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Social games - the ones you play through social networks and on mobile devices - have reached incredible success today. They are routinely featured in the lists containing the most popular - but also the most profitable - games in all app stores, and reports state that some of them have daily revenues of hundreds of thousands of dollars. These games usually advertise themselves as being free, but this is true to just a certain extent. Some of them never require players to pay, others offer the chance of in-app purchases, but all of them are ad supported, meaning that players pay for them with their time whether they want to or not.

Social casinos are an emerging variety of social games. Popular especially in countries where online gambling is banned - like the United States - these games offer their players a simulated gaming experience similar to that of online casinos, but with play money instead of real one. Officially the player doesn't need to pay for anything there, but once the play money runs out (quite easily, considering that we're talking of casino games), they can refill their virtual bankroll with coins bought for cash. While the amounts players pay are small - a few dollars for a few hundred thousand, or million, play coins - they are enough for the games to generate millions of dollars each month.

When you think of them like this, social casinos - and social games in general - are far from being as "free" as they seem.

Let's take a look at what real money casino games offer in comparison.

The All Slots Casino, available at the web address, is an established online gaming portal operated by a company registered in Malta. Working under a European gaming license, it has a strict set of rules to obey when it comes to player safety, fairness and other policies. The All Slots offers its players in regulated markets (most of Europe, Canada and Australia) real money gaming services - and makes it clear from the start that in order to win money, players need to make a deposit in real money. Compared to social casinos - which accept real money but offer wins that are virtual only - this approach is much more straightforward. But real money gaming is not the only kind of service the All Slots offers. Players can register an account and play the games it offers completely free of charge, with virtual currency. And whenever it runs out, they can refill their account quickly - and with no need to pay real money for it. Besides, apart from a few non-intrusive reminders (that say that in order to win real money you need to make a deposit) it is completely ad free.

It is a bit ironic that social casinos - which many consider to be "free" games - make millions a month in ad revenue, while real money gaming operations offer a truly free casino experience to their players.