One of the most intriguing aspects of online video slots are the free spins bonus games in which you can rack up big amounts of money if you are lucky. Normally, you need to unlock these bonus features in the standard game, most often by hitting a certain amount of scatter symbols in one spin.
However, there are an increasing number of video slots where you can actually buy access right into these free spins bonus games. Instead of having to wait perhaps several hundreds of spins or more before you finally unlock the bonus feature of a game, you can now access these bonus features straight away with the bonus buy option, which is basically placing a relatively high bet just to play the bonus game. It is high stakes gambling at its best and perhaps most fun and therefore not much of a surprise at all that especially high rollers love this feature.
In this article, we will discuss every single aspect you need to know about the bonus buy option. Which video slot titles have this intriguing option? How does it exactly work? And perhaps most important of all: is it actually a smart decision to buy yourself access into the bonus game, or are you better off unlocking it by normal means? Make sure to read on, as we have a lot to tell about this bonus buy option!
For those who are familiar with video slots in the casino or online casino this paragraph might be a bit redundant. These players are without doubt familiar with the way how most video slots work and what the game rules generally are. However, for those who aren’t too familiar yet with video slots we’d like to shortly explain some basics behind them.
Most of the modern-day slots you can find in an online casino library all feature bonus games. Upon unlocking these bonus features, you will normally receive a number of free spins which give you the opportunity to rack up some big profits. There are however a few video slot bonus games as well which are more creatively made. These might offer you a ‘wheel of fortune’ style bonus game or a sort of treasure hunt in which you need to choose between treasure chests all holding different wins.
Needless to say, unlocking such bonus games can be highly profitable – often much more so than the actual spins in a game. This is especially the case for bonus games where you can win a jackpot or where there are high multipliers which result in your winnings being multiplied by a certain factor to even higher amounts!
The way how you normally unlock these bonus games is by collecting scatters. A scatter symbols is a bonus symbol on a video slot which will help you gain access to the bonus feature. With most slots, you need at get least three scatter symbols on your screen (in one spin) to unlock a bonus feature, although this may vary between games. If you get more than three scatters, you often receive an even higher number of free spins (or other benefits) inside the bonus game.
The name ‘scatter’ which is given to this bonus symbol is quite a logical one. It is basically derived from the adjective “scattered”, which means “covering a wide area” according to the Cambridge Dictionary. This is a logical name if you look at the way how scatters work in a video slot game. Normally, you need to get a winning combination at a video slot by getting matching symbols on the same payline from left to right. For example, three subsequent cherry symbols on roll one, two and three on a video slot will give you a pay-out. Having three cherry symbols scattered over the screen, for example on roll one, three and four, is not a winning combination as there is a gap between the cherry on roll one and the one on roll three.
With a scatter symbol, this is different. It doesn’t matter where on the video slot you receive the scatter. If you need for example three scatters to unlock a bonus game, these symbols can appear anywhere on the screen and do not necessarily have to fall on the same payline or on subsequent rolls/rows. The name ‘scatter’ is thus very aptly chosen for this symbol!
Getting the right number of scatters
Although it may sound like getting the required number of scatters is quite easy given the fact that they may appear on any place on a video slot’s grid instead of on a certain line, this is not exactly the case in reality. As you know, the lower-paying symbols are the ones which appear more often on a video slot wheel, while the higher-paying symbols are the ones which are more rare. Given that the bonus round is one of the most lucrative options in any slot, it is no surprise that scatter symbols are fairly rare and thus hard to get.
Sure, you might get lucky and get the required number of scatters needed for the bonus round within ten spins on a slot. But if you are an experienced slot machine player, you probably know very well that it can easily happen that you still did not hit the right number of scatters even after hundred or more spins. Being a pure game of chance, you need a good dose of luck to receive any winning combination on a video slot, and that naturally includes scatter symbols as well.
Because many players do want to access the bonus round, whether or not because they are curious about it, want to play it for fun, or think they stand a good chance of winning there, software developers have now come up with something new. Instead of having to wait for three or more scatters to appear, you can buy yourself right into the bonus game of a video slot! In the games where this is possible, you just have to place a certain bet to gain immediate access.
