For more than a century now real money slot machines have served as the first, and usually, the favorite, stop for casual gamblers during an excursion to the casino. Slot machines offer simple gameplay that is easy for anyone to learn, endless variation in terms of on-screen entertainment, and most importantly, the potential for a massive jackpot payout even when playing for pennies.
Continuing the slot machine’s technological evolution, from the basic three-reel machines of the Old West to the virtual reality video games now found in modern casinos worldwide, online gaming represents the next leap forward. Before the advent of real money online slots, brick and mortar casinos confined players to the limits of their local laws, and save the occasional trip to Las Vegas or Atlantic City, most Americans simply had no way to enjoy a few spins on their favorite game. Things have changed though, and today you can easily explore several internet-based casinos to decide which venue offers the best real money online slots.
The following walkthrough is intended to guide anybody interested in real money online slots through the process of signing up, depositing, and playing. You’ll learn about the different devices you can play from, how the banking transactions actually work, the legality of online casinos, the odds of winning, measures to ensure game integrity, and other frequently asked questions about this thriving industry.
Online Slots vs. Live Casino Slot Machines
If you’re looking to play slots for real money online, chances are you’ve learned to love the game while playing actual slot machines in a brick and mortar casino. And while there is certainly something to be said for the casino experience – pulling an actual lever, watching the reels turn, and waiting for the glittering machine to sound an alarm when you hit the jackpot – online slots offer a number of improvements.
For starters, you’ll never have to fill up the gas tank and spend time behind the wheel when you play slots online. Unless you happen to live in Nevada or New Jersey, or near a local Native American operated gaming establishment, a trip to the closest casino can easily cost upwards of $100 or more. That means you’ll need to win a few big spins early just to get even when playing slots in a brick and mortar casino. Online gaming, on the other hand, can be conveniently accessed in an instant from your laptop, personal computer, or mobile device.
Another difference between live and online casinos to keep in mind is how the speed of the game can vary. When you play slots in a casino, the actual mechanics of operating the machine mean you spend much of your time choosing bet amounts, selecting your line placements, pressing buttons, and shifting from game to game. When you throw in chats with the friendly player next to you, interactions with the waitress, and long walks to the restroom, only a fraction of the time you spend on the slots in a live casino actually involves playing the game.
Online slots remove many of these distractions, however, leaving you free to take the volume of spins necessary to wade through variance and finally find those jackpots. Every veteran slot player knows that the long odds on slot machines can be overcome by putting in a heavy volume of spins, which is why so many longtime slot aficionados are finally exploring online casinos. By boiling a session on the slots down to the essence, online casinos are able to offer players increased volume, and thus, more consistency when it comes to the small wins that sustain the search for huge jackpots.
As mentioned above, online slots and their live counterparts have a lot in common. In fact, the similarities go as far as to allow for a direct online adaptation of any live video slot machine, like in the case of Cleopatra 1 and 2. Even machinery-based classics like 777 have been reworked to fit an online casino setting, with a random number generator replacing the traditional cogs and wheels. Nevertheless, anyone willing to look past such obvious similarities will be quick to notice that most online versions of land-based games offer a significantly improved return-to-player rate. This means that online slots players are more likely to actually profit from playing real money slots and will be statistically more successful.
The reason for the above is simple – running a real money casino costs far less than operating a live gambling establishment, but the revenue from hosting the games is fairly comparable. Another important consequence of this discrepancy is that the jackpots tend to be larger for online games, especially when talking about the massive, multi-game progressives. However, this is not to say that online slots are clearly the superior choice, as many gambling enthusiasts care about the unique casino ambiance and are willing to pay more to experience the social aspect of the games.
Unfortunately, the aforementioned social aspect of playing slots in a live, land-based casino is next to non-existent when dealing with online slots games. The closest you can get is being notified of somebody else snatching a progressive jackpot or knowing that other players have learned of your success if you manage to score a big win. However, the truth is that playing online slots is a rather solitary experience. As with all the other real money casino games like Roulette or Blackjack, there are certain advantages to that, as you don’t have to wait for other players to leave the machine you want to play.
Whenever playing slots online for money, all the slot machines available at the site you picked are never more than a few mouse clicks away, which makes online slots more convenient to play and enables you to have more spins per minute than you could ever dream of in a live gambling establishment. What’s more, enjoying the games from the comfort of your home gives you a unique chance to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the particular title, which would be next to impossible in a distraction-filled casino hall.
Another important advantage online slots have over their land-based counterparts is that virtually every casino site worth its salt gives you a chance to check out the games for free. This means that you don’t have to waste your time watching someone else play to learn how each bonus round works, and you won’t feel disappointed after playing a title that doesn’t really meet your expectations. Most online slots in free play mode are no different from the real money versions in terms of gameplay.
The bonus rounds work and maximum bets work the same, so the only difference is that you’ll be playing for free credits, which are usually assigned as you load up the game and which can easily be refilled by restarting it. The only notable exception is the progressive jackpot slots, which won’t let you reach the bonus or symbol combination that allows you to claim the main prize. Another important thing to keep in mind is that many slots have different stake settings for real money and practice play.
For example, in free play mode, the minimum size of your wager might be 20 coins, while in real money play you might be allowed to bet as low as 0.01 per active payline.
