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Slots are one of the most exciting games offered by online casinos. Only a handful of games allow players to win life-changing jackpots in a few seconds. With the rise of online casinos, slots have grown more and more popular; to such an extent that they now account for the majority of casino games available online. This guide will take you through everything you need to know on slots and online slots to become an expert and start rolling right away.
A Brief History Of Slot Machines
The history of slots goes all the way back to the late 19th century, when the first slot machines were designed and produced by Charles Fey, an American engineer living in San Francisco. His “Liberty Bell” machine contained three reels with five symbols each: diamonds, hearts, spades, horseshoes and a bell. This machine found immediate success and could be seen as the starting point of the slots odyssey. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, they have populated most land-based casinos in the United States and the rest of the world.
The first electromechanical slots saw the light of day in the 1960’s, but players had to wait until the late 1970’s to find what we now call a video slot. These machines grew more and more popular among casinos when it became economically viable to install slots with digital display. This video slot technology was quickly acquired by International Gaming Technology, that is now a leading online slot developer.
The internet revolution transformed the slots universe by liberating game designers from physical constraints. Ambitious developers such as NetEnt or Microgaming started creating some five- or six-reels slots, with crazy bonuses, free spins, and even progressive jackpots. All of these slot features and casino bonuses will be thoroughly analyzed in the following sections.
Physical vs Online Slots
As it has been stated above, online slots have the advantage of doing away with mechanical engineering constraints. But it is also important to remember that the line between online and land-based is not as clear cut. For instance, this liberation process had also started with the creation of video slots in the late 1970’s. Here are the main differences between playing traditional “physical” and online slots:
- Choice: Because online casinos are not limited by real estate or the cost of new machines, a single online casino could provide its users with several hundreds of different slots.
- Variety: In the online casino industry, slots are developed by a growing number of talented developers such as Microgaming, NetEnt, Playtech, or even smaller labels such as Yggdrasil or WMS. Thanks to this large number of creative minds, online slots fans will be able to experience different gameplays and designs.
- Higher RTP: The RTP (or “Return to Player”) describes the percentage of bets that a certain slot will pay back to its players over time. Because land-based casinos must cover a large variety of costs (maintenance, security, real estate…), they tend to propose slots with a lower RTP, and retain a higher percentage of players’ wager. Online slots’ RTP could rise far above 95%, granting the casino a lower edge than American Roulette.
- Higher Progressive Jackpots: As it will be described below, online progressive slots are linked to large scale jackpot networks and pools. This explains why online progressive jackpots could easily reach millions of dollars, something that would be unthinkable in land-based casinos.
- Generous Welcome Bonuses: Because online casinos do not benefit from a physical, geographical presence, they are encouraged to propose large welcome bonuses to attract new players. These bonuses are a great way to start playing with a healthy bankroll.
- Mobile gameplay: One of the main advantages of online slots is that they can be played anywhere, at any time. Be it a desktop computer or a smartphone, you will be able to start rolling in a few clicks.
Fruit machines could be found in land-based and online casinos, but also in bars, pubs and amusement parks. These simple, three reels slots have symbols that have now become famous such as the cherries, the seven or the “BAR”. Fruit Machines are the relics of late 19th century slots and are often chosen for the simplicity of their gameplay. Many nostalgic players will be happy to find these “retro” or “vintage” games on most online casinos today.
Video and 3D Slots
Video slots were created in the 1970’s, but it is only with online casino that they reached their full potential.
In the early 2000’s, game developers even started applying the advances of 3D animation to online slots, giving birth to 3D slots. Because there are no limits to these firms’ innovation spirit, slots players will soon be able to find Virtual Reality slots in all of their favorite online platforms. Video and 3D slots are characterized by a creative gameplay featuring slot bonuses, free spins, wild cards and scatter symbols.
The theme of these video slots is usually inspired from popular culture and famous movies. So, if you want to start playing on Jurassic Park or Indiana Jones slots, video slots are the way to go.
Here are the main differences between video and 3D slots, and fruit machines:
- Creative themes: Video slots moved away from the traditional 7’s, cherries or BAR, to create a new online gaming universe based on famous movies and popular culture.
More reels and paylines: Because video slots developers are free from physical constraints, they can include five or even six reels, with more than 20 symbols. These new designs allow a higher number of possibilities and sky-high jackpots.
