new punters.
Usually, you’ll need to deposit a minimum amount of cash and place a qualifying bet in order to get the free bet.
Free bets, unlike large amounts of straight-up bonus cash, are a good thing for punters. Terms are not usually strict at all and any winnings are yours to keep, so you can be clever about what you use them on, though many different types of offers exist.
Horse Racing Sign-Up Offers
Sign-up offers within the online bookmaking industry are the most common, and usually the most valuable.
What type of offer you can expect will vary greatly from brand to brand. Here are some of the most seen sign-up deals on the market which can be used for horse racing bets:
‘Bet and Get Deals’
When you sign up to a bookmaker for the first time, there will almost always be a sign-up deal. Many of them are generic, such as the broadly used deposit bonus or the familiar matched deposit.
Regardless of what you want to use it on, a matched deposit simply means that the brand will give you a percentage of bonus money on top of what you put in as cash. Often this is 100%, so if you sign up and deposit £100, they will offer you another £100 in bonus money to bet with.
These deals often come with strict time limits and wagering requirements, often known as ‘rollover’ or ‘turnover’ requirements. If the requirement is 20x, which is not uncommon, then starting with £200 will mean you’ll have to wager a total of £4000 before you can cash out.
‘Bet and get’ deals are therefore better for racing punters. A typical example would be ‘Bet £5, Get £30’.
Although you can deposit and/or bet more if you like, the bonus amount makes this sort of deal accessible for all. The deal typically tasks you with depositing only £5 or £10 and then making a minimum qualifying bet of £5.
A qualifying bet has to follow certain terms. Usually this will mean betting not only the minimum amount, but also at certain minimum odds, for example 1/2.
Once you’ve placed your qualifying bet of at least £5 at odds of 1/2 or higher, then win or lose you will be given your £30 as 6 x £5 free bets.
The free bets are given as credits. You can’t put them together to use as one £30 bet, and of course should you win you’d only be given the profit on the bet and not the original £5 stake.
In terms of its cash value, these deals aren’t the biggest but they are definitely the fairest. You may win your qualifying bet if you’re lucky, and then a decent win at 10/1 for example with any one of your free bets would give you a good return for a very small initial investment.
Bet Through the Card
Some bookmakers offer deals on betting through the card. These offers are great if you are watching or attending a major race day, such as at Royal Ascot or the Cheltenham Festival, and you want to bet in every race on the card.
As an example; a bookmaker may offer a deal for you to bet on the first race, at say £10 or £20 as a minimum, with them giving you a free bet for every other race on the schedule.
Such a deal is fairly rare, but is a great one if you can get it as you may want to play in every race but are also betting on a strict budget. It also means that if your first bet is unsuccessful, you are still in the game for the rest of the day.
During Royal Ascot 2022, one betting shop punter backed the winner of all seven races in a day which, in theory, could have been done almost for free with this sort of offer – although to be fair most offers usually come with a maximum winnings cap.
Enhanced odds are known by many different monikers, including ‘bet boosts’ or ‘supercharged odds’.
These are given out daily by the best bookmakers for existing customers and all in different ways. Sometimes they are set; such as:
Noble Truth in the Jersey Stakes – was 4/1 > now 9/2
This is a small boost, but bigger ones are often given. For new customers as part of a sign-up deal, the enhanced odds deals are way, way bigger and can be more valuable than any free bet if the horse goes on to win.
To encourage new customers, a bookmaker will offer a very hot favourite and likely winner at odds much bigger than in the normal market. Purely as an example, during the Cheltenham Festival you may see deals such as:
Honeysuckle to win the Champion Hurdle – was 4/6 > now 20/1
This is obviously a huge discrepancy, but is a genuine offer for new customers only as a sign-up bonus. It plays in favour of a genuine new punters in two ways.
Firstly, you may have wanted to back Honeysuckle anyway and may have needed to invest £50 or £100 in order to make it pay. This way, the £5 or £10 maximum that the bookie puts on the bet saves your initial investment.
Secondly, if you’re willing to take the risk, then your bonus should the horse win is bigger than you’d receive elsewhere. Instead of taking £25 or £30 in free bet credits, you could be £100 or £200 up should the horse win at those higher odds.
Free Bet, No Deposit
This is surely the best free bet sign-up bonus on the market and as such, it’s understandably rarely seen.
It does what it says on the tin. You can get a free bet for signing up, but don’t need to make an initial deposit at all.
You will need to complete the sign-up and create an account, which is what the bookmaker is focused on getting you to do in this case, but you do not need to fund your account at first.
