Why are debit cards required to claim free bets?

Carl Hughes Avatar

Carl Hughes Betting Expert

Updated:January 5, 2023

Gambling is ever-evolving in this modern world. Currently over 700 bookmakers offer online services and now, more than ever, funding those bets can be done in a vast variety of methods. However, in these ‘modern’ times every precaution is taken by governments and obliging companies alike, in order to eradicate potential issues for all parties involved. One of the laws implemented by the government was, as of the 14th of April 2020, bookmakers no longer allowed their bettors to add funds to their account via credit cards.

Credit cards banned

It goes without saying that addictions of any kind can have a number of serious negative effects on both the person in question, and those that surround them. In this case, the issue that more often than not follows unhealthy gambling, is money issues. Following research, estimates from UK Finance (the trade body for banks and the finance industry) suggest that 800,000 consumers use credit cards to gamble. Furthermore, over one fifth of those people had issues involving addiction towards gambling. Therefore it comes as no surprise that facts like these forced the gambling commission to take action.

Why is there a correlation between credit cards and problem gamblers? The root of the issues at hand is the potential for racking up unaffordable debt. With the whole system of a credit card practically being debt, it’s quite obvious how chasing your losses with money you don’t own, can swiftly become extremely problematic.

In order to try and prevent loop-holes in the new law, even sources of funds that have derived from credit cards, such as PayPal and E-wallets, have also been prohibited as a way to deposit into betting accounts. On the topic of loop-holes, one that is widely known in the betting industry is ‘matched betting’; a way in which punters can use Promotional offers as a method to win guaranteed money. Another reason fuelling bookmakers compliance with the credit card law, as people were able to play the bookies and earn via betting, without spending a penny of their own money.

Promotional offers

Like all companies, it’s of the upmost importance to the bookies that their company has some sort of edge over the rapidly expanding selection of bookies they have to compete against. One of the best ways to lure new customers in is with free bets and other promotions that are only attained for newly signed up accounts. A way to show to the near 11 million bettors partaking in online gambling in the UK, why they’re the site they should choose. But fierce competition leaves the bookies left with no other option than to present extremely generous offers in order to attract new customers. With these extensive offers comes opportunity for bettors to capitalise, as some of the offers presented give you free bets that quintuple the amount wagered. However, be wary, it is often easy to skip past the small print in situations like these, potentially blindsided by the excitement of the wondrous offer you’re soon to receive. But if you aren’t careful, you won’t receive such an offer at all.

When partaking in any promotional offer, one must always be vigilant. None more so, in gambling’s case, than that of a free bet. In this particular circumstance, what tends to be the area in which claiming of an offer can become unsuccessful, is the source of funds into your betting account. The intricacy in this particular section of the eligibility can sometimes be an attempt to catch punters out and avoid giving away free bets, whilst all the while attaining a new customer. However, another reason for the fine details in the eligibility criteria are, like touched on before, the legal aspect of it all.

Not all payment methods are eligible to deposit funds, let alone be the method of depositing that in turn provides you with a free bet. Like mentioned, credit cards have now been prohibited, never the less many other sources of deposits into your account will also leave customers falling short of the promotion at hand. In fact there is only one payment method that is accepted by all online betting sites universally; debit cards and that is why debit cards are required to claim free bets. Not that this is the be all and end all of the verification process whilst making a betting account; bookmakers have to follow extensive procedures in order to protect themselves, run operations smoothly and fully abide by the law. Most of the regulatory requirements are necessary information about the new customer, in order to open a new account.

Regulatory requirements

Money laundering is an elusive crime that has, at times, crept its way into the gambling industry. As a result of this, bookies in the UK are required by law to retain identification from customers before they can begin using their sites. It varies dependant on the bookmakers, but the usual requirements are photo evidence of official documentation such as a driving license or a passport. These photos will then go through an examination process to check the validity of them and to ensure the customer at hand has no previous illegalities that would suggest illegal intent with their new-formed account.

Other forms of documentation required are documents such as proof of residency. Whilst this doesn’t directly investigate potential of money laundering, it does help test the legitimacy of the identification previously presented. Typically the verification of an account requires 3 documents; the two just mentioned, and lastly proof of payment ID. Payment ID cross references with the other two documents in order to prove that you own the payment method you are set to use in order to deposit and withdraw.

Extra precautions are often taken in the pursuit to combat money laundering. Another system bookmakers favour is something called the ‘closed loop’. This, when in practice, is a system that means bettors are only able to withdraw their funds back into the place of which the money was deposited from. This system, the majority of the time, only stands in place during the completion of the first ‘closed loop’ cycle. Only once one has withdrawn the same amount that has been deposited to the specific account in question, will punters be able to change where their funds are withdrawn to, provided they have the correct identification to match, of course.

