Free-to-play (F2P) betting is the rage sweeping the US betting community nationwide. A nascent gambling market, the USA is a country with huge potential for both online sportsbook operators and online casinos alike. Here, online operators are fighting tooth and nail for a slice of the American sports betting market pie.
What’s all the fuss with this free-to-play betting movement, anyhow? Before we answer this question in detail, here is a quick overview of this topic:
And throughout this article, we’ll be taking a look at exactly what free-to-play sports betting games are, why they’re important, the ins and outs of F2P legality, and why global operators should be sitting up and taking note of the rise of F2P betting.
What Are Free-to-Play Sports Betting Games?
Free-to-Play or F2P sports betting games are games that require no deposit or financial laydown from a player to engage in a game. The best part? Not only are F2P games free to enter, but they also offer real money prizes.
So, what’s in it for the operators? In exchange for your sign-up details (i.e. email, address, contact number, etc.), you’re given an opportunity to take part in a free-to-play sports betting game.
Typical F2P games include social gaming challenges, pick ‘ems, and even trivia quizzes where players can walk away with real-money prizes.
The games also often take the form of a traditional sports betting wager whereby players are challenged to correctly guess the outcome(s) of selected sporting fixtures. F2P challenges also often revolve around individual player performance outcomes.
The Rise of Free-to-Play Sports Betting Games
One of the best things for both punters and sportsbook operators is that F2P games are available across all 50 US states, regardless of whether sports betting is legal in the state or not. As there is no monetary fee to enter, F2P is not classed as wagering.
The largest sporting event on the US sports betting calendar is, without a doubt, the Super Bowl. February 2021 saw the Superbowl as a backdrop for some F2P games that included FanDuel’s Super Bowl free-to-play bingo card game. Meanwhile, the competitor DraftKings was running a free Super Bowl squares board for the matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs.
The Differences Between Free-to-Play Games and Real Money Betting
The differences between free-to-play games and real money betting are as follows:
- Some betting markets will be unavailable to F2P bettors.
- No financial outlay is needed to participate in free-to-play betting.
- There’s a lower expectation of winning with F2P games.
From a sportsbook operator’s perspective, there’s a lot to love about F2P games. While these games are created by third-party developers, they do come fully branded and offer an introduction to the look and feel of online sportsbooks.
One important thing to note is that F2P players are unable to enjoy the live nature of a sportsbook, which includes odds, betting markets, international fixtures, and different ways to place a wager.
However, what they are still exposed to is the sportsbook operators’ user interface, which gives them a feel for the site that is offering free play games.
The Legal Landscape of Free-to-Play Betting Games in the US
Is sports betting legal in the US? The answer to this question is most definitely a resounding “yes,” yet currently, the online sports betting industry in the US has been only legalized in around 24 states.
F2P betting is available nationwide and is a US online sportsbook operator’s dream. With legality looking to soon be adopted potentially across the country, F2P betting as a marketing tool is a powerful one.
The potency of F2P betting as a marketing strategy is one to be not overlooked. Here, operators have the ability to build a customer database in a state where gambling has not yet been legalized.
When (not “if”) online gambling is legalized in any given state, operators have a ready-made email marketing list to start sending out sign-up offers to.
Top Free-to-Play Sports Betting Sites
The best sportsbooks for free-to-play betting can be narrowed down to a handful of sportsbook operators, namely:
DraftKings, alongside its fully-legit sportsbook site, also offers up players a chance to take part in a Daily Fantasy Sports game.
Here, players are given a chance to learn how to draft a lineup and how to enter a beginner contest. Also, DraftKings has embraced the iGaming community-building angle, a smart move when creating a loyal customer base.
FanDuel has a massive range of F2P games available, including:
- Soccer Pick ‘em – with a $3,000 prize pool.
- Over/Under – pick over or under for every prop for your chance at a $5,000 prize pool for every NBA game broadcast on TNT.
- InPlay – a leaderboard contest where players have the opportunity to win cash prizes for predicting the outcome of each NBA quarter.
- Fantasy Horse Racing – simply pick the winner of a horse racing fixture for your chance at a cash prize.
Available across all 50 US states, BetAmerica has F2P options that cover pretty much every US sporting market. Choose from:
- Gridiron Millions
- Monday Night Football
- EPL Pick ‘em
- NFL Sunday Super Prop
- MLS Pick 5
- Thursday Night Football
With all prizes awarding “Bonus Cash,” these are credits able to be used on the BetAmerica site.
The Tennessee-based operator hosts a variety of F2P games, and players are given a chance to win cash or Action247 ‘swag’. Options for free-to-play games include:
- NSC Challenge
- First Inning Freeplay
- A wide selection of daily F2P games
Players can also take down bet credits to use on the Action247 site, which promises itself to be “More fun than Cooter Brown,” who was a famous drunk and is now a metaphor for fun in the Southern United States (great example for highly localized content).
5. Fox Sports
Fox Sports and its online casino sister site Fox Bet offer up F2P games such as Sky Bet’s Super 6 free-to-play smash-hit.
Open to players in all but one in 49 states (sucks to be you, Washington), Super 6 is a weekly-held game where players predict outcomes across basketball, football, and baseball.
The premise is simple. For each contest, players need to answer six questions for a guaranteed cash prize correctly.
Previous questions have included:
- How many teams ranked 11-13 will win their First Round games?
- What will be the lowest seed for any game to win through to round 2?
- Which of the following teams will score the most 3 point goals in their respective Round 1 game?
Armed to the teeth with the best sportsbook marketing campaign ideas, these sportsbook operators have taken an early lead when it comes to F2P games.
While the above list of sites also offers full-fledged sports betting options, there are also a few operators that offer purely F2P games with no functioning sportsbook (yet):
A fantasy props-based platform – PrizePicks gives players the opportunity to play against other sports fans with their own sporting projections.
The projection – known as a fantasy points line – is to accurately predict which of two, three, four, or five players will go over or remain under their points line as defined by the PrizePicks unique scoring algorithm.
7. Monkey Knife Fight
Monkey Knife Fight (MKF) is a daily fantasy sports operator and is available in over 30 states.
MFK offers F2P options usually in the vain player proposition outcomes. Players are given a list of betting matchups and can select how much money to wager on each market.
Sportcaller is a site that gives players a chance to take part in F2P prediction games about what outcomes may occur during a sporting event and also has the odd sporting trivia quiz thrown in for good measure.
Free-to-Play Betting – What’s Next?
The US market has often looked toward its European cousins as to how to best offer sports betting. This is now truer than ever when it comes to free-to-play games. European markets are tried-and-tested grounds for F2P games, and US operators are studying, eagle-eyed as to which pitfalls to avoid.
Free-to-play betting in Europe has proven to operators that these games offer sportsbooks valuable retention tools. The attraction of F2P games translates to every market, but state-by-state opportunities aren’t growing as organically as country-wide campaigns.
F2P games are great educators. They not only teach players as to how the games themselves. Players also become accustomed to the terminology used in sports betting and get to fiddle about with a sportsbook app, gaining a feel for usability.
While the more cynical voices will be heard screaming that F2P games are the harbinger of a potential national gambling crisis, the truth is, in fact, that free-to-play games are a training ground for players to learn how to place bets in a safe environment, with world-class apps at their fingertips.
How did you like Sebastian Scheplitz’s blog post Gratuitous Gambling: Everything You Need to Know About Free-to-Play Betting”? Let us know in the comments if you have anything to add, have another content idea for iGaming blog posts, or just want to say “hello.” 🙂