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Risk-free bets are the most common welcome promotion on sports betting sites, usually valued between $100 and $2,000.
With risk-free bets, once you deposit money into your newly-created sportsbook account and place your first wager, you will receive your money back in either a free bet or site credit if that bet loses.
If you win your bet, congrats! You started off your betting career (at least with that sportsbook) with more money than you deposited. In this case, however, you don’t get a free bet or site credit.
This guide goes over the best risk-free bets currently available, why risk-free bets aren’t really risk-free, how to implement a good risk-free bet strategy, and how these promotions compare to other betting offers.
*Special offers from our partners. May vary by state.
Best Risk-Free Betting Offers
There’s no shortage of risk-free bets in U.S. sportsbooks. There are dozens of betting sites where you can find this promo, and the table below will help you quickly compare the best risk-free bets currently available.
Remember to read the terms and conditions of every offer. Each has its own odds requirements, time to use the risk-free bet, playthrough requirements, and more.
We will update this table as sportsbooks change their current risk-free bet offers so you can always find the best for you.
AZ, CO, CT, IL, IN, IA, KS, LA, MI, NJ, NY, PA, TN, WY, WV, VA
Temporarily Bet $5, Get $125 in Free Bets
CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, NJ, NY, PA, VA, WV
2 Second Chance Bets Up to $2,000
AZ, CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, LA, MI, NJ, NY, PA, TN, WV, WY, VA
Temporarily Bet $10, Get $200 in Free Bets (MS, NY, PA excluded)
AZ, CO, IL, IN, IA, LA, MI, NJ, NY, PA, VA
2nd Chance Free Bet Up to $500
2nd Chance Free Bet Up to $500
AZ, CO, IN, IA, NJ, PA, VA
Risk-Free Bet Up to $250
AZ, CO, IL, IN, KS, LA, MI, NJ, PA, TN, VA
Risk-Free Bet Up to $1,000 + $10 for Registering
AZ, IN, IA, NJ, PA, VA
Risk-Free Bet Up to $500
|CO, MI, NJ, PA|
Risk-Free Bet Up to $50
How Risk-Free Bets Work
Risk-free bets are the most popular form of intro promos for new customers, with over half of U.S. sportsbooks offering them.
Here’s how risk-free bets work:
- You register for an account and make your first deposit.
- Place your first bet (using the money you just deposited).
- If your bet wins, your bet is treated as a normal bet and you can immediately withdraw your winnings if you’d like.
- If your bet loses, you will receive a free bet or site credit of equal value up to a certain amount (usually between $100 and $2,000).
If your first bet loses and you do receive the free bet or site credit, you are not eligible to withdraw it until you bet it at least once—this is called the playthrough requirement or rollover requirement.
Most sportsbooks only require you to bet the free bet or site credit once before you can withdraw it, but others may require you to bet it up to 25 times first.
The other thing to note with risk-free bets is that most sportsbooks give you a certain amount of time to place your risk-free bet after registering and, if your first bet loses, a certain amount of time to use your free bet or site credit.
Be sure to read the full terms and conditions so you do not miss out on the risk-free bet.
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Risk-Free Bet Example
Let’s say that your sportsbook of choice gave you a risk-free bet up to $250 for signing up. You deposit $250 and place a wager on the Brooklyn Nets to cover the spread of -8.5 against the New York Knicks at -110 odds.
Scenario 1: The Nets comfortably win in double digits, and you make a $227.27 profit ($477.27 total payout). Your risk-free bet is now used up and it is treated just like with any regular wager. You can withdraw your winnings immediately if you’d like.
Scenario 2: Brooklyn barely scrapes a 1-point win in the last seconds of the game, failing to cover the spread. You don’t win anything, but your $250 stake is given back to you in the form of a free bet. You now take that free bet and place another bet on -110 odds. This time you win, but, as with any free bet, you only get paid the $227.27 profit and not the amount that you wagered.
Scenario 3: The same scenario as #2, except this time you lose your free bet. In this case, you end up walking away with nothing—hence why risk-free bets aren’t really risk-free.
Things to Pay Attention to With Risk-Free Bets
Risk-free bets are simple to understand, but you should always read the fine print and learn all the details before using them. Here are a few risk-free bet terms and conditions to pay attention to:
- The limit of a risk-free bet. Risk-free bets come with an upper limit. However, you can always bet more than the indicated amount. For instance, if a risk-free bet is up to $250, you can still wager $300; it’s just that the credits/free bets you get back will be capped at $250.
- How the risk-free bet is refunded. The funds you get back from a risk-free bet can either come in the form of a free bet or site credit. With a free bet, you’ll need to wager it all at once. Meanwhile, site credit allows you to spread the amount across multiple bets.
- Time to use risk-free bet. Most sportsbooks give you a certain amount of time to place your risk-free bet from the time you register—typically 7 to 30 days.
- Time to use free bet/site credit. You must also use your free bet or site credit (assuming you lose the risk-free bet) in a certain amount of time. This can range anywhere from a few days to a year.
- Minimum odds. You’ll also likely encounter minimum odds associated with the use of a risk-free bet or the ensuing free bet/site credit. For example, you may only be able to use them on markets with odds of -200 (-110, +150, +300, etc.).
- Playthrough requirements. The amount you get back from a losing risk-free bet can’t be withdrawn right away, as you’ll need to complete the playthrough requirements first, which are almost always 1x for this type of promotion.
Pros & Cons of Risk-Free Bets
Pros of risk-free bets
The main benefit of risk-free bets is that you essentially get a “second chance” if your first bet loses. This allows you to place a large bet (if you’d like) and reap the rewards if you win and have a chance at not completely losing your money if you lose.
