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Free Bets: The Most Popular Sportsbook Bonus?

Just like online casino players, online bettors too deserve the best online bonuses. Thanks to the modern approach by modern bookmakers, you see plenty of variations for the sportsbook bonuses.

And when it comes to sportsbook online bonuses, free bets take the win for the most effective one. The purpose of our guide today is to educate you on free bets. If we understand correctly, there is a lot of confusion about how free bets work and what the different types mean. We’re going to attack it from all the different angles to clarify the paradigm once and for all.

Best Sportsbooks with Free Bets

You’d be glad to know that almost all online betting sites in Canada offer free bets as a valid promotion. However, not all of them are worth claiming or even wagering. That’s why our experts have evaluated all available offers in Canada and listed the best ones among them.

What are Free Bets

So, first things first. What even are free bets?

Well, they’re what they sound like. They’re “bets” that you can place for “free”. How, you ask? Through the credits you get, of course!

If you’ve used coupons or vouchers before, it shouldn’t be an issue to understand what free bets are. Just like you get to order whatever value the voucher is offering, you get to place free bets. If you get C$ 10 worth of bet credits, it means you can place a bet worth C$10 without spending money from your account.

For the most part, we see free bets as part of the welcome bonus which means you get free betting opportunities right away. It’s more convenient than regular cash bonuses, at least in our humble opinion. It’s simply because the cash bonuses have a plethora of other terms that you have to worry about.

Free bets, on the other hand, are as simple as activating and deactivating. All the parameters are dialled right into the voucher. All you have to do is choose to use free bets on your bet slip.

In case you misunderstood the terms of the free bets before claiming, it’s not a big deal. You can always cancel a bonus at any gambling site. The only loss you incur this is the bonus, which is technically not a loss.

Why Do Bookmakers Offer Free Bets?

As to why bookmakers offer free bets in the first place, we believe you already know that answer. The motivation is the same for any other industry. Customer acquisition and retention. Free bets seem to fit the sports betting context the most.

Another reason online betting sites in Canada offer free bets all the time is to stay ahead of the competition. If you think about it, the same odds at 2 different bookmakers will pay the same. So, why would you pick bookmaker A over bookmaker B?

The simple answer is bonuses. Whatever online sportsbook offers you more in bonuses will be your primary choice.  

Different Types of Free Bet Bonuses

So, the term “free bets” sounds very simple. It’s just betting credits, right? Well, it’s not as simple as it sounds. There are many types of this bonus that a lot of you don’t know about. So, let us try and list the most common forms of sports betting free bets and put them in context for you.

Regular Free Bets

The good old free bets. You may get a token as a welcome bonus or even a no deposit bonus. These are also known as “Stake Not Returned (SNR)” free bets too. It’s simply because whatever you win from the free bet is what you get to keep. The value of the betting token itself will be deducted.

Needless to say, this is the most common variant of online free bets online bookmakers tend to stick to. They’re simple, they’re easy to utilize, and the fairness of the promotion is on point at all times. The wagering requirements for this bonus only apply to the winnings.

Risk-Free Bets

Sometimes, these bonuses are known as bet insurance. Hence, it’s “risk-free”. Technically, any bonus you get is risk-free, including the SNR free bets. However, if you lose it, you don’t get anything in return.

For risk-free bets, on the other hand, return the free bet if you lose it the first time. Or, even the first few times! Essentially, if you lose on whatever sports events you bet on, the bookmaker will do the courtesy of letting you go once again. This is more common in the US than in Canada but you can find plenty of them if you look hard enough.

Bet Refunds

This sounds very similar to the risk-free bets we just discussed. However, they’re not the same. Bet refunds are usually offered on specific sports events. Let’s say a horse race in the Kentucky Derby or a football match between Liverpool and Manchester United.

So, a bet refund offer may look like “you get your bet refunded if Liverpool wins with 2 goal lead”. Or, “you get the bet returned if your horse finishes 3rd”.  Get the idea? You only get the payout for the bet when the condition is met. Risk-free bets, on the contrary, work based on the free bet itself.

