A Pro Guide to Online Slots (Update 2020)

The slot machine is one of the most popular casino games found at both online and land-based casinos. This game features three or five reels and numerous paylines. The aim is to spin the button or pull the lever for the reels to start moving. Once the reels stop, the objective is to land matching symbols. And if you are lucky, you will be paid out. These days, online slots remain simple but are no longer as basic. Video slots now dominate online casinos, all featuring excellent graphics, sound effects, themes and features to truly enhance your gaming experience.

With the advancement of technology and the internet, online gaming has become a major business, with casino operators and software providers producing brand new games on a monthly basis. This means players are spoilt for choice, with slot machines making up the majority of games lobbies in most cases. Let’s take a close look at online slots and what makes these games so appealing to both new and experienced players.

Slots Game History

The origins of the very first slot machine can be traced way back to the 19th century. The first or “prototype” slot machine was created by a New York-based company called Sittman and Pitt in the year 1891 and featured five drums with 50 playing cards. This machine was scattered in several bars in the city and cost just a nickel to get started. At the time, the game had no direct payout system, so the winnings were paid at the pubs in the form of non-cash prizes like drinks or cigars.

A few years later, in 1895, the first slot machine was invented in San Francisco. Called the ‘Liberty Bell’, it was designed by a young engineer called Charles Fey. The game featured the classic three reels format, and a player won whenever the famous bells landed on each reel. At the time, the jackpot prize was a hefty 50 cents.

Technology has evolved substantially since then, and the slots industry is bigger than ever. These days, a Random Number Generator is used to ensure random and fair results at all times. The online casino scene started gaining popularity in the mid-90s and is now one of the most lucrative industries in the world. As soon as gaming sites started to take off, software providers started to develop a wealth of games to suit the needs of all players.

Developers created games that were more fun than before and offered a truly immersive experience. These days, you will be hard-pressed to find a casino game that does not feature the best in gameplay, graphics and sound effects, while brand-new features add an exciting twist to your gaming experience. As a result, online slots developed today by leading casino operators and software providers play out more like video games than slot machines.

Rules of The Game

One of the most appealing things about online slots is its simplicity. Online slots are games of chance, which means no skill is involved in playing and winning this game. All you need is the right attitude, and you could spend hours being entertained and potentially winning big on your favourite slot machine. Slots are ridiculously easy to play and typically just involve players pressing a few buttons for gameplay to begin. Games can also be played for free or real money, adding extra convenience to your gaming experience. Here’s a quick guide to playing online slots in three simple steps:

Paylines – When playing online slots, you must choose the number of paylines you’d like to play and the amount of your bet per spin.

Press Spin – Once you have adjusted your bets, you simply hit the Spin button, and the reels will start moving. When they stop, you’ll get paid based on the symbols lined up on your paylines.

Win – Land at least three matching symbols to win a prize playing online slots. Thanks to the multi-paylines of video slots, landing a win is easier and more regular as symbols can line up diagonally and horizontally.

Tips on Playing Online Slots

Many online slot games have the potential to pay out big, while others may have smaller winning potential but better odds. Remember that online slots are games of chance, so there is no skill required to play. That also means that you cannot influence the results in any way, and no strategy can be used to guarantee wins. Slot machines can be played for free or for real money, with each option providing its own set of advantages and disadvantages.  Casino slot games also come with progressive jackpots, giving players the opportunity to win big when making a real-money bet.

Online slots are popular due to their simplicity and easy rules. It is also well-loved as everyone has a fair chance of winning since it is a game of luck and features a wide betting range. While online slots are easy enough for all players to enjoy, there are some tips to help you get the most out of your experience and, hopefully, even bag some winnings.

Find slots with more frequent payouts – While it may seem tempting to play for the big progressive jackpots, it could actually be more rewarding to play slots with smaller prizes as these games pay out more frequently.

Manage your bankroll – If you’re playing for real money, it’s important to manage your bankroll. Before you spend anything, settle on how much you can afford to lose and stop when you’ve reached your limit. Any betting professional will tell you to never bet money you can’t afford to lose.

Look at paylines – Choosing a game based on the number of paylines it has can change your odds of winning. Take time to research how paylines affect the game before you start.

Choose games with bonus rounds – Bonus rounds are not only exciting, but they provide additional chances to win. In most cases, you won’t be hitting the jackpot, so the bonus rounds unlock more prizes during gameplay for a more successful experience.

Play at trustworthy sites – Before you even start thinking about how to win at online slots, you must choose a well-respected and reputable online casino. This is the most important step that cannot be stressed enough.

