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Online Slots Guide - How to Play and Win Online

Become a master of online slots with our guide that tells you exactly how these games work, what types of features and extras you may come across, and which online casino sites have the best slots offerings.

If you are on the look for an online slots guide, then we have got all bases covered for you with our how-to-play slot machines for dummies guide.

Slots are often the most popular casino games for online casino players. These games are as popular as the typical land-based slots. They tend to offer numerous bonus features and bonus symbols that make it highly entertaining.

In our guide to online slots, we are going to cover all the essential aspects of these online slots, covering subjects such as how online slots workhow to play online slots, where to play online slots, how to play online slots & most importantly, how to win at video slots.

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What Is A Slot?

An online slot machine is a virtual simulation of the classic one-handed bandit machines you’re used to seeing. While playing real money online slots, you aim to land matching symbols that will award you a corresponding amount of coins. The coins will then be exchanged for real money. There are also free online slots that allow you to play with virtual money and help give you knowledge of how to win at online slots.

Our ultimate online slots guide is here to help you navigate the world of online slots and offer up a few tips and tricks to help your chances of winning at slots online. A lot of slot fans probably wonder what is the best time of day to play slots? We would say this varies from person to person. You should play when you feel most switched on. This can be in the evening for some, while for others, it’s first thing in the morning.

A Little Background on Slot Machines

The Origin of Slot Machines

The Sittman and Pitt Group of Brooklyn, New York, developed the first gambling machine in 1891; it included five drums holding 50 card faces, hoping to match up what would be a good hand in Poker. This machine was extremely popular, and shortly, countless bars in the city had at least one machine installed.

Players would enter a nickel into the machine and pull a lever, which would then spin the five drums and the cards they held, the player hoping for a winning poker hand. There wasn’t any direct payout system installed on the machines; the establishment was responsible for providing the rewards, so a pair of queens may win you a beer, whereas a Royal Flush may win you a pack of cigarettes.

To make the odds favor the house, two cards were usually removed from the 52-card deck, the jack of hearts, and the ten of spades, removing these two cards, reduces your odds against winning a royal flush significantly. The drums in the machine could also be rearranged to cut a player’s chance of winning even further. A well thought out online slot strategy can make the difference between winning a few bucks and landing the jackpot.

If you want to play online slots, these are our top 5 legal US casinos to play at

Automatic Payout Slot Machines

Due to the endless number of possible wins with the original poker-based slot machine, it was almost impossible to develop a system to make a slot machine capable of making an automatic payout for all the possible winning combinations. Our slot machine guide will help you distinguish the differences between machines.

In the 1890s, Charles Fey of San Francisco, California, created a much simpler & automatic mechanism with three rotating reels containing five symbols: horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts, and the Liberty Bell. By replacing the ten cards with just five symbols and using only three reels instead of five drums, the difficulty of reading a win was massively reduced, allowing Charles Fey to devise an effective automatic payout mechanism.

This machine was called Liberty Bell, in which three bells in a row produced the biggest payout possible of 50¢ (approximately $15 today). Liberty Bell was a success and spawned a flourishing mechanical gaming industry in the state of California.

Online Slots Guide

Even when the use of these slot machines was banned in his home state of California, Charles Fey still could not keep up with the demand for his devices elsewhere across the nation. The Liberty Bell machine got so popular that many slot machine manufacturers copied it. The first of these machines also called the “Liberty Bell,” was produced by Herbert Mills in 1907. By 1908 many now named “bell” machines had been installed in most cigar stores, saloons, bowling alleys, and barbershops.

The Transition from Mechanical to Video Machines

The first video slot was created in early 1976 in Kearny Mesa, California, by Las Vegas-based game developer Fortune Coin Co. This slot machine uses a modified 19-inch Sony Trinitron color receiver for its display and logic boards for all other slot machine functions.

This prototype was positioned in a full-size slot machine cabinet. The first units went on trial later that year in the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel. After some modifications, mainly to limit cheating, the video slot machine was approved by the Nevada State Gaming Commission and ultimately found massive popularity in the Las Vegas Strip casinos.

