Perhaps the only phrase more exciting than “legal sports betting is now in Colorado” is “Colorado sportsbooks to offer new customers free bets.”
If you’ve ever ventured onto an online or mobile sportsbook, you are familiar with free bets offers. And now that you’re betting legally in Colorado, those free bets sound like they could be your best friend. We love free anything, but especially the idea of free money.
But not all free bets are the same. There is a wide variety of free bet options in the sports betting industry, and before you make a commitment to one sportsbook over another, it’s good for you to know how they work. And sometimes, how they don’t work and may not be the right fit for your wagering habits.
Just as with picking which team to wager, knowledge is key. And that holds true when picking a sportsbook and the free bets they have to offer.
Understanding How Free Bet Bonuses Work in Colorado
It’s important to remember that every decision a sportsbook makes is with the intention of making money. So don’t be fooled into thinking they are giving anything away for free. If they offer you $20, it’s because, in the long run, they believe they are going to make back $21. Or more. Or in many cases a lot more.
This isn’t to say that sportsbooks are trying to fool you. They aren’t. The details of their bonus offers are easy to find and understand, and they are upfront about what it is they are giving away.
You just need to be a savvy bettor and understand the playing field in which you are participating. You may very well be a customer who makes money long-term placing sports bets. But the majority of customers do not make money. Otherwise, none of these sportsbooks would be in business.
As for the bonuses themselves, typically, they are tied to a new registration or first-time deposit. Let’s say you’re offered a $100 free bet for first-time bettors. You pick your game, place your bet, and it’s a winner.
Usually, you can take the winnings from that, but the original $100 bet stays with the book. But still, you’re a winner and quite happy with the day.
Some sportsbooks may offer the $100 original stake as well. It’s rare, but not unheard of. So if you find a sportsbook like that, great, they deserve your business for at least one bet.
One thing worth noting – free bets may differ from risk-free bets. In the case of those, if your first bet loses that you staked yourself, you are typically given the cost of the bet back in betting credit.
And betting credit is different from cash in your account. Just be sure to read the details and know what it is you’re betting and how the money is disbursed afterward.
How to Claim the Free Bet Offer
Think of a sportsbook like you do a smartphone. They all basically are constructed the same, have the same buttons, and run the same way. But each one of them is also different.
In dealing with free bet bonuses and claiming those free bets, there is a standard that you’ll find across the entire industry. But from sportsbook to sportsbook, there will be different ways to do things. And even the same sportsbook will be different from state to state, depending on the laws, regulations, and the betting market.
You may get a prompt to claim your bet at the time you make that first deposit. It may be when you first register your new account.
It’s also possible you’ll need to click on the offer specifically to activate it. Or maybe you got a code from a third-party source that you have to enter at the time you place the bet. It’s also quite possible the bonus is automatically credited to your account, and there are no actions required of you.
Because the very last thing you want to have happen is that you miss out on an opportunity to win free money, it’s a good habit to get into to always read about the bonuses and promotions offered by a sportsbook before doing anything else on the site.
Before checking out the sports, the odds, the bet slips, and definitely before making a deposit, go straight for the page that lists the bonuses.
Offers at Colorado Casino-Based Sportsbooks
While it is possible to find free bet offers while visiting a retail sportsbook location, it’s far less likely than when betting online or over a mobile device. The nature of having an account that is managed electronically, and not with actual cash, is the main reason for this.
There may be other nightly promotions that you can find when betting in person. But since the majority of free bets are automatically paid out into an account, it’s much harder to replicate that experience when dealing with a physical bet slip and human teller standing behind the counter. So be sure to do your main search for the best available free bets while visiting that sportsbook online.
Types of Free Bet Bonuses
As mentioned above, there are lots of different types of free bet bonus offers. The market in Colorado is filled with sportsbook operators, and every one of them wants and needs your new business.
The best way to do that is to hook you as a new customer with valuable and creative bonus offers, and then keep them coming in the hopes of retaining your business.
All sportsbooks will make free bet offers, and many of them will be different. So here is a list of the type of offers that you’re most likely to see when shopping for a sportsbook in Colorado.
Risk-Free Bet Bonuses
The entire focus of a successful sports bettor is to find which wagers offer the lowest risk for the highest reward, and it doesn’t get any lower than no risk. Risk-free bets are typically reserved for new customers who are placing their very first bet with a sportsbook.
