Slots have won the title of the most popular casino game ever, which can be easily explained with their high entertainment value and profitability. They are available in pretty much every casino out there, be it land-based or online. As a matter of fact, slots enjoy such great popularity that they can be found in places other than gambling venues, including hotels, and even pubs. This popularity results from the fact that practically anyone can bet on slots, even if they lack any previous experience whatsoever.
Players are drawn by the possibility of winning a huge prize with relatively small stakes, so it is anything but surprising that such games are in such great demand. This also comes to explain why in the majority of the cases, nearly half of the portfolios of online casino operators consist of slots from just about any walk of life.
Many advanced video slots boast special features like multipliers, wild symbols, and bonus spins, designed to make players’ gaming experience even more rewarding. Others have progressive jackpots attached to them that keep on growing with every single spin of the reels.
When it comes to slots, there is something to suit any player’s individual preferences. However, those who are new to the game are recommended to play cautiously. Although the bets that can be made on slots can sometimes be quite small, such games are played at an exceptionally rapid pace, and losses can escalate rather quickly, especially if one engages in the advanced, multi-line slots. Similarly to other casino games that are based on luck, slots require a good amount of self-control on behalf of players.
How the Very First Slots Appeared
If you are new to this game, you might be surprised to learn that its history dates back to 1895. It was Charles Fey, a young mechanic from San Francisco who invented the first-ever slot machine and called it the Liberty Bell. What is important to note is that other coin-operated gaming devices already existed much before the creation of Fey saw the light of the day. Yet, it was precisely his Liberty Bell that paved the way for the creation of the present-day slot machines.
Fey’s slot machine featured a slot where players were required to drop their coins and a handle that was used so as to set the reels in motion. Speaking of reels, they were a total of three, and the icons that could land were a total of five. Instead of the now-emblematic fruit symbols, the mechanic opted for using card symbols on his machine, like spades, hearts, diamonds, and so on. Naturally, the Liberty Bell character the machine was named after was also among the available symbols.
What was specific about Fey’s slot machine is that it had just one payline that was running in the middle of the display, and players were awarded a payoff whenever three Liberty Bell characters happened to show up on the payline at the same time. This is exactly when the biggest prize of 10 nickels was awarded.
It is true to say that Fey’s creation attracted much attention back then, but a similar wagering machine with coin slots was designed by Sittman and Pitt of Brooklyn back in 1891. What was specific about this machine, however, was that it was poker-based and featured 10 card faces that landed across its five reels. When a new game round was initiated, players were presented with a five-card poker hand.
As it seems, colour wheel games also enjoyed some popularity back in those days, but they quickly faded into the background.
Herbert Mills’ Take on Slot Machines
As Fey’s slot machine was met with instant success, other inventors soon followed into his footsteps. Fey’s invention was improved by arcade games manufacturer Herbert Mills. Back then, slot machines contained only three reels with ten symbols each. Today, the number of symbols per reel has increased significantly as the better part of the slot machines in land-based casinos contain up to twenty symbols per reel.
In essence, Herbert Mills introduced his slot machine back in 1907, and the name it was given was Operator Bell. Mills’ contribution to slots as we all know them today is significant as he was the one to incorporate fruit symbols into the gameplay. It goes without saying that the popularity of these icons was so immense that in some countries, the United Kingdom included, slots are still referred to as fruit machines.
It is interesting to note that when slots began life, they were all about entertainment because their primary purpose was to accommodate the wives of players who took gambling rather seriously. For that reason, it is not so surprising that the stakes such machines accepted were kept in the lower end of the spectrum, while the offered prizes were rather moderate.
Bally Technologies Hits the Scene
Another turning point from the development of slots was the establishment of the Chicago-based company Bally Technology that was initially known as Lion Manufacturing, and showed much determination to throw Mills’ slot machine into the background.
There is no denying that the company has a valuable contribution towards the evolution of such games as it is responsible for the creation of the Bally Bell, which in practice, was the earliest slot machine that accepts multiple coin denominations.
Still, it was the release of Hi Boy that helped Bally establish itself as one of the major players among the developers of slots. The innovations brought about by the company took the way in which slots are created by storm as it introduced electronic components and the coin hopper.
