Most online casino games are available in two formats – players can either deposit and play for real money or load the demo versions of the games and bet with free in-game credits instead. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages. The demo versions allow you to test the waters when you join an online casino and try new games in a risk-free manner.
With that said, all winnings you generate during free play are non-withdrawable as the demo credits have no redeemable cash value. Those who deposit and play for real money can cash out their profits but the downside is they also risk losing their entire balance during bad streaks.
One question that commonly arises is whether the chances of winning during free play coincide with those advertised for the real-money versions. Some people argue the demo versions offer better odds to trick players into depositing only to find their luck has suddenly run out when they start playing with cash. So are these suspicions groundless or is there any proof to substantiate them? Let’s find out.
The RTP of Online Casino Games in Short
The abbreviation RTP stands for the term Return to Player, which indicates what percentage of all wagers a given casino game will pay back to gamblers over time. If an online slot has an advertised RTP of 95%, for example, this generally means it will return only ¢95 of every dollar staked in the long term.
Why Do Online Casinos Offer Demo Versions?
Most interactive gambling operators offer free versions of their games to attract new customers, get them to register, deposit, and play for real money. The libraries of modern online casinos often comprise thousands of releases, ranging from video slots and various card games to live dealer tables and scratchcards.
Players have the ultimate freedom to pick from hundreds of options but testing all games in real-money format is practically impossible. As a solution to this problem, most online casinos allow their customers to fund their play with free in-game credits and test as many releases as they wish.
Players who exhaust their free credits must simply reload the game to replenish their demo balance. The demos are identical to their real-money versions, allowing players to practice, master the different bet types available, and test new strategies at no risk of loss whatsoever.
Due to this, many customers perceive free-to-play games as a value-added attraction and prefer casinos that offer them over those that do not. While there is no discernible difference in terms of gameplay, however, you can never win actual cash because no real money changes hands when you play the demos.
Do Players Win Less in Real-Money Mode?
The short answer to this question is no, they do not. If you play long enough, you will inevitably reach the advertised theoretical return of your chosen game. All online casino games operate on random number generators (RNGs) and this applies to both their demo and real-money versions.
2The Process of Random Number Generation
The RNG produces ridiculously complex and long strings of numbers to determine each outcome in a given game. The process continues at all times even when no one is playing the respective game. To use slots as an example, the random number generator decides the result in a split second the moment you hit the spin button.
The string of numbers it stops on determines which symbol will appear in each position on the reels, producing either a winning or a losing combination. The process of random number generation ensures all games produce unbiased and unpredictable outcomes, in both free and real-money mode.
3Licensed Casinos Do Not Manipulate Their Free Games
Online gambling operators, when properly regulated, will never attempt to purposefully manipulate the free versions so that they yield more winning outcomes than the real-money variants. Such practices are not only unethical and nefarious but also illegal.
Offering demos with higher return percentages than the real-money versions is a flagrant violation in most jurisdictions with regulated gambling markets. Increasing the RTP of the demo games is generally prohibited as it will cause players to have false expectations when they switch to real money.
4Confirmation Bias during Free Play
If you happen to notice you win frequently during demo play but start losing when you transition to real-money bets, you are most likely experiencing confirmation bias. This is a form of cognitive bias that causes people to subconsciously look for patterns that validate their preexisting beliefs.
When you experience pronounced differences in win frequency, you are simply observing variance and standard deviation in action. Both phenomena are an inseparable part of gambling and are inherent to all games of chance, including online slots, roulette, and baccarat.
A Real-Life Example of Higher RTP in Demo Mode
There have been claims in the past that some software providers intentionally alter the theoretical return percentages of their games so that bigger and more frequent wins occur during free play compared to the real-money versions. One example that comes to mind is the incident with an online slot developed by the GameArt software studio.
Players at licensed and strictly regulated gambling sites have no reason to fear the demo versions of casino games could have different characteristics than the real-money ones. Online casinos rarely use proprietary software and typically offer games developed and configured by third-party suppliers.
Even if there is an issue of this kind, both parties involved will step up their efforts to ensure it is resolved as soon as possible, as you saw from the case we discussed earlier.
Multiple safeguards are in place to prevent such misleading practices. Both software companies and gambling operators undergo regular audits to ensure their games yield their advertised returns in both free and real-money mode.