Free Spins

Free spins sound the bee’s knees, don’t they! And, in many ways, they are: something free is always good, but they’re rarely completely what they appear to be, and like all casino offers they’re designed by casino companies in order to benefit casino companies.

That doesn’t make them all bad, but it does mean you should know what you’re dealing with, and how to assess a free spins offer.

In this guide, we’ll explain what free spins offers are, how to find free spins offers, how to assess free spins offers, whether or not you should accept free spins offers, and how to use free spins safely.

And we’ll look at an example to show how it all works.

Let’s get started.

Free Spins UK Casino Bonuses

What is a Free Spins Offer?

Free spins are just that, spins on games that you don’t have to pay for. When you are offered free spins it doesn’t mean that you not paying for them somewhere else in some other way, but it does mean that you get to press the spin button without putting any cash in!

Most free spins offers are linked to Welcome Bonuses. Welcome Bonuses are what you see when you arrive at most casino sites. They are big, attractive offers that are designed to tempt players to sign up at a site. They also have conditions attached to them that make them very useful tools for casino companies are likely to make players commit to the site for the long term.

Free spins offers are usually limited in a number of ways these are:

Time limits on free spins offers – as part of a welcome offer you will usually need to accept free spins associated with the offer within a time limit. You may also have to use all of your free spins within a time limit.

Staking limits on free spins offers – free spins are usually offered in numerical amounts. Whereas deposit bonuses are most often described as a percentage of your initial deposit, free spins offers are usually just a simple number: 20 or 50 free spins are common offers.

This means that you’ll get that number of spins, but to work out the value of the offer you need to know how much each spin is worth. Most free spins offers keep the stake relatively low, figures of 10p or 20p per spin aren’t unusual.

Game limits on free spins offers – most free spins offers are limited to one title. That fact that this title is a big hit is often used as a selling point on a free spins offer. There’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation going on here: having a game featured in a lot of free spins offers is a brilliant way to make it popular, so then you’re in a spiral or attracting players with a popular title that is popular because so many players get to play it for free. We don’t think it’s a coincidence that free spins offers very often use games from a powerful, market-dominating slots developers. Among the most commonly offered free spins titles are Starburst from NetEnt, which has been the UK’s number one game for a long period of time, and Rich Wilde and the Book of Dead, from Play’n GO another massively popular game.

Prize limits on free spins – we’ll go into how these offers work in more detail later, but if you think you’re going to get rich off a free spin offer then you need to check the small print. Many free spins offers limit the total amount of winnings you can withdraw from your free spins games.

Wagering requirements on free spins offers – wagering requirements are a continuing source of confusion, pain, and unhappiness in the slots world! They’re like love! And like love, there’s no escaping them! Wagering requirements are the way that a casino company turns a free offer into something that keeps a player at their site for the long term.

A wagering requirement, also called playthrough, is a multiple of a value that a player must deposit and wager in order to get access to bonus funds in their account. It is not uncommon to see a wagering requirement of 30-times the value of a bonus, so that means if you’re offered £5-worth of free spins that you would have to bet £150 of your own money to release any money you won with those spins – and remember, the total of your winnings may also be limited.

These are the main limits on free spins offers.

How to Find Free Spins Offers

Free spins offers aren’t hard to find. They look great to players so any site that has them is likely to make a fuss about them.

The casino industry also has a healthy infrastructure of sites that feed into casino sites, and these sites can be useful to players because they find these offers and tell layers where they can find them.

If they’re good, honest sites – like us! – they’ll also give you good information on how you can assess these free spins offers and how you can get the most out of them.

So remember, please only use review and referral sites that you trust to find free spins offers. In fact, it should go without saying that any site you use – whether it be for casino advice or getting the latest news – should be on that you can trust.

How to Assess Free Spins Offers

You need to know how to read the small print on a free spins offer in order to assess it and decide whether it’s right for you.

Our advice goes against the industry current, and in fact, for many players, it seems to go against common sense. This is because our advice is that it can often be a good idea to ignore free spins and other offers and even to decline them when offered. This is because we think it’s best to play at good quality sites with which you can have a good, long-term customer relationship. Making decisions based only on welcome offers is almost always bad. You also need to understand how to assess a free spins offer and see if you’re comfortable with the commitment required of you.

