Slot tournaments are a promotion that a lot of casinos are offering nowadays not just online, but also in physical venues… But what exactly are they, and how does one compete in a ‘tournament’ based on the world’s least competitive game?

If you’re here, then we assume you’re already quite interested in casino bonuses and promotions – free spins, deposit bonuses and the like are rather self-explanatory and very popular with casino fans around the globe. However, there are still plenty of other types of promos, some of which are significantly more obscure and veiled in secrecy than others… Mostly because they’re a bit rarer to find these days.

One of those promotions is the so-called “slot tournaments”, and with a name like that, a lot of you have either suddenly gotten very excited, or are wondering just what in the world that even means! After all, slots are pretty much the least competitive game ever made, aren’t they? They only accommodate one player at a time, and whether you win or you lose is entirely up to chance! How does one engage with them in anything resembling a competitive setting?

Well, dear gambling friends, stick with us – because the world of online slot tournaments is deep, fascinating and a little weird!

What is a Slot Tournament?

The first thing that we should do is define exactly what constitutes a “slot tournament”. As mentioned earlier, they’re a casino promotion most often available at online casinos, but also occasionally making its crossover into land-based ones. They’re always time-limited, with a rather short timespan (usually about a week or so), and their goal is to encourage players to engage with a particular slot as much as possible. Doing so will earn you a score, and the more you play, the higher your score climbs – which means that to get the maximum score possible, you need to prioritise that slot to the best of your ability for the entire duration of the tournament.

  • By earning enough points, you’ll be able to rank on a leaderboard where you can compare your score to that of other players.

Hence comes the competitive aspect of the slot tournament – to win, you need to rank as high as possible on the leaderboard by scoring points. How exactly you score points depends entirely on the slot tournament in question: some may require you to just win as much money as possible, others may simply be calculating all of your spins across the qualifying slot games, while others still may be counting on you fulfilling conditions within the slot, like getting as many scatter symbols as possible or winning as much as you can in the bonus round. Each slot tournament will have its own conditions, but one thing’s for sure: if you do well at collecting points, you’ll show up on the leaderboard straight on the home page of the online casino!

What Prizes do Slot Tournaments Have?

When it comes to regular bonuses at online casinos, their rewards, if you can call them that, are obvious: either bonus funds or free spins. Maybe some promotion will put you into a lottery for a tablet or something, but those are pretty rare. But that begs the question: what rewards do slot tournaments offer? Getting a bonus that must be played through after spinning so many reels seems a bit anti-climactic, and free spins aren’t exactly the most desirable prize for someone who’s just put dozens of hours into a slot game, right? So the question remains, what could a slot tournament provide players in order to entice them to work hard enough for the prize?

  • The answer, most of the time, is cash prizes and other huge rewards – that’s right, not bonuses, but actual, tangible rewards.

This actually makes slot tournaments one of the only online casino promotions which reward players with tangible prizes instead of just more incentives to play at that particular casino, which is actually really cool! Many online casinos offer prizes for their tournaments ranging in the 3-5 digit numbers or providing huge prizes like cars and all-expenses-paid vacations. The kind of prize you get will depend entirely on how you rank on the leaderboard once the slot tournament finishes – usually, the #1 player will get the big prize and 2-10 will get cash. Most slots tournaments have set “static” prizes which never change, they are the same rewards that were advertised when you signed up. A few, however, require a “buy-in” similar to poker and reward the top 10 players with a percentage of prizes depending on slot tournament rules. These are, however, much rarer than the “static” prizes.

Is it Possible to Play in Free Slot Tournaments?

Well… Yes, but actually no. What we’re trying to say is, it’s complicated.

Traditional online casinos will almost never let you participate in a slot machine tournament for free – or rather, they won’t charge you for a “buy-in”, but you’ll need to bet for spins from your deposit just as you would when you play slots normally, outside the context of a slot tournament. They will nearly never allow you to play their casino games for free without gaining anything out of it. But with that said, there are ways to engage in slot tournaments without paying a single penny.

