If there’s one thing that can be said for online slot games, it’s that they’re responsible for some of the most significant numbers in the whole of the online gambling industry. At the heart of this is the concept of free spins, which translate into free gameplay for players and may be considered as a crucial part of their strategy.
Virtual slots generated a staggering £1.8 billion by themselves in the financial year ending September 2017, for example, while also accounting for a hefty 64.5% of the online casino GGY during the same period. These figures not only underline the appeal of online slots in the digital age, but they also betray their ability to grow at a faster rate than any other type of casino game.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about free spins and explore their growing popularity in the market.
What is a Free Spin?
When playing a standard slot game, players are required to set their chosen coin value and the number of active paylines.
These values are multiplied to create your total stake value, and getting this calculation right is important if you’re to manage your bankroll effectively over time.
With a free spin, however, you’re awarded a complimentary turn that does not require you to spend any of your hard earned money. Once one or some free spins have been activated on your chosen game, you’ll be able to hit the ‘Play’ button without anything being taken out of your existing balance.
This is usually awarded as part of a welcome or reload bonus and dependent on you depositing a minimum amount in your account. Free spins are available in various guises in the current marketplace, however, including the following examples:
- A No Deposit Free Spins Bonus: With this type of promotion, free spins are applied to your account without the requirement to make an initial deposit. These are typically awarded to new players as part of a lucrative welcome bonus, while operators will usually set quite strict wagering requirements concerning the minimum deposit and completing withdrawals.
- A Deposit Bonus with Free Spins: While this type of bonus is a little less popular, it is leveraged by some operators to incentivize new players and registrants. In simple terms, this bonus usually combines a fixed percentage deposit match up to a particular value with a handful of free spins and has been designed to leverage the popularity of slots in the digital age.
- A Free Spins Bonus Round: Most slots will include some form of the bonus round, including increasingly popular free spin features. These can be triggered by landing specific combinations or scatter symbols during base games, while any winnings that you earn during this period may be increased by multipliers.
Can I win at Free Spins?
The short answer to this question is yes, as while free spins are complimentary they’re applied to real games and any winnings that are generated will be immediately added to your balance.
There may be some wagering restrictions in place depending on the precise casino in which you play, of course, but you can look out for these when registering for a brand new account.
Universal restrictions include a time-limit that is usually applied to free spin bonuses, and you’ll need to ensure that they’re deployed before this has run out.
How do I win at Free Spins?
While it may be possible to win when leveraging free spins, you’ll need to understand how this is possible and the best strategies for achieving such as objective.
Make no mistake; strategy is extremely important when leveraging free spins, particularly when it comes to choosing the right slots and optimising the value of complimentary turns.
With this in mind, here are a few ideas to help you develop a viable strategy that is based on the use of free spins:
1. Choose Your Game Wisely
When looking to leverage free spins, your choice of game is extremely important. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that spins awarded as part of a welcome bonus may have restrictions in terms of where they can be applied.
Once you’ve identified a handful of games in which you can utilise your free spins, the next step is to compare these closely and determine what other features they offer.
One of the most important considerations is the return-to-player (RTP) rate associated with each game, as low-variance slots will deliver more frequent wins and help you to achieve a superior return on your free spins.
This can be particularly beneficial if you have a restricted bankroll, as enjoying regular returns will ensure that you maintain a healthy balance over time.
Conversely, players with a larger bankroll may choose to select slots that carry a higher minimum wager amount. While games of this type may carry a slightly lower RTP rate, the value of the associated free spins is typically higher and could well translate into larger returns.
2. Use Multiplier Options Wisely
We’ve also touched on the importance of multiplier options, which can increase the value of any winnings that you earn through free spins.
If you do select a game with multiplier options, however, you’ll need to make sure that they’re deployed across individual rather than multiple spins. These slots help you to amass far greater rewards during both the base game and bonus rounds, ensuring that you translate free gameplay into real money returns.
Conversely, increasing multipliers across multiple spins can actually cause you to lose your complimentary turns quite quickly, without you necessarily seeing any viable returns.
3. Think Carefully About your Free Spins and their Deployment
Whether they’re awarded as part of a welcome or a reload bonus, you may occasionally see your account credited with hundreds of free spins.
While it may be tempting to burn through your free spins at a frightening rate of knots, this lacks any kind of strategy and makes it exceptionally difficult to make the most of your bonus.
