Online Slots

Online slots are by far the most popular type of online casino games in the world, including the US. Regardless of where a player might be spinning from, top slots casinos online around the world offer significantly more slot game titles when compared to all other game types. Some of the world's most popular online casinos even offer hundreds of video slot titles.

With such high demand (as well as supply from the game providers), online video slots tend to be the focal point of most players' inquiries into online casino games. In hopes of answering some of those questions, as well as any others players might not of even known they had, here's complete guide to all-things online slot games.

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Every online gambler deserves a safe and fair place to play. Our mission at Gambling.com is to create a safe online environment for players through free, impartial and independent reviews of the best online gambling companies in the US so that you can play with confidence and security. All ratings and reviews are made independently of the operator by our team of gaming experts and with every company being fully licensed to operate in the US they can be trusted to offer fair play. We accept compensation from the companies advertised on this page and this may affect the brand positioning. We endeavour to continuously update this list so we can bring you the most current sites and the best available offers but we cannot review every site in the market.

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Guide to Online Slot Games

Brick-and-mortar casinos just wouldn't be the same without the electric buzzing and beeping of slot machines. Winners jump for joy as their winning coins rattle against the payout tin, and the synchronized pulling the lever of the old style one-armed bandits is almost mesmerizing to behold.

However, nowadays more and more gamblers are starting to play online video slots from the comfort of their own home, or on the go via their mobile devices. Online and mobile casinos are easy playing options, removing the burden of constantly plugging cards or coins into a machine.

They also have the added bonus of being available anytime and anywhere, not just in the bright lights of big cities. In this respect, online video slots prove to be more convenient and user friendly, replacing many of the time-wasting tasks involved in physically playing slots, with the click of a mouse button or touch of a mobile screen.

Most Common Types of Online Slots

Slot games in general have come a long way from the early days fruit machines, with the move from real-life slots to online slots providing ample opportunity to continue that growth. Now players can enjoy a wealth of online slot types: video slots, 3D slots, progressive slots, 243-payline slots, slots designed to mirror popular video games, and even virtual reality slots.

Online video slots allow for a diverse range of gameplay, from games that imitate classic slots, to more hi-tech video slots. Players can also enjoy titles using 3D graphics as well as progressive slots, where the jackpot is tied to all those playing the same game. Whereas classic slots often utilize recognizable symbols from fruit machines, video slots often create their own symbols and icons based on the brand or theme that they're set to.

Most online slot games follow the popular 25-payline structure with some varying north or south of that a bit but mostly staying close to that range. But thanks to digital slot games, players can also enjoy up to 243 ways to win, a option not afforded prior to the launch of online slot games. The most recent type of slot game hitting the market is those mirroring popular video game formats but these unique formats aren't wide spread just yet.

A number of video slot developers licence characters from existing films, TV shows, and comic books. Following Marvel's purchase by Disney, Playtech turned to DC Comics to team up on a line of slot titles from their epic collection of characters as well. NetEnt slot games are also extremely popular, finding themselves often among the top slot titles each year.

How Slots Work Online

Understanding slot machines' intricacies should be left up to the engineers but grasping a general knowledge about how slot games online function helps players better prepare for success when spinning the reels. Read on to better understand how online slots work, or check out our free slots reviews to try them out.

Understanding Slot Reels

The virtual "reels" of online slot games are used to represent the software program that randomly generates the symbol combos of each spin. The symbols of online slots are not subjected to the order they appear in like with old reels but instead can appear in any random order the software commutes. Although the word "reel" is used for online slots, it actually represents a vital part of real-life slot machines.

The term "reel" originates from real-life slot machines that used painted symbols on (typically 3) round metal drums to represent the winning combos. Working like a gear, the reels would spin until they naturally came to a stop with a combo of symbols on display. The advent of online slot games eliminated the need for actual reels but the word stuck around.

What are Paylines?

"Paylines", unlike "reels", do not originate from the days of real-life slot machines. Original slot machines used the center row as the winning line so no need to refer to it or multiples of it. "Paylines" was coined to describe the different ways an online slot player can win on a spin. Online slot games offer not only more than one way to win but up to 243 ways to win depending on the number of reels and title you're playing.

How Many Reels and Paylines Do Online Slots Have?

The standard classic slot machines had 3 reels, with one payline across the center. Online video slots offered game designers the chance to expand on both of these. 5-reel games have become the standard for many online casinos, while a game can offer anywhere between one to 243 paylines, going forwards or backwards, as well as creating various diagonal shapes. Some slots even offer more than 243 paylines but these are pretty rare.

Can You Choose How Many Paylines to Bet?

Players can choose how many lines they wish to play and in which combinations they want, as well as deciding how much money to place on each line. A slot offering 25 paylines does not mean you have to place your bet on all 25, instead you can select how many, say 10, and which of the paylines, say 1-5 and 20-15, you'd prefer to place your bet on.

How Much Can You Bet On an Online Slot Game?

The amount that players can bet on an online video slot differs wildly, depending on what the games developer has set as the minimum and maximum, the casino that's hosting the game, and the currency that's being wagered. It will also depend on how much the player places on the line bet – not forgetting to multiply this by the number of lines activated.