International Gaming Technologies has also played a major part when it comes to the refinement of slots as some of the improvements they are responsible for include the introduction of random number generators. Most importantly, the company brought in the computerised slots that feature virtual reels and wide-area progressive games.
Gradually, the popularity of slots started to spread like wildfire, thus turning into one of the most well-loved casino games among total novices and seasoned players, such who prefer to bet online, as well as such who are more intrigued by the idea to play in a brick-and-mortar casino.
As you can expect, these slot machines have gone through various phases, and what gambling enthusiasts are up against now are multi-line, multi-reel, and computer-controlled games that most of the time, are overflowing with special features and bonuses.
Development in Slot Technologies
It is true to say that slots have gone a long way since the first-ever machine was introduced as they were greatly modernised, and no longer rely on a mechanical, clockwork mechanism. The technological developments turned slots into fully computerised units that intrigue with their aesthetics and absorbing sounds.
Still, so as to gain proper knowledge of the peculiarities of present-day slots, taking a look back at the early days of this casino game might turn out to be of use. As mentioned already, one of the very first improvements that were introduced to slots was the implementation of the virtual reels. This was a turning point in the development of slots for the simple reason that the odds of each game were restricted by the number of icons that can pop up on each reel, which translated into smaller payoffs.
The implementation of virtual reels can be easily described as a game-changer due to the fact that it made it possible for more combinations of characters to be added, which also meant more substantial jackpots. The introduction of the virtual reels made it possible for software providers to churn out slots of just about any walk of life as well.
Another major advance the slot machine technology underwent was the implementation of linked progressive jackpots. As you might already know, with such slots, a specific portion of each stake gambling enthusiasts make is added to a constantly-increasing pot. When a lucky player bags the big prize, the jackpot starts building over again.
Initially, jackpots were single-machine ones, but they were quickly replaced by the jackpots that link together multiple games, from where they got their name linked progressives. There is no doubt that the wide-area progressive jackpots are the most alluring ones because they offer truly massive prizes. This is so due to the fact that they do not simply attach several slots, but games that are offered by different casinos.
Interestingly enough, the very first such game was IGT’s Megabucks, and it saw the light of the day back in 1986.
Speaking of jackpot slots, we should not forget to mention the introduction of multi-tiered progressives. At the outset of the existence of such games, there was only one prize that was offered only when players managed to hit a rare combination of the most rewarding icons. Things have changed dramatically due to the fact that with some present-day progressive jackpot slots, players are given the chance to bag one out of four big prizes.
It is true to say that the presence of more winning opportunities undoubtedly adds up to the appeal of such games, but what gambling enthusiasts should be mindful of is that in such games, a strong emphasis is put on holding the attention of players by providing them with modest yet rather frequent wins.
Perhaps, the introduction of the multi-line video slots that provide the opportunity for bonus play remains one of the advances that have a major impact on the experience players will get to enjoy while betting on present-day slots.
The popularity of slots has carried over to the online gambling scene, and currently, they dominate the portfolios of the bulk of the virtual casinos. The number of the reels slots feature has grown dramatically since now, players can get to choose from games that come with 9, 15, 20, or 100 win lines. Games that boast the 243-ways-to-win format are also hugely popular among avid slot fans.
How Slot Machines Work
Slots have a rather straightforward nature, and at the same time are fun and entertaining to play, which comes to explain why they are in the lead when compared to other casino games. In spite of that, gambling enthusiasts are not advised to get down to betting on slots on a whim and without having sufficient knowledge on the intricacies of the games because such an approach can sometimes cost them a significant portion of their bankroll.
If you have chosen to bet on slots in a land-based casino, the first thing you need to do is deposit a coin into the coin slit and then pull the lever down (some machines have buttons instead of levers). This activates the reels inside the machine and they spin for a predetermined number of seconds before they come to a stop and display the symbols in the machine’s front window.
It is important to mention that while modern slot machines are designed to look and feel like the old, mechanical ones, they operate on a totally different principle. The outcome of each pull of the lever is not determined by the motion of the reels themselves, but is controlled by a pre-programmed computer. The latter relies on a programme, called a Random Number Generator (RNG). The RNG produces a new random number several thousand times per second and it is precisely that number that decides the outcome of the game. The number that determines the combination of symbols you get is the one that happens to be produced by the generator at the precise moment you pull the lever or press the button.