- Free spins: Many video slots allow players to win both cash and free spins. Most players will appreciate this exciting way to stay in the game and try again.
- Scatter and Wild Symbols: In traditional fruit machines, symbols had a mechanical relation with one another. The jackpot was only triggered by a predetermined combination of symbols. Because video and 3D slots are ruled by a computer programs, their gameplay can be more sophisticated. For instance, some “Wild” symbols can act as win multipliers.
Progressive jackpots are one of the most exciting innovation brought by internet gaming. Progressive slots preexisted the rise of internet casinos, but it is only thanks to massive online progressive networks that jackpots can reach millions of dollars.
In simple words, a progressive jackpot is a jackpot that increases each time that the progressive slot is played and that the jackpot is not won. The way this works is that a percentage of each player’s wager goes directly to the jackpot pool until a lucky user takes it all. And with networks of several thousands of slot machines, progressive jackpots could quickly reach millions of dollars.
Progressive slots are one of the few games allowing users to win a life-changing amount of money in the click of a button. And every online casino gambler likes a quick hit once in a while.
Free Spins / Free Play
Free play is usually given by online casinos to new players as a part of their welcome bonus. It is also occasionally used to promoted a new game. It allows you to play slots without wagering a cent and still cashing in the wins, in other words, to play slots for free. Of course, these bonuses are tied to specific terms and conditions that must be checked before creating an account.
Free spins – what is better in online gaming than the excitement provided by spinning those reels for free while winning real money? A free spin is, as its name suggest, a spin on a given slot or set of slots where no stake is required. Once again, thanks to these slot bonuses, you could win a jackpot without wagering a cent.
In the online casino industry, online casinos take care of the marketing, customer service, and gaming platform design. However, game development is left to a handful of highly skilled developers that have by now created thousands of exciting slots to choose from. Here is a short description of each member of the online casino games development Trinity: Microgaming, NetEnt and Playtech.
This name will certainly ring a bell for online casino aficionados. Microgaming was established in 1994 and is one of the leaders of the industry. It is extremely famous for its creative video slots and incredible progressive jackpots. In fact, one of the highest wins of online casino history was realized on the Microgaming slot Mega Moolah, an iconic progressive slot that will be analyzed below.
NetEnt, also known as “Net Entertainment” before May 2015, is another leading online casino software developer. It was established in Stockholm in 1996. NetEnt is known for its high-quality design and simple gameplay. Most gambling experts might have already tried their luck on blockbuster slots such as Gonzo’s Quest, Dead or Alive, or finally, Starburst.
Playtech was founded in 1999 and has since then become a leader of the online casino industry. Thanks to the acquisition of smaller companies such as Quickspin, Best Gaming Technology or BetBuddy, it has managed to gather a team of expert engineers to create a high-quality gaming experience.
Biggest Slot Win
Progressive jackpots have changed dozens of online gamblers’ lives in the click of a button.
Imagine having fun on a slot machine on a Friday night and hitting the million dollar jackpot. This is certainly what Jonathan Heywood could have felt by winning €17,879,645 in a single spin on the Microgaming progressive slot Mega Moolah. These progressive jackpots keep increasing as online casinos gain more momentum and increase their number players. In other words, the history of progressive jackpots still has to be written, and anyone can be part of it.
Visit out Jackpots page for a full list a big slot winners.
Most Popular Online Slots
Coming up with a list of the most popular or the best online slots is an impossible task. No list can fully capture the diversity of online casino slots and each player’s tastes. In this section, you will still find five iconic online slots that any online gamer should try at least once in his/her life.
Mega Moolah might well be the most famous slot machine on the market, thanks to its reputation of “millionaire maker”. Indeed, this five-reels video slots designed by Microgaming has changed the lives of dozens of lucky gamblers. Inspired by the savannah universe with “wild” lions and “scatter” monkeys, Mega Moolah is certainly a game every slot fan should try once in his/her life.
Hall of Gods
Hall of Gods is NetEnt’s most famous progressive jackpot. This five-reels video slot inspired by the theme of Northern mythology features 20 paylines and can be proud of a 95,5% RTP! So, if you are feeling like a Viking and are ready to start playing for a multimillion progressive jackpot, Hall of Gods is a great place to start.
