If you’re a proper casino afficionado, you’re going to hear or read the words ‘Free Spins’ pretty often.
That could be scattered all over banners on a Casino’s homepage advertising them as part of a welcome offer, that could be in a marketing communication telling you that you have a bonus to claim or that could be in the context of playing some of your favourite slots with pretend money, where neither you nor the casino are at risk of losing any actual cash.
Lastly, Free Spins also refer to a game within a game, meaning that in lots of slots the Free Spins round is a bonus feature that is normally where you can win the serious money, rather than the regular and smaller base game wins.
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Free Spins as part of a welcome bonus
If you’re a Casino, the rule of thumb is that the more customers you have, the better. In that sense, it’s unlike sports betting where a Sportsbook could have some sports bettors who know sports inside out to the extent that they may actually have an edge on the odds-compilers of the Sportsbook itself. With Casino games, it doesn’t really work like that because there’s no foolproof way to beat the odds.
Why Casinos want more and more customers
You can get lucky on a slot of course or go on a good run at the Blackjack table but beating the house in the long run is easier said than done. Which is precisely why casinos are keen to have as many customers as possible. But how do they attract your custom rather than you signing up with a rival casino?
Well, one way is to do such a good job that you get excellent reviews of your casino on sites such as ours. Another is to trump another casino’s welcome bonus.
A welcome bonus is a way of offering you, the casino player, an incentive to sign up at that casino.
Free Spins as a no deposit bonus
Some casinos don’t even require you to deposit any money at all in order to claim a welcome bonus. The clue is in the name. A no deposit welcome bonus rewards you for just providing your details such as name, date of birth, e-mail address and telephone number and very often your reward for providing those details comes in the form of Free Spins.
The Casino will promise you a set number of Free Spins, say 50, on particular slot. Occasionally they may give you the choice of three or four slots to choose from or tell you that you can play any slot from a particular software provider. But generally, you’ll have a choice of maybe one or two slots to play your Free Spins on.
Imagine you’ve just signed up to amobile phone provider and they decide to give you 15 CAD worth of free calls to get you going, which they credit to your account. Free Spins work in a similar way.
The Casino will drop the Free Spins in your account and you’re then ready to play them. Each free spin in this scenario is a turn/round on the slot in question.
Free Spins terms and conditions
It always pays to read the terms and conditions relating to any bonus and it’s no different when it comes to Free Spins making up a no deposit bonus. The Ts and Cs will tell how many Free Spins you have, on which slot, how much each free sin is worth (spoiler alert: it’s normally for the minimum stake you can have on the slot) and when you need to play the Free Spins by.
It’s not in a casino’s interest to give you a bonus which you take a year to get round to using so don’t be too surprised if you only have a few days or at most, a week, to make use of those Free Spins.
As part of the no deposit Free Spins bonus, they may also establish that there’s a maximum amount in winnings that you can claim from your Free Spins. So, for example, they may say that with your 50 Free Spins, you won’t be able to win any more than 500 CAD. And that’s even without mentioning wagering requirements, which we discuss further below.
Why casinos give out no deposit bonuses
Are you wondering why a Casino gives you Free Spins without you needing to make a deposit? Another industry secret is about to be revealed! The answer is that by you providing your e-mail address and phone number in exchange for those Free Spins, you’re giving the Casino your details, which allows them to contact you in the future with future offers, presumably in exchange for actually making a deposit this time.
Free Spins as part of a deposit bonus
But the more common way for you to get a welcome bonus is in exchange for actually making a deposit. A typical welcome offer would be to double whatever you deposit up to a maximum amount and then give you some Free Spins on top of that. For example, you might see a banner on the casino’s some page or even one here at Bonus Ninja saying something like:
100% up to 200CAD + 50 Free Spins.
The percentage determines how much playing money they’re giving you for every buck deposited. So, 100% gives you 1 dollar in bonus boney for every dollar deposited, 50% would give you 50 cents for every dollar deposited, while a more generous 200% would give you 2 dollars for every 1 dollar deposited. The ‘up to’ bit tells you what’s the maximum amount you can actually receive as a bonus. The casino will always cap the amount of the bonus to avoid things getting out of hand.
But in addition to the cash bonus (again, read the terms and conditions to see how exactly it works and how to go about playing it) you’ll very often get some Free Spins as well.
After all, Free Spins are a cheap, quick, easy, painless way of getting you the customer to try out a particular slot, so you get into the swing of things. Crucially, they’re also a safe way of giving something away without actually risking too much of their own money. Why? The answer is wagering requirements. Explained in detail below.
