The free sport bets offered by just about every bookmaker from WilliamHill and Ladbrokes, to Betfair and Betfred, has been around for a while now. Like any industry whether it is supermarkets opening Sundays or hotels offering free WIFI, once one does it every other player in the industry quickly follows suit.
Ultimately what this means is that what was once a unique selling point for a supplier becomes the industry standard and any business not conforming stands out as being substandard.
However, despite there being hundreds of betting companies online offering free bets totalling thousands of pounds, a few weeks ago one of the big players took the decision to pull the plug on their free bet promotion. Victor Chandler is now relying on its site and brand name alone to pull in the punters.
So will the other big names follow suit? In all honesty I don’t know, but it’s a bold move and one that I think is a mistake. I’ve surveyed a small sample of around 200 people via my own site, and it was an overwhelming 99.5% of people who said ‘faced with a choice of starting to bet on-line for the first time they would choose a lesser known site offering a free sport betting offer over VictorChandler.
This is coupled with the fact that a similar sized survey showed that 74% of on-line gamblers stick with one of the first two sites they try for their main source on on-line betting. Another startling stat was that 87% said the main reason they would try another site instead of their current one is to take advantage of a free bet promotion, only then if they were happy with the usability of the site would they consider making a permanent switch.
I’m sure were anyone from VictorChandler head office to sit and read this article they would tell me how the sites numbers have not been greatly affected, and has been more than offset in the saving on dishing out free bets. If this is the case then good luck to them and I hope it works out as I actually happen to think it’s a very smart and user friendly site.
So will the other bookmakers follow suit? I doubt it. I’m sure it was very hard for the first site to take the plunge, will be a little easier for the ones in the middle to follow suit, but what happens when it comes to the last few. What if Ladbrokes, WlliamHill and Coral are the last 3 offering the free bet offer, are Ladbrokes and Coral going to give that up and let WilliamHill dominate new sign ups? In my opinion this is very unlikely!
In summary, I think the free bet promotion by online bookmakers is here to stay, but if there are any you haven’t taken advantage of and were planning to do so, now might be a good time to do it before a few more drop off.