Beginner’s Guide To Online Slots


Online slots let you experience the thrill of land-based video slots in the comfort of your own home. You can even enjoy hundreds of real-money games on your mobile phone or tablet.

Getting started is simple, and you don’t need a massive bankroll to get up and running. In many cases, it’s possible to try out slots online for free before you whip out the credit card. Let’s take a closer look at how online slots work, and how you can win serious cash just by hitting the ‘Spin’ button.

Getting Started: Finding The Best Slots


The beauty of online casinos in 2017 is that there is so much choice available. You can choose from thousands of slots to play, from basic ‘Classic’ style slots similar to fruit machines, to the slickest 3D animated games with multiple bonus rounds and high stakes betting.

It’s important to work out before you start playing what kind of slots you want to gamble on. There’s no point wasting money on a game that has a poor payout or a bonus feature that never triggers.

Most games have ‘Freeplay’ or ‘Practice Money’ versions so you can get a feel for the features before committing your bankroll. You can see how often those free spins bonuses activate, or check to see if the highest-paying symbols are generous.

Return to Player percentage (RTP): Every slot has an RTP% (Return to Player percentage). This is the theoretical return to the player over the long term. For example, an online slot with a 96% RTP will return – on average – 96c for every $1 gambled on it. Typically, slots’ RTPs range from 91-98%. However, you still may hit the big jackpot early or hit a downswing before bagging a big payout. Sometimes, it’s simply down to the volatility of a game.

Variance: Each slot is designed with reels that are filled with symbols, laid out in a specific order. Typically, slots that pay out ‘little and often’ (i.e. lots of small wins but no jackpots) are referred to as ‘low variance’. High-variance slots may miss lots of the regular wins but pay out big when you hit a bonus feature.

High-variance slots can be hard on your bankroll, so if you tackle these games make sure your budget can handle a downswing. Remember that most slots pay winning paylines from left to right (i.e. starting from Reel 1 and moving right). If you test a slot out and discover the first reel doesn’t have many jackpot symbols, you might be playing the wrong game.

How To Play: Understanding Buttons and Bets


Most modern online slots work as a downloadable game or can be played instantly via the web browser. Make sure your web browser is up to date if the slot works in a browser-based platform like Java or HTML5 (HTML5 is more common these days).

Usually, when you open a slot in your browser, your entire bankroll will be assigned to the game (unless your casino allows multiple games to be played at once). Start by picking the number of paylines you want to bet on (unless the slot has fixed paylines) and your stakes.

Coin Bet: Before you spin the reels, you’ll need to pick the value of your coin. You can usually set the coin value at anything from 1c to £50, and sometimes more.

Number of Coins: As well as the value of a single coin, you can choose how many coins you want to bet on each payline. 1 to 5 coins is standard.

Paylines: The paylines are the winning rows which symbols have to land on to award a payout. They run horizontally from left to right (and right to left in some slots). Usually you will have to match at least two identical symbols to trigger a win. However, paylines can sometimes be ‘filled in’ with Wilds and Scatters (see features below).

A typical 5-reel slot may have anywhere from 10 to 1000 paylines to bet on. Some slots have a fixed 243, 720 or 1,024 paylines which players simply bet a fixed stake across. Most of the time, however, you can select which paylines you want to bet on. Click the numbers down the sides of the reels to select or deselect your paylines. The paytable (see below) will show you where the paylines run.

Popular Online Slots Bonus Features


Online video slots (slots with animated graphics and features) generally come with special bonus features that can help boost your wins. Most 5-reel slots have a Gamble feature, and many have Autoplay buttons that let you programme up to 100 spins automatically.

Gamble: A Gamble feature lets you play a ‘double or nothing’ game after a winning spin. Usually, you will have to guess whether the next card drawn is High/Low or Red/Black. Get it wrong and you lose your winnings.

Wilds and Scatters: Winning paylines are made up of regular symbols on the reels. However, ‘Wilds’ can fill in the gaps to complete winning combinations. Wilds substitute for every regular symbol on the reels.

