What Are Online Slot Machines

What Are Online Slot Machines

In 1898, when a German-born American inventor developed the first ever slot machine called Liberty Bell, the gambling industry changed once and for all. The new entertainment type was so attractive to casino lovers that it soon managed to displace even such popular games as roulette, poker, and blackjack. More than 100 years have passed since the invention, and slot machines have undergone many changes, particularly moving into virtual space. However, this has only further strengthened their position in the market. Let’s discuss what are online slots in the USA, find their main advantages, and discover what newbies should know before making bets.

Slot Machine Popularity

There are two points of view on slots popularity: the first is on the part of the providers, and the second is on the part of the customers:

  • Creating slot machines and their technical support and maintenance cost much less than the same procedures for any live game. After a particular slot release, providers do not have to make permanent investments to maintain game work, but the profit is stable as long as the slot works.
  • For players, slots are one of the easiest games to play because no special knowledge or skills are required to make bets. The only decision you make concerns the bet size, and everything else depends on the random number generator operation.

Online casinos willingly add new slot machines to their catalogs, as with their help, it is the easiest way to expand the available game range and attract new customers.

Online Slot Work Explained

An indispensable part of any slot machine is reels with symbols; once you have selected the bet size and pressed the button to start a game, the reels spin. If you have managed to form a sequence of identical symbols after the reels stop, you receive a payment in accordance with the combination length or size and the symbols’ face value.

Payable lines in slot machines
Payouts occur when you collect one or more lines of identical symbols

There may also be other conditions for obtaining prizes, besides payable lines formation. For example, the collection of a certain number of identical symbols, regardless of their location.

Online Slot Games Guide

Although slot machines are one of the easiest-to-understand games, we recommend getting acquainted with their basic principles before making real money bets. This will help you to keep your balance for a long time, protect it from volatility, and learn how to choose specific games competently according to several criteria.

Random Number Generator

All licensed online slots use a random number generator that determines spin results, in particular, exact symbols, their order, quantity, and places on the reels. You cannot predict or guess results, as RNG determines them in a split second after making a bet.

Independent auditing companies such as eCOGRA and iTech Labs test licensed slots and their RNGs and issue certificates confirming that games are fair.

The only things that directly affect RNG are return-to-player percentage and volatility; these criteria determine both short-term and long-term game results.

RTP & Volatility

When a provider creates a particular slot, it sets values for special characteristics affecting gameplay. The most important among them are the above return-to-player percentage and volatility because they affect the game directly. Let’s see what they mean:

  • RTP shows how much money from the total amount of investments made a slot machine will pay to customers in the long run. It is always less than 100%; for example, with a 95% RTP, players will get $9,500 of each $10,000 invested. However, remember that this criterion reveals itself only in the long run, and payouts occur chaotically, so everyone can stay in the black at the end of the game session. If you plan to play regularly, it is better to choose slot machines with the highest RTP.
  • Volatility shows the slot’s level of risk. If it is high enough, you can count on significant but pretty rare payouts, while low-volatile slots bring prizes regularly, but they are usually small.

Everything is clear with RTP: the higher the percentage, the better and more profitable for you, but volatility is much more complicated. Choose it relying on your personal preferences and bankroll size: for example if you want to get only large payouts, make bets in high-volatile games. And vice versa, if you like calm gameplay with frequent and small prizes, select less risky slot machines. Remember that you need a solid bankroll to play slots with high volatility; otherwise, you will lose all your money quickly.

Rules & Bets

Although all slot machines work on the same principle, and their results always depend on a random number generator, their gameplay and rules may differ greatly. Providers often add many bonus options that help you form payable combinations, such as re-spins, expanding reels, symbol replacement, cascading reels, free spins, and so on.

Slot machine rules
Use the Help section to check all slot rules and mechanics

The rules for determining the bet size may also differ; in most slot machines, you just have to choose one of the proposed amounts. However, in some games, you can change the number of coins, their denomination, and the number of active lines, searching for your ideal proportion.

Bonuses & Wager

In most cases, when you activate one of the online casino promotions, you cannot immediately withdraw the money you receive. First, it is necessary to meet wagering requirements: spend a specific amount of money for a limited period of time.

The wagering ratio (or simply wager) determines how much money you have to spend. This special multiplier can apply to a deposit sum, bonus amount, or both. For example, if you receive $100 from a casino, and the wager is x20 and applies only to the bonus amount, you need to spend at least $2,000 to withdraw funds.