Free bets done this way will never be valuable of course, but they are a genuine offer. If you’re smart enough to wait until you spot a genuinely good value betting proposition before signing up, you can use this deal to kickstart your journey with that bookmaker without putting in a penny to begin with.
Sites Offering Free Bets
In terms of which major betting sites online offer free bets to new customers, the answer is pretty much all of them. What form the free bets come in can differ though, as can the value and also the frequency with which they are given out.
Some brands are well known for their free bet generosity. Others use it to bring in new custom, but tend to keep the value low. Generosity in fact varies between the major brands significantly so always shop around.
Most often, the worst offers come from white labels. If you can dig around a little and discover that the brand you’re looking at is a white label, you may expect that deals aren’t so enticing.
What Is a White Label?
White labelling within this industry is when a developer creates a product, such as an online casino, sportsbook or streaming service, then sells this off the shelf to a new bookmaker who will then put their branding on it.
It’s similar to a t-shirt manufacturer selling the exact same white t-shirt to 3 different clothing brands who then stitch their own logo onto the front. The actual product is exactly the same.
The initial developer is often the one with the sports betting or horse racing knowledge, with the brand simply adding the customer service and fancy bits on top.
The white label developer needs to make their cut which costs the brand money, and as such free bets and other deals are often smaller and less frequent.
A simple online search of your brand will tell you if it’s a white a label (you can check their gambling license), though always review what free bets are being offered by your bookmaker anyway.
Key Free Bet Terms and Conditions
So, offers differ from bookmaker to bookmaker greatly with white labels generally giving us the lowest-value deals.
The terms are always crucial. Yeah, it’s dreary reading, but it’s genuinely important and there aren’t many hidden horrors in there. Bookies have to show you the key terms of any deal right up front, and you can read the entire terms and conditions list before you accept a deal.
The main terms we see daily cover things like:
- What you can bet on.
Make sure you can bet on horse racing with your free bet deal. Some free bets specifically cover this, while others are for sports more generally which does include racing. Remember that your deal in fact may be a free bet for one specific race, as is the case with the enhanced offer deals.
- Minimum odds requirements.
Bookies offer genuine free bet deals, but the qualifying bet and/or the free bets may need to be struck at minimum odds. This is to stop people simply backing something at extremely short odds that is overwhelmingly likely to win, in order to turn the free bet into real cash. Minimum odds on qualifying or free bets tend to be at around 2/5 to 1/2, though of course this can vary from brand to brand.
- Minimum or maximum stakes.
Qualifying bets often need to be made at a minimum amount, usually £10 but often as low as £5. Free bets are naturally capped at the amount handed to you, while minimum’s can be increased by you for qualifying bets, meaning you can usually bet just about as much as you want. When you are given an enhanced odds deal, this will be capped. Sometimes this is £20, but can be as low as £5.
- Wagering requirements.
This is the biggest sticking point with any deposit, sign-up or free bet bonus. Wagering requirements are often known as ‘turnover’ or ‘rollover’ requirements too. With a free bet deal, they are uncommon but keep an eye on the terms anyway. If a wagering requirement of 4x is placed on your bonus, it means you’ll have to bet a total of 4 times your bonus (and sometimes your deposit), win or lose, in a specific amount of time before you are allowed to withdraw any funds as cash.
If your free bet or enhanced offer bonus does come with a wagering requirement, it can be formulated in a number of ways so check your own specific terms and conditions.
A ‘bet to get’ deal with a 4x wagering requirement which includes your deposit amount and bet amount, may break down like this:
- £10 minimum deposit and £10 initial bet.
- £30 in bonuses given (£40 in total).
- £160 required to be placed in total bets within time period specified before cashing out.
Horse Racing Offers For Existing Customers
Not all deals for sports or horse racing punters are for newbies only.
Many existing customer deals also appear regularly, especially with the better brands which is all the more reason to shop around and look beyond enticing ‘new customer bonuses’.
Some good examples of existing customer offers are:
Faller insurance, naturally, is offered only within jumps racing.
In most cases, you are offered the chance to take shorter odds on your chosen horse. This will give you the insurance of getting your stake money back if the horse falls during the race, unseats the rider or is brought down by another horse. Often, this is only offered on certain races or meetings.
Don’t worry either if your stake is not returned immediately. Settlement of faller insurance bets needs a full, official result and so stakes are quite often not returned until an hour or so after the race has finished.
Look with your bookmaker for what their faller insurance covers. Falling, unseating and being brought down are usually the only scenarios the insurance covers. If your horse runs out, is carried out, refuses to race at the start, pulls up or slips up this may not lead to a returned stake.
Winner Free Bets
You may be offered a free bet on a future race for backing a winner at specific odds or bigger.