Scatters are special symbols that pay out, regardless of where they land. They don’t need to match other symbols, and two or more will trigger a payout. Three or more normally triggers a bonus feature.

Free Spins: Usually found in video and branded slots, a free spins feature is normally triggered by landing three or more Scatters anywhere on the reels. The player is given a number of free games, and winnings are sometimes multiplied by two or three during the feature.

‘Pick Me Bonus’: Also triggered by landing three or more Scatter symbols, this feature sees the player making a choice from a dozen hidden icons on-screen. Cash prizes and multipliers are revealed and accumulated until the player reveals a ‘STOP’ symbol.

Click Me/Instant Win: Some slots have a randomly-triggered ‘instant win’ feature during the main game. Three bonus symbols will present themselves on the reels – just select one to reveal a random cash prize.

Trail Bonus Round: A trail bonus is triggered by landing three or more Scatters or bonus symbols on the reels in any position. The player works their way along a prize trail by rolling the dice. Each stop on the path contains cash prizes, multipliers, or free spins.

Progressive Jackpot: Progressive jackpots are made up of small portions of each player’s bets. The special jackpot can either be triggered at random, or by landing five special bonus symbols on the reels. Players may have to play a secondary bonus game to access the jackpot. Usually, progressives are only available to players betting the top amount.

Tips: Read The Paytable


Whatever game you play, it’s important to read the paytable first.

Here, you will find details on what each symbol pays out, and how many you have to line up to hit a winner. You can also see how the various paylines are arranged and read details on what the bonus features entail.

Secure Slots For Every Player


Just like casinos, slots developers have to be properly licenced in order to operate online. Licenced games are externally tested and audited to ensure they are random and totally fair.

Each slot is programmed using an RNG (Random Number Generator) which assigns algorithms to each reel when you spin. If the RNG is faulty, it could mean the symbols don’t fall randomly – and that leads to fewer payouts for players.

RNGs are routinely tested to make sure their payouts can be identified. External, independent, auditors perform rigorous tests on all aspects of the slot so it can continue to be offered at casinos online.

Enjoy The Best Slots Bonuses Online


Online slots are easy to learn and can award some serious payouts. The best thing is that players of all budgets can enjoy them.

And when you sign up to an online casino, you can make your slots play go further with a bonus. Many casinos offer free spins on the most popular slots. Win as much as you can, then simply ‘wager’ the winnings several times over at the casino in order to access it.

Even a simple welcome bonus can be used in conjunction with slots. Make a deposit, pick your favourite slots, and play as much as you can within the set timeframe. Meet the casino’s wagering requirement and they will “match” your deposit 100%. Happy slots hunting!

Online Slots FAQs


How Do You Play Online Slots?

An online slot is played with a set of animated reels filled with symbols. After a bet is made, the reels spin and come to a stop at random. Winning paylines are made up of matching symbols that run horizontally.

Are Slots Widely Available At Online Casinos?

Yes. You’ll find hundreds of slots available at the best casino websites. Some casinos deal exclusively with one slots developer but most provide games from at least two or three slots manufacturers. It’s good to find a wide range of slots that includes classic, 5-reel video slots, branded games, and progressive jackpots.

Can I Play Slots For Free?

Yes. Just select the ‘play money’ option when you hit the casino lobby. You won’t win any free cash, but you can get a feel for the bonus rounds and general gameplay.

What Are The Payouts Like?

The more paylines you can bet on, the better the prizes. You can adjust your coin size, and number of coins, before each spin. There are jackpots for hitting five identical symbols on a payline which can usually award 1,000+ coins. Progressive jackpot slots have the potential to award prizes worth millions of pounds.

Am I Restricted To Just One Variant?

No. Most casinos offer a range of styles, reels, and themes. Work out what slots you want to play first before opening an account, and always read the paytables to see how good the payouts are.

Can I Trust The Software?

Yes. Slots are audited externally before they make it to the casino. Casinos will also have regular audits performed to make sure the games are random.

Can Slots Games Contribute To A Casino Welcome Bonus?

Yes. Slots tend to be 100%-eligible towards working off a deposit match bonus. Always check the bonus terms and conditions before deciding which casino to sign up to.