Qualifying Free Bets

These free bets are also fairly common in Canada. It has more to do with the claiming process rather than the wagering process. If you don’t “qualify” for the free bet, you don’t get it. And it all starts with placing a qualifying bet after your first deposit.

For example, “deposit C$10 and place a wager on Football at minimum 1.40 odds to get a $10 free bet”. It means that the minimum deposit requirement is C$10 and you need to spend the entirety of it on a football bet at the specified minimum odds. Once the “qualifying bet” settles, you get the free bet.

Matched Free Bets

For the most part, you can get this bonus as part of the welcome bonus. You may also think of it as a deposit match bonus or a 100% match bonus. The bookmakers will sanction a ceiling for how much you can win through this promotion.

For example, “100% match free bet on first deposit up to C$100” is an excellent offer. It means you can get up to C$100 free bets if you deposit C$100 the first time. Even if you deposit more than C$100, you still get a C$100 free bet. Because your maximum bonus is capped at that value.

Sports Refunds

Yet another online sportsbook bonus that sounds like one we’ve already covered. This time, it’s the bet refund. Don’t worry, they’re not the same. A sports refund bonus is more of a cashback. And it’s offered based on what sports you’re targeting for the bets.

A possible example would be a “20% refund on all losses for football betting during the week, C$100 minimum loss”. So, if you lose more than C$100 during the promotion week, the bookmaker will return 20% of it as a sports refund.  

Needless to say, the refund doesn’t come as a monetary credit. Rather, it comes as betting credits, also known as free bets.

Enhanced Odds Free Bets

Sports betting is pretty much solely based on the odds. The more accurate the odds projections, the more you can expect to win from a bet. For the most part, the odds are projected in advance for most events.

Sometimes, the bookmaker offers longer odds for small windows. And when you get the offer as a free bet, that’s your enhanced odds free bets bonus. Let’s say you’re supposed to get 1.85 odds for a particular team in a particular sport. But on Sundays only, the odds may jump up to 2.50.

Stake Returned as Free Bets

From what we can tell, this is relatively a newer bonus across the betting sites in Canada as well as in the other parts of the world. This is somewhat associated with the “tips” shared by the analysts.

Basically, the bookmaker will suggest you back a particular team or player. If you win, you get to keep your winnings according to the odds. But if you lose, you get your stake back as free bets. Once the free bets land in your account, they become the classic stake not returned free bets and you use it accordingly.

Terms & Conditions for Free Bets in Canada

Sure, learning about all the free bets in Canada is very nice. And if you’ve paid attention, you may even be sold on many of these free bets variants. But we can’t let you go for such a bonus without sharing the potential terms and conditions with you. At least, not in good conscience.

So, here are the most common terms that come with free bets on online betting sites in Canada.

Minimum Odds

Whenever the idea of wagering is associated with sports betting, you’ll see the mention of minimum odds. It’s not exclusive to any particular sports bonus. Rather, it associates with all of them, including free bets.

The main purpose of restricting how low you can go with the odds is to stop bonus abuse. If you’re not aware, the shorter the odds, the more likely the outcome is. It simply means you’re less likely to lose the bet. And if you don’t lose, like ever, it doesn’t make sense for the sportsbook from a business perspective.

Another thing you need to be careful about is whether the minimum odds restriction is individual or cumulative. Some bookmakers require you to stick to a minimum odds for every selection while others impose a cumulative minimum odds requirement, even for accumulators.

If the T&C section of a bonus states that you must not go below 1.40 for single selections, it means every single selection you add to the bet slip must have at least 1.40 odds. So, if you add 2 selections, the total minimum odds would be 2.80.

Wagering Requirements

Wagering requirements for sports betting bonuses are pretty different from wagering on casino bonuses. First up is the actual playthrough. In our opinion, releasing a sports bonus for withdrawal is way easier when compared to casino bonuses.

It’s primarily because sports bonuses come with 5x to 12x playthrough requirements while casino bonuses come with 40x average wagering requirements.

As for wagering the free bets, you actually wager the winnings generated from it. The casino counter for this bonus would be the free spins. When you wager free spins, you wager the winnings you get from it.

