Online Slot Machines
Online slots are just slot machine games that have been designed with the intention of being played on the Internet. Almost any kind of gambling machine that you find in a traditional, land-based casino has an analog on the Internet now. This page takes a look at the various games available, their manufacturers, and what's involved in playing them.
Also on this page you will find our recommendations on which devices to play slot mahcines on your mobile decide, and your desktop computer.
In addition to all that, we guide you through which games are, in our opinion, the best games that are worth your time and your money. So, to gain all this information and more continue reading our extensive review for online slots.
No Download Slots versus Downloadable Slots
There are multiple ways to categorize online slots, but one of the easiest is to drop them into one of 2 buckets:
For the earliest part of the age of Internet gambling, downloadable slots were the standard. When you signed up for an online casino, you downloaded a software client and played the games through that client. It works that way at a lot of online casinos still.
But no download slots are becoming increasingly popular. These are games you can play from within your browser window. Sometimes they're powered by Java, Flash, or HTML 5.0. They work just like the games in a downloadable client, and you can still play for real money—right from your browser window.
No download slot machines only have a couple of disadvantages to the games you play with a complete download of a casino software. One is that the graphics and sound effects are usually not as robust with these games. But in some cases, the no download games are every bit as good as the games that you play from within the software.
You can almost always try the casino software for free in "practice mode" or "play money mode". That's not contingent upon downloading (or not downloading) the software, either. You can try the games for free with or without a download of the casino's software package. In fact, many online casinos are ONLY available in a no download version. These are often called "instant play casinos".
Mobile Devices vs. Computers
You can play online slots on a mobile device or on a regular laptop or desktop computer. The numbers indicate that using a mobile device to surf the Web is becoming more of the standard than ever before. But many players still play on their computer.
The online casino industry hasn't entirely caught up with the mobile world, yet. Most Internet casinos only offer their full selection of games through their actual online casino. They offer a more limited selection of games on their mobile apps. A lot of people play the no download versions of the casino games on their mobile devices, too.
The following are devices that are ready for you to play online slots with:
Online Progressive Jackpots
As with land-based slot machines, you'll find both progressive jackpot games and flat top games available online. The progressive jackpots aren't as large as you'd find in Vegas, perhaps, but you can still find jackpots that are big enough to change your life. Of course, the odds of winning one of these online progressive jackpots are just as slim as the odds of winning one of the land-based games.
One thing to keep in mind when playing online progressive slots is that they have a lower payback percentage than the other games. That's because they take a tiny percentage of each bet and use it to increase the size of the jackpot every time you make a spin. That tiny percentage comes right off the top, so there's less money to pay winnings with over time.
In our book, flat top games—slots with a flat payoff as the top jackpot—offer a better gamble. You can still win huge jackpots, although they might not change your life. But you'll lose less money over the time you play on these machines than you will on the progressives.
Pay-Lines, Reels, and Denominations
Every innovation to slot machines that land-based casinos have made has become available in the online version of these games, too. Early mechanical slots only had 3 reels and a single pay-line. Modern games usually have 5 reels (and sometimes more). And they often have 5, 10, 15, or even 25 pay-lines.
Online slots are available in as wide a variety of denominations online as they are off, too. You can find penny machines, nickel machines, quarter machines, and dollar machines on the Internet.
Other slot machine features that have become de rigeur in land based casinos are also now common with online slots, too. Scatter symbols, wild symbols, and bonus games are available online now, too.
And Internet casino games even have a few innovations of their own that haven't been picked up by land-based casinos, too. We're thinking of the elaborately plotted storyline-based slots games that are now available from companies like NextGen Gaming. When you reach the bonus games on these machines, elaborate storylines unfold. Some of these games even play out their plotlines over multiple games, sequels to the original game.
One aspect of land-based slot machines that was late to the online game but is there in full force now is that of licensed intellectual property. The most popular slot machine games on the Internet or in a traditional casino are usually the ones that are based on something else, like Wheel of Fortune slots. Often these are game shows, but really, the licenses can come from any kind of media—books, comic books, movies, and pop music are all common sources.
Some of the lower-cost software providers don't feature much in the way of licensed properties. For example, RTG (Realtime Gaming) is probably the most popular software catering to players in the United States. Most of their games are unique to their software, but they have at least one licensed game—Big Bopper slots, which is tied into a theme related to the famous oldies singer of "Chantilly Lace".
