Your Ultimate Guide to Online Slots in 2024

Dive into the exciting world of online slots with this comprehensive guide. Learn the ins and outs of online slots, their strategies, rules, and variants. Understand the potential impact of bonuses and symbols and uncover reviews and rankings of the top online casinos boasting the best real money slots in the business.

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Overview

There is something magical about the simplicity of slot machines. Their iconic design, featuring a screen, payment shoot, and a handle, is essentially the face of gambling. You can show a picture of a slot machine to practically anyone anywhere, and they will know exactly what it is and how you operate it. However, crude knowledge is not enough. You need an in-depth understanding of slots if you wish to take your slot gaming to the next level.

Slots were always an incredibly popular casino game, with its roots going back to the 19th century. There were dozens of variants with countless exciting themes. Slot machines distinguished themselves by altering reel counts, paylines, themes, and visual cues. However, the early days of Las Vegas saw a lot of mafia interference. The latter was prone to rigging slot machines and manipulating the outcome of gambling sessions.

Mafia interference was, luckily, subdued over the years. When online casinos hit the stage in 1994, a new era of strict regulation and quality control came about. Slots were more popular than ever, and game developers were rushing to meet demand.

The interreference of casino software developers led to incredible innovation. Special features such as free spins, pick-and-win bonuses, progressive jackpots, multipliers, re-spins, and more appeared. While this was great for increasing your selection, it also made choosing an online slot game a nightmare.

Choosing a modern online slot is not just about finding the theme that appeals to you the most. You also have to take into account its special features and potential bonuses. Moreover, not all online casinos are made equal, which anyone who has experienced prolonged payouts or unresponsive customer support can attest to. Join us in this comprehensive guide and see how you can pick the best online slot game around today.

Pros & Cons

Pros
There are plenty of bonuses
The prizes are incredible
You can trigger exciting features
Cons
Not all slots are equal
There are few, if any, live versions

History

To truly understand online slots, we first have to dive into the history of conventional slots. The evolution of these and the features that accompany said evolution will help you get an unparalleled understanding of slot gaming.

The story of one-armed bandits started in 1895 when Charles August Fey invented the first mechanical slot machine, known as the "Liberty Bell", in San Francisco. It was comprised of three spinning reels featuring horseshoes, stars, and playing cards.

Slots evolved over the years and quickly gained popularity in bars, saloons, and cigar shops. They initially did not offer monetary prizes but rather gimmicks such as gum or cigars. This was done with the express intent of cheating gambling laws.

The 1930s gave birth to the first electric slot machine that replaced mechanical components with electric ones. This transition made gameplay smoother and more reliable.

The 1960s introduced video slot machines, which replaced physical spinning reels with animations on a screen. These were the closest ancestors to our modern digital slots.

Punters were always petrified regarding the fairness and randomness of slots, which was addressed by random number generators in the 1970s. These algorithms ensured random and fair outcomes, which increased trust.

1994 saw the launch of the first-ever online casino that came with the first online slot games. These were built on over the years, which led to progressive jackpots appearing in the 2000s. Slots then started breaking onto the mobile gaming scene with an unmatched quality of animations, graphics, and bonuses. Recent years have seen several VR and AR slot games appear, with more on the horizon. We believe that this incredible technology is the next chapter in the exciting history of slots.


Popular Terms

There is nothing worse than joining an online casino game and being completely confused. Understanding the terms and phrases that govern online slots is crucial to maximizing your gaming experience, which is why we have prepared the following breakdown.

