Fun Play vs. Real Money Casinos

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Published: 13/09/2010

Unlike their land-based counterparts, online casinos offer players the opportunity to experience gaming action 24/7 from the convenience of their homes, offices, hotel rooms, and anywhere an Internet connection is available. Another difference between the two venues is that many gaming web sites also allow visitors limitless play on their games at no cost and no risk whatsoever, by using the so-called “Free Play” mode.

The software employed in “For Free,” “For Fun,” or “Free Play” games is identical to the applications used in “For Cash,” “For Real” or “Money Play” versions. The only difference is that the latter requires actual gambling, wagering with and for negotiable currency, while the former involves valueless “credits” that, in most cases, cannot be redeemed for cash, prizes, loyalty points, or any other rewards.

Why would online casinos, which are established as for-profit enterprises, bother to offer Fun Play games at all? There are three major reasons:

As a Free Sample – Merchants know well the power of “something for nothing.” Fun Play allows newcomers to try out the games without committing any cash or revealing any personal information. In most case, no signing up for membership is required. At most, a username and password are all that’s needed and easily set up with a few clicks, so access is fast and play is anonymous as well as risk-free.

To Gain Trust – The main reason potential players fail to sign up for Real Money play at web sites is their lack of confidence in the service provider. They want to know that the games are fair, that they can win, and that the online casino will honor its commitments. What better way to gain a player’s trust than to allow unlimited access to the games? After a player has found the one(s) he/she enjoys, it is a simple step to join in playing for cash at the now-familiar casino.

For Practice – Even experienced players who prefer gambling for Real Money sometimes want to test a new game or try out a new strategy without risking their bankrolls. The Fun Play mode provides a way to get used to a game’s intricacies, come up with tactics for play, study odds/payouts, and get a feel for the software and interface prior to putting up any cash.

When a Fun Play is accessed initially, a fixed number of valueless “credits” are automatically posted in game’s credit counter. Typically the amount entered is significant, often 1,000 to 5,000 units. If the player uses them all up, it is a simple matter to log off the game and log back on again to replenish the supply. Some For Fun games allow adding credits to be accomplished without leaving the game.

When switching between Fun Play games, some casinos allow any remaining credits to transfer. Others simply reset the counter to a full load. Credits do not accumulate from day to day in For Free mode. Logging off will eliminate all record of previous play.

Switching from Fun Play to Real Play at a casino requires setting up an account. The web sites make this easy, by having a link to the sign-up page posted wherever the Free Play portal is located, along with any promotional offers. Just a click starts the process. Real Play usually requires creating a financial account and making an initial deposit, although some online casinos now offer “no deposit” bonuses to help players make the transition from playing for fun to playing for cash.

Many players report that they win with regularity in the Fun Play mode, but don’t experience nearly as much success when playing for Real Money. This has led to claims that the casinos “cheat” by setting up Fun Play games that are inherently “looser” (i.e., have higher payout ratios) than the “real” games. But nothing could be further from the truth. For a fact, the Fun Play games are regulated by the same authorities and checked using the same criteria for fairness as the cash versions. The software is identical.

What is different, however, is how players wager when playing for fun or for cash. When there is nothing at risk, players open up and bet more, so they win more. They can easily forgive and forget and “losses” but enjoy recalling the huge wins. Also in many slot games, in particular, betting the maximum allowed actually reduces the house edge, but how many players who think nothing of risking it all in Fun Play will do the same in Real Play?

One area in which Fun Play games lag is progressives. Frankly, there is no reason whatsoever to offer progressive games in Free Play mode, since a jackpot would be valueless. The only way to win Real Money is to play for Real Money, and online casinos are betting that those who play only for fun will eventually realise how much more fun winning cash can be.

Published on: 13/09/2010

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