How different are the different Casinos?
These days there are literally hundreds of different casinos online. As a Canadian casino customer, you’ll find dozens of them. Just about every Casino thinks they’re reinventing the wheel when they open their virtual doors and we here at Bonus Ninja know better than most that there are great casinos, good casinos, not so good casinos and downright poor ones.
In fact, we spend hours trying to determine which are which and you can ready why we think what we do about each one by reading our reviews.
Industry Secret revealed: Most Casinos are pretty similar
But the truth behind the idea that Casinos are so different from on another is somewhat different. It’s one of the better kept secrets of the Casino industry that they all do pretty much the same thing.
For the most part all casinos: stock lots of different slots, offer a combination of table games and specialty games like craps, virtual racing or online Keno, most boast some sort of Jackpot games whether it’s slots or table games like Caribbean Stud Poker, give you the customer the choice of various video poker games and give away bonuses to keep you engaged and to feel like you’re getting something back for your loyalty.
Where they’re different from one another is perhaps in the smaller details. Like how many payment methods are available and whether it’s a Bitcoin Casino, which software providers make their games, how long it takes to withdraw your money, how helpful their Customer Service Team agents are or how strong a mobile product they have.
The devil is in the detail
The more Casinos you play at, including the new casinos that have just opened their doors, and the more reviews you read, the more you’ll realise that the devil is in the detail and that it’s the small things that make a real difference to the average Casino player.
But what is true is that long before you’ve actually spent a few hours trying out all the different Casinos, there’s an easy way to form a few quick opinions about a casino, thanks to their welcome bonus.
There isn’t a single online casino out there who doesn’t offer some sort of welcome bonus to you Canadian players or else you just wouldn’t bother signing up. But for the record, if you do find a casino who chooses not to offer a casino welcome bonus at all, please write in to tell us because we’d love to hear about it!
So, what’s a welcome bonus, how does it work and why do you need to know about it?
Free Spins as part of an ongoing bonus
Bonuses aren’t limited to welcome bonuses. In a bid to keep you happy at their casino and feel loved, casinos offer bonuses on an ongoing basis, a good example of which are Free Spins.
For example, a casino may give you Free Spins to help you celebrate your birthday, as part of their numerous Christmas-themed offers or just as a way to get you to come back and play. Occasionally, they may give you the Free Spins as a reward for making a deposit (or reload, as it’s sometimes called), either instead of a cash bonus, or alongside it.
The process is exactly the same as when its part of a welcome bonus and very often the wagering requirements will be the same, though not always. The big difference is that in this case the Free Spins are rewarded to existing customers rather than new ones.
How do wagering requirements work on Free Spins?
Rather like say horseracing betting which is seen as a constant back-and-forth battle between punter and bookie, the fight between casino and casino player needs to be a fair one. And that works both ways. Just like there are measures in place to make sure that slots pay out what they advertise they do (or the slot’s RTP as it’s called) which protects you the player, so the casino has a right to protect themselves, as well.
Let’s say you were given 50 Free Spins and that on your very first spin you won the slot’s Jackpot of 10,000 CAD. It wouldn’t be particularly fair on the Casino if you were allowed to just pocket all that money, withdraw it straight away and then never come back.
So, in the name of a fair contest, casinos have wagering requirements on bonuses. What that means is that when you win money using a bonus- Free Spins or otherwise- you need to wager through your winnings a certain number of times. The higher the wagering requirements, the more times you’ll need to wager that money htrough the casino before you can withdraw it. The rule when it comes to wagering requirements is a very simple one: the lower the wagering requirements, the better for you, and consequently, the worse for the casino.
Wagering requirements of say 15x are quite fair and mean that if you won say 1,000 CAD, you’d have to turn over 15,000 CAD through the casino. Of course, that isn’t actually your own money.
Essentially, you’re using that 1,000 CAD in winnings time and time again, sort of recycling it through the system. If you played through that original money 15x , you’d then be able to withdraw what was left of it. If you don’t manage, then that’s your chance gone but then again, you weren’t playing with your own money anyway.
Some casinos go too far in terms of their wagering requirements, sometimes making them as high as 50x or 60x, deeming it almost impossible for you to be able to turn over those winnings and withdrawing it. Sadly, that makes it almost impossible for you to keep any of that money at all, so look out for Free Spins with low wagering requirements.
