Ohio Sports Betting: Strategies for Using Free Bets

The Ohio sports betting market will debut in the first minutes of 2023, on New Year’s Day. At that time, sports bettors in the state will finally be able to legally place wagers on sports.

Sportsbooks are jostling for position as launch day approaches, and for consumers that means enticing offers to become customers. It often means free bets for you to use. In Ohio, at least four sports betting operators are offering free bets or free betting credits to new users:

In this guide, we define free bets and explain how they work. We suggest strategies for using your free bets and risk-free betting promo codes.

Free Bets Explained   |   Risk-Free Bets Explained   |   How To Use Free Bets in Ohio

Free Bets and Risk-Free Bets in Ohio Explained

Even before the Ohio sports betting market launches on Jan. 1, 2023, you can download and register with sportsbooks. We maintain a list of which sports betting apps are available, and more will be added as launch day approaches. It’s expected that additional sportsbooks will join later in 2023 in phases as they gain licensing approval.

Once you download a sports betting app and register, you’ll want to consult the best sports betting odds in Ohio to determine your betting strategy. But before you do that, make sure you understand the free bets you’ve earned.

What is a Free Bet?

A free bet will be dangled like a carrot to new customers by a sportsbook. For example: “$50 free bet when you register with XYZ Sportsbook Ohio.”

With a free bet, as soon as you complete registration, you will receive your free bet in the form of a betting credit. This will be in one lump sum (a $50 free bet credit in the example given above) that you must use all at once.

An Ohio sportsbook may require you to make a deposit before qualifying for the free bet ($5 minimum, for example). But once you make that initial deposit, your free bet is in your account.

Note that in Ohio, you won’t be able to place your free bet until 12:01 a.m. ET on Jan. 1, 2023. Until then, you’ll only be able to register for your accounts. You’ll also be unable to deposit any money until the sports betting market officially opens in Ohio.

What is a Risk-Free Bet?

Many sportsbooks hand out risk-free bets to new customers. Typically, the risk-free bet is awarded after you place a qualifying bet on an event that loses. Often the qualifying bet must be your first bet with that sportsbook.

Here’s how the risk-free bet works:

  • If your qualifying bet wins, you can immediately withdraw your winnings if you want, just like any bet.
  • If your qualifying bet loses, the sportsbook gives you a free bet OR free betting credit up to a certain amount ($200 for example), and you can use that credit on a future bet or bets. These credits cannot be withdrawn, they must be used and you must win with them to be able to withdraw that amount. This is known as the playthrough requirement.

Be aware that there are two ways a sports betting operator may give you a risk-free bet:

  1. A free bet: this is a one-time bet that must be used all at once ($50 free bet for example). In this scenario, you must use your risk-free bet on one wager.
  2. Free site credit: in this scenario, after your qualifying bet loses, the sportsbook gives you site credit matching your loss (up to a certain limit). You can use these free betting credits separately (for example, if the reward is $100 in betting credits, you might get five $20 free betting credits).

With risk-free betting credits, you will be required to use them within a certain timeframe: sometimes 10-21 days. Consult the details of the risk-free betting promotion so you don’t lose your credits.

Educate yourself on the risk-free bet offer. Some sportsbooks may require you to play through the risk-free bet credit multiple times. But usually, with mobile sports betting apps, you only need to play the betting credits once before you can withdraw any winnings.

You may also be limited to minimum odds with some risk-free and free bets. Usually, the sportsbook app will restrict you from betting on an event with odds that do not comply with the minimum odds requirement.

Free Bets in Ohio

Here are the free bets we know of in Ohio leading up to Day 1 of sports betting on New Year’s Day 2023:

Best way to use Free Bets in Ohio Sports Betting

Free Bets and Underdogs

When you use a free bet, you only get your winnings from that bet, not the original stake. That’s why you want to make your free bet on a heavy underdog. Choose an underdog you have great faith in, and use your free bet on that wager, to maximize your potential winnings.

Splitting Your Free Bets

A downside of the risk-free bet is that you are at risk of losing all of the money wagered on your first (qualifying) bet if you go on to lose your free bet. For example:

  1. Place the first bet for $500 and lose.
  2. Get $500 in a free bet (which made your first bet “risk-free”) and place another wager.
  3. Place a second wager with the $500 “second-chance” betting credits and LOSE.
  4. You’re out the $500 stake.

That’s why we like to search for risk-free bets that deliver the betting credit in multiple bets rather than a single bet. For example, $200 in free bets when you lose your first bet, delivered in four $50 betting credits.

That way, you can use the multiple free betting credits and have four chances to win back the original stake you lost. You have more chances to recoup the loss you had with your qualifying bet.

Hedging Free Bets

With hedging, you bet both sides of a wager at two different sportsbooks. For example, say you place a $500 wager on the Bengals to beat the Steelers with the first sportsbook at -110 odds with your risk-free bet, and bet the Steelers for the same amount at -110 on another sportsbook with a standard bet.

In this scenario, regardless of which team wins the game, you win $454.55 at one sportsbook and lose $500 at the other. But, you hope that your risk-free bet is the loser, so you get that $500 back in free bet credits that you can use in the future to win bets and maximize profits.

Betting the Favorite With a Free Bet

You can be conservative and treat your free bet (or risk-free bet) as you would any typical bet. Wager on a heavy favorite with the assurance that you’ll most likely win something from that bet, even if it’s less than you would have received in free bets if that bet lost.

In this scenario, you’re treating the free bet as “found money” and simply taking a win with a lower payout than if an underdog paid off. But, you have a safety net, comfortable that even if your favorite loses, you’re not out anything.

About the Author

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes has written three books about sports. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. He enjoys writing, running, and lemon bars. He lives near Lake Michigan with his daughters and usually has an orange cream soda nearby.