Take advantage of casino promotions – The casino will offer opportunities to win extra rewards playing online slots. These are part of the ongoing promotions to incentivise existing players. Take advantage of these offers, especially if they relate to online slots, which many of them do.

Play for free – Almost every online casino will feature a free version of its slot games. Use this opportunity to practice and get a feel for the game before betting any real money.

Progressive jackpots – If it’s the big bucks you’re after, it’s always worth trying your hand at the progressive jackpot games. Since these games are designed to trigger randomly, anybody can walk away as a winner.

Game Variants

While you may think all online slots are the same, there are different categories of these games. Yes, their basic premise is usually the same, but you do have some options for variety when playing these popular casino games. Let’s look at the different types of online slots at igaming websites.

3-Reel – These are classic video slots inspired by the slot machines of the past. Featuring just three reels, this means fewer paylines and a more nostalgic experience compared to its 5-reel counterparts. These are simpler slot machines and typically feature basic graphics and traditional symbols on the reels. Despite that, 3-reel slots remain popular and highly recommended.

5-Reel – These are the 3 reel slots’ fancier sister and the most common slot machines found at online casinos. It comes with 5 reels and typically a set of 3 rows as well as multiple paylines. Paylines can range from 15 to 30 per game. Most 5 reel slots have flexible betting levels, exciting themes and bonus features to appeal to a broader range of players. These are the most popular slots format among players.

7-Reel – These are less common at online casinos but still exist. Instead of three or five reels, this game features seven reels and even more paylines. This results in more payouts and action on the reels. These are not readily available, but still a fun option is you want to take your slots gaming up a notch.

Bonus game slots – Most video slots online come with extra bonus features to enhance your gaming experience. These are designed to boost your winning opportunities as you play. Many software providers create special bonuses within their games, including free spins, re-spins, instant wins, pick ‘em bonuses, cascading bonuses and much more. These add a layer of excitement and rewards to any gaming experience.

Multi-payline slots – These offer more than just a single horizontal payline. These days, multi-payline slots can go up to 1 024 paylines with developers such as Microgaming and IGT really stepping up their game and pushing boundaries.

Multi-spin slots – Multi-spin games are a result of improved technology over the years and it makes way for gameplay on three or four sets of reels simultaneously. This means even more action and chances to win.

Progressive jackpots – Progressive jackpots are video slots with a massive jackpot attached. This jackpot is usually linked to various progressive games, so players of multiple associated slots have the chance to trigger the jackpot. It also means that the jackpot increases fast thanks to a portion of each players’ bet going towards the pot. The jackpot can be hit by any real-money player by landing the right combination on the reels.

Best Online Slots Software

When playing online slots, players are always spoilt for choice. This is because most software providers put a lot of money and effort into designing and producing the best slot machines on the internet. Indeed, any top game provider can be considered a leading slot machine producer – many host hundreds of titles, with brand new additions on a regular basis.

Providers like Microgaming and NetEnt continue to lead the pack in terms of reputation, quality and consistency, but exciting new names are emerging. Software providers like Thunderkick, Elk Studios and Betsoft have joined the party to produce some of the most fun and lively slot games around. Their games are impressive in terms of gameplay, rewards, features, graphics and animations. Betsoft is a leader in creating 3D slots, which take graphics and animations to a whole new level.

Other stalwarts in the industry include Playtech, Real Time Gaming, IGT and WMS. Newer, up-and-coming or niche software providers to look out for include Nextgen, Play n Go, Yggdrasil, NYX Interactive, Quickspin, Aristocrat, Bally Technologies, Realistic Games, Cryptologic, iSoftbet, and 1×2 Gaming, among others.

Advantages of Playing Online Slots

Many players opt to play slots online from their desktop or mobile device. There are many advantages to keeping up with technology when compared to its land-based counterparts.

Convenience – The main advantage of playing online is the convenience of simply logging in wherever you are in the world. Since mobile gaming is on the increase, most online casinos are now available for gaming on the go. All you need is a stable internet connection and a compatible device, and you can be a slot winner anytime, anywhere.

Game availability – Online casinos do not have to worry about physical space as land-based casinos do. As such, they are able to offer a lot more slot machines in a virtual capacity. Online casinos typically house hundreds of online slots at a time and usually include multiple types of machines to appeal to a broader market.

Game choice – Games are not just readily available but diverse as well. The options at online casinos are as varied as they come and cover all categories of gaming, from online slots to table games, live dealer games, video poker games and much more. Also, there is no limit to what games you can play or when you must play. There are no waiting times and no queues, which adds to the convenience of the experience as well.