Keep in mind that the minimum odds requirements we discussed earlier are for the wagering period only. For your regular real money gambling, you can go for any events and any odds that come to your screen.

Number of Selections

We’ve already mentioned this briefly. Online sports betting sites often have a say in how many selections you can add to your bet slip. For the most part, they restrict the minimum number of selections. We’ve seen plenty of brands that only accept accumulator bets when the time comes for wagering.

As for how many selections make an accumulator, it’s going to vary from brand to brand. In Canada, having at least 3 selections in a bet is considered an accumulator, or parlay. At the same time, we’ve seen operators requiring at least 4 selections.

Expiry Date

Did you know the free bets at online sportsbooks are evergreen? Well, even the evergreen trees aren’t evergreen!

Just like all other bonuses in the iGaming industry, the free bets will expire after a while. The most common duration is between 7 days and 30 days. It includes you getting the bonus and wagering it.

Ongoing bonuses like bet refunds have shorter expiry dates for obvious reasons. Welcome bonuses, on the other hand, tend to have longer expiry dates.

Event Eligibility

We hate to break it to you but in most cases, free bets aren’t universal. What we mean by that is that you can’t use the betting credits on any events that pop onto your feed. Rather, the bookmaker will restrict the free bet to one particular sport or a few sports.

The enforcement of this condition is very similar to free spins. You may know that free spins only show in a game when the game is eligible for the promotion. Similarly, the option to use the free bet will only show up in your bet slip when the event is eligible. Ideally, you should find the full list or at least the qualifying parameters in the T&C section of the bonus.

How to Claim a Free Bet and Use it?

Claiming a bonus is the first thing you need to do after a real money deposit at an online bookmaking website. On paper, claiming a free bet or any other bonus is very simple. However, if it’s one of the tricky kinds, let’s say a qualifying free bet, you need to go through a set of prerequisites before the bonus makes it to your account.

So, there’s no point in describing the details of any particular free bet promotion because they’re going to vary. Rather, let us create a generic guide on how you can claim every bonus you come across.

  • Open an account at one of our recommended bookmakers that offer free bets.
  • Make sure you check the “I want a bonus” or something along the line if you’re going for the welcome bonus and it’s a free bet.
  • Take the time to read the terms and conditions every time you claim a bonus. This is the only way you can adhere to the requirements to the T.
  • Follow the instructions and wager the bonus within the defined timeline to ensure that you’re not missing out on anything.

The Best Sports to Use Free Bets On

As we’ve mentioned throughout this guide, free bets are not universal. Bookmakers will most certainly guide you on which sports events you can target. Before you go through that, why don’t we take you through the sports we believe are most commonly associated with free bets?


Anywhere in the world and on any online betting site, football is the most popular sport. One of the main reasons behind this is its simplicity. For the very same reason, it’s very easy for sports betting sites to offer free bets for football matches.

Even if the sportsbook is not offering any free bets through the welcome bonus, you’re likely to find a dedicated soccer free bet on the promotions page. Take bet365 for example in Canada.


Right after football, we believe tennis gets the most traction from the punters of Canada. While it’s not as simple as football, you can get plenty of free bets for tennis. One of the reasons, at least we believe, is that it’s an individual sport. As a result, the punters get to analyze the statistics better than most other sports.

Ice Hockey

A discussion about sports in Canada cannot go without mentioning ice hockey. After all, it’s the national winter sport. Across all Canadian bookmakers, you get plenty of ice hockey markets. And if you get a free bet bonus, chances are high that ice hockey is a valid choice.


How can I bet on sports for free?

Well, that’s what free bet bonuses are for! These are betting credits that you can use on your bet slip to not spend money from your real money account.

What sportsbook in Canada has free bets?

We’ve already listed all the Canadian sportsbooks that offer free bets. Choose the offer that suits you the most.

What is a risk-free bet?

A risk-free bet is when you get the free bet back in your account after a loss. This is basically insuring your first stake at an online betting site.

What is the most valuable online bonus in a sportsbook?

If we have to choose, we have to go with enhanced odds. These promotions increase your potential winning by a lot. And if you know how to do your homework, there’s no reason you shouldn’t succeed.