Instead, take the time to think about your free spins and how they’re deployed, paying particular attention to the game that you’re playing, its RTP rate and the potential rewards on offer.
You can also look to multiply your deposit with free spin gameplay and elevate your stake on games with a higher payout (or when chasing larger or progressive jackpots within your chosen slot).
So long as you use your free spins within the associated time limit, there’s absolutely no rush and your focus should remain on optimizing the value of this bonus and your total returns.
With these points in mind, you can hopefully optimize the value of your free spin bonus while driving a high frequency of wins and regular returns!
What About No Deposit Free Spins? How do they Work?
Earlier in the piece, we discussed the concept of no deposit free spins. This affords you access to a specified number of free spins without the need to make an initial deposit into your account, and remains one of the most popular bonuses on offer in 2018.
But how exactly does this work? With a standard welcome bonus, operators will typically offer a deposit match up to a fixed financial value along with an accompanying number of free slots. You may be offered a deposit match of 100% up to £250, for example, along with a further 150 free spins to be used across games of your choosing.
In this instance, you can only access the bonus once you’ve credited your account, meeting the minimum deposit value that has been laid out in the terms and conditions.
While this still represents a healthy bonus offer, no deposit free spins provide a far greater incentive to players. In this case, you can simply register for an account with your chosen operator and watch as a number of free spins are instantly added to your balance (along with any free bets that are also included as part of the bonus).
To become eligible for this type of bonus, you simply need to opt-in when creating your account and wait for the spins to be added to your account. You should receive an email when this has been completed, and this should also include any withdrawal instructions that are imposed on your future winnings.
You should be sure to read this, as no deposit free spin bonuses tend to feature quite strict wagering requirements that may impact on your overall gambling experience.
What Type of Wagering Requirements Should I Look Out For?
The idea of wagering requirements has come under considerable scrutiny of late, particularly those that are applied to the withdrawal of winnings.
However, there’s a simple reason why wagering requirements are in place, especially in the case of no deposit free spin bonuses. More specifically, it’s impossible for operators to offer unconditionally free spins to their customers and allow them to recoup their winnings, at least without implementing some restrictions surrounding withdrawals.
Without these restrictions, operators would see their profitability slump suddenly and within an extremely short period of time.
While it may be accepted that wagering requirements help operators to mitigate their risk and remain profitable, the way in which they’re presented can often cause confusion for customers. This is because they’re often referred to as either turnover or spin through requirements and included in small print as part of wider terms and conditions.
It’s important to note that these terms all mean the same thing, as they refer to the amount of times you have to spin through your winnings before you can withdraw them. This precise term can vary, depending on the nature of your chosen slot and the value of the spins you’re awarded.
For example, if you’re awarded 20 free spins that yield winnings worth £30, a 10-times wagering requirement would mean that you’d have to keep playing with these winnings until you’d spun through £300 in total. This is a huge consideration, especially as some operators apply turnover requirements of 40 and 50-times, creating plenty of potential to lose your money before it can be withdrawn.
If you’re going to make the most of your free slots, it’s imperative that you review the wagering requirements before choosing a specific online casino or game. Essentially, the lower the turnover requirement the better, although this should be measured alongside other factors if you’re to arrive at a viable solution.
Why Would a Casino Give Away Free Spins in the First-place?
While you may now understand the nature of wagering requirements and why their applied to no spin bonuses, the question that remains is why operators give away free money in the first place?
In simple terms, this is used by operators as an additional incentive to engage players and encourage them to register. After all, the total gross gambling yield for the online casino sector peaked at £4.7 billion in September 2017, and this has created an intensely competitive marketplace that hosts a growing number of operators.
Operators are also able to control the precise terms of these increasingly lucrative free spins bonus options, however, enabling them to create appealing offers that reduce their total cost base.
For example, the majority of slot players are casual gamblers, meaning that they’re unlikely to wager huge amounts or regularly look to hit the maximum betting threshold. We must also consider the fact that most slot games feature a minimum coin value of £0.01, and across a total of 10 paylines this would equate to a total sum of £0.10.
Across this 20 free spins, this translates into a total loss of just £2 to operators. While this sum may grow when applied across an entire consumer base, this is a cost that operators can comfortably afford over time.
This, when combined with precise and controlled wagering requirements, enables operators to minimise their risk and extend relatively generous free spin offers across the board.
