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What Are Free Spins?

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We look at free spins, the two types you’ll find at online and mobile casinos – both the bonus you’ll get and the bonus you’ll find in slot machines.

What Are Free Spins Explained
What Are Free Spins Explained

The quickfire action of slot machines is designed to make them exciting and keep you playing. But take your eye off your funds, and they might slip away faster than intended!

Of course, you can monitor this by only betting small stakes for every spin, setting deposit limits, or using a slot strategy or two. However, you’ve probably seen lots of casino offers talk about free spins.

So what is a free spin? In short, it’s a spin you take on the slot machine without paying. You get them in one of two ways: the casinos give them to you to play on a specific game (as an incentive) OR as a bonus feature triggered within the games you play.

Whichever you like (probably both), free spins keep the action going without the worry of your balance dwindling too quickly. We take a look at both types and what to look for.

What is a free spin?

In the simplest of terms, an online slot game works by charging you whatever you’ve bet for every time you spin the reels.

So, let’s say you’ve put down a minimum bet of 1p per spin and started with €$£10.00. For every spin, you would lose 0.01 from your account, which would be topped up every time you won.

Free spins, on the other hand, come in two formats:

  • A Free Spin Casino Bonus: An incentive to encourage you to pick a particular slot game or register an account – for example, a casino operator may give you 20 free spins as a sign-up bonus.
  • A Slot with Free Spins: This is a free spin feature which is triggered within the game as a bonus, for example, if you get three specific symbols on the reels. You then get 10, 20, 30 etc… free spins usually come with a special feature.

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So what’s the main difference? The main difference is that you play the spins on the main (or base) game in the first. Ie. You open the machine and see what happens.

In the second, because it’s triggered within the game itself, it can usually come with extra bonus features – so a multiplier, for example, or more wild symbols, extra reels or expanding scatters as you get in the Book of Dead slot etc… Not always. Still, it gives you the option for a surprise.

Casino free spins Bonus – the incentives

There are lots of different types of free spins bonuses you’ll come across in your adventures when gambling online.

These include:

  • Real money free spins
  • Wager-free spins
  • No deposit free spins (sign up free spins)
  • Deposit free spins
  • Free play free spins

Each offers something a little different, but the main two ways to get free spins are through sign-up and deposit bonuses.

Sign-up offers

Occasionally, online casino providers may want to entice new customers by offering them X number of free spins on a specific set of slot games. These will be given out from the moment you register and do not require a deposit, such as the Leo Vegas no deposit bonus.

Be mindful that the casino operator rarely gives free spins away as they often come with wagering requirements.

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Deposit offers

Another way to entice players, and to encourage a certain level of spend, is for casino operators to offer X number of free spins on the proviso that you deposit a certain amount, e.g. you get 50 free spins when you deposit a minimum of £€$10 at the casino.

A good example of this would be to read our Rizk casino bonus review. Here you get a mystery no deposit bonus and a 100% bonus with additional free spins.

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Watch the terms and conditions

In both cases, make sure you read the small print. The best free spins will come with some caveats. After all, any one of these spins could trigger a huge jackpot and see the house lose out – without the player losing a penny!

There may also be timescales as to when you can redeem the bonus, or you may only be allowed to play the free spins on certain games.

But before you do anything, you should learn all about wagering requirements. Boring but necessary.

Limits and wagering requirements

You may find that cash prizes are limited if you win through a set of free spins, so for example, the maximum amount you can cash out is £€$100.

You may also be subject to a “wagering requirement”.

A wagering requirement concerns how much money you can withdraw based on what you won with free spins. Often, you need to make a certain number of paid bets to support the free spin winnings you received before you can withdraw this as real cash.

Here’s a simple calculation. Let’s say your casino had a wagering requirement of 30x. That means that if you won money through free spins, you would have to wager your cash prize 30 times before withdrawing your cash total.

Example: You get 10 free spins with a 30x wagering on your winnings. Say you win £2.50 from your free spins. You’ll then have to wager that 30x. How much is that? It’s £2.50 x 30 = £75 in wagers needed a simple calculation that’s worth knowing.

It’s the casinos’ way of covering themselves, ensuring nobody jumps in, wins free spins and pockets the bonus without paying back.

A casino that has no wagering requirements are the free spins bonus at GUTS casino. If you prefer to avoid having to figure this out, these are free spins letting you keep what you win, which are rare.

Slot Free spin features

These free spins happen during gameplay. They might be labelled as a ‘bonus’ – for example, if you match a certain payline, catch three scatters, or get a special symbol on the reels.

You’ll then immediately trigger a certain number of free spins, so your funds will not be depleted. That’s at the most basic – like in the Hot Safari online slot.

But in most cases, these free spins might trigger other bonuses, which help create a new level of excitement for the reels. It’s no longer just about getting a win on a payline. It may be about catching bigger wins or better features.

This makes it even more exciting as you’ve essentially not paid for these rewards!

Dead Or Alive 2 Slot Free Spins Example
Dead Or Alive 2 Slot Free Spins Example

The most common features in slot free spin features:

Anything can happen in a slot with free spins. But here are some of the more simple and common features:

  1. You’ll get a multiplier on the free spins: like in the Treasure Horse slot review. This means all the wins will be multiplied by twice, three times or more than the value of the paytable.
  2. You’ll get special wilds: like the sticky wilds in the Dead or Alive 2 slot which don’t go away, or the wilds will now expand to cover the reel, or you’ll get bigger wild walking across the reel from left to right.
  3. Expanding Scatter pays: One symbol will be chosen to expand, cover the reel, and pay regardless of whether it’s directly on a payline left to right. Think of the copies of the Book of Ra Deluxe slot.

Of course, there’s an infinity of different features you can find during these bonus games. The only limitation is the imagination of the casino studios making the game.

But overall, all these extra features, and the free spins, are there to help you feel like you have a better chance of catching a bigger win. Which just makes free spin slots so exciting.

Quickspin Pirates Charm Slot With Free Spins
Quickspin Pirates Charm Slot With Free Spins

Not sure what you’re looking for? Watch the terminology

Free spins within casinos may have a lot of different names. This is essentially good marketing – making the bonuses seem more varied.

You’ll find in-game free spins labelled as one of the following:

  • Free spins: can mean both types
  • Cash spins: usually means a casino bonus incentive
  • Bonus spins: can mean both types
  • Extra spins: usually means a casino bonus incentive

Don’t get caught out by the jargon – always read the terms and conditions on wagering requirements and deposits first.

Playing safe with free spins

Whether you’re playing a slot for the first time with a sign-up bonus or making the most of free spins, make sure you play safe.

Stick to your principles with time and money spent on gaming – don’t be tempted to play if the minimum deposit is outside your budget or if you need to wager more than you can afford.

It’s best to look at free spins as one weapon in the bonus prize arsenal rather than focusing all your efforts on catching them, whether that’s an offer at a casino or a feature you want to trigger on a slot machine.

We’ve got the best free spins offers right here at SlotSumo, and well as all the best slot reviews of games, you’ll love to play if you want to try free spins.

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