The video slot machine saw its next innovation in 1996 when WMS industries introduced a second screen into their games to offer players a bonus round with Reel ‘Em. In this style of machine, the display would change to provide a different game in which players can add to their winnings without staking any further money.

Desktop & Mobile Apps

Slots then evolved further, this time to include mobile & desktop functionality. In the 2010s, mobile slots became available at the majority of online casinos, thanks to this steady upward trend in terms of mobile device capabilities. This was pioneered by the abilities of Apple and Android devices and the app developers who create online slots games that are optimized for those devices.

Today, if an online casino fails to have a seamless mobile app or website with slots and live dealer games available for every mobile device, so that slot players can play their games wherever they are, the site will struggle to retain customers after they sign up.

Online casinos are not legal in every state in the US yet. The four main states offering legal casinos are New JerseyMichiganWest Virginia, and Pennsylvania, where both online and mobile casino games are legally allowed. In 2021, Michigan launched legal online casinos, and several other states will hopefully follow in the coming years.

Legality & Rules around Online Slots

Online slot machines may or may not be legal for you to play, depending on what rules & regulations your country has when it comes to online gambling.

For example, in 2006, the United States passed the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act), banning online gambling, which included online slots. While some non-US operators will still allow players from the United States to play with them, I would always recommend adhering to the laws in your country.

Currently, in the US, online slots & online casinos are legal in just four states, these being New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan & West Virginia.

Look For a License or RNG Proof

Along with ensuring that online slots players are acting in accordance with their local regulations, gamblers should also make sure that their choice of online casino is licensed in a country that authorizes online slots. If they are licensed, they will be subject to regulations that come with being licensed, which ensure fairness when you play their games.

One way that these licensed online casinos ensure fairness is to use a Random Number Generator (RNG) in their games. Random Number Generators are a sophisticated algorithm that produces a new random result for every individual spin in an online slot, ensuring that the online casino has no control over the outcome of every spin. For online casinos, it would be unwise to fail to follow these standards of fair play, as they are potentially risking losing all of their player bases to sites that have proven to be fair, which we can say there is no shortage of options today.

You could look at the likes of Vegas World Intertops Casino for a safe online experience.

How to Get Started With Online Slots

One of the biggest attractions to playing online slots is just how convenient it is to get started. As opposed to an actual casino, where you would have to get up, get dressed in an appropriate outfit, then have cash on hand, and interact with the other players. An online casino requires just a fraction of the time and effort to get started and get spinning, all from the comfort of your own home. Getting started with online slot machines is a quick and easy process. First, the Player chooses an online casino that interests them, and then they deposit into that online casino. It’s that simple!

Choosing Your Online Casino

Choosing an online slots site that is best for you is a matter of personal opinion, for the most part. A lot of this depends on what is essential to you personally, as no two online slots players are the same. To some people, the most important aspect might be which games are available, while to others, it will be the compatibility of mobile from that online casino so that they can play on the go. No matter your preference, be sure to research any online casino you are considering opening an account with, making sure that they can serve those preferences.

You will also see an RTP % value next to every game at an online casino. Standing for Return to Player Percentage, this is the estimated return a player will see if they stake a unit of money. You should be looking for high RTP % slot machines (96%+) to maximize your winnings.

Banking Options Available

When making your online casino deposit, there is an endless amount of payment options open for players at this point. Credit and debit cards are a popular option for players in most countries where there are no legal restrictions. eWallets such as PayPal, Skrill, and Neteller are available for players who do not wish to use the traditional banking method. For players who want to use their crypto-balance, BitCoin is a perfect funding method for most online casinos. No matter which deposit method you prefer, be sure that the online casino site of choice provides that method.

How to Play Slots Online

Each online slot game is varied, but the premise is identical. The Player chooses a wager amount for their next spin, the number of paylines they wish to use, and the amount they want to bet on for an active payline.

As in any form of gambling, the higher the risk from the Player, the greater the rewards are for that Player should that wager win. Of course, players can adjust their wager amounts as often as they wish while they play. After the Player has selected a wager amount that they are happy with, they are ready to begin spinning. It is important to remember that even penny slot machines can hit thousands in jackpots.

