This review of the NetEnt slot Secrets of Christmas is the first in a special series devoted exclusively to holiday-themed NetEnt slots.
NetEnt’s Big Holiday Giveaway at NJ online casinos
My description of this promotion is part of my previously published article focusing on holiday promotions at Golden Nugget online casino.
However, if Golden Nugget is not a casino where you’re a registered player, no problem. The identical promotion is also being offered at Betfair, Hard Rock, Pala, Mohegan Sun, and Resorts NJ online casinos.
At each of these casinos, Secrets of Christmas is one of five slots from NetEnt that count toward earning entries into three weekly prize drawings. The promotion period started Dec. 1 and continues through Dec. 23.
Altogether a whopping 5,840 prizes totaling $200,000 are up for grabs. And what’s best of all about this promotion is every prize is in the form of cash (rather than bonus money), which means the money is withdrawable immediately with no further wagering requirements.
The reason why the prize pool is so ginormous is that the giveaway is being sponsored by NetEnt rather than any one individual gambling site.
The six aforementioned New Jersey online casinos are actually just a handful of many casinos worldwide participating in the promotion. But New Jersey players have the same chance to win as players at any other participating casino.
While the drawing for the first week of the giveaway already took place, you still have time to rack up entries for the second and third drawings.
Where you can play Secrets of Christmas
Golden Nugget, Pala, Hard Rock, Mohegan Sun and Resorts aren’t the only NJ online casinos where you will find Secrets of Christmas. But if you have an account there, your play on this game and the other featured NetEnt slots can do double duty.
You will not only be playing some of the highest returning NJ online slots but also be entering drawings with a chance to win even more.
Here is a complete list of all the NJ gambling sites where Secrets of Christmas is available:
- Betfair Online Casino*
- Borgata Online Casino
- Caesars Online Casino
- Golden Nugget Online Casino*
- Hard Rock Online Casino*
- Mohegan Sun Online Casino*
- Ocean Online Casino
- Pala Online Casino*
- SugarHouse online casino
- Resorts Online Casino*
- Tropicana online casino
- Virgin online casino
*Offering the NetEnt Big Holiday Giveaway through Dec. 23.
Why Secrets of Christmas is one of Barb’s Best Bets
As we’re all counting down the days to Christmas, everyone needs a little fun time in their day to escape from all the hustle and bustle.
For that, holiday-themed slots are a perfect choice. However, there are lots of them, so if you’re in a quandary about which ones to play, we can help. Even without the special promotion described above, Secrets of Christmas would have been on my short list of Best Bets.
Here are a few reasons why.
Secrets of Christmas takes advanced slot technology to the next level
Today’s slots bear little resemblance to those your grandparents may have played.
Gone are the simple three reel machines with the same few symbols showing up repeatedly — spin after spin — and no special features to add variety or excitement.
In their place, advanced technology has opened the door to an entirely different kind of slot experience — one that is so highly entertaining you can’t help but be riveted to the screen.
NetEnt is at the forefront of the latest in slot technology.
For starters, the slots are built around different themes. Whether your own personal tastes run to scary action movies, aliens, comic strip heroes, fairy tales or holiday celebrations, there is something for everyone.
Other important added touches like state-of-the-art graphics with close attention to detail, lively animations and a great soundtrack enhance the fun. And on top of all that, many NetEnt slots, including Secrets of Christmas, are packed with even more of the exciting extras slot players love. This includes Wild and Scatter symbols and bonus rounds with other special features like free spins, multipliers and expanding wilds.
Suitable for a wide range of bet levels
Secrets of Christmas is a NetEnt holiday-themed 5×3 video slot consisting of five reels and 25 fixed paylines.
All 25 paylines are in play on every spin. However, you can adjust the bet level to suit your bankroll and personal preferences as follows. First, choose your bet level, which can range from 1 to 10. Then choose your coin value, which can range from 1 cent to 50 cents.
The minimum bet per spin is 25 cents, for a coin value of 1 cent at level 1. The maximum bet per spin is $125, for a coin value of 50 cents at level 10.