All slot machines are programmed to return a specific amount of money, depending on their input. The amount might be 95%, for example. Thus, for every £100 you deposit into the machine, it is programmed to return £95. The remaining £5 count towards the vigorish or the built-in advantage the casino has over its players.
As far as slots are concerned, there is one thing absolutely all players need to remember. Every single spin of the reels is completely random and is not connected to previous or subsequent spins, produced by the machine. From this, it follows that there is absolutely no possible way of predicting whether you will lose or win on a given spin of the reels.
How Online Slots Work
Many players choose to bet on slots over the Internet, which can turn out to be even more straightforward and thrilling, which comes to explain why on most occasions, the online casinos that put a strong focus on slots have a loyal following.
Though more diverse and visually appealing, the slots you can find at online casinos operate on the same principle – Random Number Generators are again utilised to determine whether players get a winning or a losing combination of symbols. The only difference is that you are at home, sitting at your desktop computer, which undoubtedly provides players with much greater convenience and, above all, the freedom to play whenever they feel like it.
Also, leading gaming software developers offer video slots that often surpass slots in land-based casinos in terms of visuals, sounds, and gameplay. In addition, online video slots are said to have higher payout percentages.
The first thing players need to do before they get down to betting is to ensure that the funds they have in their bankroll will suffice for their betting session. When they have already loaded their favourite title, players need to check out if the reels are fixed or adjustable. In the first case, gambling enthusiasts will be required to bet on all paylines at the same time, while in the second, they will be given the freedom to decide which win lines to switch on and which to deactivate.
Then, you simply need to select a coin value and click on the spin button to set the virtual reels in motion. What slot lovers should be mindful of is that the coins are one of the slot peculiarities that deserve special attention before they get down to betting. As it turns out, some confusion is often created when it comes to coin denominations, especially among players who lack experience in betting on slots.
What you need to know about the coin denominations is that they are used to indicate the value that will be assigned to each coin you will put on a stake. Most of the time, gambling aficionados will notice that these values are somewhere between 0.01 and 1.00, but this is game-specific.
It is vital to remember that so as to get the amount of their next wager, casino enthusiasts will need to take into consideration the number of win lines of the slot, the chosen coin value, and the number of coins they have chosen to stake.
There is also the option to bet on all win lines at the same time, and put on the line the biggest possible amount simply by going for the maximum bet. Yet, playing the maximum bet possible on a whim is ill-advised for the simple reason that the staked amount might sometimes escalate to several hundred pounds per round.
As you might expect, coin denominations translate into border-ranging betting limits, which therefore will mean that the specific slot is likely to turn out to engage the attention of players on all budgets.
Types of Slots
With so many options available at the tip of their fingers, the only difficulty slot fans are facing is deciding which video slot variant to try out first. There is something to suit all players’ preferences as they will find titles with a different number of reels, paylines, and bonus features, which promises that they will be offered a custom-made playing experience. Read on to find out more about the types of slots that are offered at online casinos.
Rules and Basics
Choosing Online Slots
Line Number and Multiplier
Classic Online Slots
Classic 3 Reel Slots
The classic 3-slots are the closest to the slot machine invented by the mechanic Charles Fey. In most cases, 3-reel slots have only one payline, in which instance, the winning combination of symbols is displayed across the middle line of the three reels. However, some 3-reel slots might offer three or even five paylines. In many cases, different fruits like cherries, lemons, and oranges are used as symbols on the reels. Other popular symbols you are likely to encounter on a classic 3-reel slot include lucky sevens, single, double or triple bars as well as playing cards symbols.
5 Reel Slots
The 5-reel slots resemble their 3-reel counterpart to a great extent. The difference is that they have five reels instead of three. Hitting a winning combination with 5-reel slots is more difficult, but the higher payouts are well worth it. Many 5-reel slots enable players to bet up to five coins per spin. Some even have additional features such as the wild symbol, which functions as a joker and helps players make up a winning combination of symbols. This means that if players get two identical symbols plus the wild symbol, the latter will assume the role of the missing symbol to give players a winning combination.
