While slots have existed in brick and mortar casinos for decades upon decades, online slots are a new and evolving creation. The first iteration of online slots came to fruition when the first online casinos were created in the late 1990’s. It was in the mid 2000’s, however, that online casinos really began to take off both in popularity and ingenuity. Many slots that you can find in your local casinos can now be played online, both for free and, in some cases, for real money.
The availability of slot machine titles depends on a number of factors, with the two most primary being manufacturer and location. The rules for online casinos offering slots in the United States are different than those in the UK, and those rules are different than Australia, and so on and so forth. There was once a point in time where the online casino was a free for all and the casinos were available to everyone equally, but those days are long gone. If you are a gambler in the US, you may be disappointed with the number of your classic games that are offered online, but this is likely to change dramatically over the coming years.
There are also a number of companies that exclusively produce online slots. Many of these games are primarily found at offshore online casinos, as opposed to casinos in regulated territories like the UK, or even New Jersey and Pennsylvania online casinos. Some of the most well-known online slot producers include Endorphina, GameArt and WGS, but they are hardly the only online slot companies.
For the most part, online slots work the same way as the majority of slot machines that you will find in casinos around the world. Unless otherwise noted, online slots typically use an RNG to generate results for each spin. This means that each spin is as close to truly random as possible. Unlike a deck of cards in an actual, physical casino, the exact time that you hit the spin button will play a role in determining what the result is. If a deck of playing cards is set, the cards will not change based on your decisions. With slots, though unpredictable, your actions do impact the result.
In terms of win frequency or games offered by betting limits, online casinos tend to actually offer lower limits than most B&M casinos. This is for a few reasons. First, online slots allow for a much faster pace of play. If the online games are 2x faster, you will effectively be risking the same amount if you play for 50c per spin online, as you would risking $1 per spin in your local casino. The casinos know this, and lower limits help to encourage more play. While there are some online casinos that offer high limit slot play, the majority do not offer many games over $20 or $30 per spin.
Have you ever noticed how many slot machines in casinos closely resemble the Wheel of Fortune game? This isn’t a coincidence. Game manufacturers saw that the WOF formula was a major hit among players, and the bonus spin format has been repeated in many different ways. Online casinos, too, know what games players do and don’t want to play. As a result, you will often times find games that may look and even sound like your favorite slots, but may in reality be close imitations.
The lack of regulations for casinos that operate offshore allow them to operate in a total grey area where they are virtually immune to legal action of any sort. Online casinos that offer “rip off” versions of IGT or Aristocrat slots, for example, do so because they know that they won’t get in trouble. While it is your prerogative to decide whether or not to endorse these games, our recommendation is to check and make sure exactly what game you are playing, especially if you are depositing and risking real money.
Perhaps the biggest downside to playing online slots, especially at unregulated websites, is that it can be very difficult to prove the fairness of any games that are offered. While Bitcoin casinos can prove that they are provably fair, classic online slots are not as well-vetted. While many of these online casinos do have “licenses” from different gaming bodies, they are usually not from an organization who actually researches whether the games are truly fair. We advise that you tread lightly whenever you are playing online slots for real money.
In casinos, like those in Las Vegas, the gaming commission will perform audits on the machines on the floor. There are various thresholds, depending on the area and commission, that casinos need to abide by. For example, a Las Vegas casino may not be able to hold (have an advantage of) over 10% of the total risk by the player. The higher stakes, generally speaking, the less house edge that exists in casino slots. With online slots, however, fairness is largely a guessing game. The best thing that you can do is to research the casino itself. If you are playing at a state licensed casino like those in New Jersey, you have nothing to worry about. If you are playing at an unregulated online casino, however, you should complete a bit of independent research to ensure that they do not have a poor reputation.
Another risk to online slots is that of payment. This again comes back to researching before you play for money at a casino. Nothing would be worse than hitting an online progressive slot jackpot and then not being paid by the casino. While many, even most, casinos will be fair and pay you any earnings (so long as you didn’t break any rules), there is always the risk of a rogue operator who will hold your funds.
Progressives, like the percentage hold, are also not monitored, so they add even more risk to the player. For instance, the online casino could be holding half of the money they *claim* is being added to the progressive jackpot. In general, there isn’t any verifiable way to check that online casino progressives are being operated with total integrity. You should be aware of this potential casino, but keep in mind that joining a reputable online property is the most important step you can take.