Slot games are, today, one of the most integral parts of an online casino with many players choosing to play nothing but slot games. Video Slots offer fast-paced, fun, and exciting gameplay, and due to the design of the games, payouts can be much larger than those found on classic casino card games like Roulette and Blackjack.
With thousands of slot games – both on, and offline – currently available, slot gaming is growing by the day, and gaming operators are keen to capitalise on this trend by continually bringing out new game variations.
Types of Slot Machines
There are a few different types of slot machine, and in this article, we’ll focus on types you can find online. This includes: 3-Real Classic Slots, Video Slots and Progressive Jackpots.
3-Reel Classic Slots
The first type of slot machine is a 3-reel classic slot. 3-reel slots are generally referred to as ‘classic slots’, and originally, they used three spinning reels to display the symbols. Today, they are technically regarded a video slots (see below), due to the fact that they use graphical interfaces as opposed to actual spinning reels, but many online casinos choose to offer these games, despite the fact most players would rather play more exciting slot variants.
A classic slot usually only features one payline, which means three identical symbols must match in a line to award a prize. There are sometimes jackpots attached on such games, and this is usually won by matching three very rare symbols. Classic slots are still found regularly in land-based casinos, but when playing online, it’s all about Video Slots – the games you’ll encounter if you choose to play at an online casino.
By far the most popular types of slot games today, a Video Slot does away with actual spinning reels, and uses a graphical interface to deliver the gaming experience instead. A Video Slot contains no moving parts (i.e. no spinning reels), and thus have become commonplace in many locations around the world, as well as online casinos. Because there’s no mechanical parts in a Video Slot, developers of the games enjoy a much larger scope for customizing the game, and while slots started, generally, having 3-reels, Video Slot games typically offer 5, and sometimes as many as 7 reels. Each reel can contain up to 100 symbols, generating odds upwards of 300 Million to one.
Whereas traditional slots used weighted reels to determine the landing position of symbols, Video Slot games use a Random Number Generator (RNG) to determine the results, and as soon as a player spins the slot, a number is generated at random, which is then shown through a visual representation on screen.
Video Slots Bonus Round Features
Video Slot games also often use bonus rounds as a main ‘highlight’ of the game, and this is something that couldn’t be offered on traditional slot games. A bonus round typically requires the player to land three specific ‘bonus symbols’ (although it can be triggered randomly), and when the player does so, they then enter the bonus round, which can include one or more of the following features:
- Free Spins – The most popular and common bonus, a free spins round awards a player a certain number of free spins, which begin once the player has triggered the feature. The number of free spins won is usually either determined by how many of the bonus symbols the player lands on the reels, or through a mini game, before the free spins round begins. During the free spins round, a game may offer certain ‘perks’, including a win multiplier, additional high-paying symbols on the reels, as well as the ability to re-trigger the free spins, and win even more spins.
- ‘Pick Me’ Bonus Round – Another popular form of bonus, a pick me bonus is also usually triggered by landing a certain number of bonus symbols, and when a player does so, they are taken to a separate screen where they pick certain symbols. These symbols can reveal cash prizes, multipliers (which increase the value of the cash prizes picked), amongst other things.
- Jackpot Bonus – If a Video Slot features a progressive jackpot, there will often be a bonus required in order to trigger it. With some slot providers, a jackpot is built into the bonus rounds, meaning, for example, a player needs to succeed well in the bonus round to win the jackpot, whereas other slot providers may award player entry into a jackpot-specific round (one that doesn’t involve regular gameplay).
- ‘Random’ Bonuses – A random bonus is one that activates randomly during, or before the reels spin, and this can be almost anything with players entering a regular bonus, random reels turned wild, or certain symbols being removed from the reels just a few of the different bonuses slot providers use.
With many classic casino games featuring jackpots, it wasn’t long into the Video Slot craze that developers started implementing jackpots into slot games, and online casinos spurred this feature even more. Today, slot games can feature jackpots worth millions of pounds, and with players able to spin the slots from as little as 25p per spin, life-changing money can be won from, potentially, very small stakes.
A progressive jackpot is usually linked between multiple casinos, and lies with the slot game itself, rather than the casino. This means, a casino offering a certain Video Slot would be sharing the jackpot with its competitors. Because casinos rent games from the software developers, it’s actually the software developers that control the jackpot, and this means the jackpot totally is ‘pooled’ amongst multiple different casinos at once. Every time a player spins the slot, a small fraction of their stake is added to the progressive jackpot, with the jackpot continuing to increase until a lucky player matches the correct combination for the payout!