One of the reasons as to why e-wallets are restricted as a route to attain a free bet or sign up offer, is because of the ‘closed loop’ system. With the origins of funds from e-wallets being translucent compared to that of debit cards, the majority of bookies attempt to not overcomplicate the issue, hence strictly keeping eligibility to only debit cards.

Creating accounts for the sole purpose of betting has become quite popular since the financial crisis in 2008. Because, although gambling does not directly affect your credit rating, it can be frowned upon by lenders and even be the difference when deciding whether you fit their affordability criteria. Therefore, online banks such as Monzo and Revolut are leading the way for separating gambling from your main finances, with the ability to set up an account online via a quick and simple process. Said banks operate using debit cards as well, the preferred method by bookies for depositing funds; one that fits the free bet criteria.

The ‘closed loop’ system can also prove beneficial in the event of a hacked account, as it will make things extremely difficult for the criminal to remove funds into anywhere other than the actual owner of betting account’s bank. Whilst unfortunately there is very little that betting companies can do in order to prevent the hacking of betting accounts, there is some steps bettors can take in order to try and maximise customer security. For example:

  • Use a reliable bookmaker
  • Use an advanced and unique password
  • Only log in to betting sites from your own devices
  • Don’t gamble whilst connecting to outdoor Wi-Fi
  • Protect yourself with anti-viruses

Following the investigation into why debit cards are required to claim free bets, it can be concluded that both punter and bookmaker benefit effectively from the use of mainly debit cards.

Some great Free Bet Offers:

Bonus offer

Open Account Offer: bet £10 Get £30

Get Code
  • Massive amount of betting markets
  • No deposit or withdrawal fees
  • Top welcome bonus
Visit Site

Min. Deposit

£5

Website

Regulated by

MGA, UKGC

Founded

2000

Owner

Bet365 Group Ltd

Offer terms

Min deposit requirement. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits and are available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply. Registration required. #ad

Read more

Deposit methods

maestro
mastercard
skrill
stripe
visa
1

Min deposit requirement. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits and are available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply. Registration required. #ad | T&C apply

Bonus offer

Bet £10 get £10 Free Bet + £10 Casino Bonus

Get Code
  • Over 270 branches across the UK and Ireland
  • Some of the best customer service in the business
  • Mobile apps available
Visit Site

Min. Deposit

£10

Regulated by

MGA, UKGC

Founded

1982

Owner

BoyleSports Counterparty Limited

Offer terms

New UK customers (Excluding NI) only. £20 in FREE Bets (FB) as £10 in sports bets & a £10 casino bonus (CB). Min Deposit £10. Min stake £10. Min odds Evs. FB applied on 1st settlement of any qualifying bet. FB 7-day expiry. 1 FB offer per customer, household & IP address only. Account & Payment restrictions. 14 days to accept £10 CB, then active for 3 days. CB 5x wagering & max redeemable £100. Game restrictions apply. Cashed out/Free Bets won’t apply. 30 days to qualify. 18+. T&Cs apply.

Read more

Deposit methods

maestro
mastercard
payapl
skrill
stripe
visa
2

New UK customers (Excluding NI) only. £20 in FREE Bets (FB) as £10 in sports bets & a £10 casino bonus (CB). Min Deposit £10. Min stake £10. Min odds Evs. FB applied on 1st settlement of any qualifying bet. FB 7-day expiry. 1 FB offer per customer, household & IP address only. Account & Payment restrictions. 14 days to accept £10 CB, then active for 3 days. CB 5x wagering & max redeemable £100. Game restrictions apply. Cashed out/Free Bets won’t apply. 30 days to qualify. 18+. T&Cs apply. | T&C apply

Bonus offer

Bet £5 Get £20 Free Bets

Get Code
  • Free Daily Odds Boost
  • Well respected brand
  • Varied promos on offer
Visit Site
ladbrokes free bet offer

Min. Deposit

£5

Regulated by

MGA, UKGC

Founded

1886

Owner

Entain plc

Offer terms

18+ New UK+IRE customers. Paypal and certain deposit types and bet types excluded. Min €5 bet within 14 days of account reg at min odds 1/2 = 4 x €5 free bets. Free bets valid for 4 days on sports, stake not returned, restrictions apply. T&Cs apply.

Read more

Deposit methods

maestro
mastercard
payapl
skrill
stripe
visa
3

18+ New UK+IRE customers. Paypal and certain deposit types and bet types excluded. Min €5 bet within 14 days of account reg at min odds 1/2 = 4 x €5 free bets. Free bets valid for 4 days on sports, stake not returned, restrictions apply. T&Cs apply. | T&C apply

About the author

Carl Hughes

Editor

Carl Hughes

Editor

Carl Hughes is a leading expert on sports and casino betting. Carl began his career with a BSc in Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences from the University of Birmingham before working within the industry for some of the bigger names (GVC and Bet365) and has been praised as being "a leading sports betting commentator".