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"Free" mobile slot game isn't free for long.

There are things in life that once you see them, you can’t unsee them. John Goodman’s face on a finger is one of those things.

Brought to you by the same people who received a Grammy Award nomination for directing the music video for Coldplay’s 2016 hit single “Up & Up,” (yes, it’s true), this TV commercial for Slotomania, a “free” mobile slot game, raises a number of questions, among them:

  • Why?
  • No, really, why?
  • Seriously, please answer me, why?

But there’s also the question of why the game’s developer, Israel-based Playtika, is advertising that Slotomania is free when, in order to keep spinning or playing after an initial batch of free coins expires, you have to spend money. The company’s terms of service state (in the middle of a long page of text):

If you exhaust your supply of Coins, you may elect to purchase additional Coins and continue to play the games through the Service or you may wait until additional free Coins are available to you.

If you’re waiting, you’re not playing. The terms don’t say how long you have to wait if you don’t purchase additional coins when the coins the game gifts you at the beginning run out. It may be a couple minutes, a couple hours, a couple days. But the terms do seem to indicate that the more often you open the app, the less time you’ll have to wait. They state (in the same section as above):

A certain number of Coins will be made available to you to collect when you log into the service at recurring time intervals.

Regardless, none of this is disclosed in the creepy ad, which promises to make “every day fun-tastic.” (Well, maybe not the days on which you’re waiting around for your coins to come in.)

What your money gets you

Not only is the game not free, the money you spend on coins for spins doesn’t keep you in the game for long before you need to purchase more coins or sit out a few rounds (or more) until coins are deposited into your account, according to a review in the Google Play Store:

I said I’d never spend money on this game but now I spend a lot but I notice that I never actually win enough to even play for awhile. As I am contemplating another purchase I ask myself what is the point?

The point isn’t to make money because, while you can put real money into the game, you cannot take real money out. Any “winnings” are virtual. This may not be obvious from the TV commercial, which features a deluge of gold coins with dollar signs on them. Only does the last line of fine print displayed at the bottom of the screen at the end of the ad disclose that:

Slotomania is not a real money app and does not offer real money gambling.

Of note, a 2018 class-action lawsuit accused Playtika of violating anti-gambling laws in Washington state. A proposed settlement would refund some of the money consumers spent on in-app purchases while playing Slotomania, among other slot machine games owned and operated by Playtika.

The bottom line? So-called “free-to-play” mobile games like Slotomania may be free to download and play for a short period of time but don’t be surprised if during gameplay the game asks you to take out your wallet to continue playing. Look out for mobile games that include “in-app purchases,” which are how developers like Playtika make a lot of their money.

Find more of our coverage on mobile games here.

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