Understanding Comps

Using Free Play: A Primer

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Written by Joshua

In the past I’ve written about my suggestions for how to use free play, but I’ve never walked through the various ways using free play works.

As it happens, there’s two core ways free play can be used, which sometimes confuses players when they go to a casino that’s set up differently than the ones they’re used to. There’s also a couple of different ways free play is made available to begin with.

So in that vein, let’s take a look at the process from getting to a casino through using your free play buckets, as well as a couple of things to be careful about.

Activating Free Play

In most cases, when you have a free play offer on account, you will usually find that free play ready and available when you sit down at a slot. But this is not always the case.

For instance, MGM offers in Las Vegas generally have to be activated at the MGM Rewards desk before they’re available on your account. Certain casinos will require you to activate the free play at a kiosk before it’s available to you.

In certain cases, the free play may be courtesy of a kiosk game, which you will have to complete to have it show up on your account. In the case of a progressive offer, you may need to play to earn the free play.

All of this is really to say you should always check to see what steps may be needed to activate the offer, so you can get that done before attempting to redeem them.

Redeeming Free Play

There are really two main ways free play can be redeemed at a slot machine. Each has its own steps to complete and things to watch out for.

In both cases free play needs to be played through at least once, with all winnings off that free play being turned into cash you can choose to do with what you wish.

Download to the Machine

One format is for you to be able to download part or all of your free play balance to a given machine. In this format, you’ll see the balance show up as part of your credits or cash balance on the machine.

You download the amount you wish from the players card software – it will show you how much you have on hand and give you options for how much you wish to download. You do not have to download it all to one machine, but you can if you want to.

Because free play and cash can be mixed together in your total balance on screen, it’s important to keep track of how much you’ve spun, if your plan is to cash out from that machine as soon as you’re done with your free play. If you plan to cash out after a bonus, if the bonus comes before your free play is complete, you’ll want to be aware of this.

WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR: When you cash out of a machine that still has free play, it will print a ticket for the cash amount. If free play is still in the machine, that balance will remain. Some casinos will let you print a second TITO with the free play amount, while others will not, so you’ll want to make perfectly sure you’re not leaving free play behind on the machine.

A quick tip of the hat is warranted to AGS, who has designed their machines to show red credit/cash balance numbers when a portion of the balance is free play. You can see this in action on Slot Queen‘s video above. When the font goes white, you have used all of the free play loaded onto the machine.

Rebating Your Bet

The other major format is that you’ll need to put enough money in the machine to cover the bet size you wish to make. You’ll activate the free play on the players card software, with similar steps to how you download in the other form, but in this case you don’t actually download anything to the machine.

In this format, you’ll spin, making a wager with the cash you inserted. After your spin’s pays are awarded, a cash rebate will be applied to your machine, rebating the amount of the bet (or, if less than one bet’s worth is available, whatever free play is left to rebate). In this way, you play a bit slower, as the machine needs to take a quick moment to handle the rebate.

WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR: If you wish to move on to another machine, one thing that’s nice is the free play remains on account. However, it only deactivates the free play session if you remove your card or manually turn it off. If you leave your card behind while in this session, you’re basically leaving your free play open to anyone who catches it, so it’s important to remove your card to end the free play session.

Free play is a nice opportunity to get some additional gambling in courtesy of the casinos, and now you know how to take advantage of it, regardless of how the free play is handled by the casino you’re at!

About the author


My name is Joshua, and I’m a slot enthusiast who works in tech as a marketer by day, and dabbles in casinos periodically during off-times. Know Your Slots will reflect my interests in understanding the various ways you can play slots, travel, casino promotions and how you can get the most out of your casino visits.

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