How Do Free Spins Work?

  • Updated
  • By Bret Allen
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When playing any online casinos, you will come across free spins sooner or later.

Free spins are a major promotional tool and entertainment factor for casinos, either given out as a way to reward and encourage players, or as a bonus feature of the slots.

Free spins are used on slot games, referring to spinning the reels. Casinos can give out free spins as a marketing tool, so that players can try to win some money without risking their own.

They vary in how they work from one site or slot to the next, but the principle remains the same. By looking out for free spin offers, players can really boost their online gambling.

What are free spins at online casinos?

Free spins make sense when you know that in common online casino terms, one bet on a slot machine is called one ‘spin’.

This refers to the action of spinning the reels of the slot machine, even though new video slots only have virtual reels. Therefore, a free spin is a spin of the reels, or one bet, which costs you nothing.

Free spins are a great way to make a profit!

Winning free spins

The only time when confusion sometimes arises is in the distinction between free spins from promotions and free spins won during the course of a game. The latter happens when you hit a certain symbol combination on the reels, or a special feature.

The vast majority of slot games have some kind of free spins round, so when this triggers, you immediately get a set number of free spins and hope to make a win from them.

Free spins from promotions

The other form of free spins, which is usually of the most interest to players, is the promotional kind. These are usually awarded through a welcome bonus or some other marketing offer.

There’s no hoping to get lucky enough to win these mid-game- they are just awarded and ready to go. With some luck, they can let you get a head start on the slot by making some wins without spending any money.

How do free spins work?

How free spins work does vary slightly depending on whether they were awarded from a game or from a promotion, but the core idea is the same- when you spin the reels, instead of credit being deducted from your balance, a free spin is taken instead.

Usually, the slot game will make this very clear by showing that the next spin is a free one, typically with a counter.

Promotional free spins

If you got free spins from a promotion, they should be immediately ready to go when you visit the slot that the spins apply to (promotions typically give spins for one specific game, or a small selection, so make sure to visit the right game).

Once you arrive, the display of the slot should make it clear that you’re using free spins. To be safe, double check by looking at the stake and making sure your balance doesn’t go down after the first spin.

Free spins won during a game

Free spins are awarded at a certain stake size, so you may not be able to adjust this. When you get free spins through a bonus round, they typically count as the stake size you were using at the time. There may also be additional benefits where a 3x multiplier is awarded on each free spin.

Many can retrigger too, so you can keep getting more free spins. They can even take place in an entirely different game mode, with different symbols, values and the potential to hit the jackpot.

How can I get free spins?

Deposit

The easiest way is through a welcome bonus. Many sites offer free spins either instead of, or in addition to, a standard cash match bonus. So, the main offer might be along the lines of ‘deposit £10 and get £30 to play with’, but with the extra bonus of ‘plus 30 free spins on Starburst’. Bear in mind that free spins from promotions like this will often have some kind of limitation, just like bonus money does.

Check the terms

An example limitation is a cap on how much you can win, which will be termed as how much cash can be converted from bonus money to real money.

So, you may get 200 free spins, but regardless of how much you win from them, you can only withdraw £30 (for example). Or, you may simply have to play through your winnings a certain number of times before withdrawing, like a standard cash bonus.

The same can be the case with non-welcome bonuses, so always check the terms of offers. Free spin offers tend to be on a certain slot and require you to make a deposit first, but this is not always the case- they can come from interactive offers such as a random prize reward.

Find the offers

Look out for no deposit free spin offers, too. These are increasingly rare, but some sites will let you have some free spins just for signing up, without actually making a deposit.

This is a great way to try to get something for nothing, plus you can explore the site and get acquainted at no personal cost. They again will have some kind of wagering requirement or cap, but with no deposit needed, there’s nothing to lose by trying.

Check out the current free spin offers on our online slots guide!