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Few industries have developed in a way that is so advantageous to the consumer as online betting in the U.K. There are so many sites in operation today, and reputable sites at that, that they need to be able to compete with one another in increasingly fierce ways.

One of the main ways, if not the main, that sites have tried to do this has been with free bets. Free bets take many forms, but all of them have only become increasingly more attractive as more sites have sprung up.

Let’s look into how these free bets work, how you can find the best ones, and how best to make use of them.

Finding the best offer

The first step in utilising a free bet is finding the one that works best for you. There are many kinds of free bet, as I’ll get into later. But you’ve got to think about what you want to use free bets for in the first place.

Are you looking to bet on sports? Or on events, like the Olympics? You might also be looking for online casinos, slot machines, online poker. Which of these applies to you is going to affect where to look.

So, before you’re considering the free bet offered, make sure to find a site that offers markets on what you want to bet on. Or that it offers the games you want to play. With over 50 licensed betting sites in the U.K., some of them are more niche than others.

If you’re not sure what you want to bet on or what free bet is the best to take advantage of, then you should read up on the different kinds of free bet.

Different kinds of free bet

Depending on the kind of betting, the market you want to bet on, and other factors, you’re going to get better use out of certain types of free bet.

The most common kind of free bet is a simple welcome bonus you get for making your initial deposit. For example, you may get £50 worth of free bets, to use more or less as you please, for your first deposit of £10. These are most common on sportsbook betting sites.

Virgin Media's Free Bet Offer
Virgin Media’s Free Bet Offer

You can also get a certain bonus as a percentage of your initial deposit. For example, you may get a bonus of up to 200% for a deposit of up to £200. If the site offering such bonuses has what you want to bet on, then these can be really lucrative. £400 worth of free bets is not bad!

If the site you are looking at is something more towards games and casino-style betting, then you might get a certain number of free spins on slot machines for your initial deposit.

In rare cases, there are even free bets that require no upfront deposit. These are, as I said, very uncommon, but if you can find them, there’s really no reason not to take advantage of them.

Free bets take a few forms, then—so how best to use them is another question.

How to use a free bet

The most important thing to be aware of is that free bets are more or less always one-time, welcome bonuses you get on initially signing up. You won’t get any continuous free bets with any site, really, though there may be promotions here and there.

BetUK's homepage free bet offer
BetUK’s homepage free bet offer

So, what many bettors like to do is use free bets as a way of getting a feel for a new site they haven’t used before. This way, you can take advantage of many free bets and potentially make some winnings, and then when you’ve tried a few sites, go with the one you like most.

If you are a sports bettor, then you are most likely best off using your free bet funds to make several, smaller bets, to increase your chances of winning something. Given that it’s all free money, it’s best not to risk it all on a single bet.

Casino games like card games or even virtual bingo are another great way to make use of free bets, if you already know what you’re doing. With casino games, you can take advantage of high RTP games like blackjack and quit while you’re ahead once you’ve made winnings from your free bet.

This is the other question, then—with so many markets offering free bets, which is the best one to use?

Best markets for free bets

The simple answer is this will depend on you. While there are clear advantages to the free bets offered on the more popular betting markets, like football, it’s still overall not going to be advantageous for you to use this if you have no knowledge of football.

That said, the biggest markets simply are going to have the most attractive free bet offers. Football betting in the U.K. totalled around £359 million pounds in 2020, so there are plenty of advantages for bookmakers offering free bets on these markets.

Horse racing is another of the most popular in the U.K., too, and they offer free bets as well as promotions on the big events. As many as 10,000 horse races take place each year in the U.K., so, again, there are plenty of big events and promotions.

Ultimately, though, the best market for free bets is the one that you are most interested in betting on. Sports betting in particular requires a certain amount of knowledge of the sport to be effective and profitable—so if you don’t have this, the free bet won’t do you much good. 

Free bets are, without doubt, one of the biggest advantages of online betting today. Even if you’ve never bet before, free bets give you a really excellent chance to get to grips with betting without having to put up much of your own money. That said, knowing how they work and how best to use them is essential before you get started—so be sure to do your research before jumping into anything!