What are Online Slots?
You can’t walk into a casino without hearing the familiar jingle-jangle of spinning slot machines, followed by an avalanche of coins and the unmistakable glee of happy players. These machines are ubiquitous and have been since the beginning, so it’s no surprise that they were some of the first games to transition into online casinos.
Online slots offer a similar playing experience to what you will find in a land-based casino, albeit with much more variety, style, and substance, making them some of the best games found in any digital gambling establishment. Check our selection of the best video slots online and give it a try!
Online Slots Fairness
Online slots are simply virtual recreations of the games you can find in casinos. They use advanced Random Number Generators (RNGs) to ensure that every spin is fair and completely random.
These RNGs run countless random calculations every second and the numbers they arrive at determines the outcome of a spin. They are tweaked to create a specific payout rate and it is from this that we get the Return to Player or RTP.
Unlike the dusty old machines found in the back of 1980's/1990's pubs and arcades, online slots cannot be tweaked by the licensees. But for a few exceptions, they are all fixed by the developer at the point of creation, and as these developers are rigorously audited, this ensures a safe and fair playing environment for all.
What is Slot RTP?
Often displayed as a percentage, this dictates how much money will be paid to players over a large number of spins. For instance, a 96% RTP essentially means that every $100 gambled will return $96 to the player.
However, it’s important to note that RTPs are based on averages calculated from millions of spins and this doesn’t mean you will lose $4 of every $100 gambled.
As an example, the odds dictate that a coin flip has a 50% chance of heads and a 50% chance of tails. Technically, this means that if you flip an even number of times, there will be an even number of both outcomes. However, this is only true if that coin is flipped millions of times (technically, to achieve a perfect 50/50 ratio, the flips would need to be infinite). If you’re only flipping 10 times, it’s entirely possible you will have 7, 8, 9, or even 10 of a single outcome.
In other words, you could win millions of dollars from playing slots, but the casino will still be in profit because when all other players and spins are considered, the law of probability will play to the casino’s favor.
Tips for Playing Online Slots for Real Money
Online slots are games of chance. Unlike Poker and Blackjack, which can be beaten with strategy and patience, it’s not possible to guarantee success playing online slots. However, there are a few ways you can increase your odds of winning.
1. Create a Bankroll
A bankroll is a gambling budget. It’s used by professional gamblers to ensure they don’t lose more than they can afford to lose.
Everything from your income, outgoings, preferences, skill level, chosen games, and gambling frequency will dictate how high your bankroll is. Just remember to:
- Establish a fixed sum every week, month, or quarter.
- Refrain from depositing more.
- Use your winnings to increase your bankroll or withdraw as cash.
- Never assume you will win.
- Stagger your play to maximize your bankroll.
The last point is key. If you have a bankroll of $500 a month and play twice a week, you should avoid spending $50 per spin. After just 10 losing spins, your monthly bankroll will be gone. You’ll either be tempted to deposit more or will need to wait another month before you play again.
2. Find a Good Casino
Look for a reputable online casino that offers top casino slots from established, legitimate, and certified iGaming developers. The casino should be regulated by an authority (such as the UK Gambling Commission or Malta Gaming Authority) and have adequate protection and responsible gambling tools.
It’s often said that the online gambling industry is rife with scams and this leads to a general mistrust of new and unknown casino brands. However, this is simply not the case. It’s one of the most tightly regulated and strictly controlled industries in the world and those new and promising casinos are there to be explored.
Don’t be afraid of joining new sites and trying new online slots form less popular software developer, but do your research first. Make sure the site is regulated, accepts trusted payment providers, and uses safe and trusted software.
3. Collect a Bonus
Many players get frustrated with bonuses and it’s not uncommon to hear complaints like, “But there are unreasonable wagering requirements!”. It’s important to remember that casinos are not in the business of giving away money.
A wagering requirement is there to prevent you from pocketing an instant cash reward, not to “trick” you into losing money. If used properly, these bonuses can greatly increase your balance and your chances of securing a return.
4. Look for Loyalty Schemes
Loyalty schemes are often overlooked. Players focus too much on welcome bonuses and, in doing so, neglect what’s really important. As great as welcome bonuses are, they are also limited. As soon as you work your way through them, your rewards grind to a halt and you continue as normal.
With a loyalty scheme, those rewards continue. Furthermore, if you’re a high roller or a frequent gambler, those rewards will be much greater than what you get from welcome bonuses.
5. Look for High RTP Slots
As noted above, RTPs are crucial. They help to determine which slots have the greatest chance of success. It’s important not to get too caught up in the minor details, but always look for slots with high RTPs.
For instance, there isn’t much difference between an RTP of 97.65% and one of 97.60%, but the difference between 90% and 97% is well worth paying attention to.