Before playing online slot games, pay attention to potential winning odds. You can find this information in a payout table: all symbols, their values, and prizes provided for combinations of symbols are described there.

Pay the most attention to two criteria: the minimum and maximum payout.

Progressive Jackpot Games & Other Slot Types

If you want to experience maximum excitement, choose slot machines with an opportunity to win a progressive jackpot. The prize fund is constantly increasing because it is formed by adding small parts of bets made by all players. If you are lucky enough, you can multiply your bet by tens or even hundreds of thousands times.

In some slots, there are prize funds with a fixed amount in addition to a progressive jackpot; there may be several of them.

However, it is crucial to understand that the bigger the pot, the harder it is to win; your chances are comparable to the big lottery win, somewhere about zero. Perhaps, slots with small prize funds raffled regularly will suit you better.

Wilds, Scatters & Multipliers

To make gameplay more diverse, many providers implement additional mechanics; therefore, in some online slots, you can find many unique symbols in addition to standard ones, like:

  • Wilds. These are multi-purpose symbols that can replace any other image when forming a payline.
  • Scatters. These symbols are responsible for activating various bonus options. Usually, you need to collect two, three, or four scatters on the reels to get a bonus reward or open a risk game.
  • Multipliers. These are just numbers used to multiply your bet they can be single or cumulative and can also sum and multiply each other.

You can find these mechanics in most slot machines, even classic ones, and gamblers get used to them and take them for granted. The lack of these features makes gameplay monotonous and boring.

Free & Real Money Games

In most online casinos, slots have two modes: standard and demo. In the first case, you play for real money, and in the second, you have to use virtual chips that have no monetary value. Each of these modes has its own characteristics listed below.

Real Money BetsDemo Mode
If you lose a bet, you lose real money, but you can also get real prizes if you are lucky enoughThere are no financial risks, as well as an opportunity to win real money
You have to create an account to play casino gamesYou can play slots and other games without registering
All features and mechanics are availableSome features may be unavailable, for example, a bonus buy option

However, slot characteristics are the same in both cases; in demo mode, any licensed slot has the same RTP, volatility, and winning odds.

Slot Psychology

One of the main factors why slot machines are so popular is that they give you vivid emotions and euphoria. You risk your money, so when you receive a payout, your brain gets a dose of dopamine, and it causes a pleasant feeling. Over time, slot machines start being associated with euphoria subconsciously, so people play more and more, and they can become addictive.

Remember that gambling is a type of entertainment; do not treat it as a source of income.

No one can guarantee winnings, so when you make a deposit, you need to be ready to lose it; in this case, any game will bring you pleasure regardless of the final result.

Steps on How to Play Online Slot Machine Games

Once you understand what are online slot games, you can start playing following several simple steps:

  1. Choose an online casino.
  2. Create an account.
  3. Make a deposit.
  4. Choose a game in the lobby and run it.

After that, select the bet size and start making spins; if you receive a payout, it will be automatically credited to your balance.

Tips for Winning Slots

Since results completely depend on a random number generator operation and you have no way to influence them, using various strategies will not have a positive effect. Instead, we advise you to follow a few rules that will help reduce risks.

The first and most important thing is bankroll management. Divide your funds at least by 50-70 bets so as not to lose your balance too quickly. It is better to make a larger number of cheap spins than a few expensive ones.

If you see that a specific slot does not give payouts for a long time, change it. The results of previous spins do not affect the next ones, so do not think that your chances of activating a bonus feature or getting a big payout increase with each failure.

We also recommend choosing slot machines with high RTP, especially if you want to play regularly. Do not forget to take into account volatility; keep in mind that the higher it is, the bigger bankroll you need.

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You can use our website or other thematic portals to see all the necessary information about slot machines. Many characteristics are usually listed in descriptions located on providers’ websites; also, remember to check the game rules.

No. It is not allowed under US law; depending on your residence state, you must be either 18 or 21 years old.

Yes. If you have a no deposit bonus, which allows you to get your first funds for the game without making a deposit.

This means the expanding reel mechanics of the same name; games with it are usually the most volatile.

It depends on the maximum payout amount. For example, in most games of the Pragmatic Play provider, it is x5,000, and in more volatile slots of other developers maximum payout can reach x100,000.

Publication Author
Donald Peterson
Author of articles
Donald Peterson is an avid gambler from Edmonton, Alberta, who also writes about his experience with casinos. He’s been in the business for over 10 years, following the ever-changing industry landscape. His articles are aimed at helping beginners with choosing casinos, suitable games, and strategies.
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