For example, a player may choose a line bet of ten coins, playing 25 paylines, which equals 250 coins per spin. Depending on the number of symbols scored on a specific line, payouts can range from 10x to 2000x the initial bet. If a player is lucky enough to land two wins on the same payline, the vast majority of online video slots will only offer one payout per line, favoring the higher cash prize.

Slot Game Bonus Features

In addition to wins using only standard symbols, online video slots feature a wide array of bonus icons and rounds, which improve a player’s chance of success, while also adding some variety to gameplay. The most commonly used slot game bonus features include Scatters, Wilds and Multiplier bonuses.

  • Wild Symbols - Wild symbols act as chameleons and can be substituted for other icons, which can help turn a losing line into a winning one. It's worth bearing in mind, though, that wild symbols are not usually able to replace a scatter symbol.
  • Scatter Symbols - Scatter symbols are icons that do not necessarily have to appear on the payline in order to be activated. In most online video slots, the appearance of three, four or five scatter symbols spread out across the reels will generate a bonus payment, or even launch a bonus round or free spins round.
  • Mutlipliers - Multiplier bonuses rounds can take various forms, but ultimately lead to a player trying to progress through several rounds in order to increase their score. This is often then multiplied by the initial bet to reward a much higher cash prize.

Advantages to Online Slots

  • More Ways to Win - The most prominent advantage that video slots present players is the sheer amount of opportunities to win. Most standard casino slot machines only feature three pay reels with one central payline across the middle. As the reels are fixed in place, only a limited number of symbols can be struck.
  • More Ways to Play - The extended reel options are combined with the full screen display, so that rather than one strip to win on, players have the possibility to win over multiple paylines, normally in the region of 20 or 30. With the addition of bonus rounds, scatter symbols and wild card icons, some of the more modern online video slots offer players as many as 243 ways to win from one single spin of the reel.
  • Greater Chance to Win - Due to the greater number of ways to win, players are naturally likely to win more frequently than in the real life casinos. According to a survey of the loosest 5 cent slot machines in Las Vegas, the highest scoring slot paid an average return of 93.42%.
  • Comparing Payout Percentages - When looking at comparing the best and worst paying online slots, the worst payout percentages were about as high as the best land-based casino slots, whereas the best games carried a longterm return to player payout percentage of 97-99%.

Common Misconceptions About Slots Online

There are many myths and rumors that surround the online slot machine. Are they programmed to pay out at specific times? Do they pay out less after a player wins the jackpot? Let’s have a look at the misconceptions that characterize most people’s views of online slots.

  • Slots are easy to win. - The rule of thumb to always remember is that the simpler the casino game, the less favorable its odds are likely to be. With all their flashing pictures and apparent ease of play, online slots remain most casinos most profitable revenue stream. Why? One, because they require absolutely no prior gambling knowledge for the casual gambler and two, because more serious gamblers will often have a round on the slots for a bit of light relief from more pressing matters.
  • The more you play, the better the chance you have to win. - Despite what some online casinos might tell you, payouts are determined by the computer software that governs them. Generally, slot game odds are expressed in terms of a percentage – i.e. the ratio of money paid out as winnings compared to how much is fed in. So, the closer to 100%, the better – some machines even claim to pay out more than 100%; these are the machines which, if you can find them, will give players the best slot game odds available. However, it is worth noting how these percentages are arrived at.
  • You can't win large sums from slots. - Obviously, the chance of winning significant sums outweighs this rather pessimistic outlook – otherwise no-one would play online slots – and this chance can be augmented. Payout percentages are largely determined by the denomination they accept; the higher the maximum number of coins you can play with, the closer to 100% the payout exchange will be.

Comparing Progressive Slots v Regular Slots

Progressive slots are becoming an increasingly prominent feature of gambling; players are hitting both the online slots and live slot machines to try and get the biggest payout possible. And this is their major selling point; they really do pay out big – sometimes as much as several millions.

As you would expect, regular and progressive slots – although often offering the same games, work on a different payout formula. Regular online slots work on a fairly systematic basis whereby you enter your coins, pull the handle and a computer program determines the outcome. If you lose, your capital is lost until re-entering more funds.

However, as the name suggests, progressive slot machines work by siphoning off a certain amount of each coin entered and putting it towards an accumulating jackpot. Such a mechanism means that winning the progressive pot – a particular combination previously announced by the casino – is an extremely rare event but on which will yield extraordinary dividends. Moreover, there are subsidiary winning combinations that still pay out generous dividends, but which are still fairly unlikely to occur.

When we look at online casinos, the progressive slots here increase every time a player accesses the network. This means it is not just simply a case of one person playing the odds against one machine like regular slots, but potentially thousands of people trying to find that one winning combination.

As you can imagine, the odds are therefore very much stacked against you; the jackpots increase the larger they get, as a larger number of people log on to try and win – it is a cycle that often sees payouts hitting astronomical figures.

This is made all the more palpable by the fact that players are often inclined to bet maximum wagers on progressive slots. As jackpots increase in size, the ratio between capital and return increases so rapidly that some players will be feeding the slot machine in front of them with all they have.

This cycle is not one you will see on the regular slots. Here, payouts are determined by a set table, with the biggest possible win on any particular machine being the so-called jackpot. If that jackpot is paid out one spin, there is still a chance – unlikely but not impossible – that the exact same amount can be returned the very next spin.

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