The Best Online Slots Casinos
If you’re looking to play online slots for real money but don’t know where to start, we’re here to help. Slots are the most popular casino games, and it’s easy to see why. Modern slots feature compelling game play with exquisitely crafted graphics and sound that provides hours of entertainment. Play online slots now at any of our hand-picked online casinos below.
Ever since its inception, the slot machine has become the game of choice in casinos worldwide. They’re accessible, fast-paced and loads of fun! And when it comes to online gaming, you’ll find thousands of slot machines, with new titles released on a regular basis. Slot machines come in various themes, features, payouts, jackpots – no matter your preference, there’s a slot to match your taste.
The slot machine in its most basic form came to life in 1891, and the first electromechanical slot machine was developed in 1963 by Bally Entertainment. However, it wasn’t until the late ‘70s that slot machines really started to take off.
The first video slot machine, which uses a screen to show reels instead of actual moving parts, was developed by Fortune Coin Co. in 1976 and subsequently approved by the Nevada State Gaming Commission. The technology was purchased by IGT (International Game Technology PLC) soon afterwards, resulting in the appearance of video slot machines across Vegas casinos for the first time, quickly charming players with their flashy appeal.
The first bonus round in a video slot was for “Reel ‘Em In”, developed in 1996 by WMS, which, believe it or not, can still be played in its full digital glory to this day. The rest, as they say, is history. With the rise of online casinos at the turn of our century, video slots that could be played from home via a PC grew in popularity, reaching to the point we are at today. It’s not like there’s an end in sight, either. Leading software suppliers are constantly innovating and designing new and unique slots to spice up your online gambling entertainment.
Online slots explained
If you’ve ever visited a bricks-and-mortar casino, one question on your mind may be if online slots are different to physical slots?
The base mechanisms on which slot machines operate are shared across all types of slots. In short, a built-in RNG (Random Number Generator) software determines the outcome of each spin. It makes no difference if you pull a lever, press a big red button or click your mouse to spin.
Some slot machines overlap and are popular in both offline and online play, such as Novomatic’s Book of Ra Deluxe, but these games are few and far between.
Mobile gaming is increasingly overtaking desktop gaming on a PC or Mac, therefore any casino operator worth their salt must accommodate mobile gamers via a mobile-friendly casino site.
The same goes for slot game developers. Most slots released today are also compatible across mobile devices, ready to be played on the go. Whether your preferred device, rest assured that you will have a wide selection of the best mobile slots at your disposal.
Classic slots are more present across land casinos. Online, they are the modern successor to the fruit machines of old, some of which are direct replicas of what can be found in physical casinos.
Classic clots are known for their simpler mechanics. They use 3 reels, rarely feature bonus rounds, and often boast fruit symbols and retro sound effects. The payouts differ from game to game, but in general they are medium to high variance slots.
Video slots are the epitome of a modern slot machine. Usually containing 5 reels, flashy graphics and a range of bonus features, video slots are the most popular online casino games by far.
Some of the best-known slot developers are NetEnt, Microgaming and Playtech. You’ll encounter their games across numerous casinos, and they are focused on releasing innovative titles regularly, which means your choices are almost endless when it comes to slot gaming.
Progressive slots are popular due to their high payouts, which can range from a few thousand, to over 1 million. The current holder of the highest progressive jackpot win is a soldier from the UK, who won 13,000,000+ on Microgaming’s Mega Moolah, all from a 0.25 spin.
Progressive slots pool a small amount of each player’s stake into a shared pot. They often (but not always) feature lesser RTP and higher volatility. Most progressives are connected across multiple online casinos, which increases the jackpot size. Also, some jackpots share their reward between multiple slots.
Online slots payouts vs land casinos
In general, most land casino slots payout less than online slot machines. The upkeep of maintaining a physical casino is costlier compared to online establishments. That’s not to say online operators don’t have bills and licenses to pay, but many land casinos are come attached with hotels, restaurants, free drinks, live bands, and more. All of this needs paying for, and lesser payouts are one of the consequences.
The RTP (Return to Player) of most land casino slots hovers around the 90% mark. Meaning, in the long run, a slot will return 0.90 for each 1 spent, theoretically speaking. Online slots, on the other hand, boast varying RTP percentages that average between 93%-97%. NetEnt’s Blood Suckers, for instance, has an RTP of 98%, making it an ideal fit for those who prefer maintaining a steady bankroll.
Choice and convenience
When you visit a land casino, you have a predetermined set of games at your disposal, and there’s not much you can do about it. Your choices are usually wide, but not wide enough, as the number of physical machines that can fit in a certain space is quite limited, despite the size of some casinos.
Sure, the atmosphere in a physical casino is unparalleled. Live action, constant chatter, mingling with your friends – they’re hard to replicate online. Yet, every land casino aims to get the most out of your wallet by offering free drinks, often impeding your judgement and making you chase losses.
We’re definitely not against vising a land casino every now and again in the form of a fun “night out” experience. But in general, online casinos present more choice on what you can play: thousands of slot machines, hundreds of casinos to choose from, a slew of bonuses, all just a few clicks away.
There’s also the factor of convenience. When playing online, you don’t have to make time out of your day and plan a trip to your casino of choice. Moreover, you won’t have to set aside a heftier budget to play with. Sure, you can enter a land casino with 20, but more often than not your trip will be short-lived. Online, you can make small deposits, wager in small amounts, all from the comfort of your home – for however long you like and whenever you feel like it.
Thanks to the convenience of mobile casinos, you can boot up your favorite games regardless of your location – a bus ride home, your couch, at a coffeehouse. As long as you have an internet connection and a portable device, you’re good to go. More importantly, online casinos let you play slot machines for fun for as long as you like. This lets you get a feel of a certain slot before you play slots for real money.