Other providers, like WagerWorks, offer lots of licensed properties. WagerWorks is the company which makes IGT slots available on the Internet. IGT is, of course, the acronym for International Game Technology, the largest producer of slot machines in the world. When you're looking at the most famous slots in the world, like Double Diamond or Wheel of Fortune, you're looking at their handiwork.
Some online slot machine providers only offer games on the Internet, and they also only offer real money gaming to clients in countries where real money online casinos are legal and regulated. Companies like this include Microgaming and Playtech, who are 2 of the oldest companies in the industry. Microgaming is best-known for their variety of progressive jackpot games, and Playtech is known for their licensing of Marvel Comics characters like Captain America, The Fantastic Four, and The Avengers.
In fact, it seems as if most online slots providers specialize in one area or another. NextGen Gaming specializes in providing story-based slot machine games to online casinos. These are some of our favorites of the newer and more innovative gaming machines online.
Betsoft has made a name for itself by offering some of the best games available in the 3D slot machine market. These are video slot machine games with stunning animation and graphics. It's hard for us to imagine anyone ever coming up with game designs as pleasing to the eye as this company.
Online slots are an international game, too. Aristocrat Leisure is a company out of Australia which specialized in creating slot machines with innovative gameplay features for land-based casinos, but they've expanded online, too. They're responsible for the new 243 Ways slots that are now available. A lot of their past innovations have become standard features on modern slot machine games.
Are Online Slots Legal?
One question we see a variation of pretty often is whether or not online slots are legal. The answer isn't as cut and dried as a simple yes or no. A lot of it depends on where you live.
We'll start answering this question by saying that as long as you're not playing for real money, online slots are probably legal anywhere in the world. (This might not be true in some strict Middle Eastern countries. We have a friend who can't play chess because it's illegal there.)
Free slots are pretty tame, for the most part, though. After all, what's the point? You watch the reels spin, you win or you lose, but you have nothing to cash out when you're done. We'll skip that kind of experience for playing a game in which we can actually risk and win some cash.
In the United States, there are no laws specifically forbidding online slots for real money—at least not at the Federal level. The 2 laws which are most likely to apply are The Federal Wire Act and The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Here's how each of those work:
The Wire Act makes it illegal to transmit bets over phone lines. For purposes of this law, the Internet counts as a kind of phone line, too. But this law applies specifically to sports betting. It does not necessarily apply to casino games.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act doesn't forbid any specific kind of gambling activity. It makes it illegal to transfer money from one place to another for the purpose of placing illegal wagers. That's a far cry from outlawing Internet gambling altogether.
But the United States have more laws than just Federal ones. Each state has its own laws, too. As far as we know, none of them specifically apply to Internet slot machines. But some of them are specific enough about Internet gambling that it's fair to say that online slots ARE illegal in certain states.
A handful of states have now legalized and regulated online gambling, too. These include Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey. The catch in those states is that you can only play from within those states at a site catering specifically to the individual state. And in order to have an online casino site in one of those states, you have to have an existing brick and mortar casino.
The situation with online slots in other countries is different. In the United Kingdom, for example, online gambling has been legal and regulated for years. No one there worries about whether or not they can play online "fruit machines" legally or not. It's just part of the culture.
But it's not as big a part of the European culture as it is a part of Australian culture. This country probably has the most thriving and robust online casino industry in the world. There they call these games "online pokies". But strictly speaking, the games aren't legal there. The country just never prosecutes any of the countries providing these games. And it's not illegal for a player to play the games; it's just illegal for the casinos to offer them.
When talking about the legality of online slots, it's also good to think about the risk factors involved for the average player. Throughout the world, enforcement activities almost always focus on the company providing the gambling—not the gambler. You can count on the fingers of one hand the number of individual gamblers in the United States who have gotten in trouble for placing bets on the Internet. And all of them were engaged in sports betting activities, not online casino games like slots.
So the risk factor is huge if you think you want to open an online casino. Don't do it.
But the risk factor is tiny if you want to play online slots for real money. You might want to check with a lawyer first, but we're comfortable playing these games on the internet.
Online slots are here to stay. They're available in as wide a variety as land-based slots. In fact, you have even more choices on the Internet than you do in land-based casinos.
You can play for any denomination you can think of, for a penny spin or for a few hundred dollars per spin. You can play for free, even. You can play for huge progressive jackpots or go after smaller prize pools.
The only drawback to online slot machines is the legality is unclear in certain jurisdictions. This is a major roadblock for some players but a minor concern for others. A lot of this has to do with your tolerance for risk.
But depending on your tastes in gambling and the laws in your area, online slot machines might be the perfect leisure activity for you.