How to Use Risk-Free Bets

Learn how to use risk-free bets to your advantage.

Key Points

– Risk-free bets are not entirely without risk.

– Smart bettors take advantage of these types of sportsbook bonuses.

How to Use Risk-Free Bets

Promotions offering risk-free bets are extremely popular in the US sports betting market. For new customers, reputable sportsbooks will often offer up to $1,000 in risk-free bet credits. Other books provide smaller amounts as part of ongoing or seasonal promotions.

In this post, we define risk-free bets and explain how to take advantage of them. 

Risk-Free Bets Defined

The basic idea of a risk-free bet is pretty simple to understand. You place your first real-money qualifying wager at your sportsbook. If you lose that bet, the sportsbook will refund the bet up to a predetermined dollar amount as part of a risk-free bet promotion. Refunds frequently take the form of free bets or site credits.

This is where you have to read the terms and conditions. Each sportsbook handles bonuses and refunds differently. You have to take it upon yourself to find out how yours is handling them.  

Some sportsbook promotions treat bonus bets like cash, so if your next wager wins, you’ll keep your winnings in addition to the stake. Others won’t return the stake; they’ll only pay out the winnings. 

Also, some books only offer one-shot bonuses; they won’t let you divide the bonus bet amount into multiple smaller bets.


Is It Really Risk-Free?

The first thing you should realize is that risk-free bets are not truly risk-free. There is always a chance that you do not get your money back. 

Let’s say you want to benefit from the $1,000 risk-free sign-up offer from ABC Sportsbook. You fund your new account with $1,000 and stake it all on a legal wager, maybe an NFL moneyline. 

If you win, great! You can cash out right then. However, if you lose that first bet, the promotion will begin. This is where bettors need to understand that a risk-free bet doesn’t actually protect against a loss. Rather, risk-free bets offer bettors another chance to win.

Having a second chance is great, but keep in mind that it is possible to lose both the initial wager and your bonus wager. In that case, you’re out of luck. Never bet with money you can’t afford to lose.

Here’s another thing to watch. Even if you win your second chance wager, there are some sportsbooks where you could incur a net loss. Sportsbooks that only pay out the winnings on bonus bets and not the stake should be avoided. 

In that case, a successful bonus wager on a favorite would result in a net loss on your initial investment. Therefore, in order to break even if you lose your first bet, you would need to hit on odds greater than +100 with your next bet.

Again, risk-free promotions do not eliminate all risk. A no-deposit bonus is the only sportsbook bonus that is truly risk-free.

Targeting and Marketing

Risk-free wagers are frequently offered as a welcome bonus and are used to draw in new clients. Sportsbooks heavily market their risk-free promotions and offer eye-catching dollar amounts. 

That’s because the sportsbook itself faces virtually no risk. There is always a built-in edge to the house. Remember, sportsbooks are in the business of making money, not handing it out for free.

Read Terms & Conditions of Risk-Free Bets

Before depositing any funds at a sportsbook, it is essential to read the terms and conditions that come with your bonus.If you have never read terms and conditions from a sportsbook, be aware that they use different terminology.

You will see terms like “odds restrictions,” rollover requirement,” and “time limits.” You have to know how the book pays out the bonus too. Typically, the winnings from a bonus bet are credited back to the bettor’s account. The stake is not.

Most bonuses are easy to understand but, like dealing with betting losing streaks, bettors have to take the time to learnhow a sportsbook handles them. 

Do These Bets Pay Off?

Risk-free bets are a great way to choose a wager at odds that you might not have otherwise thought about. You’ll have another chance to win if you lose the first time. You have a better chance of winning one of two bets than you do of winning just one.

Bettors should look for deposit match bonuses or matched free bets if they want to maximize their potential profit from a promotion. These bonuses could be used as part of creative betting strategies to jumpstart results. These types of promotions offer value whether your first bet wins or loses. 

Tips for Maximizing Bonuses

Depositing the maximum amount is the first step in maximizing risk-free bet promotions. If your sportsbook is offering a welcome bonus that includes up to $500 risk-free, then deposit $500.

Make sure you note any odds restrictions or other terms and conditions. Be aware of the eligibility of your first bet. Remember, only the first bet counts for the bonus offer. 

With the security of knowing you’ll get another shot if your bet loses, you could go all in on a long underdog. Alternatively, you could back a “sure thing” – a -200 or -250 favorite – win the bet, and cash out immediately.

Finding an arbitrage situation is the only way to ensure that you will actually make a profit without taking any risks. To ensure you win, you do this by placing bets at opposing sportsbooks on both sides of a wager. The majority of sportsbooks discourage arbitrage betting because it is a more complex strategy that takes time to master. 

The Last Word

While risk-free bets are not entirely risk-free, getting another chance to win is preferable to not getting one. Just keep in mind that you should carefully read the terms and conditions before depositing money at a sportsbook. 

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