ONLINE SLOTS GUIDE
Slots are one of the most popular forms of casino game on the planet - and walk into virtually any casino and you’ll see hundreds of these bright, vibrant machines staring you in the face. Similarly, head to an online casino, and you’ll notice that almost all of the games are slots.
On this page, we’re going to be taking a look at what slots actually are. We’ll begin by taking a look at the history of slots, followed by a look at some of the different types of slot machines. We’ll then look at some of the most popular slot machines you'll find today, finally, looking at the best online casinos to play them at.
HISTORY OF SLOTS
Slot machines can be traced back as far as 1891, when Sittman and Pitt - a US-based manufacturer - released the first commercially-available slot machine. The game was built mechanical, and included 5 drums and real playing cards. To play, players needed to insert a coin into the machine and pull a physical lever.
Just a few years later, in 1895, a man called Charles Augustus Fey created the ‘Liberty Bell’ slot machine. This was the birth of classic slots, and offered varying payouts depending on which symbols lined up.
Fast forward to 1964 and the first electromechanical slot machine was released. Money Honey, as it was called, was released by Bally (a game developer who are still producing slots today), and this was seen as the ‘game changer’ in the slotting world. The slot allowed players to win up to 500 coins per spin - and the coins were awarded automatically, without requiring an attendant to deliver a hand pay.
FIRST CARD MACHINE - SITTMAN & PITT
1976 saw the first ‘video slot’, per-se, and it was produced by a company called Fortune Coin. They projected the game onto a 19-inch Sony TV, and it was placed in the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas.
The early 90’s (when the internet was really taking off) saw a number of digital-only slot developers appear, and through the 90’s and the 2,000’s, video slots became increasingly common. Soon, bonus rounds and free spins features were added in - and you can learn more about the different types of slot machines in the section below.
TYPES OF SLOTS
Generally speaking, there are two main types of slots - at least, these are the ones you’re most likely to come across. We’ll take a look at both of these below:
Classic Slots: Classic slots are usually built with 3 sets of reels, and they’re typically quite simple. For example, in your head, picture an old-school slot machine in Las Vegas - think cherry, bell and BAR symbols, and the big manual arm you can pull to play the game. Classic slots are still found at casinos (on, and offline) around the world, although they’re not as popular as they once were.
TYPICAL NEW GENERATION REEL SLOT
Video Slots: Video slots are - by far - the most popular type of slot machine you’ll find today. Instead of relying on physical reels spinning, video slots are all run electronically. There are no moving parts in a video slot, and it’s all run by a computer instead. Each time you press the ‘Spin’ button on a video slot, a random number generator selects where each reel will stop. Also worth pointing out, is that most video slots tend to have at least 5 reels.
There are other variations to the typical Videoslot which in recent times has seen the introduction of a number of 6 - 7 reel titles along with custom and unique ways to win on each slot. Typical examples of these would be the Megaways series introduced by game developer Big Time Gaming.
NARCOS VIDEOSLOT FROM NETENT
Video slots also offer players (and developers) a significant advantage over the older types of slot machine; they allow bonus features to be built into the game. These features are present in almost all video slots released today, and below, we’re going to look at a few of the most popular ones.
Free Spins: This is the most commonly-seen type of bonus round in a slot machine. Usually activated by landing three or more ‘scatter symbols’ in view, a free-spins bonus allows you (the player) to win a certain number of free spins. Sometimes, during these free-spins, special enhancements are added to the reels. This could include additional wilds, multipliers, or higher-paying symbols.
“Pick Me” Bonus: The “Pick Me” bonus is seen in a large number of slots, and like free-spins bonuses, it’s usually triggered by landing a certain number of scatter symbols in view. When activated, you’ll be shown a number of objects on the screen - and you’ll then be prompted to pick from these objects. Each pick awards you a prize, including cash amounts, multipliers, and sometimes, free-spins.
In-Play Bonuses: In-play bonuses (also known as base-game features, randomly-triggered features and side games) take place within the regular base-game - and don’t require you to land any scatter symbols to trigger them. Depending on the slot you’re playing, these in-play bonuses can award small wins, access to the main bonus features or other perks.
Progressive Jackpots: Progressive jackpot games are now more popular than ever before, and as the name suggests, they feature a progressive jackpot. Each time a player spins the slot, a small portion of their stake is added to the jackpot pool. This continues to grow in value until a lucky player hits the required combination to win the progressive jackpot.
POPULAR SLOT GAMES
Today, there are tens of thousands of different video slots to choose from - from a number of developers. Some of the biggest game developers in the world include the likes of NetEnt, Microgaming, Yggdrasil, Playtech, Quickspin, Thunderkick, Big Time Gaming, Play’n Go, Amatic, Amaya, Bally, WMS and Barcrest. In the section below, we’re going to take a look at some of the most popular video slots ever released.
Starburst: Starburst is widely regarded as the most successful video slot in history - and it was developed by NetEnt (formerly known as Net Entertainment). The game is present at virtually all online casinos today, and offers players an exciting experience. Expanding wild symbols are present on the middle three reels, and landing one in view transforms that entire reel wild, before awarding a free re-spin.
Bonanza: Bonanza is a game from Big Time Gaming - a developer who, it’s fair to say - transformed the slots industry. Unlike most slots, which have a fixed number of paylines, the ‘ways-to-win’ changes on each spin, as the height of the reels can be between 2 and 7 symbols high. There’s also a super-lucrative free-spins bonus which is triggered by landing four or more of the gold scatter symbols anywhere in view.
Book of Dead: Book of Dead is Play’n Go’s most successful slot release in history, and it follows the journey of Rich Wilde - an adventurer - as he explores ancient Egypt. Landing three, four or five of the book scatter symbols anywhere in view triggers the free-spins round, and during this bonus, one symbol is chosen. This symbol then turns into an expanding scatter, meaning wins are paid regardless of where it lands.
Mega Moolah: The most successful progressive jackpot slot in history, Mega Moolah comes out of the Microgaming studio. Along with a pretty exciting bonus round, the game holds the current world record for the biggest progressive jackpot win; €17,880,900!
STARBURST (ABOVE) AND BOOK OF DEAD (BELOW) SLOTS
WHERE TO PLAY ONLINE SLOTS
Today, video slots are available at virtually every online casino on the planet. However, with so many sites - knowing which to join, and which to avoid can be tough. Here at Snazzy Slots, we work hard to show you the best, most trusted online casinos - and below, you can see our recommended list of online casinos.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A SLOT MACHINE
If you’re playing video slots online, then you may come across some phrases and words you’re not familiar with. Below, we’ll take a look at what the most popular terminology means.
RTP: The RTP (or, return to player) is a percentage that all slots must, by law, display. It gives you an indication of how much that specific machine can be expected to pay out over time. For example, if a slot had an RTP of 97%, then it would mean - on average - for each £100 wagered through that slot, the machine would pay out £97. Or, in other words, the casino would make a profit of £3.
Paylines: Paylines are simply the ‘lines’ on which you can win. For example, if you need to line-up three or more symbols to make a win, they’d need to be on a payline. Most video slots will show you a graphic in their help files which shows you which paylines are active.
Volatility: Generally speaking, slots will either be low, medium or high volatility. Low volatility games mean you can expect more regular, but smaller wins, while high volatility games offer fewer, but bigger wins.
It’s important to consider the RTP and volatility of a game before playing it. However, the most important thing is that you find a game you like the look of. We always recommend spending a couple of minutes reading a slot’s help files to ensure you understand what the game’s all about - and most developers let you try their games in free-play mode too. This is a great way of getting a feel for a slot without having to risk any of your own cash.