  • Bet - A bet represents how much money a punter has wagered on his slot spin. You can usually manipulate this amount by changing the coin value and bet level.
  • Bonus - Features Every slot game has different bonus features, with most featuring free spins, mini-games, wilds, and other interactive elements.
  • Free Spins - These are your typical bonus feature, which allows you to spin reels without staking any funds. They come with special conditions, such as triggering via specific symbols.
  • Gamble Feature - This feature allows punters to gamble their winnings for a chance to double or even quadruple them. You usually have to guess the color or suit of a hidden card.
  • Jackpot - The highest possible payout that can either be fixed or progressive.
  • Progressive Jackpot - The most sought-after type of jackpot that increases with each wager placed.
  • Max Bet - The maximum wager a player can place on a single spin. It can be achieved by setting the max coin value and bet level.
  • Payline - A line of the slot’s reels that has to be filled by specific symbols in order to produce a winning outcome. Classic titles usually have one payline, while modern ones have multiple.
  • Reels - These are the spinning columns that feature symbols. Classic titles have three reels, while modern ones have five or more.
  • 3-reel slots - This is your traditional slot variant with 3 columns of symbols.
  • 5-reel slots - This is your modern slot variant with 5 columns of symbols.
  • Multiline slots - These slots have multiple paylines, with some featuring 9, 15, 20, or even more playlines. While you have larger chances of winning, you also have to place larger wagers.
  • Progressive slots - These slot games boast incredible growing jackpots that increase with every placed wager. Note that they are usually won in bonus rounds.
  • Scatters - These unique symbols trigger bonuses and features regardless of their position on the reels. They often come with free spins, multipliers, and bonus games.
  • Wilds - This symbol can substitute other symbols in order to form a winning combination. You can think of it as the “joker” of slots.
  • Winning Combinations - These are combinations of symbols that produce winnings. Note that each slot has different combinations that produce different wins based on paytables.

Rules

Every online slot is slightly different because of bonus rounds, scatters, wilds, and the overall theme. However, the basic gameplay is standardized across the board. Your usual gameplay follows these steps:

  • Setting a Bet - Before you can spin reels and accumulate winnings, you have to set a bet amount. This can be done by adjusting the coin value, number of coins, or bet level. The total bet is then calculated based on these adjustments.
  • Selecting Paylines - Some slots have multiple pay lines, and it is up to you to choose how many will be active. Remember that each additional payline requires an additional bet.
  • Spinning the Reels - The next step is to click the "Spin" button and start your game. Reels will spin, and various symbols will land on the paylines.
  • Checking for Winning Combinations - Once the reels come to a halt, winning combinations are examined. Your actual payouts depend on the game’s paytable.
  • Claiming Winnings - Winnings are automatically credited to your account, with the amount depending on the value of symbols and your bet size.
  • Chasing Progressive Jackpots - Some progressive jackpots can be won entirely at random, while others require you to partake in bonus games. Check this ahead of time in your game's jackpot rules.

Strategy

You will inevitably be tempted by slot strategies, as these often promise insane returns at the cost of minimal effort. However, strategies cannot overpower odds and force winnings. Check out the following breakdown of the most popular slot strategies and see what you can expect.

Playing Slots with High RTP

Return to player or RTP is a vital aspect of any casino game. The higher the RTP, the more funds punters get back during their gaming session. Slots with an RTP above 95% are considered optimal. Remember that RTP is based on a huge sample size of wagers, so you will not experience its full force.

Playing Slots with Bonus Symbols

Bonus symbols are part and parcel of online slots, with the most common ones being wilds and scatters. Wilds can substitute other symbols and forge winning combinations, while scatters trigger free spins and bonus games.

Using Bankroll Management Techniques

There are two predominant bankroll management techniques out there. These are the so-called “loss limit” and “win goal”. The former sets a maximum amount that you are willing to lose. Reaching said amount should result in your stopping your session and avoiding further losses. Win goals, on the other hand, are based on you setting target winnings and cashing out once you reach them.

Manage Your Bet Size

The size of your bet is incredibly important, especially if you have a limited budget. While lower denomination bets make your deposit last longer, they also rob you of certain bonus features. Larger bets enable every bonus feature and shoot for the biggest wins, but they also come with higher risk.

Tips

We want you to have the best possible slot gaming experience, which is why we have prepared the following collection of amazing tips.

Kicking Things Off

Now that you are familiar with the ins and outs of online slots, it is time to take the next step and actually play them. However, finding and playing your first online slot might be a bit daunting, which is why we have prepared the following step-by-step guide.

1 Pick a Reputable Casino

The reason why you should pursue reputable casinos is simple: they treat you fairly. Payouts are guaranteed, games are fair, and customer support is second to none. You can find the best casinos on our list of recommendations.

