Research by the Gambling Commission showed that between 2009 and 2011 slots accounted for 39% of online casino play.

It's for this reason that they vastly outnumber all other games with some casinos having more than 400. They come in all shapes and sizes with themes, bonus features and payouts all varying. One other factor that makes them so popular is that they offer the chance to win big from small bets.

To see what all the fuss is about for yourself, have a look through our online slots guide. As well as the bits and pieces below, the following pages have been created to provide you with specific help and info.

Slot Features

Thunderstruck Paytable

With all of the animated graphics and flashing lights slots can become more complex than they should be. However, the most important stuff is the ways to win. Payline payouts are the basic form of slots wins but there are many extra features to enliven gameplay.

Wild Symbols
What does it do? Transforms into any other reel symbol (not scatter) to create a winning payline.
When do you get it? Rolls in during regular spins.
Notes Wins that include a wild symbol are sometimes multiplied.
What does it do? As the name suggests, it multiplies your bet
When do you get it? Varies but can occur when there are scatter or wild symbol wins and during free spins.
Notes They start at 2x your win and can be as high as 5x.
Free Spins
What does it do? Allows you to spin for free but still keep any winnings you receive.
When do you get it? Can be triggered as a bonus or randomly during a spin. Often when three or more scatter symbols appear.
Notes Winnings during free spins are sometimes multiplied. Ten free spins is a normal prize.
Scatter Symbols
What does it do? Provides wins multiplied by your total bet and triggers features such as free spins, bonus rounds and jackpots.
When do you get it? Rolls in during regular spins.
Notes They don't need to be on the same payline to create a win.
Bonus Rounds
What does it do? Pretty much anything. Usually on a second screen, they are arcade style games where you can win large amounts.
When do you get it? When triggered on the reels. Often revealing a set number of scatter symbols will do the trick.
Notes In 1996, Reel'Em In was the first slot to include a second screen bonus round.

It All Started with Liberty Bell

Liberty Bell IconSince the first slot machine was created by Charles Fey in the 1890's the look, gameplay and variety of slots have come a long way. Whereas the Liberty Bell, which was created by Fey in San Francisco, had just one payline, three reels and five different symbols, modern online slots can have up to 243 winning combinations.

As slots continued to grow through the early 1900's more features came into existence. More reel symbols were added as well as more paylines. Then in 1963 came the first electronic slot machine which was, unsurprisingly, founded in Las Vegas.

Little more than ten years later, another huge step in the development of slot machines was made when the first video slot machine was created. This slot was called the Fortune Coin and was actually fairly unpopular at the time. People didn't trust video slots as they thought they were rigged. It wasn't until video poker machines became popular that video slots were accepted by the majority.

Jackpots and the Internet

On 6 March 1986 the world of slots changed forever as the first slots jackpot was set free on casino floors. This first progressive slot was named Megabucks and could originally be found in nine different Nevada casinos. The success of Megabucks was immediate with makers claiming within three years that it had "paid off many jackpots between 2.2 and 6.8 million plus more than 600 Mega Mini jackpots".

Since then, progressive jackpot slots have gone from strength to strength and the advent of the internet has only allowed them to be even better. The first internet slots appeared around 1996 along with the first online casinos. Taking slots online opened up even more possibilities for bonus features which is something that developers have taken advantage of.

Things to Remember with Slots

  • Online slots are a far cry from the old 'one-armed bandits' with average payout percentages of 95%-96%.
  • Progressive jackpot slots provide huge payouts but the possibility of wins across the rest of the slot can suffer.
  • Money management systems and selecting the right slot are the closest things to slots strategy.
  • The bigger wins are often created by extra-game features while second-screen bonus rounds are often the highlight of slots.