Bonuses and rewards – Most online casinos offer some type of bonuses and they’re usually associated with slot machines. Whether it’s a welcome offer or an ongoing bonus, slots players are greatly rewarded at online casinos. Many options will include a match bonus when you make your first deposit or free spins to use on your favourite slot game. No matter the bonus, they are readily available for slot players.

Slots tournaments – Players will have access to participate in various slot tournaments online. This is great for players looking for some competition and the chance to win even more rewards. It is also just really fun and entertaining and not available at land-based casinos.

Play for free – At online casinos, you can have the option to play for free. That means there is no need to fund your account to enjoy some top-class casino gambling. This is great for practising or simply to enjoy casual gaming without the pressure to deposit money. Once you are ready to start winning, simply fund your account and start playing for real money.

Play Online Slots for Free

As mentioned above, playing online slots for free is one of the main benefits of online gambling. Also referred to as playing for fun or in demo mode, these slots can be accessed at your favourite online casino. If you’re looking to have some fun or just casual gaming without any risks, be sure to take advantage of this opportunity and play free casino games.

Each time you want to try a new game, it is advised to try it for free. That said, sometimes games like blackjack or baccarat, and certainly live dealer games, are not available to play for fun. The great thing about online slot machines is that almost every game is available for free except progressive jackpots.

This means you can try the game and get a feel for it without making an initial deposit into your casino account. While you cannot win real money when you play free online slots, it is the perfect opportunity to learn how the machine works and get comfortable with the gameplay before betting any real money. You can still check the paytable to see exactly how the game pays when you decide to switch to the real mode.

Free slots are available to online players at any time of the day or night. The only requirement is to create a casino account before you play. There are country restrictions based on your chosen casino and the country in which you are based. Also, all casinos have their rights reserved and game restrictions, which can be found in the Terms and Conditions section of their website. Once you’ve enjoyed all the casual gaming you need, simply switch to the real mode for your chance to win some incredible rewards.

How to Choose Free Online Slots

It’s easy to find free online slots on the internet. Most online slot machines are available to play for free, with new titles being added on a regular basis. That said, browsing through hundreds of online slots can be tiresome. We make it easy by reviewing and recommending the best slot machines with free play available at online casinos. Many game lobbies have a search feature that allows you to look up a game by title or filtering options to make browsing easier. This helps you quickly find the free version of your favourite game without having to dig through hundreds of games.

Advantages of Playing for Free

There are many advantages to playing online slots for free:

Gain experience – Whether you’re a new player trying out igaming for the first time or a player checking out a brand-new game, gaining experience will always help you enjoy the most rewarding long-term experience. Free games give you the opportunity to gain experience and get a feel for the slot game before wagering any real money. Free games help you learn the ropes and figure out how everything works.

No risk – Playing free games means you are essentially enjoying a game without any financial risk. As the name states, these games are free and do not require any deposit to play. This gives you plenty of time to play your favourite titles and try out new games without any pressure.

Try new tricks and strategies – While slots are games of chance, there are always tricks and strategies you can implement to improve your overall gaming experience. Playing for free gives you the chance to test out some of these tricks and strategies and prepare yourself for when you’re ready to play for real money.

Online Slots Bonuses

Due to fierce competition, online casinos must find ways to attract new players and impress existing ones. As such, many bonuses and promotions are offered to keep everyone happy. These bonuses are designed to reward new and existing players, giving them an incentive to keep playing and depositing money into their account.

Online slots bonuses are quite popular, and possibly the most common form of bonuses are online casinos. These usually form part of the welcome bonus package as well as ongoing promotions at the casino. Casinos understand that most players use slot machine offerings. Therefore, they have tailored their bonuses to work with online slots.

For most welcome bonuses, players must make a deposit to enjoy a cash or free spins bonus to be used on a specified slot machine. Other times, the wagering requirements of a bonus can only be achieved through online slots. For existing players, there are often many chances to enjoy free cash or free spins playing the top game of the week, which, in most cases, is an online slot. Online casinos value slots players, and as such makes serious effort to impress these players with various bonuses and promotions.