A great example would be a TV offer or feature race offer. In this case, a bookmaker may offer money back or a free bet if you back a televised winner on ITV Racing, or back the winner of the day’s pre-determined feature race at odds of 4/1 or bigger.
Don’t go looking for this deliberately as it will skew your thoughts on a race. Instead, treat it as what it is; a bonus. If you happen to back a winner at 4/1 or bigger in the feature event and/or when it is live on TV, then when you next back a horse in such a race and it loses, your stakes will be returned or you may be given a free bet.
With some bookmakers, this works alongside their ‘best price on all live races’ deals. When major broadcasters cover meetings, some bookmakers ensure that they are going at best price or joint best price on each horse in every race which is a good accompaniment to returned stakes or free bets.
Second Place Free Bets
You may be able to choose to take a reduced price to get this deal as some insurance, but often it is offered anyway on a specific race.
The basic premise is that you back a horse and if it loses, but finishes second, you get your money back or receive a free bet.
Often, this will involve finishing second to a specific horse. This will usually be a high-profile favourite and of course that drags people in. Bookies see a short-priced favourite that they believe has a big chance of being beaten and they are therefore out to get it in various ways.
One way they encourage people to bet against the favourite and protect their book is to offer this insurance on those with longer odds.
They are willing to take the chance on handing out free bets as it means people are placing their bigger money on everything but the likely winner.
If the jolly wins, then they simply owe some smaller free bets to punters who backed the second horse, which they hope won’t be the second-favourite. If the jolly is beaten, it is good for their book anyway and they are in profit.
A generic version is ‘money back if your horse is second to the SP favourite’, or a more specific offer would be ‘money back if your horse finishes second to Shishkin in the Champion Chase’.
Beaten By a Length
This is one version, but it could also be ‘beaten by a neck’ for example.
Again, this can be done as insurance and so with some bookmakers the deal is offered daily. You may take reduced odds on your horse. If it wins, you are paid out at those odds. If it loses, but by the distance listed or less, then you may receive your stake back
So, if your horse is 10/1 and you fancy it but know the race could be close, you may decide instead to take 7/1 about it on a ‘beaten by a length’ deal.
If it wins, you are paid at 7/1. If it loses by half a length or so, you’ll have the bet refunded or will be offered the money back as a future free bet.
Lucky 15 Bonuses
This is the most common multiple bet of its type, but any bonuses attached could also come with Lucky 31’s, Lucky 63’s and the like.
Lucky 15’s involve punters making 4 individual selections, which comes to 15 different bets. This means punters place a line of £1 for example, with the bet coming to £15 in total.
The bet is made up in this case of 4 singles, 6 doubles, 4 trebles and one 4-fold accumulator. Should any horse win the punter is paid out on the singles, if two horses win then the double is also paid etc.
Bonuses are often given on these bets, over and above the normal return. Some bookmakers reward bigger payments, such as landing every leg of the Lucky 15, while others offer a boost when you get only one winner.
Sometimes this is marketed as ‘each-way extra’.
In major races of 20+ or even 30+ runners, such as the Wokingham, the Lincoln or the Grand National, bookmakers will offer more than the standard four places in their each-way terms.
The deal can take various forms though and these days, racing punters online can change the odds for a horse to choose their own each-way terms.
Even in a small, six-runner race, each-way terms can be changed. Typical each-way terms for such a race may be ¼ odds for two places, but you may like the outsider at 14/1 and are not absolutely sure of its chances of finishing in the first two.
Instead of taking 14/1 then, you may be given the option to take 11/1 or 12/1 but get 3 places instead which can look like better value for the punter.
Free Racing Bets
Also handed out in football markets, straight-up, hassle-free complimentary bets are given out for certain meetings by a number of bookmakers on the market.
Usually, we won’t know when these deals are coming so they very much are a bonus to players.
An email will usually be received informing punters that they have a £5 or £10 free bet to use on a race at a certain meeting. It will usually come on a major Saturday, or during a big festival such as Royal Ascot.
The free bet can’t be transferred or split up, so the best way to use it is often to put it on a larger-priced horse in a qualifying race that you may not have been confident enough to stake your own money on initially.
Best Odds Guaranteed
Just about all of the major online bookmaking brands offer ‘BOG’, so this should be the least you expect to be given when you join up to a brand.
Best Odds Guaranteed is usually given on all UK and Irish races, daily. This is different from bookies being best-priced on certain horses.
Instead, it means that you should always take the price offered at the time you strike the bet when BOG is in play. If your horse wins at shorter odds, the bigger price you took is locked in. If, however it drifts in the market and the SP is bigger, you are paid out as the SP instead.