This way, online casinos can strike the ideal balance between maintaining profitability and creating bonus options that help to engage players and build brand loyalty.
On a final note, operators are increasingly inclined to leverage free slots as a way of encouraging players to try out new games and slots. While you’ll only see between five and 20 free spins added to your account in this instance, the incentive is designed to promote particular slots and encourage you to make a real money deposit.
Over time, operators will build data about player behaviour and offer targeted free spins, translating into higher returns and profitability (while also keeping you happy as a customer!)
How do Free Spins Work on a Mobile Slot?
Mobile gambling has become increasingly popular in recent times, and it’s undoubtedly been a key driver of growth within the virtual casino market as a whole.
This is borne out by statistics, with the use of mobile phones and tablets to gamble having increased by a hefty 10% since 2015. In total, 43% of customers now gamble through a mobile device, and this number is likely to increase incrementally in the years ahead.
With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that you can now access free spins and no deposit free spins bonuses through your mobile handset.
The good news is that mobile free spins work in almost exactly the same way that they do online, as they’ll be applied to your account according to the terms of the bonus that you’re eligible for.
Historically, one of the main differences was the value of the free spins and bonuses available through mobile apps. More specifically, the bonuses offered to mobile customers were typically less valuable than those available online, but this trend is beginning to reverse as gambling through smartphones becomes more popular.
In fact, operators now reserve many of their best and most lucrative free spins bonus packages for mobile customers, so you should keep your eyes peeled for these when looking for a viable casino operator.
You may also find that there are slots featured on a mobile app, and this may be due to numerous factors. With this in mind, operators will typically feature slots that will deliver the very best mobile gaming experience, from the quality of graphics and the fluidity of animation to the underlying nature of gameplay.
Are There Other Slot Game Facets that Impact on Free Spins?
As we’ve already said, free spins can occasionally be unlocked as a bonus feature from within a base game. These spins are unlike those earned through welcome bonuses and promotions, so there are other factors in play when looking to leverage these successfully.
The first of these are scatter symbols, which are included in most slot games and tend to act as a trigger for a free spins round. This is often the highest paying symbol in any given game, while it’s interesting to note that scatters are not required to align on a specific payline and can unlock a bonus round from anywhere on the reels.
The number of free spins that you’re awarded will usually depend on how may scatters you land. Typically, landing between three and five will reward you with a predetermined amount of free spins, while you’ll be taken to a separate screen to use these consecutively.
Scatter symbols may also serve as multipliers during the bonus round, increasing the value of your wins accordingly. Conversely, they may also trigger additional free spins, which can either be used immediately or added to your balance.
Wild symbols also have a direct influence on free spins, while they’re arguably the most flexible icons in modern slot games.
In some games, for example, wilds function as the highest paying symbols on the reels, whereas in others they boast not individual value at all.
However, there are some universal rules that are commonly applied to wilds. They’re typically restricted to specific reels, for example, usually the second, third and fourth on a five reel slot.
They can also be substituted with all other symbols (aside from the scatter), in order to create additional winning combinations and boost your winnings.
Free Spins & Wilds
In the case of a free spins round, wilds can appear on the reels to forge new winning combinations and increase your returns. This enables you to get the most from your free spins, increasingly the frequency of wins that you achieve during the bonus round.
Not only this, but wilds may also serve as multipliers that increase the value of your wins. Although low-variance games will often see relatively low multipliers of between two and five-times your stake, your increased winnings can quickly accumulate over a period of 10 and 20 free spins.
We should also mention stacked wilds, which currently rank among the most lucrative features in any online slot game. These usually appear as several wild symbols stacked on top of one another, taking over the entire reel in the process. As a result of this, landing a stacked wild during a free spins rounds will deliver multiple winning combinations across a large number of potential paylines.
You should definitely look out for wilds and stacked wilds during a free spins bonus round, as this can have a significant impact on precisely how much you win. Before you select a game, you should also check out the deployment of wilds and scatter symbols to see how they’re likely to impact on free spin gameplay.
The Last Word
So there you have it; our extensive guide to free spins and their deployment by online casino operators.
While there’s no doubt that being awarded with free spins is generally good news for slot enthusiasts, there’s a complex range of bonuses and applications available and this can cause confusion for players.
The wagering considerations applied by operators can also complicate the issue, so this should not be overlooked when you choose your preferred slot or online casino platform.