Reasons to Play at a Top Online Slots Casinos

  • A huge range of casino games available, including online slots
  • Play for free or for real money
  • Bonuses and promotions galore
  • Plenty of opportunities to win big
  • Excellent facilities, including customer support and banking
  • Safe and secure gaming environment
  • Fast withdrawals and a wide variety of banking methods
  • Smooth and seamless gameplay
  • Gaming on the go with mobile casino

Playing for Real Money Versus Free Games

While online slots are a great way to play for fun without any pressure to bet for real money or to simply hone your skills, nothing compares to the thrill and excitement of real-money gambling. That said, there are advantages to both, and it is recommended that players play both to enjoy a truly memorable and rewarding gaming experience.

Free Games

  • Playing for free means you can try out new games without having to spend any money. It also means you cannot win any real money.
  • Playing for free allows you to play anonymously, without any need to provide any personal information to the casino or bank details.
  • You have access to a wide range of free games, from online slots to table games.
  • You can play for free for as long as you want without any pressure to switch to real-money games.
  • You can play instantly with no download or sign-up required.

Real Money

  • Playing for real means players have the chance to win huge sums of money. Since you are making a cash wager, you have the chance to win money. This adds to the excitement and anticipation of your gaming experience.
  • Real money players have the chance to claim the welcome bonus, which is usually quite generous, as well as additional casino promotions and special offers. You can also earn loyalty points and stand a chance to join the VIP program.
  • You stand in line to play for progressive jackpots, which can be life-changing and go into the millions. Only real-money players have a shot at progressive jackpots.
  • You will never miss an opportunity to play for progressive jackpots or other big prizes.

Online Slots on Mobile

Mobile gaming is all the rage these days, and as such, online casinos and software developers have adapted their services to be available on all smartphones and tablets. Most online slots are now mobile-friendly, allowing players to enjoy all of the top-class features and smooth gameplay while on the move. Mobile players will have access to a wide variety of slot machines on mobile, all available to play on Android, Windows and iOS devices.

Many mobile casinos are available to download, while others can be accessed instantly from your web browser, making things completely convenient with minimal fuss. You can also use your existing casino log-ins (if you have) and there is no need to create a new mobile account. Most online slots are available to play on mobile, including video slots, classic slots, progressive slots and more. Expect the same high-quality gaming experience, graphics, sound effects and animation as games have been optimised to be fully responsive on smaller screens. Thanks to modern technology, you can enjoy gaming wherever you are in the world.

Progressive Jackpots

When it comes to jackpots, slot players have the best chance to win big. Many of the top progressive jackpots are attached to online slot machines like Mega Moolah and Major Millions, providing online players with the chance of hitting a life-changing jackpot simply by playing for real money. Software providers like NetEnt and Microgaming are renowned for their massive progressive jackpots, with games like those mentioned before known to break records in terms of jackpot payouts. Indeed, online slots provide players with the best opportunities to hit the progressive jackpot.

Our Expert Opinion

Online slots are popular at online casinos for many reasons. They are simple to play, fun and provide many excellent winning opportunities. They are also the most common type of game produced regularly by software providers. In fact, barely a month goes by without a new slot machine entering the igaming market. People love these types of games as they are based on luck and not skill, making it perfect for new and experienced players alike.

The various features, gameplay options and themes make slots great for players looking for an exciting and immersive challenge, while the free game option allows players to try out new games with no risk and no pressure. Overall, online slots have and will remain a top option for free and real-money play. Due to the sheer volume of slot games on the market, our list of top recommended online slots and software providers will give you a good idea on where to start.

FAQ Online Slots

✅ How do online slots work?

Online slots are simple in their premise and work the same as land-based slot machines. The basic idea is to spin the reels and land matching symbols in the same line. This can vary based on the type of online slot you’re playing as modern games come packed with numerous reels and paylines. The main difference when playing online is that the variation of games will be wider. Online slots will also boast a lot more features and interesting themes that its land-based counterparts.

✅ Can I play slots for free?

Yes, almost every reputable online casino will offer players the chance to play slots for free. This should be available on the desktop and mobile site. Free games mean you won’t have to deposit any money to get started. Simply join the casino to enjoy casual gaming with no pressure to fund your account or switch to real-money play.

✅ Can I win a progressive jackpot?

Playing for real money at a progressive jackpot slot means you have the chance to win big. Since the jackpot is triggered randomly, anyone has the chance to win, which is what makes these games so exciting. It is always recommended that, to improve your chances of hitting the jackpot, to bet max when playing a progressive slot game.

✅ What new online slots are available?

Software providers like NetEnt and Microgaming are consistent with their new releases. In fact, Microgaming is known to release one or two new online slot machines every month. If you’re wondering about any new slots on offer, many online casinos will have a New Games tab in their games lobby. Simply click on this to check out all the new games added to the casino lobby recently.

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