An Example

This is a free spins offer at a big, legitimate and licensed UK online casino site.

It says you’ll get 10 free spins on Book of Dead – one of those popular games we mentioned above.

It tells you how to claim your free spins offer, which is easy enough: you sign up at the casino site and are offered an option to accept a number of welcome offers, and you must select the 10 no-deposit free spins offer.

You must do this within 3 days of signing up. Then you’ll be given 10 free spins, each worth 10p, on the Book of Dead game. Once you’ve accepted the offer, you must use the free spins within 3 days. At the end of those 3 days, your spins will expire.

This offer says it is a no deposit offer. It says it will cost nothing to “play through” and you do not need to deposit anything in order to trigger the offer, it also tells you that any wins you get will be credited to your account and will be withdrawable.

This is a good free spins offer, and we think that it does exactly what it says it does: offers you 10 goes on a game, and lets you keep your winnings. This isn’t likely to be a life-changing sum from 10 free spins worth 10p, but you might get lucky.

However, at the end of the offer it says: “General promotional and website Terms and Conditions also apply.”

And we then click a link to read those, where a section on “cash spin offers” as free spins are described here includes a general set of conditions on such offers that says there is a 35-times wagering requirement on free spins offers.

So, now things are less clear.

It would be much more usual for the spins to come with a wagering requirement, and in this case, we suggest that you contact the casino company and ask them to send you in writing that you can use the free spins offer and withdraw your winnings without depositing any money of your own.

It is annoying that free spins offers can be so complicated.

Real No Deposit Free Spins Offers with no Wagering Requirement

We have found genuine no deposit free spins bonus offers, and we have found genuine no deposit free spins offers that come with no wagering requirement, and even with no limits on the amount a player can win and withdraw.

These offers are rare, however. When they do appear they will be heavily advertised and they may well be limited in such a way. We have seen such offers that limit either the number of players who can accept the offer on a first-come, first-served basis (the offer we saw was limited to 5,000 players) or by the value of the spins made available.

You can see why: giving money away for free isn’t great business practice, and casino sites exist for one reason, which is to make and to maximise the profit that their owners get from the site.

No Deposit Free Spins Offers

AS you assess a casino site you should always look beyond the welcome offer. This is the big shop window offer, but you want to have a deeper understanding of a site before you sign up.

It is likely that you’ll be able to look around without signing up, and it is likely that you’ll find a promotions page that offers other free spins offers.

Free spins are commonly used to promote new titles, to give a boost to a particular developer, and to otherwise encourage players to spend more time and money at a casino site.

Take a look at the terms and conditions on these offers.

Almost always you will find the same sorts of limits – including a wagering requirement – that we’ve discussed in regards to welcome offer free spins bonuses.

They may require you to deposit to trigger the offer.

Free Spins in Tournament Play

Another way you may see free spins offered is in tournament play. These spins may not be quite free, but they may be untethered from the amount you wager.

Tournaments are a popular promotional tool for casinos and they introduce a competitive and social element to online casino gameplay.

Casino tournaments are usually time-limited and usually feature either one game or titles from just one game developer. Players enter, play the game over a set period of time, and at the end of that period, the top-scoring players (and scores can be measured in a number of ways, including biggest single win, biggest winning total, or biggest number of wins) are awarded prizes.

These tournaments occasionally offer a single entrance fee that will allow you a set number of spins. In a sense, these are a sort of free spin.

How to Assess and Accept Them

Free spins may not be right for you.

This goes against every instinct in a casino player’s mind, and it goes against the obvious prevailing orthodoxy of the whole casino industry.

However, in order to understand and properly assess a free spins offer you need to understand what the purpose of the offer is and how it serves that purpose.

We’ve mentioned the purpose: profits. Casino profits are not something that benefits you. In fact, all casino profits are lost bets.

So, a welcome offer exists to increase profits, by attracting new players. If an offer simply attracted new players in order to have 10 free spins on a game, collect whatever they won from those spins, and then left the site never to come back again, the site would soon go out of business.

