You should be aware that advertising free bets or bonus bets as an incentive to open a new bookmaker account are now outlawed. New rules, known as the National Consumer Protection Framework [NCPF] have come into force, and any advertising of financial inducements to register with a bookmaker are banned.
These inducements were those most frequently seen in banner advertising for online bookmakers in the media such as TV.
Indeed, you would have found a list on this bonus bets page too.
Scroll down for more information on how to find bookie promotions in this new age of gambling advertising.
All of them!
An example being, the deposit match type of bet with $xxx, and we will match your first bet with $xxx in bonus bets.
Another didn't even require you also to make a bet. A deposit match offer would provide 50%, 100% and in some cases, 300% of your initial deposit, credited to your betting balance as Bonus bets, credits or balance. Whichever name the operator aligned to the offer.
Bonus bets or a free bet is a balance in your bookmaker account treated separate and different from your real money.
It may not be called a free bet. Options include bonus bets, bonus balance, bonus credit, or even bonus tokens.
Whatever the name, it is a figure earned or awarded to be used in a bet, usually within a given time frame and with other conditions. When you bet with this 'money,' you can earn the profit from the bet, but the bookmaker retains the free bet stake.
A deposit match did what it says on the tin. An incentive to open a new account is where the bookmaker matched the value of your first deposit.
With a swathe of operators in Australia both homegrown and offshore licensed, there were many different offers available to choose.
Some might offer a 50% match. 'Deposit $200 get $100 in bonus bets'.
Others were bigger still, Deposit $20 and get a bonus bet of $100, is a 500% deposit match bonus incentive.
The term 'Free bets' was being phased out by the bookmakers as for intents and purposes the term free was, in most cases, misleading.
Some bookmakers offered the 'free bets' for no more than making a deposit. Others required a certain level of spend from the real money deposit before real cash won from the bonus credits is released.
Add to that a wagering requirement whereby the value of the bonus bets had to be 'turned over' a pre-determined amount of time, and releasing those bonus funds was a pretty tricky task.
A first bet match is different from a deposit match as the player had to make another action after making the first deposit.
There were a couple of ways to deliver the first bet match to a player.
Exactly as stated, the bookmaker would award a match of the value of the first bet settled on the new account.
Example: Place a $25 bet on a horse in a race and, win or lose, a $25 bonus funds award is received.
This one always used to get me riled. As the insurance works both ways. Not just for the new customer.
First bet insurance covered the value of the first bet settled by offering a match of the stake value if that bet was a loser.
Pretty good, you might think? Well, not really!
No free bet gets awarded if the first settled bet was a winner. So the insurance worked in favour of the bookmaker here. While they could advertise free bets, if the player picked a winning bet to begin their business, the bookmaker didn't have to pay it.
How cool is that for business? Attracting new customers with an offer of a free bet that they never get because they won! That one was a shocker.
Quite often, new customers would not read the full terms and conditions of any incentive offered by a bookmaker. They would happily tick the box stating they had and continue unaware of some terms.
The first settled bet was an example. Here at OLBG, we continuously shouted about this particular term. The bonus incentive for first bet matches was ALWAYS based on the first bet that SETTLED; not PLACED.
A regular occurrence would be a new player registering for an account, based around already knowing which bet they wanted to make first. Maybe a futures bet at enhanced odds for a team to win the AFL.
They would happily make their deposit and first bet. Often at large stakes, thinking that if the bet lost, they were insured and would get the stake back as a free bet.
Let's say they deposited and staked $100 on this. They are expecting $100 bonus funds if the prediction is not correct at the end of the season.
In the meantime, they might make a further deposit and throw $5 on a horse in the next race at Ascot. That horse loses, and the first bet match gets settled against that $5.
Think it wouldn't happen? Trust me; it happened more often than not.
So back to why bonus bets incentives were made illegal, and is it a good thing, or bad thing, and will it help with the gambling problem in Australia?
The over-arching reason for the ban on gambling inducement advertising was first and foremost a 'harm-reduction' measure.
Aimed at protecting vulnerable people, both young and old, and those with existing gambling problems.
Australia does have a more significant gambling issue than most countries around the world. There were also calls and complaints from the general public about the intrusive gambling operator adverts during live sporting events on TV.
Complaints stated that the viewers were not interested in gambling and they ruined the enjoyment of the programs.
The fact they were so frequent and numerous is a good argument that interest was high and the process lucrative for business.
The broadcast company does not rent that advertising space out cheaply, and the bookmakers must have been getting a return for the adverts to continue.
First, let's say this. The ban is not going to make problem gambling worse. So there is that side of the argument, although I will address a potential flaw to the ban a little later.