Real money online slots are significantly easier to develop when compared with their live counterparts, especially since the developers can focus on the program itself, without having to worry about the machine. Consequently, there are many online slots that you won’t find at your local casino, but keep in mind this also means that smaller, less experienced companies often try to develop such games, which results in a higher amount of sub-par titles. On the other hand, the industry giants are able to produce 3D slots that, just as the name suggests, offer three-dimensional graphics that can easily match modern console video games when it comes to the amount of eye candy you’ll be exposed to.
As you’d expect, all the major slot genres are represented online and you won’t have any problems finding 3-reel, 5-reel and progressive machines on any serious casino site. Keep in mind that while all online slots are technically video slots (which means that the game is entirely generated by a computer program), the ones that mimic old-school fruit machines come with no bonus rounds and offer a different gameplay experience.
The bonus rounds available with most video slot-styled online games usually include free spins, expanding reels or even dexterity or memory-based mini-games. It’s important to point out that while traditional jackpot slots allow you to win pre-determined prizes, progressives give you a chance to claim a main prize which is partially composed of the funds that other players invested into the game. As a result, progressive jackpots can get very high whenever the main win doesn’t occur for a long time, especially when many machines are contributing to a single prize.
As you can clearly see, online slots enthusiasts have plenty of games to pick from – but unfortunately, US-based players are limited to a few types software, since most major slot manufacturers like IGT prefer to license their online games only to regulated casinos in gambling-friendly countries, such as United Kingdom.
Online slots attract all kinds of people, so it should come as no surprise that the casinos tend to offer various different betting limits. For starters, most slots allow you to adjust the number of lines you can play. Each time you activate another payline, the number of winning combinations you can score increases – but so does your wager. So if you opted to go with 0.10 stake/line and 5 paylines, the total size of your bet would equal 0.50. Consequently, recreational players can take their time by playing a single line with a minimum stake setting, while high rollers can take advantage of the Bet Max option and play the maximum number of lines with a maximum line bet.
It’s important to remember that each machine has different betting limits and that those limits may differ from site to site. Most online casinos have a wide selection of penny slots and low limit slots that allow you to play for only 0.05 credits a spin or even less, as well as a few high limit slots that can be played at 500 per spin or more. What’s more, jackpot and progressive jackpot slots usually won’t give you the chance to win the main prize unless you place the highest possible wager, so you should definitely consult the pay table before you determine the size of your bet when playing those games.
Discussing online slots often results in heated debates when it comes to return-to-player rates and the overall fairness of the games. Fortunately, most quality casino sites are certified by independent testing companies, which guarantee that the random numbers generator powering each title doesn’t stack the odds against the players by manipulating their chances to win based on the actual progress they make. Nevertheless, it would be foolish not to admit that the very nature of video slots makes them very susceptible to this kind of scam on the casino’s part, so it’s crucial to play on safe, reputable online casino sites. If the site that attracted your attention isn’t certified by a well-known company, you should definitely consider making another pick.
Quite obviously, casino sites differ from brick and mortar gambling establishments when it comes to complementary services, as you won’t find any free food, drinks or hotel rooms online. However, the promotions you can expect from online casinos simply dwarf live casino comps in terms of value, as they focus on giving you free cash to play and win with. For example, many online casinos offer free chips or no deposit bonuses, which allow you to play all of the available slots without actually making an investment. What’s more, virtually every casino site offers lucrative deposit bonuses, which tend to be a 200% match on your payment or more.
While most of those deposit bonuses apply to the first couple of payments you make, some sites have no qualms about handing out free money every time you decide to fund your account. The catch is that you won’t be able to withdraw those funds before you complete the play-through, which usually means that you’ll have to wager many times the amount of your deposit and the promotional money combined before you can withdraw the bonus.
Nevertheless, once you actually do that, the winnings will be all yours – and whether you want to take part in a particular promotion or not is always your choice. Last, but definitely not least, many casino sites offer cash back programs, which allow you to minimize your losses and can make the difference between having a positive or a negative month.
Getting Started: How to Play Online Slots for Money
Playing online slots for real money isn’t all that hard – all you need to do is pick a safe site, choose the type of software that will best suit your needs, fund your account and join the action. Most sites offer a downloadable software package, which is usually the best choice as it puts all the necessary data right on your computer’s hard drive, resulting in a smoother experience.
If you don’t want to install any casino applications, you can always go for Instant Play, which allows you to play the games via your web browser using Java or Flash technology. This option is also an excellent choice for Mac users, as many sites don’t offer a downloadable client for Apple’s machines.
When it comes to making a deposit, most casinos will allow you to make a payment via an e-wallet, credit/debit card or a Western Union/MoneyGram money orders. Keep in mind that US-based customers have to stick with the latter two, as most e-wallet companies like PayPal prefer not to deal with US-facing casino sites due to strict gambling regulations.
Real Money Slots with the Best Odds
Online slots payback has gradually improved over the years. Most internet slots released today offer between 95% and 97% RTP.
Certain games feature up to 99% RTP. However, you usually have to make large minimum bets to qualify for the highest payback on these slots.
Some game developers have a reputation for offering high-paying slots across the board. For example, many NetEnt slots payback between 96% and 97%.
Other providers vary greatly in terms of their highest and lowest slots paybacks. For instance, Playtech offers games with RTP ranging anywhere from 90.05% to 99.32%.
Also note that some developers don’t publish payback for their games, which leaves you in the dark regarding your odds.