The terms “gambling” and “free” don’t marry up very often, but we still feel compelled to ask: can I play slots for free?
Like most things in life, the answer isn’t a simple yes or no: it’s a yes, but a yes with conditions.
First things first: unfortunately, if you walk into a casino and expect to be given a free try of the slot machines, you are sadly mistaken.
The one exception to this rule might be as a professional role, i.e. if you applied for a job as a slot machine tester, but this would more than likely be online and by no means in a casino setting.
Online casinos are a totally different ballgame: there are ways of being able to play for free, some of which still pay out cash rewards.
First of all, we need to determine exactly what it is we’re getting for free. The element of “free” depends on the individual casino operator’s terms and conditions.
For example, we could have:
Sounds alluring, doesn’t it? Many iGaming operators will offer some sort of sign-up incentive or perhaps a customer retention offer to get people to come back – this might be some sort of reward such as £40 in free spins.
This happens when you’re already into the game and likely will have spent some money with the slot provider. Let’s say, for example, you choose a slot site with games that have a lot of bonus features.
A bonus symbol might appear a certain amount of times on the reels, which entitles you to “free spins”. These will not come out of your total pot and will award the same prizes as what you would have won if you had bet with real money.
Many things can trigger free spins, so it’s important to keep an eye out for just what exactly is free. More advanced games will offer a “free spin” counter, usually in the corner, to alert players to how many more spins they have left.
These ones might not be as exciting for those who are in it to win it, but they do give players a chance to try something new without parting with their money.
Some online casino operators offer a demo version of their games – this can be as simple as watching a video and not clicking, or more interactive with the chance to have free spins.
Of course, the downside is that cash prizes are not awarded, but it does give players a feel for the game and lets them decide if the bonus features could be worth it.
While many slot operators might try to lure you in with no sign-ups and free games, it’s important to always read the small print! Demo games are the best way to play for free, risk-free, so make sure you know the risks before you sign up.
Katie Thompson is an NCTJ-trained journalist and freelance online gaming writer. She enjoys researching the iGaming industry and writing comprehensive guides on the history of gambling, beating the dealer and even how to get bingo dauber stains out of your favourite shirt.
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