If you want a bet level somewhere in between, simply move the bet levels and/or coin values up or down accordingly. The bet size is simply the level (1-10) x the coin size x 25 (the number of paylines). For example, if you choose level 5 and a coin size of 5 cents, your bet on each spin will be $6.25.
Outstanding return to player
Lots of slot games today are both highly entertaining and easily adapted to accommodate players at many different bet levels. But that’s not the only characteristic that must be present to reach the Best Bet status.
After all, how can you possibly enjoy a slot game to the fullest if the wins are so small and so far in between that you are continually worried about depleting your bankroll?
Running out of funds is highly unlikely when you play NetEnt slots, like Secrets of Christmas, for the simple reason that these games have some of the best return-to-player (RTP) stats of any online slots in New Jersey.
The secret is out. Secrets of Christmas is one of the best, even among NetEnt slots.
All NetEnt slots have RTPs of 96 percent or higher. However, it’s no secret that Secrets of Christmas has one of the highest RTPs of all — 96.72 percent!
A theoretical rate of return
However, don’t misconstrue this figure to mean that on any given day, you are going to wind up with about 96.72 percent of your starting bankroll. That percentage is the published theoretical rate of return that can be expected after many thousands of playing sessions. How you fare on any given day can vary considerably from that figure in either direction.
Obviously, luck is a big factor when you play any slot game, but even so, it makes good sense to improve your chances of winning by choosing those slots with the highest RTP over those with only an average or below average RTP.
The more you play, the more the difference will be apparent.
Medium volatility is another desirable feature
In addition to the superior RTP, Secrets of Christmas is rated as having medium volatility.
For players with limited bankrolls, especially, this criterion matters because even when it’s not your lucky day, huge negative swings that can deplete your bankroll in a hurry are highly unlikely.
Therefore, even though the results still vary enough to prevent boredom, you can stay in the game longer. This is exactly what you want when you are trying to rack up entries for a drawing or competing in a tournament.
Have yourself a holly, jolly Christmas
As if all of the above aren’t reason enough to check your cares and worries at the door and turn on your computer or smartphone — yes, Secrets of Christmas can be played on mobile devices, too — here’s one more.
Everything about this game is reminiscent of the fun of the season. Even if you think you’ve long outgrown such traditional childhood delights as Christmas stockings, Santa with his bag of toys, gingerbread houses, and cookies with a tall glass of milk, this game will change your mind in a heartbeat.
Once these symbols start forming winning combinations on the reels, you’ll be a kid at heart all over again.
At the start of the game, you’ll see a tranquil winter scene showing a Christmas tree on a blanket of snow with more snow falling and a sign reading “North Pole.” Then the scene quickly shifts to a wooden cabin, and then a quick peek inside where you spot a pile of toys.
Now the real fun begins as the game gets underway in earnest. The scene shifts once again, this time to a frosty window surrounded by holly, which is the setting for the reels.
Let the spinning — and winning begin!
Secrets of Christmas symbols
NetEnt has done an amazing job of picking some of the most iconic symbols of Christmas and putting them all together.
If the weather outside is frightful, don’t worry. It’s all here in this slot game, including a soundtrack during the bonus game playing familiar Christmas songs.
Winning combinations are formed the same way as in most other slots. You need to get three or more matching symbols across a payline going from left to right, starting with the reel farthest to the left.
The Secrets of Christmas includes the following higher paying regular symbols:
- Gold bell with red ribbon
- Gingerbread house
- A glass of milk with chocolate chip cookies and a note for Santa
- Christmas stocking
The highest paying of these is the bell. Five of them across a payline pay 1,250 coins.
However, even the smaller payouts for this symbol are not too shabby, 300 coins for four across a payline and 25 for three across a payline. By contrast, five, four or three stockings only pay 200, 20 or 10 coins, respectively.
In addition to the above Christmas-themed symbols, the playing cards 10 through Ace round out the regular symbols as the lowest paying combinations in the game. However, even those have a holly border to give them a Christmassy flourish.
Unsurprisingly, the Secrets of Christmas slot game comes with two other secret weapons: a Wild symbol and a Scatter symbol.