Free Spins v paid-for spins
Think about when you go to the supermarket. It’s common for the supermarket to give you free samples of cheese, coffee or maybe a cake. They’re giving you these samples in the hope that you’ll try them (they are free after all), like them and go on to buy them. Bars are also happy to give you a sample of a particular beer to try, especially a novelty one, following the theory that once you get to taste the delights of that yeasty concoction, you’ll go on to order a pint of it. Or several.
Casinos are happy to adopt the same policy. Very often you’re able to play Free Spins on all or at least most of their in-house slots. In this case what we mean by Free Spins are that you’re not playing for real money. You’re playing for pretend money, meaning that neither do you have to risk your money when playing them, nor does the casino have to pay anything out when you do ‘win’.
So why is it in anyone’s interest to allow you to play Free Spins without any money involved? It’s in the casino’s interest because the more time you spend playing, the more you’re likely to feel at home at the casino and the more likely you are to decide you want to start playing for real money at some time in the future.
It’s also in your interest to make use of these Free Spins. It gives you the chance to try out as many slots as possible, find the ones you like and then sign up to a casino that offers those same slots when you’ve decided that you’ve had enough of this playing-for-fun malarkey and want to start playing for real.
Occasionally you’ll also be able to play Free Spins without risking your money on other websites. For example, sometimes the software developers themselves may make a new game available on their own website so slots players can try them out. After all, it’s as much in their interest that you try out a game and then go on top play it for real as it is to an actual casino.
Why you rarely get Free Spins on Progressive Jackpot slots
If you’re new to the world of slots, it’s worth explaining what a Progressive Jackpot slot is.
Regular slots have a fixed Jackpot amount and somewhere on the game itself they’ll tell you what that exact amount is or in some cases, rather than giving you a monetary value as such, will tell you how many times you can win the value of your stake. In other words, the max amount you can win is set in stone based on triggering the Jackpot or completing a particular bonus round.
Progressive Jackpot slots work differently. Every time someone plays that slot for real money, it adds a small percentage of the amount of their stake to the Progressive Jackpot. Some slots run as network jackpots, others as local Jackpots.
A network Jackpot means that anyone anywhere in the world will contribute to the Jackpot. For example, a few years ago when the biggest slots payout ever occurred after a win on the appropriately-named Mega Moolah, this was unsurprisingly secured on a network jackpot where players of Mega Moolah had been ‘feeding’ that Jackpot for years.
A local Jackpot means that all players at that particular casino playing that particular slot contribute to the Jackpot. The downside is that the amounts on offer are smaller, the upside is that because there are less people playing it, it’s less likely to be won by someone else.
Casinos rarely offer you the chance to play Progressive Jackpot slots for free. The reason is that it’s not practical. The whole point of Progressive Jackpot slots isn’t that they’re necessarily the best games but rather the ones that quite simply, pay out the most.
So, there’s no real point in you playing them if you can’t keep any of the money.
The other reason is that all those slots are connected to one another as a way of keeping tabs on what the Progressive Jackpot amount is. If you’re not playing with real money, the slot can’t keep tabs on how much the Jackpot is going up by every minute.
Free Spins as a bonus feature in a slot
Gone are the days when slots, or one-armed bandits or fruit machines if you prefer, were simple machines with a few varied fruits on the reels sitting in dusty, smoky casinos. There were only about five or six different ways you could win depending on the position of the symbols and there were no such things as bonus features.
How things have changed. These days dozens of software providers such as NetEnt, Microgaming, Play N’Go, Elk Studios or Pragmatic Play have massive budgets available to hire Developers, designers and engineers to produce brilliant slots that are more like cutting edge videogames or the latest animated movies than they are those tired, old, one-dimensional slots from the 70s.
Not only are there Progressive Jackpot slots whose prizes reach the millions of dollars but the regular ones boast impressive graphics, clips from movies or TV shows, realistic sound effects, colourful visuals and in some cases, quite complex storylines to accompany what’s going on in the reels.
But what all slots these days have, are bonus features, the most common of which are a Free Spins round.
What are Free Spins within a slot?
Free Spins are the most common form of bonus feature or bonus round, available on a slot. In fact, it’s almost unheard of for a slot these days to not have a Free Spins round. It’s much easier to name the slots that don’t have one, such as Starburst, than the ones who do.
A Free Spins round means that you get to play a pre-determined number of Free Spins on the slot without having to pay for them. So far so simple but in this case playing a Free Spins round doesn’t just mean not paying for your spins. There’s a lot more to it than that. Very often Free Spins are played out on a separate set of reels or may have extra symbols that aren’t normally available on the base game.