This five reels Microgaming slot is inspired by the iconic blockbusters Jurassic Park. With 243 paylines, wild and scatter symbols, and state of the art video animations, fans of the Spielberg saga will not be disappointed. Hunt the T-Rex symbols for incredible jackpots!
Starburst is a simple and very entertaining slot developed by NetEnt. This five-reels slots only features 5 reels and 10 paylines. If you just want to relax with a fun slot, Starburst might be your best pick. You will simply have to sit back and hunt colored gems combinations to win big.
Slots Pro Tips
- Play online: It is cheaper and will allow you to benefit from generous welcome bonuses and thousands of exciting slots to choose from.
- Choose your online casino carefully: All online casinos are not equal. Use the reviews featured on this website to find the best possible casino bonuses and welcome offers.
- Claim welcome bonuses and regular deals: Because why not?
- Select the right slot machine: The first step in this process is to know your own tastes. Some players will prefer to start spinning traditional fruit machines whereas others will prefer to try their luck at multi million progressive jackpots. Then, the only way to be sure is to explore and discover new slots everyday on your favorite slots casino.
- Know the rules: This goes without saying but many slots games have a very precise set of rules. For instance, to be eligible to some progressive jackpots, players must wager above a predetermined amount.
- Play within your budget: Because the most important part in all your gaming experience is to have fun!
- Auto Start / Stop: Begin or end the auto-spin mode, which allows you to set a number of times the reels will spin automatically without your input.
- Bet Per Line: Choose the number of coins you will bet per pay line.
- Bet Max: Activates all pay lines and bets with the maximum bet available per pay line, and also spins the reels automatically.
- Lines: Allows you to activate new pay lines.
- Spin / Stop: Start the reels spinning or stop them spinning.
- After a spin, when all reels have come to rest, if you hit a winning combination, the following buttons will be available in some slot games:
– Collect: Add your winnings to your bankroll.
– Gamble: Gamble your winnings to try to increase them.
The odds of winning, also called “payback percentage” or “payout ratio”, varies between slot games. Slots typically have a payback percentage of over 90% and sometimes as high as 98%, which means that players on average, across all spins made by all players, will win back 98% of the money they bet collectively.
Slots are extremely easy to play, but there are several terms and concepts that are good to know about that will enhance your enjoyment of these games.
- Auto-Spin: A feature that allows you to spin the reels automatically for a pre-set number of times, so you don’t have to push any buttons.
- Bonus Game: A game within the game that allows you to play for extra wins.
- Expanding Wild: A wild symbol (see below) that expands to cover a whole reel, resulting in a greater chance to get winning combinations.
- Fixed Jackpot: A fixed large amount you can win if you get a specific combination. The amount is static and pre-determined as opposed to a progressive jackpot (see below).
- Spins: A bonus feature that awards the player a number of spins that doesn’t affect the bankroll.
- Maximum Bet: The max amount you can bet per spin, using the highest number of coins and the highest coin denomination.
- Multiplier: A feature that multiplies your winnings by a number of times. If you win $20 with a 4x multiplier, you will be awarded $80.
- Progressive Jackpot: A jackpot whose size increases by a fraction with every bet on the game by any player. Some progressive jackpots are only affected by bets at a specific casino, while “pooled jackpots” increase with all bets at any of all the participating casinos.
- Payback Percentage: The ratio of payouts to bets expressed as a percentage return on a game over its lifespan. A 98% value would mean that the sum of all wins on the machine is 2% less than all the bets ever paid on it.
- Payline: A line of symbols across 1 or more reels. A payline must be activated to pay out for any winning combinations that line up on it. You as a player decides which paylines are active.
- Payout: The amount the player will receive for a getting a winning combination on a payline.
- Paytable: The informational table that details all winning combinations and their payout.
- Reels: The, normally vertical, spinning wheels of the slot machine on which the different symbols are printed. Typically there are 3, 4 or 5 reels per slot machine.
- Scatter: A reel symbol that can be part of a winning combination without being on an activated payline.
- Sticky Wild: A wild reel symbol that remains in place until some specific pre-determined requirements are met.
- Wild: A reel symbol that can contribute to a winning combination by acting as any other symbol. Similar to a Joker or “wild card” in card games.