Under the new rules, labeled the 'National Consumer Protection Framework,' or NCPF for short, no bookmaker are allowed to offer free bets, bonus bets or any financial inducement to open a new bookmaker account.
In turn, the belief is, this will reduce the number of problem gamblers and youth in Australian society into being coerced into gambling. Either more than they can afford or for the first time, respectively.
The fact that promotions are still available once you have registered with a bookmaker is where the problem lies. The opening of more bookmaker accounts is likely as a direct result of the new restrictions.
Potential players could previously 'shop around' for the most significant free bet deal. As misguided as the practice is, it is the nature of any business to hook a customer from what they perceive to be a good deal.
For years, punters looking for their first, or a new account, could be attracted by these deals. Inducements were very visible.
They would choose one, and off they go.
The fact potential punters can not see what promotions are available is where the problem ironically lies.
Whereas, in the scenario above where each deal was visible to anyone and a single bookmaker account might be opened. Now we have the case where to see what promotions are available you have to register your details and make a new account.
Punters will still go in search for bonus bets and maybe come up with even more incentive-based promotions, once they have registered.
What is going to happen? That young person or problem gambler is going to open a multitude of accounts to find out what is behind the curtain.
In the haste to get registered and find out what betting promotions are available, most will not uncheck the email choices button. The result of which will be a tidal wave of marketing emails and promotions from bookmakers landing in their inbox.
Arguably, that is a worse scenario than being able to see all and making a choice at leisure.
Even if the clients decline marketing contact, they now have a portfolio of betting accounts and apps on their phones, easily accessible in a time of vulnerability.
Ultimately it should be a good thing.
We can speculate all we want on whether the ban of free bet inducements is going to solve gambling problems and protect the vulnerable. The fact is, we as humans, have been gambling since the dawn of time. The vast majority of those that gamble today do so with control and for entertainment only. Thankfully, not as a necessity.
Punters, new and old, will continue to look at online bookmakers.
Without the incentives, we can hope they make a more informed decision on what that bookmaker can offer them for their gambling activities, outside of bonus bets.
Perhaps they will choose one for what sports they offer, above what promotion is available. Maybe they will choose one because they like the way the site looks and works instead of being blasted with free bet offers.
Spending a little time investigating what bookmakers have to offer can give you great value going forward. Choosing the wrong bookmaker could have detrimental effects on your profits and losses. So take into consideration these two approaches to selecting the right bookmaker without considering free bets.
Take a look at our bookmaker review section. Each bookmaker is covered and given a full test run.
Updated regularly our online bookmaker experts revisit and review any changes, updates, and upgrades. Included are real user reviews. Perhaps you would like to add your own.
Which bookmaker you choose to register with and use will be down to what you want from them.
Given that the interest in a bookmaker now should sway more to what they can offer long term as opposed to quick-fix bonus bets, time should be given to consider the options.
They all offer betting odds on most sports events both at home and abroad. There is little to differentiate in the general sense.
But some are better than others for specific gambling preferences.
Hours of research have gone into completing bookmaker articles and guides that show which is best for specific sports, features, and betting styles.
Interest in a bookmaker now should sway more to what they can offer long term as opposed to a quick-fix free bet.
Time should be given to consider the options.
Here are some ideas to consider.
We have specific articles on each in our bookies guide section.
Are you looking to answer any of the questions below?
Consider them to choose a new bookmaker. Long-term, they will provide you with better value than a free bet incentive anyway.
The sticking points over the past few years have been the personal state stance on gambling laws.
The NCPF has facilitated a considerable step forward to national cohesion for all gambling laws.
No longer do bookmakers have to navigate customers through geo-targeted advertisements.
The situation should lead to more innovative products and feature-based development. It should make them more focussed on delivering value to potential customer rather than short term incentives.
The punter should win in the long term.
We have always advocated choosing a bookmaker for what they offer long terms as opposed to a short term, free bet fix.
We don't believe bonus bets are a major consideration for most punters in the first instance but understand in the event of not being sure, they can be the tipping point to making a choice.
We welcome all positive moves for responsible gambling and protecting those with a history of gambling problems. Equally the younger generation just discovering gambling and the vulnerable members of society should be thoroughly informed of what to expect when gambling.
Gambling as a pastime will remain, as will problem gambling but the removal of bonus bets from the advertising marketplace is a positive move.
If potential customers have to take on some further education or receive by proxy in making a bookmaker choice, it can only be a good thing.
We at OLBG will continue to provide researched advice and opinion about the bookmaking industry and how to make the right choices when looking for a new bookmaker.