Slots: One-Armed Bandits, Slot machines produce more income for casino owners than any other casino game. Their long history and continued popularity have assured them a place in the casino hall of fame.
Slots have a longer history than one might automatically assume, having been introduced in the United States just before the end of the 19th century. The first machine was the Liberty Bell, an invention of San Francisco mechanic Charles Fey. It had an image of a cracked liberty bell, plus three spinning reels and diamond, spade and heart symbols painted around each reel. The machine can still be seen in Reno, Nevada, standing testament to just how far the slots world has come in the past century.
Slot machines took off almost instantly, and in 1907 Fey’s first serious competitor emerged in the form of Chicago arcade machine developer Herbert Mills. Like Fey, some of Mills’ innovation have stood the test of time – he was the person who came up with the idea of including fruit symbols like cherries, plums and lemons.
As modern technology advanced, so too did slots technology: in 1963 Bally produced the world’s first entirely electronic machine (“Money Honey”), which allowed slots to generate payouts without assistance from attendants. In 1974, Walt Freely invented the “Fortune Coin,” the first video-based slot and a precursor to the online video slots now enjoyed by hundreds of millions around the world.
Online video slots have been the latest revolution. Slots became very popular in the US, UK and Australia from the 1970s through to the 1990s, ensuring they were well-prepared for the online gambling era. Now, thanks to the spread of online casino games to every corner of the world, slot are one of the most popular forms of gaming – alongside poker, table games and sports betting. We have seen the innovation of 3D slots, multiplayer slots tournaments and slots with 243 winning combinations. The use of technology in slots innovation is sure to create new history every day.
Below is a selection of the most important online slots terms:
Bet: Value of wager.
Bonus Feature: Bonus features are endless, but the mainones include Wilds and Free Spins.
Free Spins: Another feature that has become common in online slots, with many delivering 15-20 free spins in one round.
Gamble Feature: Bonus round in which players gamble their winnings on doubling, tripling, quadrupling or losing their accumulated spins.
Jackpot: Maximum prize on any given slot.
Max Bet: Maximum number of coins per spin.
Payline: To win, symbols must line up on the payline (straight or diagonal line across the reels). The number of paylines on an online slot can vary from as low as five and as high as 100-plus.
Progressive Jackpot: Jackpot that starts from a minimum jackpot and increases until someone strikes it.
Reels: The rotating barrels on which symbols have appeared since the invention of the first slot. The most basic goal for a player is to match the symbols on the reels.
Scatters: A payout that triggers a win without having to line up symbols on a payline. Scatters usually activate a bonus round.
Wilds: A symbol that substitutes as all other symbols to complete a winning combination.
Winning combinations: The amount of ways a player can win. These days, online video slots can include hundreds (and in a few rare cases, thousands) of winning combos.
The basic aim of any online slot is to match up symbols on the paylines. However, there are many other ways to win games, which is why you should check the bonus features before trying out any new slot. Thanks to the introduction of wilds, scatters, bonus games and other features, online slots provide multiple ways to form a winning combination.
Because each slot is different, it is worth knowing about your chosen slot in advance. Below are some of the most basic types of slots you will find at any online casino (although keep in mind that these days there are all sorts of combinations of slots):
3-reel slots: These are based on the classic, older slots and usually have up to five paylines.
5-reel slots: These are based on the flashier video slots that emerged with the electronic era, and usually contain a variety of different features including bonus rounds.
Multiline slots: These usually include more paylines (e.g. 25, 30 paylines) than your average slot, delivering higher payouts but at a higher buy-in price.
Progressive slots: Although these appear similar to standard video slots, the jackpot in progressive slots keeps growing until it is struck. These days, progressive slots often include up to four simultaneous running jackpots, each of which can be hit in the bonus round.
Unlike poker and other games of skill, slots are completely random. Let us repeat that again – random. Now that we've made that clear, you should know that you can still make a lot of important strategic decisions that improve your chances of winning and enjoying yourself at the same time.
Before playing slots, choose a game that is suitable for your budget and tastes. Check the payout percentage, minimum bets, maximum bets and information about the jackpots – how big are the jackpots, are they progressive, and what is the likelihood of hitting it? Now that you have all this information you can assess which game suits you: if you have a bigger bankroll, you may have no problem with playing a higher-risk game; if you have less to spend, go for something safer where the payouts are more regular. Of course, you should also pick a game that suits your interests – if you like Bond movies, there are Bond slots, if you like Marvel comics, there are Marvel slots, etc.
You should also look at the bigger picture before embarking on a slots-playing career. Which online casinos suit your budget and spending habits? Where can you get the best and most valuable promos to help fund your playing style? You can find all the information you need on all the leading slots-providing online casinos on the OCR site.
- Slots are random! Yes, we know we already mentioned it, but we’re mentioning it again. Slots are fun and have been known to make people rich with a single click, but never lose sight of the fact that they are not a game of skill.
- Bet the max amount on progressive slots, as this is the only way to claim a progressive jackpot in the event you hit it. Trust us, you don’t want to be in the position where you strike the progressive jackpot and can’t claim it because you failed to bet the required amount of coins.
- Try new types of slots: The Internet is filled with every type of slot imaginable – from 3D slots to cinematic slots to multi-jackpot slots. If you look hard enough, you’ll find what you’re looking for. If you don’t find it, it will probably be invented by tomorrow.