Hitting the spin button begins the game, at which point the reels will spin until they land on a combination of potential outcomes from the Random Number Generator described above. If the result on the slot matches is what is needed for one or more of the paylines to win, you will be paid out accordingly & instantly and are free to repeat the process from there until you have under the minimum spin spend in your online casino account.

If players don’t want to adjust their bet amount on a spin-by-spin basis, players can choose to continue betting the same amount via the handy re-bet or auto-bet functions that allow them to repeat their previous bets either once or several times.

Most slots also follow a theme or center around a certain gameplay mechanic like progressive jackpot slots or pinball slots.

Each online slot pays out according to its own rules and pay tables, which should be viewed before players risk any money on an online slot game so that they are aware of what to expect before they start. These can typically be found in a Rules tab within each online slot or the FAQs of the online casino.

Love playing in a casino? They you may want to read our guide to the best slot machines in Atlantic City.

Varieties in Online Slot Games

As you would expect, with so many online slots operators in the market, there are a range of different types of online slot games for players to partake in.

These different game types range from nostalgic and straightforward machines that players enjoyed during the days of physical slot machines to more elaborate games that offer different variations and the potential for much more considerable payouts.

3 Reel Slots

With just three reels spinning at one time, these simple machines allow gamblers to match the top, middle, or bottom rows to win. These slots tend to have lower payouts but do provide a more consistent payout and they are great casino games for beginners. These types of real money slots are aimed at casual or beginner players as their primary focus is on entertainment and not maximizing profit.

5 Reel Slots

The significant benefit that five-reel slots have in comparison to three-reel slots is that they open up the opportunity for things like more paylines. This boosts the possibility for more significant payouts for players.

These five-reel games tend to be starred in progressive jackpot slots, and mega spin slots game considerably more often than three-reel slots games.

Progressive Jackpot Slots

Imagine if other players could contribute to the jackpot you could win playing casino slots?

This was the thinking process behind progressive jackpots, where the jackpot increases by a small amount with every spin made by all of the players of that specific game. While the chances of hitting that potentially massive payout are slim, they might be worth the risk for a lot of players.

Mega Spin Slots

Sometimes, one set of slots just isn’t sufficient, a problem for which mega spin slots can fix. Players can play many online slot games at once with mega spin slots, from the same screen at the same time; you will need a larger bankroll to play this online slot, however, the potential for winnings on multiple games at the same time can stack up to a substantial amount of money, especially on the max bet.

What Is A Payline In Online Slots?

Paylines are simply the lines on which payouts are given if a winning combination of symbols falls upon it. The combination of symbols need to land in a payline for a spin to be regarded as a win. It is only expected that the number of paylines a player chooses to use, directly impacts the Player’s win probability. However, increasing the number of paylines does increase the wager amount of the spin, so if you want to cover more paylines, expect to pay a little extra for the luxury.

What Are Adjustable & Fixed Paylines?

When looking at an online slot, you may see the use of the terms adjustable and fixed paylines. A game that uses fixed paylines requires players to use the same number of paylines throughout their session; this is a number that cannot be changed by the Player. An adjustable payline game has paylines that can be changed by the Player to increase or decrease both the risk amount and the number of ways to win on a spin. The good news is that the majority of popular online slots today offer adjustable paylines.

When playing slots online, it is important to review the available payline options of that game, as well as how those paylines will impact your ability to win.

It is straightforward to get started playing slot machines, but jumping in without researching fundamental areas could set you up for failure. Many online slots players have experienced it in the past which is why it is critical. Don’t learn how to play as you go along, instead know how to play at a higher level before you start; you wouldn’t try to join the NFL without knowing how to play football, right?

Casino & Slot Bonuses

One of the many reasons that make the online slots experience more enjoyable than the physical casino is the ability to inject slots bonuses into the mix.

At online slots sites & online casinos, welcome bonuses or slot bonuses are given to players for making qualifying deposits, playing slots frequently & a plethora of different reasons.

There are a massive variety of online slots bonuses on offer, with the following being the most popular.

No Deposit Bonuses

Designed for players just starting an account at their first online slots site, no deposit casino bonuses offer players a set number of bonus slots spins or a cash bonus with which they can gamble. This typically comes in the form of a welcome bonus and players are credited as soon as they register. They carry the potential to earn players money to gamble for free. This is an exceptional bonus for new players who are new to online slots but don’t want to risk playing with their cash while benefiting from the special features.