  • Surprisingly, many land-based brick-and-mortar casinos have found great success with slot tournaments, which they organize for special events.

During those types of freeroll slot tournaments, it’s usually the regulars who are invited to participate and given a set amount of credits to make their bets with. Some may require a buy-in, many will invite you to play “on the house” in order to drum up interest in the casino and provide a spectacle for their players. If land-based casinos are still not your thing, though, there are always social casinos – many social apps with casino games can be downloaded for free through, for example, Android phones’ Play Store. Those types of apps give you credits for free just for logging in, and online slot tournaments aren’t exactly a rarity there. The problem is that, since they’re free, their prices are often much less impressive (if there are any at all outside the game).

Types of Online Slot Tournaments

So, online slot tournaments must be one size fits all, right? Just spin the reels and get as many points as possible, winner winner chicken dinner, right? Well, dear reader, if you’ve made it this far, then you’re probably familiar enough with our writing tropes to know those were trick questions! In reality, slot tournaments come in all shapes and sizes, and numerous casinos (both land-based casinos and online ones) tend to stick to one of several well-established categories. These are a few general (but by no means comprehensive) rulesets by which slot tournaments work:

  • Freeroll slot tournaments
    As the name suggests, these tournaments are completely free – they don’t require betting with real money, nor any kind of buy-in. However, as you may have guessed, they’re exceptionally rare, and almost never happen outside of social casinos.
  • Survivor Slots Tournaments
    Just like the famous TV show that has lent its name to this type of tournament, the contestants here are eliminated after several quick rounds. Usually, they last for three rounds (that go on for a few minutes each), and the bottom tier of the leaderboard is eliminated at the end of each one.
  • Next Slot Tournament
    Most tournaments rely on playing just one slot, but some will shift players between several different games. Sometimes you’ll need to score a set amount of “wins” in one slot in order to qualify for the next, while other times you’ll be jumping between games depending on the day of the tournament.
  • Feeder Tournament
    These types of online tournaments are extremely similar to regular ones, requiring players to earn points in order to rise in the ranks. The main difference is that, instead of cash, the reward is a qualification for an exclusive tournament where the real prizes are. A bit too many extra steps, if you ask us!

As mentioned, these are by no means the only slot tournaments available, but they’re some of the more popular variants that are commonly available throughout various casinos. Some are exclusive to (or at least predominantly played at) social casinos, others – to physical, and others still, to online. The best and most sure way to find out what types of tournaments are available at your local casinos is to simply check!

Criticisms Towards Slot Tournaments

For all their fans, these types of tournaments also have their fair share of critics – and, unlike regular online casinos which are frequently criticized by non-casino gamers, the scorn here has come from fellow gambling fans, making it quite interesting. An extremely common criticism is that it shouldn’t be possible to host a tournament based on a game that is completely chance-based. Tournaments based on poker or blackjack are understandable, but slots, the least skill-based game, where participation boils down to pushing a button a lot of times? How is that remotely fair? Well, in our opinion, understanding a slot (its volatility, bonus game and RTP) and knowing how to bet and when is an important part of succeeding at a slot tournament.

  • And even if slot tournaments are very random, that randomness in and of itself makes the game very fair – whether you win or lose is decided by chance, nothing else.

Another criticism, one directly aimed at the types of slot tournaments which require regular betting, is that they’re exploitative and prey upon gambling addiction. We’ve seen similar tactics in the (often predatory) video game “free to play” market, where succeeding in the leaderboards is dependent on the items and gear you get from randomized loot boxes. And we certainly agree with that criticism – casinos should always be doing whatever they can to combat gambling addiction. Luckily, in this case, they seem to listen, as many casinos today have eliminated that type of slot tournament in exchange for ones requiring a single buy-in/opt-in, often as part of a promotion. That, in our opinion, is the right way to do it – fair, safe and, most of all, fun!

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Jacob Evans Written by Jacob Evans