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How Does Free Play Money Work at Casinos? A Detailed Guide

If you‘ve ever been to a casino, you‘ve probably heard the term "free play money" tossed around. But what exactly is free play, and how does it work? This in-depth guide will explain everything you need to know about using free play offers and credits to your advantage.

Free play money refers to promotional credits provided by casinos that allow you to play games like slots, blackjack, roulette and more completely risk-free. These bonus funds are real money you can use to place bets, but they cannot be cashed out directly. Any winnings derived from free play credits are yours to withdraw or continue playing with.

Think of free play as a no-strings-attached casino gift. By understanding how these promotional credits work and taking full advantage of them, you can significantly extend your gambling bankroll and chances to win real cash prizes.

Obtaining Free Play Money from Casinos

There are several common ways you can get your hands on free play offers as a casino patron:

New Player Signup Bonuses

One of the most popular ways for casinos to dole out free play money is through signup bonuses given to new players creating accounts. These offers incentivize you to try the casino and give you extra funds to gamble with from the start.

Signup free play promotions often match a portion of your initial deposit, such as 50% or 100%. However, some online and land-based casinos also provide no deposit free play solely for joining.

Here are some real-world examples of new player free play offers:

  • Caesars Casino – $20 free play on registration
  • BetMGM Casino – $25 free play on signup
  • Golden Nugget – $50 free play with no deposit required

Signup free play amounts can range anywhere from $5 to $500 at most casinos. These credits make registering completely risk-free.

Loyalty Programs and Rewards

Another way you can regularly obtain free play is by joining casino loyalty programs. As you play real money games, you earn points and status. Higher loyalty tiers unlock better perks.

One of the top perks is free play rewards. The more you play, the bigger your free play gifts will become. Programs are segmented into levels like:

  • Gold
  • Platinum
  • Diamond

Diamond or VIP status players may get thousands in free play credits per month. This gives high rollers extra playtime on the house.

Promotions and Giveaways

For special events or holidays, casinos will offer one-time free play giveaways. These are open to all players and meant to incentivize visitation and play during specific times.

Examples are:

  • $50 free play on your birthday
  • $20 free play for the casino‘s anniversary
  • $10 free play to celebrate a new game launch

Codes and coupons for these types of promotional free play offers are given through email, social media, and on-site.

Comps and Gifts

Finally, casinos will comp high value players with free play credits as a "thank you" for their loyalty and gaming. Top spenders and regular players qualify for this VIP treatment.

Being able to play on the house‘s dime is a major perk of becoming a valued casino patron. The more you frequent a specific casino and demonstrate your worth, the more generous comps and free play you‘ll receive.

Why Free Play is Given Out by Casinos

You may wonder why casinos are willing to just hand out free play money that could potentially cost them profits. There are a few major reasons:

1. Customer Acquisition

Signup bonuses with free play give new players incentive to choose one casino over another. Since the market is competitive, free money upon registration persuades customers to join.

2. Customer Retention

Ongoing free play rewards are used to keep players loyal to one casino. The more you play, the bigger free play bonuses you‘ll receive.

3. Promoting Specific Games

When launching new slots or tables, free play encourages playtime on those specific titles to see the new features.

4. Driving Visitation

For special events and holidays, free play gets more customers to visit and play during the set timeframes.

5. Reducing Churn

VIP comps of free play help minimize churn of high rollers. Keeping these big spenders happy is crucial.

So while free play costs casinos money up front, the resulting customer value makes it well worth it. Now let‘s look at how to actually use those credits.

How To Utilize and Maximize Your Free Play

While having free play credits sitting in your account is exciting, you‘ll need to use proper strategy to unlock their full value. Here are some key tips:

Understand Any Terms First

Before attempting to use any free play, be sure to read the associated terms and conditions carefully. Free play may come with wagering requirements, withdrawal restrictions, time limits and other rules.

Some common requirements to look out for include:

  • 1x playthrough on winnings
  • 10x wagering on total balance
  • $50 minimum withdrawal
  • 7 day expiration
  • Slots-only play

Knowing the "fine print" lets you properly utilize free play bonuses and avoid any surprises.

Use Free Play Before Cash Funds

Always use your free play money before touching any deposited cash funds. This allows you to maximize gameplay time at no risk. Deposit funds only after your free play balance expires or runs out.

Pick Games Strategically

Certain games give you better odds of winning compared to others. Focus your free play on games with proven higher return-to-player (RTP) like:

  • Blackjack
  • Baccarat
  • Jacks or Better video poker
  • European roulette
  • High RTP slot machines

Here are the average house advantages across popular casino games:

GameHouse Edge
Roulette2.7% (European) / 5.26% (American)
Keno20-40% !

While slots are undeniably fun, table games like baccarat and blackjack give you the statistically best odds with free play.

Withdraw Any Winnings Quickly

One mistake some players make is letting winnings from free play accrue in their account. Always make sure to cash out any significant profits before the credits expire. You don‘t want to lose winnings!

Avoid Chasing Losses

Free play will eventually run dry, whether you‘ve won or not. Never "reload" by depositing real cash in an attempt to chase losses or recoup expired free play balances. This is a slippery slope towards reckless gambling.

Divide Large Sums

If you receive a chunk of free play, don‘t load it all into a machine at once. Instead, split it up into smaller $20-$50 increments. This forces you to withdraw winnings in between and prolongs gameplay.