But before we get to the different types of Free Spins, let’s talk about how to activate them.
How to activate a Free Spins round
The most common way to get Free Spins is to get three or more Scatter symbols appear on the reels. Scatter symbols are special symbols specifically created to allow you to unlock a Free Spins round.
They generally appear in the form of the game’s logo, a symbol that has one of the game character’s faces on it or some other unique design. Sometimes they can appear on any reel, sometimes just on specific reels. For example, they may only appear on Reels 1,3 and 5 but not 2 and 4.
Normally you need three of those Scatters to appear to get the minimum number of Free Spins (generally 8 or 10) whereas getting four or five Scatters will increase the number of Free Spins you get to start with. In other words, the more Scatter symbols you get, the better. It is however worth remembering that whereas the Wild symbol substitutes for all other symbols in a slot, it will almost never substitute for a Scatter.
What happens during a Free Spins round?
We said ‘to start with’ because Free Spins can often be re-triggered. In other words, you can earn further Free Spins during the Free Spins round, normally in the same way as you would to activate them to start with: by getting three or more Scatters.
The whole point about Free Spins is that your chances of a decent win on a free spin are far greater than what it would be on a regular (paid-for) spin in the base game. Not only do Free Spins rounds tend to have more Wilds in place but some slots will sometimes keep valuable symbols such as Wilds or high-paying symbols locked in position during the whole of the Free Spins round, to help you win.
But there’s another big reason why Free Spins rounds tend to be very profitable: multipliers. Some slots keep it simple and just say that anything you win during the Free Spins round will be doubled. In other slots, there are several Multipliers on show, normally on the side of the reels. As the Free Spins round progresses, those Multipliers can increase. Some slots have games with multipliers as big as 10x in play. So, for example, if you win 20 CAD during the round, you’ve actually won 200 CAD once the 10x multiplier has been applied to your win.
Special Free Spins rounds
Some slots even allow you to make certain choices before the Free Spins round begin.
For example, you may be able to choose whether you want:
20 Free Spins with a 2x multiplier in play
15 Free Spins with a 3x multiplier in play
10 Free Spins with a 4x multiplier in play.
It’s up to you to decide whether you want less spins but with bigger multipliers or more spins with a smaller multiplier.
Other slots may allow you to choose the level of volatility during the Free Spins round. Others may let you choose to play less Free Spins with more wilds on the reels, or more Free Spins with less wilds.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do all welcome bonuses include Free Spins?
No, each casino has their own welcome offer which can be whatever they want. The most common form of a welcome offer is to give away a bonus that’s related to the amount you deposit either just the first time, or on your first two or three deposits. But increasingly, casinos have been keen to have mixed welcome offers made up of a combination of bonus money and Free Spins.
Can Free Spins be used on any slot you want?
Almost never. It’s not practical to allow you to play Free Spins on any slot you want, partly because some slots have much higher RTPs (Return to Player) than others. So Casinos can rest assured that giving x Free Spins to play on Slot A may lead to a particular amount in winnings on average but a very different amount when played on Slot B.
Do all Free Spins have wagering requirements attached to them?
Almost always. As mentioned in the text above, wagering requirements are a good way of casinos protecting themselves against players like you just using the Free Spins, winning, taking the money and running, to never come back. After all, Free Spins are a gift from the casino in the first place so it’s only fair that the casino has a chance to win your winnings back!
Very, very occasionally a casino may give a small number of Free Spins to you but this really is the exception to the rule.
Do all slots have a Free Spins round on them?
Not all but almost all. A slot like Starburst has a re-spin feature as its sole bonus feature rather than Free Spins but almost all slots have some sort of Free Spins round, some have more than one Free Spins round and others have a Free Spins round as part of several bonus rounds.
How do you activate a Free Spins round?
You generally do it by getting three or more Scatter symbols but other slots have other ways to activate them and in some cases, they’re randomly triggered.
So, as we’ve seen, in the world of online casinos the term ‘Free Spins’ can refer to several things. It can refer to a bonus given to you by a casino allowing you to play spins for real money but which they paid for. It can refer to playing for fun so you don’t risk your own money but can’t win any either. Or it can refer to a bonus round within a slot where the game itself rather than the casino allows you to play a certain number of spins for free.
And if it’s Free Spins at the best casinos you’re after, you’ve certainly come to the right place because here at Bonus Ninja, not only do we write the best free Casino reviews so you know which ones can be trusted ad tick all the boxes, but we also have all the best offers from all the best Canadian casinos!