Terms & conditions magnifying glassNot all that long ago trying to decipher the terms and conditions of some bookies’ offers was a difficult task. At best, they might be incredibly complex with lots of steps to follow and various disclaimers and exceptions. At worst they might be contradictory, nonsensical and impossible to understand without long sessions on live chat to clear things up. Thankfully, due to changes made at the bequest of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), they are now far simpler. Even so, you may still happen across terms you don’t understand or phrases that, to some people at least, mean very little. “Paid in free bets” is one such piece of terminology.

Thankfully, when you see the words paid in free bets in relation to some form of betting offer or promotion, things are pretty simple and it is generally a “does what it says on the tin” situation. We’ll look at where and when you might see this written into the key terms of an offer shortly. However, all it really means is that rather than winnings (or sometimes a refund or other enhancement) being paid in cash (that is, money that you can immediately withdraw from your betting account), they are credited to your account as free bet tokens.

What Is the Difference Between Being Paid in Cash & Free Bets?

Cash receiptWith a normal bet and some betting promos, your winnings are paid as cash and this is better than being paid in free bets. With cash, you are free to withdraw instantly and it is real money and 100% yours. In contrast, being paid in free bets means that in order to extract money from your account there is another layer of processing required – chiefly using the free bets to back winners, something that is of course not guaranteed.

Even if it is your intention to continue betting (as opposed to withdrawing your money), free bets are the inferior method of payment. This is because free bets are almost always “stake not returned”. This means that whilst you can use a free bet to generate withdrawable cash winnings, the free bet stake itself will not be included with those returns.

Let’s imagine, an offer returns £10 cash to your betting account, leaving you with a £10 real money balance. If, for example, you use that to make a £10 cash bet at odds of 2/1 and it wins, your balance will be £30 (cash/real money). In contrast, should an offer be paid in free bets, giving you a balance of zero cash but £10 in free bets, the end result from the same bet at 2/1 is different. A £10 winner using a stake not returned free bet will return the same £20 net win. However, as the free bet stake is not returned to your account, your balance is just £20. So, in summary, whether you want to withdraw your funds and head to the shops or pub to spend them, or intend to carry on betting, being paid in cash is always better than being paid in free bets.

When Might I Be “Paid in Free Bets”?

Promo stampIf you make a standard bet that is not using any sort of offer, promo or odds enhancement, you will be paid in real money. This means your balance will be fully withdrawable with no further requirements. However, if you are taking advantage of some form of promotion, there is a chance you might be paid in free bets.

If this is the case, this will always be clearly detailed in the full terms and conditions of the offer. It is also highly likely that it will feature in the summary terms that accompany any image or banner about the deal. The following list includes just some of the promotions for which you may be paid in free bets:

  • Welcome Offers – Welcome offers come in many shapes and sizes but some may involve being paid in free bets.
  • Enhanced Odds Offers – Smaller price boosts, usually for existing customers, are typically paid in cash. So, if a team is enhanced from evens to 11/10, it will probably be paid in real money. However, huge enhanced odds offers (mainly for new customers only) that see a team boosted from evens to 6/1 (for example), may pay some or all of the winnings as free bets.
  • Extra Each Way Places – In a big horse race or golf tournament, a bookie may offer extra each way places, sometimes paying out on as many as 11 participants. In such circumstances, winnings on some of the lower places (or even on all of them) might be paid in freebies.
  • Acca Insurance – Acca insurance gives you a refund of your stake if just one leg of an accumulator loses. The refund is sometimes cash but might be a free bet.
  • Other Refund/Cashback Promos – There are a huge range of “money back” deals offered by the best betting sites. These may offer your stake back on losing bets if your horse is second to the favourite, if your horse falls, if a named footballer scores, if there is a red card in a game or pretty much any other eventuality you could think off. Such refunds will often be paid in free bets.