It’s nice to believe that the free spins offers you see work in the way that the industry would like you to believe that they work, which is they are simply an opportunity to experience a site without betting a lot of money, at which point you’ll be so bowled over by the quality of the experience that you’ll decide to deposit £500 of your own and embark on a long-term blackjack career.

But think about that for a moment.

What is the experience of playing a slot for 10 spins like? If you’re being honest with yourself, the answer to this is that it is almost identical wherever you do it.

So, the casino site has more than that in mind. And welcome offers use quite clever psychology to deliver players of the long term.

From the casino site’s point of view, it’s probably good if you win some prizes on your free spins. If there’s a wagering requirement on your winnings then you’re fairly likely to want to hang around in order to collect those winnings – even if they’re a tiny fraction of the money you have to deposit in order to unlock them!

That’s because humans aren’t really the completely rational creatures that we – and economic theory (most of which is actively dishonest) – would have ourselves believe.

Once we have something – including a £5 win on a slot machine – we don’t want to give it up! We value things we already have much more than things we don’t yet have. And this is one of the psychological triggers that makes you more likely than not to pick up your debit card and make the deposits needed to unlock your account.

So this is what you need to bear in mind when you assess a free spins offer. This is difficult to do, and it’s no sign of weakness to find making such decisions hard –they are measurable psychological phenomena because in experimental situations large numbers of people take these decisions.

You need to think of yourself as weak and stupid!

Yeah, sorry, it’s not easy to do is it! But you should factor in the full cost of a welcome bonus, including a free spins bonus before you accept it. That is, you shouldn’t picture yourself enjoying those spins, having a big win, and logging off, or simply enjoying the free spins and then forgetting about a site for a while. Instead, you should picture yourself doing whatever you have to do to trigger a free spins offer, and then depositing the full amount needed to allow you to withdraw any winnings you make with your free spins.

This is how the site assesses an offer, and it’s how you should too.

Should You Accept Free Spins Offers?

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t accept free spins offers, it just means that you should accept them with an open mind and an honest idea of what the offer means.

And you should also do it with safe gambling as your first priority.

Offers and bonuses are one of the ways that casino sites short-circuit our good intentions. They give us something that appears to be free and this has a powerful psychological effect.

So keep safe gambling at the front of your mind when you assess an offer and after you have accepted your free spins.

The best advice to gamble safely is probably to ignore money. That sounds counterintuitive, but it’s at the heart of the industry-approved slogan – when the fun stops, stop. That is play gambling games only for fun, not for money (and certainly not when you need money).

How to Accept and Use Free Spins Safely

Let’s say you see a free spins offer: here’s how to assess, accept, and use them safely.

  • Do you like the game you’re being offered free spins on? If the answer is no then you should walk away. Remember, we’re playing for fun.
  • Have you read the small print? Reading the small print is the biggest virtuous change in their behaviour we’d love every gambler to make.
  • Do you understand it? We’re not calling anyone stupid or foolish here, but we’re asking you to make an honest assessment of what a free spins offer means and what is expected of you. Does the offer commit you to play a lot of in a short period of time when you wouldn’t normally do so? Does the offer have a wagering requirement? If it does, then you should work out what the full commitment of the wagering requirement is. Don’t imagine yourself walking away, imagine yourself spending the full amount and factor that into your assessment, and ask yourself if you can afford to spend (i.e. lose) all of that money.
  • Do you like the site? Take a good look around first. Don’t let a free spins offer – even a good one with few or no strings attached – make you sign up at a site that you otherwise wouldn’t look at. The purpose of the offer is to get you there for the long run, and these offers are generally successful in doing that.
  • Do you feel safe at the site? If not, then go! Things that look too good to be true usually are too good to be true. So if an offer feels dramatically out of kilter with everything else that’s on offer in the current market place then you should be extra careful. Make sure the site is legitimate, has a full SSL encryption certificate. Make sure that it has a UK Gambling Commission Licence, and that you have checked the licence. And make sure that the site has good quality help and support services, and that it is legitimate, with good safe gambling information and more.

While a lot of this feels negative and smacks of being too careful, the truth is that you cannot be too careful, not just around free spins offers but around all aspects of the casino industry. The vast majority of people are able to enjoy fun, safe gambling with no ill effects, but it takes a bit of knowledge and effort to keep yourself on that side of the line.