Using free play properly lets you maximize its upside at no cost. Now let‘s go over some common restrictions to be aware of.

Key Restrictions on Free Play You Should Know

While free play credits can be used to win real cash, casinos also impose some rules and limitations you should be aware of:

  • Can‘t directly cash out – Any winnings must be played through eligible games first before withdrawing.

  • Expires quickly – Unused free play expires within 7 days or less, depending on the casino.

  • Not tradable – Free play balances cannot be transferred to other players.

  • Wagering requirements – Terms may dictate you must wager through winnings 1-10x before cashing out.

  • Game limitations – Free play is sometimes restricted to just slots or select titles.

  • Minimum withdrawal – You may need to accrue $20+ before cashing out winnings.

  • Maximum withdrawal – Top withdrawal limits prevent cashing out large jackpots from small free play gifts.

  • Loss of unused funds – Any unused free play is forfeited upon expiration.

  • No comps – Free play does not count towards casino loyalty status or comps.

While not as flexible as cash, free play still provides exciting gameplay at no cost if used strategically and according to terms.

What Games Offer the Best Free Play Opportunities?

Certain games tend to be better for free play than others due to higher return-to-player percentages and lower house edges. Here are your top options:


Blackjack has one of the lowest casino advantages at around 0.5% with optimal strategy. Play basic blackjack with proper technique, and a $20 free play gift could convert into withdrawable winnings.

Deuces Wild

The full pay version of Deuces Wild video poker offers a payback percentage of 100.7% with expert play. This gives you an actual player edge to turn free play into real cash over time through skilled play.


Banker bets in baccarat have a low 1.06% house edge. Combined with fast rounds and simple gameplay, free play funds go far here. Just avoid tie bets which heavily favor the house.

European Roulette

European roulette holds a 2.7% house advantage, far lower than American roulette at 5.26%. The absence of a 00 pocket accounts for better odds. Make simple bets like red/black or odd/even to maximize free play.

High RTP Slots

Look for slot payback percentages 96% and higher. While still below table games, high RTP slot titles like Bloodsuckers (98%) and Mega Joker (99%) give you a decent chance with free play hands.

While tempting, avoid games like keno and American roulette which are designed to rapidly drain bankrolls. Focus on those proven to pay better.

Real World Free Play Examples From Top Online Casinos

To give you a better idea of actual free play offers, here are some current examples from the top online casino brands:

CasinoFree Play OfferTerms
BetMGM$25 on signup1x wagering on winnings
Caesars$20 on registration5x wagering on winnings
Unibet$10 no depositNone
BetRivers$250 deposit match1x playthrough on slots
DraftKings$50 bonus5x wagering on winnings
FanDuel$5 daily for new playersNone

As you can see, signup free play ranges from $5 to $50 at most online casinos. The playthrough if any is generally light. This gives you low-risk chances to play popular games and convert into withdrawable cash.

Managing Your Free Play Account and Balances

To keep your free play funds working optimally, utilize these tips:

  • Review expiry times so you know exactly how long you have to use credits.

  • Divide large sums into smaller increments to force cashouts in between.

  • Track your play to understand how quickly you tend to burn through free credits.

  • Set a budget for each free play amount and stick to it.

  • Withdraw frequently as soon as you accrue $20+ in winnings.

  • Don‘t panic if free play expires unused. Take a break until the next offer.

Proper free play management will ensure you maximize value from every credit.

Free Play vs Real Cash – Key Differences Summarized

While free play lets you win real money, its behavior differs from cash in your account. Here are the key differences summarized:

Free PlayCash
Expires within daysNever expires
Promotional creditsReal currency
Limited gamesAccess any game
Can‘t cash out directlyWithdraw anytime
No comps earnedEarns comps
Given in small amountsDeposit any amount

The pros of free play are gameplay at no risk. The pros of cash are flexibility and liquidity. Using both together is ideal.

Frequently Asked Questions About Free Play

Let‘s go over answers to some commonly asked questions about free play at casinos:

Are winnings from free play taxable?

Yes. Any slot winnings over $600 derived from free play must be reported to the IRS as gambling income. Table game winnings via free play should also be counted toward your end-of-year tally.

Can you combine free play with a deposit bonus?

Most casinos restrict combining signup deposit bonuses with standalone free play giveaways. Unless specifically stated, you usually cannot "double dip" offers.

Is there a maximum withdrawal limit on free play?

Many casinos impose modest max payouts on free play, such as $200. This prevents you from winning and withdrawing a massive jackpot from a small free play gift. Terms vary by casino.

Do you have to accept a free play offer?

No – if free play is awarded automatically, such as through a loyalty program, you can simply not redeem the credits and let them expire. You are under no obligation to use offers.

Can expired free play be retriggered?

Sometimes casinos will explicitly allow expired free play offers to be claimed again. But there is no guarantee or requirement for them to recredit you. Assume expired free play is gone for good.

Getting clarity on free play rules and restrictions will ensure you use such credits seamlessly and properly.

Final Takeaways on Free Play Money

At the end of the day, free play gives you free chances to win real cash without risking your own deposited funds. By using these limited-time credits strategically and according to terms, you can maximize the value you extract from casino free play offers.

Just be sure you understand any attached wagering requirements or game limitations. Avoid chasing losses, and always withdraw any significant winnings derived from free play promptly.

While not a replacement for real cash, smart use of free play money will stretch your overall gambling bankroll and minimize personal risk. Now get out there, play hard with those complimentary credits and win big!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.