There is always a dollar limit, anywhere from $10 to $500, and if you end up losing the bet, the sportsbook will put the amount back into your account as betting credit. So you can then place another bet with that refunded money.
Risk-free bets, like all bonuses, will come with a set of money “clearing” requirements. Those are steps you must take to turn the betting credit and into real money that you can then withdraw from your account.
There is almost always a time restriction, like 60 days. And there will always be a betting requirement (called a playthrough requirement), like betting the total amount of the bonus anywhere from five times, to as much as ten times.
Once you clear those requirements, the money becomes yours to use as you wish.
Matching Dollar Bonuses
Another type of free betting bonus is the matched bet bonus. As you place your first bet as a new customer, the sportsbook will offer to match that bet, up to a specific amount. Let’s say they offer $100 matches on initial bets, so your $100 bet just became worth $200.
The great thing about this type of bonus is that win or lose, that $100 was given to you as a bonus. Whereas with a risk-free bet, you only get to take advantage of the bonus if your first bet is a loser.
But as with risk-free bets, any bonus money given to you will require you to clear the money before it becomes yours, both with many wager amounts and designated time restrictions.
You may also get a matched deposit bonus, which means that a certain percentage of your initial deposit, and up to a certain amount, will be matched by the book. It’s not uncommon to see 100% deposit matches of up to $500.
That $500 in bonus money is yours to bet with once it is deposited. But again, there will be requirements on just how many times you have to wager the total amount and in what time frame that must happen.
Meet those requirements, and the money is cleared into your account. Fail to meet those requirements, and the bonus money will be forfeited back to the sportsbook.
Money Back Free Bet Bonuses
Often a sportsbook will refer to these types of bonuses as insurance, and usually, they are offered on select nights, or they are seasonal.
Essentially these offers say that if your bet loses, but it loses in a specific way, the amount of your wager is returned to you. There are a wide variety of possible ways these types of offers are laid out.
- Baseball: Your team loses the game in extra innings.
- Football: Your team was leading after three quarters but lost.
- NBA: Your team scored 100 points but still lost.
- Hockey: Your team only gave up two goals but still lost.
These are just a few examples of the types of money back bonuses that sportsbooks routinely offer. And they work just as if the game ended in a push. So the amount of your initial bet is returned to you.
Sometimes it’s returned directly in cash, which is best. Other times it is returned in betting credit, which will, of course, come with a set of clearing requirements before that money can be withdrawn.
Are Free Bet Offers Worth Pursuing and Using?
Consider that the sportsbook is almost always charging you juice (or vig). Point spread bets usually pay out at -110, and moneyline bets never quite balance out.
So just betting straight up against the sportsbook, you’re paying them money, so if you can help even that out for yourself by taking a little extra from the book, all the better.
Using your free bets strategically is important. It’s possible to waste them and render them relatively meaningless. But having an extra $500 in your account that wasn’t yours to begin with, or having an extra bet that was paid for by the sportsbook, is freedom in betting. Just use it wisely.
This isn’t to say there aren’t downsides to free bets. If the play through requirement is large and it is going to take all your focus to clear the bonus money into your account, that can be a bad thing.
Instead of being able to line shop on certain games and truly place the best bets available, you may always be stuck betting with the same sportsbook because of that bonus.
This is why you should always do your homework before selecting any offer.
Free Bet Bonus Restrictions
There are some other bonus money restrictions that are good to know and understand, and some of them might not be so obvious. Do a deep dive into the terms and conditions so you’ll understand the most common restrictions that you’ll find.
Minimum odds: Play through requirements, no problem. I’ll just bet all of the heavy favorites and knock out that requirement in no time. Wrong.
Most sportsbooks will only allow bets made at a minimum odds level to count toward your requirement. That’s usually in the -200 range. That doesn’t mean you can’t bet on team favorites with even lower odds; it just means that those bets will be treated as different than a bonus bet.
Straight bets only: It’s highly unlikely that free bets and bonus money will be allowed on anything other than a straight moneyline or point spread wager. Typically no parlays, no teasers, and no round robins are allowed.
Time limit: We already talked about the time limits on clearing the money from your free bet bonus. That will be anywhere from 30 to 60 days. But in placing that initial bet that activates the free bet bonus, there is usually a time limit as well.
Once you register with a sportsbook and make that first deposit, the clock starts ticking on your bonus bet, and usually, it isn’t available for longer than seven days.