Both symbols have the potential to produce big wins. All that’s required is for them to fall the right way on the reels.
Santa Claus is the Wild symbol. It can appear on any of the five reels to help form winning combinations. It also substitutes for all other symbols except the scatter symbol.
A sack of toys is the Scatter symbol. Like the game’s Wild symbol, the Scatter symbol can also show up on any of or all of the five reels, but only in the base game.
On any given spin, as soon as two scatter symbols appear, the soundtrack builds to a loud crescendo in anticipation of what you hope will be at least a third scatter symbol before the spin is concluded. However, more often than not, all the fanfare is for naught.
Two Scatter symbols do nothing for you; you need that elusive third one, or even better, four or five, to show up, too.
The good news is that sooner or later they will. Then you’re in business because three or more scatter symbols landing anywhere on the reels activate the potentially very lucrative Free Spins feature.
Free Spins bonus feature
Secrets of Christmas has only one special bonus feature, but it’s a good one.
As mentioned above, any time the sack of toys scatter symbol simultaneously lands on three or more of the reels, it activates the Free Spins bonus feature.
You are guaranteed at least 10 free spins, but before the spins commence, you are taken to another screen displaying 20 Christmas gifts to play a pick ‘em game.
The number of gifts you get to pick will depend on how many Scatter symbols landed on the reels:
- Three Scatter symbols: Three gifts
- Four Scatter symbols: Four gifts
- Five Scatter symbols: Five gifts
Hidden in each gift is one of the following prizes:
- 2, 3, 4, 5 or 10 additional free spins
- 1 or 2x multiplier
- 1 or two additional Wild symbols (the candle and/or the bell)
- Reel 2 and/or 4 completely wild
The multipliers and additional Wild symbols or reels are in effect for the duration of the free spins.
Throughout the course of the free spins, familiar Christmas tunes play in the background.
How I fared on the free spins
I played the game in demo mode, betting a hypothetical $5 per spin at two different NJ gambling websites. I played one session at each casino and activated the Free Spins feature both times.
My first time playing, it took about a half hour of play before the free spins came up. The three gifts I picked awarded me with five extra free spins, a 1x multiplier and one extra Wild symbol. At the end of the 15 spins, I was ahead $110.
I fared better in my second session. That time, the bonus feature came up only a few minutes after I started playing. Once again, I had to pick three gifts, but this time I won three extra free spins and two extra Wild symbols. Thirteen free spins later, I was ahead $387.
How much can you win playing Secrets of Christmas?
Secrets of Christmas does not offer a progressive jackpot. However, keep in mind that those slots that do generally have a much lower RTP.
In other words, while they do have the potential to pay out huge — and sometimes life-changing — amounts of money, that’s only once in a blue moon. Otherwise, winning at these games is a lot tougher than on NetEnt slots, like Secrets of Christmas, because the payouts are spread further apart and mostly for only a fraction of the amount wagered.
Secrets of Christmas tends to have a lot of small payouts also but interspersed with bigger payouts that keep you from falling way behind.
Or you can have small wins as I had in my free play, or if you’re really lucky, much bigger wins. As mentioned, five bells across a payline pay a very generous 1,250 coins. But that’s far from the biggest payout possible.
According to the manufacturer, the maximum payout on a single payline is a whopping 100,000 coins. What a wild outcome that would be!
The bottom line
If one of your main reasons for playing NJ online slots is that you’re hoping to win a huge jackpot, another game might appeal to you more than Secrets of Christmas.
Also, some people might feel that holidays like Christmas are already overdone and are not in the mood for a slot game where the holiday theme also takes center stage.
But for anyone looking for a slot that is not only thoroughly enjoyable, but also offers many chances to win, Secrets of Christmas gets my highest recommendation. It’s a festive slot, perfect for this time of year, and is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.
In addition, your play on this game counts in an awesome NJ online casino promo from NetEnt.
I think you’ll like Secrets of Christmas so much you will continue to want to play it long after the holidays are over. That’s what makes this delightful online slot Barb’s Best Bet for the holiday season.