For example, if you place your first bet of $1,000 on an event with +100 odds and you win, you quickly double your money which you can withdraw or continue betting with.
Cons of risk-free bets
The main downside of risk-free bets is that you can lose all of the money wagered on your first bet if you also lose your free bet.
For example, if you lose your first bet of $1,000 and then get the free bet of $1,000 and also lose that, you’re out $1,000.
For this reason, risk-free bets that issue the refund as multiple free bets or as site credit (as opposed to a single free bet) are ideal since you have more than one shot at earning some money back.
Risk-Free Bet Strategy
Risk-free bets are simple enough to understand and use, but if you want to make the most out of them, you should consider using them in the following ways:
1) Arbitrage Opportunities With Risk-Free Bets
Using this type of promotion with arbitrage betting is how you can ensure a true risk-free scenario. Of course, this involves a little bit of research on your part, as you’ll need to find good arbitrage opportunities by scanning the lines on other books.
Even better, you can combine a risk-free offer on one betting site with an odds boost promo on another for maximum potential.
Say that the Cleveland Browns are favored to win against the Houston Texans at -140. The odds boost promo bumps the Browns to +110, while the Texans also have +110 odds on the sportsbook with a risk-free bet.
You make a $500 risk-free bet on the Texans and take the odds boost on the Browns, wagering the same amount. If the Texans win, you win $550 in one book and lose $500 in the other, leaving you with a $50 profit. If the Browns come out on top, you again end up with a $50 profit, only this time you’ll also get a free bet or site credit as a result of your risk-free bet loss.
2) Hedge a Risk-Free Bet by Betting the Other Side With Another Book
Hedging a risk-free bet is another one of the best ways to use risk-free bets but is a less effective strategy than arbitrage. It requires less research as you don’t need to find optimal lines, but it doesn’t guarantee profit.
Let’s say you want to wager $1,000 on the Boston Red Sox to beat the New York Yankees on -110 odds as a part of your risk-free bet. Meanwhile, you find another book where you bet $1,000 on the Yankees at the same odds.
Either way, you profit $909.09 on one bet and lose $1,000 on another, but you would want for your risk-free bet to lose, as it will result in a free bet or site credit that will help you win more further down the line.
For example, if the Yankees win, you would receive a $1,000 risk-free bet. You could then place this on another market, giving you the chance to make money. In this scenario, you’re essentially paying $91.91 for a 50% chance to receive a $1,000 free bet.
3) Betting the Opposite Side of Your Ensuing Free Bet With Another Sportsbook
If your risk-free bet loses and you get a free bet as a result, you can hedge it to ensure a profit. You do this by using the free bet on one side of a two-way market and making a cash bet on the other side.
The amount you need to hedge depends on the free bet amount and the odds on either side of the market. Instead of wondering how to calculate that yourself, you can use our Free Bet Calculator.
4) Placing Risk-Free Bet and the Ensuing Free Bet on Longshots
Ironically, risk-free bets give the highest expected value when you take them on risky outcomes. Because you know you’ll at least get a free bet if you lose, you can take your risk-free bet on a long shot.
Even if you lose and get the ensuing free bet, you should also put that on a long shot since you can only get the profit from the free bet and not the wagered amount.
Here is the math behind why placing the free bet on a longshot gives the highest expected value:
- Place $1,000 free bet on market with +100 odds. In this scenario, you have a 50% chance to win $1,000 (excluding the vig), making your expected value $500.
- Place $1,000 free bet on market with +500 odds. In this scenario, you have a 16.67% chance to win $5,000 (excluding the vig), making your expected value $833.50.
- Place $1,000 free bet on market with +1000 odds. In this scenario, you have a 9.09% chance to win $10,000 (excluding the vig), making your expected value $909.
To see the chance of winning any given bet and figure out the relation between odds and probability, feel free to check out our Odds to Probability Calculator.
5) Playing It Safe With Risk-Free Bets
Aside from hedging, the safest way of using your risk-free bets is simply betting on the favorite. Naturally, the bigger the favorite, the shorter the odds, meaning you’ll win less money. Using a $1,000 risk-free bet and winning on odds of -110, -200, or -500 will result in a $909.09, $500, or $200 profit, respectively.
In other words, you’ll be treating your risk-free bet like any other bet, with the added benefit of having a safety net if it loses.
If it does fail, mind that you’ll lose money overall if you place the ensuing free bet on a favorite as well, since you’ll only win the potential profit from a free bet and not the stake. This means you’ll need to use the ensuing free bet (if you lose, that is) on positive odds (underdogs) to make any kind of profit.
*Special offers from our partners. May vary by state.
Risk-Free Bets vs. Other Betting Offers
Let’s see how risk-free bets compare to other common betting offers found on U.S. betting sites.
Risk-Free Bets vs. No Deposit Free Bets
Risk-Free Bets vs. First Bet Matches
A first-bet match is essentially an improved version of a classic risk-free bet. With it, you’ll get a free bet or site credit equal to your first bet made on the site. This means that you’ll get a reward whether the qualifying bet wins or loses. Meanwhile, you can only get a free bet from a risk-free bet if the risk-free bet loses.
Risk-Free Bets vs. Deposit Matches
Matched first deposits are also preferred to risk-free bets as you’ll get a cash bonus as soon as you deposit, without having to do anything else and regardless of the result of your first bet. Typical deposit matches are between 20% and 100% for anywhere from $100 to $5,000.
Risk-Free Bets vs. Free Bets from Wagering or Hitting Other Requirements
Apart from getting free bets from risk-free bets or first bet matches as a new customer, you can get them along the way once you meet certain requirements. For instance, if you wagered enough money throughout a promotional period (a week or a month), the operator may reward you with a $10 free bet. The advantage of these free bets is that they can be acquired by regular customers and not just new ones.