Some of the most popular Video Slot progressive jackpots can reach into 8-figures, with Net Entertainment’s Mega Fortune Video Slot currently holding the record for the biggest payout ever, paying a whopping £14.4 Million to a player spinning just 25p!
Understanding Payout Percentages
All casino games, whether it be card games like Blackjack and Baccarat, or Video Slot games feature what’s known as a house edge – the amount of money the casino can expect to make from the game, over a long period of time. Video Slot games, however, differ slightly from classic casino games, due to the fact that there is no mathematical house edge built into the game, such as with Roulette. Instead, the creators of Video Slot games use what’s known as a ‘Return To Player’ (RTP) percentage to determine the profitability of a game, and the RTP is a theoretical return a player can expect to make when playing the slot.
For example, suppose a player chooses to stake £2 per spin on a slot, and spins 100 times, staking a total of £200; if the slot machine used a RTP of 95%, the player could expect – theoretically – to lose £10, while keeping £190. In practicality, this is very rarely the case, and an RTP is designed to be calculated over millions of spins, so it’s not something to bear too much though into.
Popular Video Slot Games
With thousands of Video Slot games currently available online, there’s no end to popular games that players love; that said, some Video Slot games achieve more acclaim than others, and below, you’ll see some of the most popular providers of Video Slots, as well as some of their most popular titles.
- Net Entertainment – Aloha Cluster Pays, Crime Scene, Dead or Alive, Dracula, Ghost Pirates, Guns N’ Roses, Hall of Gods, Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack Hammer 2, Jimi Hendrix, Robin Hood, Secret of the Stones, South Park, Spinata Grande, Starburst, and Steam Tower.
- Novomatic – Always Hot Deluxe, Atilla, Bear Tracks, Beetle Mania Deluxe, Book of Ra, Captain Venture, Gorilla, Katana, King’s Treasure, Polar Fox, Plenty on Twenty, and Riches of India.
- Play’n Go – 7 Sins, Book of Dead, Cops n Robbers, Enchanted Crystals, Eye of the Kraken, Fire Joker, Gemix, Grim Muerto, Gunslinger, Happy Halloween, Holiday Season, Hugo, Lucky Diamonds, and Piggy Bank.
- Microgaming – Age of Discovery, Avalon 2, Beach Babes, Big Break, City of Gold, Game of Thrones, Germinator, Gold Factory, Hitman, I’m a Celebrity Get Me out of Here, Immortal Romance, and Jungle Jim.
- Ash Gaming – Britain’s Got Talent, Fruit Madness, Full Moon Fortunes, Heart of the Jungle, Jungle Trouble, Juicy Booty, The Glass Slipper, Wiki Paradise, and the Winnings of Oz.
- Amaya – Area 21, Arthur’s Quest, Bullseye Bucks, Caesar Salad, Cash Inferno, Cash n Clovers, Conan the Barbarian, Congo Bongo, Cubis, and Dam Rich.
- BetSoft – Great 88, Greedy Goblins, Gypsy Rose, Invaders, Jackpot 2,000, Mad Scientist, Mega Gems, Magic Lines, Mega Jackpot, and Mega King.
- Cayetano – Asian Riches, Beauty’s Beast, Big 7, Disco Fruits, Don’s Millions, Egyptian Wilds, Froot Shoot, Fruit Pops, Fun Fair, and Gold Bars Nudge.
History of Video Slots
The first slot machine ever was created over 100 years ago, and while slot machines have appeared in America for decades, it wasn’t until the 1970’s and 80’s that slots begun to really gain popularity with players. Below, you’ll see a timeline of some of the most notable events in the history of slot machines:
1897: First Slot Machine Created
A car mechanic from the USA created what became known as the ‘Liberty Bell’ – the first online slot machine.
1909: Bans on Slot Machines
Anti-gambling campaigners managed to convince the Government of the United States to ban the games; while only lasting a few years, the ban set the industry back by around 10 years.
1975: The First Video Slot is Released
Walt Fraley invented the first Video Slot game, called ‘Fortune Coin’. At the time, players were sceptical about the fairness of the game, so the technology didn’t catch on until 4 years later.
1979: Public Acceptance of Video Slot Games Grew
With more emphasis on advertising the legitimacy of Video Slot random number generator’s, as well as the inclusion of Video Slot games in casinos, players started trusting the games, and readily played them, thanks to the large wins, and jackpots which could be won.
Since the 1979 ‘boom’ of Video Slot games, popularity has continued to grow, and today, thousands of games can be found both online, and offline. The sheer range of games on offer means players never run out of exciting titles to play, and with new creations released each month, the Video Slot industry has become a somewhat competitive one with developers fighting to bring out titles that prove even more popular than their predecessors.