Bookmakers love to offer promotions and bonuses to bring in new customers, as well as to keep existing players happy.
As part of those promos, they need to protect themselves from losing too much money on the promotions and so all sorts of terms and conditions are written in.
One of those terms surrounds their free bets, which often come with the stipulation that ‘stakes are not included in any returns’ or are listed simply as ‘stakes not returned’. We’ll take you through exactly what that means when you see it listed in the T&C’s.
What Does It Mean When the Stake Is Not Returned?
Usually, whenever you place a bet with a bookmaker at a racecourse, in the betting offices or online, the general rule of thumb is that if you win, both the profit gained and your original stake are returned to you.
A normal bet and return would look like this:
- £10 on Shergar @ 10/1
- If the bet loses = zero returns
- If the bet wins = £10 x 10 + £10 stake = £110
To be able to offer free bets however while still protecting themselves, bookmakers will stipulate that ‘stakes are not included’, as you have not used your own money to place the bet. The bookmaker is willing to hand over any and all winnings garnered from the free bet, but not the apparent stake amount.
So, bookmakers may offer 4 x £5 free bets as a bonus for joining up, or a good firm may regularly offer existing players a £5 free bet on Premier League football or a £10 free bet to use on any sport they choose from time to time.
In this case, any winnings made from free bets can be claimed, but the free bet stake itself (ie: the £5 free bet) is not included. Here’s a typical ‘stake not returned’ bet:
- £10 free bet on Rangers @ 10/11
- If the bet loses = no cost and no returns
- If the bet wins = £10 x 10/11 = £9.09
On this face of it, this looks as though you are losing out as you are only being returned £9.09 on a £10 bet. But of course, you aren’t as it is a free bet and the £10 wasn’t yours to start with.
How to Get Free Bets
New customer deals very often include free bets as the bonus, which will of course be made with stakes not included. To get them in the first place, a qualifying deposit and/or a qualifying bet will almost certainly need to be made – you can see a list of these offers on our free bets page.
Check the bonus being offered by your bookmaker. More to the point, always do the boring stuff too and check the terms and conditions.
The terms in this case are rarely too long and will always mention qualifying bets and free bets. In general, you’ll be asked to make a bet of a certain value and at certain minimum odds.
A typical example would be placing a qualifying bet of £5 on a sports market at odds of 1/2 or bigger. Should this be an each-way bet you’ll need to stake £10 in total, and bets on the Tote or other pool betting doesn’t count.
Once you’ve made the qualifying bet, you will be credited with your free bets. These are almost always ‘stake not returned’ bets, so keep that in mind when working out your potential payout.