Deposit Bonuses

Players who do want to deposit funds into their online accounts can take advantage of using deposit bonuses. These bonuses add a percentage of the Player’s deposit to your account in addition to your deposit amount, which gives you more funds to play the online slots with, while not requiring you to spend more than they initially planned.

Loyalty Bonus

Loyalty casino bonuses reward those players who play online slots regularly. These bonuses come in an array of forms, mainly bonus spins on your favorite machine, extra funds being added to a player’s account, or the form of generous deposit bonuses for players. These are ideal for players who play slots frequently or for high stakes.

The crucial thing to keep in mind with any bonus is that these bonuses often come with wagering or playthrough requirements. This means that players must wager those funds a certain number of times over for them to be eligible for withdrawal. It is essential to know what these requirements are before choosing to take part in any slots bonus rounds.

Strategy & Tactics

Although there are no guaranteed methods of winning online slots, there are a few ways to maximize your potential to succeed. Using these tips will help make any online slot as profitable as possible while minimizing any risk of losing.

Have a Planned Budget

Starting to play online slots is simple, but doing so with a mindset that allows profit can be more of a challenge. One of the most critical hurdles for players looking to be successful when playing online slots comes in budgeting. Players who set a limit as to how much money they are willing to lose are able to play in a controlled environment that is not jeopardizing to them financially. It will also give them enough room to play until they experience the win or excitement they’re looking for.

Take Your Time

Online slots are designed for fast play with the idea that players will spend more if spins are faster because players have the intention of playing for a set amount of time, not a set budget.

To avoid this trap and to avoid sinking your bankroll, take your time between every spin, whether it’s just taking a quick drink or looking up at your TV for a minute or so. This break will help you play with a clear mind, a trait that’s necessary for success.

Don’t Chase Your Losses

The attitude that you can win your money back if they just make one more deposit or spend just a little bit beyond the set budget can be toxic. This thought pops up in the minds of many online slots players when they lose or are down, but it must be avoided to win at online slots. It is also vital if you want to keep online slots safe.

You can use responsible gambling tools available on most websites that can limit how much you can deposit on a daily, weekly & monthly basis. This will ensure that you can’t overspend.

Take the Little Wins

As much as we all want to win the $600,000 jackpot, chances are, it’s not going to happen.

To be profitable with online slots, you’ll need to accept that you won’t become rich overnight. If you want to win real money, you’ll need to be willing to play the long game; by playing high RTP% games that give back the most to the Player. You mustn’t give in to the temptation of the unlikely colossal win.

Myths around Online Slot Machines

Just like in most industries, there are myths that many tend to believe because they don’t know any better. While I can’t help you avoid those myths in other sectors, I can help clear up many of the myths tormenting the online slots industry, so that you can approach your favorite slots with accurate information.

Online Slots Are Rigged

Many people believe that online casinos predetermine the odds of online slot machines to maximize profits, which is not the case. Thanks to the smart Random Number Generator (RNG) technology I covered earlier in this guide, there is little to no possibility for online slots at a respected online casino to be rigged, unless those websites want to lose all of their player base and credibility. This is why we suggest you play on only the best online casinos we recommend.

Hot & Cold Machines

Many people ask me, ‘Can you tell if a slot machine is going to hit?‘ and I’ll give them the same answer every time, No.

For similar reasons as to why slot machines cannot be rigged, due to the RNG, the machine follows no trends or patterns, and every spin is entirely random, making a win the same likelihood on every spin. The RNG is also available in many popular casino games, especially if you play on a licensed site.


What is RTP?

Return to Player is a percentage calculated by online casinos & their game providers that display the total amount of bets wagered that are returned to players.

What is House Edge?

House Edge is the percentage of the expected amount of money a casino gets from customers for each game.

What does Volatility Mean in Online Slots?

The term Volatility, otherwise known as variance, is used to describe the frequency of payouts on a game. Low volatility means there is a lot of payouts, whereas a high volatility game has few payouts; however, these are usually bigger payouts.