Given how lucrative the bonus round can be, the height of the bet is certainly not low. Often you need to place a bet 100 to 150 times your normal bet per spin to buy access to the bonus game. For example, if you play a video slot with a total bet of 1 euro per spin, you might need to cough up 150 euro to buy your way into the bonus game and receive a number of free spins or other bonus features. This is certainly not cheap – and therefore the bonus buy option is almost exclusively one which is most suitable for highrollers with a large enough bankroll or for high stakes gamblers who do not mind waging their entire gambling budget in just one single bet.
How does a buy-in work?
It of course depends on the exact video slot you play how the bonus buy-in works. Often, there is a separate button or menu option where you can access this feature. It will always list the exact amount of money which is required to buy yourself access into the bonus round. Often, this will be dependent on your normal bet and is a factor of between 100 and 150 times your normal bet per spin. It can happen that there is more than one option for a bonus buy-in. For example, if the bonus round consists out of a number of free spins, you might have an option to choose between the number of free spins you want to receive. Needless to say, the more free spins you want, the higher the buy-in-bet is which you need to place.
After buying access to the bonus round, the money will be deducted immediately from your online bankroll and you will be given access to the bonus game straight away. Upon completing the bonus game (for example when you have finished all the free bonus spins), you return back to the standard game. All money won during the bonus game will of course be deposited straight away to your online bankroll.
Is the bonus game buy-in worth it?
This is of course the million dollar question! If you are lucky enough to receive enough scatters during the game and gain access to the bonus round the normal way, it is for sure often a lucrative bonus round. But is placing a buy-in-bet worth it as well? To be honest, there is not a simple answer to this question.
Let’s assume that you need to put a wager 150x your normal bet per spin to buy access to a bonus game in which you receive 10 free spins. If your normal bet is 1 euro, this means that you need to pay 150 euro to access the bonus round. This means that you need to earn at least 150 euro in these 10 spins to get the money out of it! Sometimes this will be possible, as bonus games often come with jackpots, multipliers, stacked wilds and opportunities to win even more free spins. But remember: a video slot is still a game of chance. One day you might exit the bonus round with more than one thousand euro in winnings, another time you might only win ten euro. In the first case, buying access was well worth it! In the second case, it has just cost you 140 euro. Unfortunately, you cannot know in advance what the result will be!
The reality is that a bonus buy-in is probably as risky as placing any other bet in the game. Don’t forget that any casino game comes with a built-in house advantage. The same counts for a video slot. This is defined in something called a RTP percentage – or Return to Player. This basically shows what the long-term average expected pay-out is of a casino game. If you play a slot machine of a reliable software developer, this number will always be published.
A return to player percentage of 98 percent thus basically tells you that for every 100 euro being waged by the players, 98 euro are returned in pay-outs. This does not mean that if you bet 100 euro, you win exactly 98 euro with that single spin and thus loose 2 euro on your bet. This is a long term average calculated over perhaps millions of game simulations. It counts for all players combined and not just your own game. Therefore, there will always be a handful of really lucky players earning huge sums of money as well as some gamblers winning smaller amounts, although the majority of players are likely to lose. After all, every casino game has an RTP of under 100% which means that on the long-term, the house will always win. If that wouldn’t be the case, there wouldn’t have been casinos, lotteries or other games of chance!
What does this say about a bonus buy-in?
The basic reality is that every bet possible in a casino game is likely to be unprofitable on the long run. If the bonus-buy-in option would be profitable for you as gambler, it would have never been added to the game in the first place!
This does of course not matter much, as experienced casino players know that the house has a built-in advantage. They play either for fun, or go in with the right expectations. These gamblers know that the chances of winning on a video slot are low. So why do they play? Just like people participating in a lottery or price draw, they know there is still a chance to win (huge sums of) money. Of course they know that the chances of them winning this are low, but they are willing to wage a small amount of money for the chance of winning a small fortune. This is what drives most people to play in a casino or to buy that lottery ticket, and there is nothing wrong with that if you do it with the right expectation and do so responsibly by never betting more money than you can afford to spend.
Buying the bonus vs. earning it
So if we just look at a video slot in question, there isn’t often all that much of a difference between buying access straight away to a bonus game or earning it the normal way by getting a certain number of scatters on your screen.
