Free spins are a promotional tool offered by online casinos where you can play one of their slot games without risking any money. Despite not paying for the spins, you still get paid cash if you hit a winning combination, just luck when you are normally playing a slot for real money.
The value of these spins varies with the number awarded and can really be set at any amount. Often the casino will tell you the cash value of the spins in the fine print. How valuable the free spins you get is a function of how important you are as a customer to the casino.
A high roller who plays for big money and makes a lot of deposits is more likely to get a custom high-value free spin, whereas someone who has never even deposited or only ever made a small deposit would probably only get free spins that have a cumulative value of a few dollars.
How To Get Free Spins
There are a lot of different ways you can get free spin offers. Sometimes casinos will offer free spins simply as a promotion so that you will try out their online casino. Alternatively, free spins might come as a part of a “welcome package”. Casinos offer welcome packages to new customers that can include deposit bonuses, free spins, and other promotional offerings to get players to make that all-important first deposit.
Another way to get free spins is by having a lapsed account at an online casino. Former depositors are a great target for online casino marketing, and some casinos will offer free spins to get you back in the door and playing at their casino again. Other casinos may reward loyal customers who have been playing at their casino a lot with free spins as a means of encouraging their continued play.
While being subject to an online casino’s promotional emails can be a little annoying at times, being on their mailing list can be one means of acquiring free spins.
You may have to enter in a bonus code to claim your free spins, especially if you are obtaining these spins as a result of a deposit offer. But even no deposit-free spins can require the use of a code, either when you are registering your account or simply in the section provided in the cashier.
While sometimes free spins can be played on more than one game, they are usually restricted to either one of a few games, or more commonly, to just a single game. This can be a good way for a casino to promote a particular slot, maybe one that is new to the casino which they think that customers will like if they give it a try.
The first rule of promotions is that if you can get the customer to try your product, that is the most valuable form of marketing there is. Free spins are a great way for consumers to try out a slot without risking any money, and for casinos to promote one of their products with only a small marginal cost.
The conversion on free spin promotions is bound to be extremely high as well, compared to say a deposit offer email, since who doesn’t enjoy a little free gambling on the house?
The Fine Print
A lot of the time free spins do come with certain conditions. The winnings you accumulate on account of the spins might require a certain amount of rollover before they can be cashed out, and the casino might put a cap on your potential free spin winnings as well.
This is a smart move to limit liability on the casino’s side since a lot of slots come with payouts of 25,000x your bet or more and given that the casino is not even directly making any money with these free spins.
It is always very important to check the terms and conditions of any promotional offering you accept because if there is a max cashout associated with the free spins offer this can impact how you play and the type of betting strategies you should use.
Slot Games With Free Spins
A lot of the time online casinos and slot providers will team up to promote a particular slot or brand of slots. For example, Push Gaming might team up with Mr. Green to promote and offer free spins on their Fat Banker slot or even the whole fat series including Fat Santa and Fat Rabbit.
Software developers have as much interest in promoting a particular brand or slot as the online casinos themselves. And especially if you have an entire product line that you can introduce customers to, this makes marketing a slot in that product line all the more attractive.
Often times casinos will give away free spins on popular games that they know will have mass appeal, like Starburst. Starburst is an extremely popular 5×3 video slot from NetEnt with an interstellar theme. The smooth graphics and snazzy special effects made this slot an instant favourite, and online casinos know that if their customers try it out there is a good chance they will like it and come back for more.
Cash Spins vs Wagering Requirements
Not all free spins are created equal. Broadly, we can categorize free spins into two groupings. Those with wagering requirements on one hand, and those which are wager-free or cash spins on the other. The latter category is far more attractive than the former because with cash spins all you do is make your spins and then voila, you have cash in your account. End of story.
With spins that have wagering requirements, after you are done with your free spins, then you will have wagering requirements attached to whatever winnings you accumulated. This means you will have to continue to play your winnings until you have bet enough to unlock your funds, and often this process will wipe out your bankroll in the process.
Precisely how much rollover is required to unlock your spin money is also an important factor in evaluating the worth of a free spin promotion. The higher the rollover requirements, the worse from the player’s perspective.
No Deposit Spins
Perhaps the best type of free spins are those which are granted without a deposit. No deposit spins are definitely more attractive than deposit spins, regardless of wagering requirements or any other factor, because regardless of what happens, you can’t lose any money. You are on a freeroll, with everything to gain and nothing to lose. And remember, you are gambling, so there is variance.
Even if the expected value of the spins is not that great, let’s say you have 10 spins at a value of 50 cents per spin, for an expected win of $4.85 approximately (taking into account a 3% house edge). That might be your long-term expected win, but you could easily win $10 or even $15 if you get lucky and hit some nice combos. Or you might end up with nothing, which is what you started with anyway.
Deposit Cash Spins
The second best type of spins would be cash spins that require a deposit. Most commonly these might be supplemented onto a match deposit bonus, but a casino might offer just the spins in exchange for a deposit, potentially with some modest wagering requirements attached to the deposit itself as well.
So in this case, you will have to put some of your own money at risk, but at least you won’t have any wagering requirements attached to your free spin.
Usually, online casinos will require a modest amount of playthrough on any deposit before you can cash out, to cover the costs of processing the transaction. So you might not be able to just deposit, take your free spins, and cash out, but you would be able to cash out after some modest play at the virtual tables or online slots.
Spins With Wagering Requirements
Lastly, you have free spins that come with wagering requirements and require a deposit. These might be worthwhile if the rollover required on the spins and/or the deposit bonus you get as well is mild.
Remember that in the long run, the house wins, so the more rollover associated with any deposit bonus or free spins, the less likely you will be able to cash out.
However, in the short run, anything can happen, which is why people gamble.
Free Spins vs Bonuses
So what is better anyway, free spins or bonuses? The answer is in the details. With a deposit bonus, you have to invest some of your money in order to get the bonus. You can calculate the expected value of a bonus by multiplying the action required to clear it by the house edge of the game you will be clearing it on. For example, if you have a $200 bonus, that has a 30x rollover on just the bonus itself, you will need $6000 in action to clear it. If that action is on a slot with a 5% house edge, your expected loss will be $300, greater than the bonus.
On the other hand, if you had only 10x rollover, you would need only $2000 in action, for an expected loss of $100 (which is really an expected gain of $100 because you got the $200 bonus money). So we can calculate the value of a bonus by determining what our expected loss will be clearing the bonus and then subtracting that from the bonus funds.
Free cash spins, on the other hand, especially those that require no deposit, are just money in the bank. But what if there is a deposit attached to them? Again it is all in the details. Let’s say you can get 20 cash spins, with a value of 50 cents per spin, for depositing $20. You would then have to roll over that $20 just one time before you can cash out, and the cash spins have no roll over because they are cash spins. In this case, your expected loss would be only $1 and your expected gain would be around $10.
Aside from the strict mathematical expectation, you also have to consider the amount of money involved. Even if the bonus does have a positive expectation, not everyone wants to gamble with $200. Remember the first rule of gambling is never gamble money you can’t afford to lose. So you also have to consider your budget and how much money you are willing to risk, when comparing free spins and deposit bonuses.