Do a bit of work and you can enjoy free spins with an easy conscience and with confidence.

Free Spins FAQ

Want to play casino games and slots for free? Then free spins might be the thing for you. But are free spins always what they first appear, how do you find them, and how do you use free spins safely?

This Q and A will provide you with everything you need to do this.

What are free spins?

You know this, but free spins are spins that do not demand a charge, but that do include a bet in the transaction. You can play games for free in a way that we don’t consider a free spin. That’s playing a game on demo mode or at a site that is not licensed for gambling (for example a manufacturer’s website) but that hosts free-play versions of slot games that can be played for no charge. Free spins include a bet in our book.

How do you collect free spins?

Free spins are almost always available as a casino offer or casino bonus, most often a welcome bonus. Free spins almost always require players to do something in order to earn the free spins. Most often this is depositing a qualifying amount of money in your account, either for the first time (as a welcome bonus) or as part of your ongoing commitment to the site (a reload bonus).

How do you use free spins?

Free spins should be credited to your account. Most free spins offers are made available on a single title or a range of titles, and they will usually be for a fixed value. You may also find that you need to use free spins within a time limit.

What can I win with free spins?

Free spins are a type of bonus. Almost all casino bonuses come with restrictions on how money won with the bonus can be used. Bonuses are usually paid as “bonus money” and in the case of free spins, the winnings that a player makes with their spins will also be classed in this way. Bonus money is usually linked to a wagering requirement before it can be converted into real money and withdrawn from your account.

What is a wagering requirement?

A wagering requirement is a sum of money that a player must deposit and play with in order to convert bonus funds into real money. This is normally a multiple of the bonus, and typical levels might run from around 30-times the bonus upwards. The intricacies of wagering requirements – which we guess most seasoned players hate – are too much to go into here, but they include a large number of restrictions on play and various ways of defining the money that can be used to pay them off. The lesson you should take from this is that you should always read terms and conditions and you should always know that you understand them.

How do I use my free spins?

After you’ve read the terms and conditions and you know that you’re happy with them you can collect and use your free spins. Some offers require you to opt-in in order to collect a prize, but not all do, make sure that you are happy with the deal. Then you need to check what the time limit on the spins is and start to play. These spins are usually pegged at quite a low betting level, and prize levels will probably also be capped.

Can I win real money with free spins?

You can! However, as we have mentioned above, actually getting your hands on that money is another thing. You should never expect to win large amounts of money, or even break even on most casino offers. The fact is that free spins offers are designed by casinos to serve the interests of casinos and they do that very effectively. It is not in the interests of casinos to give away large prizes in return for no money. Get real!

How do I find safe free spins offers?

Free spins usually require you to sign up and provide payment details even if you make no payment. That means that you need to make sure the site you are using is safe. So make sure the site has a licence and that it is up to date. And keep an eye on your own personal safety too – is your device up to date and your passwords good quality? Are you playing safely? Do you know about safe gambling tools? Safety first is always our advice.

What are the free spins bonus rounds?

Free spins are also available within games. This is not commonly what people are referring to when they talk about free spins offers. Free spins are usually available as a bonus round within a slot game and are most commonly offered in return for winning a set of symbols called scatters. They do exactly what they say, and offer players a number of spins for no cash, usually at the bet level the player was using when they entered the round. Free spins usually come with lots of other extras like symbol collection features or multipliers and are usually where you will find the biggest prizes on any slot game.

Should I accept free spins?

We think there is a risk to any offer at a casino and we urge players to make sure that they understand what bonuses do and how they work. The best way to judge a free spins offer is to consider it as a quick free tour of a site and forget about the idea of winning any money from it. That way you won’t be disappointed. If a free spins offer demands too much of you or will put you in danger of playing too much, or with money that you don’t have then you should decline it.

How do I find free spins?

Almost all slots offer free spins bonus rounds. A huge number of sites offer demo spins for fun only. And almost every casino site will have a free spins offer of some sort. Try your favourite sites and use referral and review sites to find the best offers.

Rachel Pine

Slots Expert

Rachel Pine is our slots expert who has worked in the online gambling industry for 10+ years. Over the course of her career, Rachel has reviewed more than 3,000 slots.