Think of it this way. If you bet 1 euro per spin, you might need at least 150 spins before you finally hit three or more scatters to unlock the bonus game. Although a buy-in-bet of 150 euro might seem really high, in fact it really isn’t if you look at it this way. Some gamblers might earn the bonus round the normal way with fewer spins (or by getting some high pay-outs in those 150 spins in the standard game) – but there will be an equal number of others who have to play much longer before they finally managed to unlock the bonus game, therefore probably losing quite some more money in the effort.
Therefore it is impossible to say whether buying access to the bonus game is worth or not, just like we cannot say whether spinning a slot machine will give a profitable result or will incur some losses. That’s the beauty of a game of chance! Before you start playing you have absolutely no idea what will happen this time around. It could be your lucky day and the slot symbols might beneficially align, but you could also hit a bad-luck streak and not win anything. That is the story of playing a video slot normally, and it is the story of buying access straight away to a video slot bonus round. Whether the bonus-buy option is therefore a smart choice, is a purely individual question which we cannot answer for you!
Should I consider the bonus-buy option?
Although we cannot say whether the bonus-buy option is profitable or a sound choice for you, we can however say that a certain category of players are generally more attracted to this option, while another category of players should probably avoid the bonus-buy altogether. Let’s start off with the latter group.
If you are the type of player with a small budget, the bonus-buy is probably not worth it considering it will probably cost you at least 100 times your normal bet size to buy it. The same can be said about players who above all play for fun. If your goal is to have an evening full of video slot fun, you of course do not mind the fact that you might require 100 to 200 spins before unlocking the bonus round the normal way through scatters. After all, the excitement and gameplay of a video slot is the reason why you have chosen this game!
Let’s say your budget for a night of gambling is 150 euro – the same minimum amount which is required to buy access into the bonus round. The chances are there that you might end up not winning anything or a low amount of money in the bonus game. Your night of gambling could be over within just minutes if the 10 free spins in a bonus game will not give you any earnings. Compare that to placing a normal bet. If your normal bet size is 1 euro, you have only lost 10 euro in total after 10 non-winning spins in the standard game. There is still 140 euro left on your bankroll and plenty of opportunities to win something more. You still have a long time of playing fun ahead of you this way, while this is a huge uncertainty if you buy access into a bonus round.
Suitable for high stakes gamblers
On the other hand, it is exactly the category of high stakes gamblers and/or highrollers who might find themselves attracted to the bonus-buy option. If you are a high stakes gambler who doesn’t necessarily need to play for an entire evening in an online casino given you are mostly interested in the potentially high pay-outs than the actual game, this option could be worth it. You basically wage your entire bankroll in a single bet on a few bonus spins, instead of spreading it out an entire evening on normal spins. If you are short on time to play, the buy-in option could therefore also be worth it.
The same obviously counts for highrollers who love high stakes action and who have the required bankroll for it. If you are in a luxurious financial position and can afford to wage several thousands of euros in a night of gambling, chances are that you are not interested in playing on a video slot with a bet of just a few cents or one euro. Sure, you might win a few dozen euros, but to you these amounts do not mean much at all given the vast sums of money on your bank account. Given that winnings are always relative to your bet, it means that the higher your bet, the higher your potential winnings are. Needless to say, the average high roller and rich gambler therefore usually plays with large bets only.
If you are one of these players, these bonus-buy option is an excellent option to consider. After all, you can wage huge amounts of money (often up to 1,000 euro or even more!) in a single slot machine bonus round. It is high-risk, high-reward gambling at its best. Thanks to the buy-in option, these slot machines can easily compete with high-limit baccarat or roulette when it comes to an extremely high maximum bet size.
Depending on your budget, playing style and goals, the bonus-buy option at a video slot can be an attractive option. Instead of needing to wait for many dozens of spins before you get enough scatters, you can buy access to the bonus round straight away. Although not cheap, this bet does make for some high stakes, high reward gambling which could potentially be very lucrative. That said, it does not necessarily mean that your chances are any better than during the normal gameplay of a video slot. Most likely, it doesn’t matter much from the point of view of chances of winning whether you choose to play a video slot normally, or buy access to the bonus game straight away.
Not all slots have a bonus-buy option. If you like to play a video slot where you can buy access to a bonus game straight away, we have compiled a full list of casino software providers and video slots where you can do so. Make sure to read on in that case, select your favourite slot, and buy yourself access to a video slot bonus game straight away!