6. Calculate Volatility
In addition to an RTP, you should also look for the game’s volatility level. A game with low volatility is one that pays small amounts frequently, while a high volatility slot pays large amounts infrequently.
If you’re playing short sessions, opt for the former; if you’re playing for long periods, stick with the latter.
7. Read the Game Info
Most online slots follow very basic rules. There is very little interaction from the player and absolutely no skill or prior knowledge required. However, many modern slots are bucking that trend and bringing more interactive elements into play.
In such cases, we recommend always reading the game info screens (accessed via the “i” icon) before playing. You can also play in free or demo mode, as explained below.
How to Play Free Slot Games for Fun
You can demo slots online by selecting “fun” or “demo” mode. You may need to be a member of the casino but you won’t need to have any money in your account, nor will you risk any money.
When you play free online slots, you gain access to all the game’s features and mechanics but don’t need to risk any money. It’s a great way to trial the game before making a real money commitment and is ideal if you’re uncertain of the mechanics or don’t want to waste wagers on games you don’t like.
You can play free slot games for fun on review sites and even on the developer websites. However, the best way to play is to go directly through your chosen online casino. That way, if you like the game and are ready to switch to real money play, you’re just a click and a deposit away.
Who Makes the Best Online Slots?
It’s hard to pinpoint the best online slots, as what works for you may not work for someone else. For instance, many players adore the 3D graphics and innovative features created by Betsoft. They can’t get enough of titles like Spinfinity Man, A Night in Paris, and it Came from Venus. However, others prefer to keep things simple, which is why the relatively basic Starburst (created by NetEnt) is such a hugely popular title.
To help you make the right decision when browsing for the best online slots, we’ve highlighted some of the greatest developers below and have discussed the features that make them unique:
- Microgaming: One of the first developers to make a mark on the online casino industry, Microgaming pioneered online progressive slot machines (with Mega Moolah being the best-known example) and also launched mechanics like Rolling Reels. Microgaming’s most popular titles include Thunderstruck, Avalon, the Star series, and Mega Moolah.
- Playtech: Microgaming may have gotten there first, but Playtech has since grown much bigger than its rival and dominates this space. Playtech owns several smaller iGaming developers, including the celebrated Quickspin, and has its fingers in many pies, including live casino software, share trading, bingo, poker, and more. In recent years, Playtech has pushed the envelope with series like Kingdoms Rise, which combines progressive jackpots with cross-game functionality and a host of unique features.
- NetEnt: Formerly known as Net Entertainment, this customer favorite is responsible for games like Starburst and Gonzo’s Quest. Its popularity exploded with the mobile gaming revolution and it capitalized on this with features like Avalanche, which works in a similar way to Microgaming’s Rolling Reels.
- Betsoft: Betsoft Gaming uses a unique 3D development platform to create some of the most graphically advanced games in the business. But this developer goes much deeper than that. In 2019, Betsoft shocked the iGaming world with the launch of Max Quest: Wrath of Ra, a game that completely revolutionized the standard reel format and tasked players with shooting zombies.
- Blueprint Gaming: Best known for the Jackpot Kings progressive jackpot system, Blueprint Gaming also had a lot of success with licensed titles, including Top Cat and The Goonies.
- Big Time Gaming: The creators of the Megaways mechanic, which has since been licensed to many other developers, BTG is often an unsung hero in the iGaming industry and deserves more praise than it gets.
- Yggdrasil Gaming: Yggdrasil made it big with the Vikings Go Wild series of games and has since taken many smaller developers under its wings. Although it is often seen as a smaller, fringe developer, Yggdrasil’s power and influence is huge and growing with each passing year.
- IGT: IGT’s games are hugely popular and due to their unique structures, popular licenses, and brilliant graphics, they are often mistaken for NetEnt. In recent years, IGT has released games such as Western Belles, Family Guy, and Silent Movie. IGT also created the hugely popular and incredibly influential Cleopatra.
- Scientific Games: Better known as “SG”, this established developer owns several major brands, including WMS (creator of Ruby Slippers) and Barcrest (creator of Rainbow Riches).
Discover Top Online Slots
As you can see, online slots are not as simple as they first seem. These games attract more players than table games and are responsible for generating more casino revenue than anything else. That’s why there is so much fanfare when new slots are released and why casinos use free spins to convince players to try them.
As noted above, there’s no way to “beat” these games. You can’t guarantee success and you definitely can’t play online slots for a living. But that doesn’t mean you can’t win big as a one-off. These games have created countless millionaires over the years and have changed thousands of lives. Top slots like Mega Moolah, for instance, have paid out hundreds of millions of pounds!
It only takes one spin to win big and that’s the beauty of online slots.