Multi Spin Slots
As it seems, many gambling aficionados consider that this type of slots is suitable for more seasoned players. Multi-spin slots typically feature up to nine sets of reels in a single game. This, however, means that players are required to bet nine coins, one for each reel. Interestingly enough, Multi-spin slots resemble video poker variations, like the popular Jacks or Better when played with 100 hands.
Players will be able to find high-quality Multi-spin slot titles at casinos, running on Microgaming’s software. One example would be Microgaming’s Major Millions slot which can be played in multi-spin mode and has a massive, progressive jackpot attached to it.
Bonus Spin Slots
Bonus Spin slots also enjoy great popularity among players and there is a good reason why – players are granted free spins whenever they get three or more bonus symbols. The bonus symbols for a specific slot are typically listed in the paytable section of the game.
Players who are lucky enough to hit the identical bonus symbols are immediately notified on the screen. They simply need to hit the Start button and the spins will play out automatically. Once the bonus spins are all used up, you will be notified of the winnings you have generated. An example of a video slot with bonus spins would be NetEnt’s Gonzo’s Quest.
Slots with Progressive Jackpots
Slots with progressive jackpots attached to them enjoy tremendous popularity among players because they grant them an opportunity to win a life-changing prize. Each participating player contributes with a small percentage of their bet that goes towards the overall pot.
The jackpot continues to grow until one lucky player hits a winning combination that triggers the massive prize. However, if players wish to win the jackpot, most of the time, they are required to place the maximum bet amount possible. Also, if you hit the winning combination with a wild symbol, you will not qualify for the entire jackpot. Your payout will still be pretty impressive though.
Key Features of Online Slots
As was mentioned earlier, there is an abundance of slots to choose from when you play the game online. Each title on offer has its distinct theme and boasts impressive sounds, visuals, and animations. In addition to the visual appeal of video slots, players will benefit from an impressive number of features, designed to enhance their gameplay and render their gaming session more rewarding.
As you might already know, the reels are the vertical positions on the grid, and the most prevalent way in which slots are classified is precisely depending on the number of the reels. What gambling aficionados should remember is that they can come across cascading, rotating, and tumbling reels.
Another special feature is the wild symbol, which functions as a substitute for regular symbols, thus helping players complete winning combinations. Wilds appear on the reels randomly, but they cannot substitute other bonus symbols like the scatter symbol, for example. In some slot variants, the wilds rank as the highest-paying symbol. There are different types of wild symbols. Expanding wilds, for example, cover the entire reel. Sticky wilds provide players with the opportunity to complete more paylines as they stick in place over multiple spins. Stacked wilds are displayed one on top of the other on a single reel.
Still, slot lovers might come across random and even transferring wild symbols. In spite of the fact that they are a rarity, walking and shifting wilds are also present in some slots.
Another exciting feature some slots come with is the win multiplier, which is used in order to boost players’ winnings by a predetermined figure. Thus, in most cases, players can double or triple their winnings. Some multipliers can even boost the winnings even further by multiplying them a hundred or a thousand times. What gambling enthusiasts should be mindful of is that depending on the slot they have chosen, such win multipliers might show up solely in normal play, but there are also games in which they can land only when a bonus feature is triggered.
The scatter symbol is yet another favourite feature of players. Scatters’ function is to unlock a number of handy features such as free spins and various mini games. Scatters are usually the highest-paying symbol in most video slot games. Unlike wilds that need to be lined up on a payline in order to win anything, scatter symbols simply need to appear on the reels to unlock the bonus features.
Free spins are yet another popular feature that works to the advantage of slot fans. The bonus spins can be triggered in a variety of ways, but in most cases, they are unlocked whenever players succeed in lining up a specific number of scatter symbols across the reels. Whenever this happens, players are granted a given number of spins that are free of charge. Typically, the free spins are played at the same bet amount the player has triggered them with.
Bonus games remain among the fan-favourite special features the better part of the modern-day slots come with. More often than not, these special games are activated when a particular combination of special or rare characters shows on the reels. So as to add up to the thrill of these special features, software providers tend to add plots or storylines to the gameplay, which comes to explain why they keep on turning heads.
Another quirk of these bonus games is that on most occasions, they are chance-based, but there are such games where players are required to demonstrate certain skills too.