Casino bonuses and free spins
Perhaps the biggest advantage of all is slots bonuses. The online casino world is overflowing with all sorts of attractive bonuses, and they’re all centered on slot machines. The online gaming competition is fierce. There are hundreds of virtual casinos a player can choose from, and a player can switch between them with just a few clicks or taps. This is why online casinos open their arms to new players with a tasty welcome bonus or two, alongside plenty of additional promotions in the form of cash rewards or free spins.
A casino welcome bonus usually comes in the form of a 100% or 200% match of your first deposit. This bonus will often extend to your second and third deposits as well. Meaning, if you’ve made a deposit of 100, you would have 200 to play with. Is this free casino money? Well, not exactly. If a casino was just to give out free cash to every player in that manner, it wouldn’t be long before they become bankrupt.
How to wager slots bonuses
Almost every bonus you claim needs to be wagered before you can withdraw any leftover winnings. Wagering simply means playing through a certain amount of cash on select casino games. If a 100 bonus needs to be wagered 30 times, you would need to play through 3000 on casino games before you can request a payout. Wagering simply means placing stakes, regardless if they’re winnings bets or not. You can often track your wagering progress via an online casino’s interface. Best of all, most online casinos bonuses can be wagered by playing slots only, which is perfect if they are your game of choice already.
Free spin bonuses
Besides match bonuses, online casinos will try to entice you with free spin bonuses. They will either be a part of the match bonus i.e. 100% match + 50 free spins, or a standalone offer. Bonus free spins can be played on select games of the casino’s choosing, and any winnings generated from them will often need to be wagered as well. Some casinos offer wager-free rewards that are yours to withdraw immediately.
No deposit slot bonuses
No deposit bonuses are every gambler’s favourite bonus. The reason is self-explanatory, you don’t have to make a deposit to claim it. It gives you a chance to get a feel of the casino with zero risk on your part, and you might earn some cash in the process. These bonuses come in the form of no deposit cash or no deposit free spins. They will usually limit your winnings to 100, and have steeper wagering requirements, but hey – when it comes to free money, who can complain.
How to play online slots
Playing online slots is simple. You can choose to play for free to your heart’s content before depositing real money. Simply choose a casino you like, create your account, and make your choice from the hundreds of slots on your screen. You can select how many paylines you wish to play on alongside the bet value of each payline.
How do online slots work?
Before you start spinning the reels, it helps to understand the basic features of online slots. Here are the main things to look out for:
Paylines are literal lines in which symbol combinations need to be formed across the screen to win a pay out. They can be straight,curved or zig-zag patterns. Some slots payout winning combos on paylines both-ways, meaning it doesn’t matter if your winning combination was generated from left to right, or vice-versa.
Most video slots feature 25 paylines. Simply enough, the more paylines you select, the higher your chance of winning. We always recommend betting on maximum paylines, as the general minimum stake per line is 0.01, resulting in a reasonable 0.25 per spin. You can adjust the value of your stake per line as much as you like, resulting in slots letting you bet up to 250 per spin, but we don’t recommend you do that for obvious reasons.
Wild symbols are a common feature of online slots. They act as a filler substitute for any other symbol. If a winning combination requires 3 Orange symbols, for example, you would receive the same outcome with 2 Oranges and 1 Wild.
Scatters are another type of special symbol that is usually tied to bonus rounds. Usually, if you get 3 Scatters on a payline or anywhere on the reels, a bonus feature will be triggered.
Bonus symbols and triggers
Slot creators have come up with a range of creative bonus features over the years. Some are peculiar mini-games with extra rewards, some come in the form of simple free spins with extra payouts – it all depends on the slot machine in question.
Certain slots feature bonus symbols or random trigger events which will generate a bonus round or a direct payout anytime during play. One such example is the popular gothic-themed Immortal Romance by Microgaming. Its bonus rounds introduce you to each of the main characters in the slot, who will reward you with free spins or extra achievements for symbols.
Video slots with cascading reels are becoming more common as time passes by. If you’ve ever played Tetris, then this slot type won’t need much explanation.
When a winning combination is formed, the spin continues as those symbols disappear and make room for additional symbols to drop down from above. Therefore, these slots can quickly accumulate a decent payout on a single spin if you get a lucky streak. Gonzo’s Quest by NetEnt is a typical example of what we’re describing.
Online slots payout percentage
There are two main factors that determine a slot’s payout: RTP and variance or volatility.
RTP stands for Return to Player, and it represents the theoretical long-term payout of a certain slot. Slot machines’ RTP can range between 90-98%. Almost every slot features RTP information that is easily accessible online, or in our slot review section.
However, as slots are inherently based on luck, and come with a combination of factors that determine the payout, RTP should not be your guiding point when you determine which slot you want to play. A slot with 93% is not necessarily worse than one with a RTP of 97%. What’s more important is the slot variance, and the best paying slots feature a good mix of solid RTP and medium variance.
Volatility and variance
Slot variance gives you an idea of how frequently a game pays out. A low-to-medium variance slot will usually dish out frequent payouts, but in lesser amounts. They are ideal when operating with a smaller bankroll. On the other hand, high variance slots feature infrequent payouts, but in larger amounts. That’s not to say a low-variance slot can’t reward you with a sizable sum, and vice-versa. Slot variance is not information you can directly acquire just by looking at an information chart. You usually get a feel for this by playing the game, but there are some ways in which you can identify a game’s variance.
For example, if the reward amount for 3 symbols of the same type is significantly smaller in comparison to 4 or 5-symbol payouts, then you may be dealing with a high variance slot. One more sign of a high-variance game would be if a slot’s major winnings are primarily concentrated in its bonus round, leaving little rewards by way of regular play.
Check out our slot reviews for more information on specific games, so that you can focus less on researching and more on gaming.