2 Open an Account

While this step might seem silly, it is where most punters go wrong. Some casinos require you to follow referral links or enter special codes when registering. This is a prerequisite for certain no-deposit, deposit matching, and welcome promotions. Our online slot recommendations feature the best bonuses of this kind.

3 Make a Deposit

Make sure to use a banking method that you are familiar with, such as a credit card or e-wallet, so that you know what kind of processing time to expect. Moreover, make sure that you can lose your entire deposit without endangering your financial stability.

4 Pick a Slot

You should be very conscientious when picking a slot. It should not only boast high RTP, fun gaming features, and generous bonus components, but it should also be in line with your needs and wants.

5 Have Fun

It is crucial that you have fun. Gambling is not about winning money; it is about the journey. We recommend that you start with small bets and enjoy each spin for what it is, not what it could be.

Terminology

Slots have been played by countless players over the years. Each player had a different linguistic background, which naturally led to various terms and phrases being used. Some of these remain as slang, while others have evolved into jargon. Check out our handy slots glossary, and sound like a slots pro in minutes.

Slots Glossary

Slot Variants

The internet is packed with incredible slot games that cover every theme under the sun. What is more, each slot has slightly different gameplay courtesy of its unique mechanics and bonus features. Check out the following breakdown of the most common slot types to learn more:

Classic Slots

These are your traditional 3-reel machines that have a vintage feel akin to that of Las Vegas slots. The gameplay is simple, with limited paylines and symbols such as bars, sevens, and fruits.

Video Slots

These are the most common slot games in online and land-based casinos. They feature advanced graphics, animations, and sound effects that forge immersive gameplay. Moreover, they often have multiple paylines, bonus features, and themes.

Fruit Machines

These are a staple of the UK gambling scene, with fruity symbols such as cherries, lemons, and watermelons. They often come with interactive bonus rounds and hold-and-nudge features that test your skill.

Pachinko

A Japanese slot sensation that combines pinball and slot machines. Punters launch steel balls into vertical playing fields and bounce them into slots at the bottom. The gameplay is taken further by the addition of large numbers of balls.

3-reel slots

These are your traditional slot machines with simple designs, few paylines, and straightforward gameplay. They are practically carbon copies of traditional brick-and-mortar casino slots.

5-reel slots

The modern variant of slots that has taken the world by storm consists of five spinning reels, a wide range of paylines, various themes, and additional bonus features.

Progressive Slots

These are among the most popular online slots due to their incredible win potential. Each placed bet contributes to the growing jackpot, which makes it swell to enormous amounts.

Interactive Slots

These slots take player engagement to the next level with skill-based bonus rounds and interactive elements. Your objective is to complete tasks or make certain choices in order to win prizes or progress.

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FAQ

If you decide to play at licensed, regulated, and audited online casinos, then slots are definitely not rigged. They are based on random number generators that are completely random and fair.

Yes, you definitely can! Many online casinos feature free or demo slot games that you can play for free. What is more, you can even pick up amazing free spins that allow you to withdraw some winnings.

There are some. However, these are incredibly rare and usually limited to high-rollers and VIPs. You will usually only encounter digital slot games.

Yes, there are plenty of online slot bonuses. You can find your typical welcome bonuses, free spins, deposit bonuses, cashback offers, reload bonuses, and more. Note that free spins often appear as additional rewards for other promotions.

When thinking about this question, you should always consider the underlying casino and its features. We recommend that you check out our recommended online slot casinos, as these offer perfect online slot bonuses.

Yes, you definitely can! Online casinos have mobile-friendly websites and dedicated mobile apps that can be used on your favorite Android or iOS smartphone or tablet. Note that mobile slots are clones of their desktop counterparts.

Yes, you definitely can! However, you need to be careful regarding win conditions. While some slots allow you to win progressive jackpots completely at random, others require you to enter bonus rounds. Moreover, there may be minimum bet amounts for progressive jackpots.

No, you do not. While there are dedicated casino applications that allow you to gamble directly from your favorite device, you can always visit the casino’s website and play online slots there.

Yes, there usually is! Slots often boast an Autoplay function that allows you to set a number of spins with various betting conditions. The game then automatically implements your spins based on your settings.

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