What Are Video Slots?

Last modified: October 13, 2020

In terms of sheer volume, video slots are the most common of all casino games. When a casino advertises 400 games on their website usually at least 75% of those will be different slots. 

All virtual slot machines follow the same basic mechanics. Within that formula, though, there’s some incredible room for variation. In this article, you’ll get everything you need to know about online slot games and learn about some of the most popular slots which online casinos offer.

How Video Slots Work

No matter how fancy the graphics or bonuses, slots for online casinos work in the same manner. There will be a certain number of ‘reels’ (columns), each of which has symbols spaced evenly along with it. When you begin the game, after deciding how much you want to stake, you’ll click a button. The reels will start to spin, and if you match a certain number of symbols along a particular line – a ‘payline’ – then you win. The number of pay lines will vary from slot to slot, with more pay lines giving you a better chance of winning. 

While physical slots are incredibly popular, virtual versions have more room for creativity and variety. They blur the line between slot gaming and video gaming. The higher-end games will have high-quality graphics, animations, and sound effects. There will usually be a distinct theme and setting too, whether it’s a medieval Japanese castle or an Amazonian rainforest.

Slots in your web browser have special features too. Certain symbols might become wilds, scatters, or bonuses, each giving you a special boost. You might win free spins or trigger an entire free spin round. Many online casinos will dish out these free spins via promotions, and other offers – like ‘cashback’ deals, deposit bonuses, or a progressive jackpot – are also pretty easy to come by. 

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How They Differ From Physical Slots

In most important respects, video slots don’t differ from physical ones. The most important difference, though, is how your win is calculated. 

With brick-and-mortar slots, the result is random. You pull the lever, the reels spin, and hopefully, you get lucky. That’s not possible in the same way with a virtual, online casino. Instead, the software developers use an RNG (random number generator) to determine the results. 

This might seem a little suspicious. If all the calculations are hidden, how are you supposed to know the game is fair? Thankfully, there are regulatory bodies out there which test and verify that video slots are legitimate. Before using a slot, always check that it has been licensed and regulated by either the UK Gambling Commission or the Malta Gaming Authority. 

You should also check the RTP (return to player). This is a percentage figure which estimates how much of your investment you should make back over an extended playing period with that slot. If it’s 97%, for example, and you bet £1 million in total, you should theoretically get a return of £970,000. 

Most Popular Video Slots

With hundreds of fully licensed casinos offering hundreds of video slots each, it’s fair to say you have quite a bit of choice when it comes to picking a slot! The quickest way to narrow down your options is to play slots from a particular developer. The likes of Ash Gaming, Gamesys, Netent, PlayTech and WMS – for example – are all well-regarded for the consistent quality of their slots. 

If you want to dive straight in, though, here are a few of the best video slots for you to get started with.

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Jewel Blast

Jewel Blast is a perfect entry-level slot, created by Quickspin. It has a standard format, with five reels and 25 pay lines. It also has a couple of straightforward but valuable features, including a wild symbol and Blast Bonus. It can be played on desktop or mobile, has a solid RTP of 96.52%, and the graphics are colourful and fun.

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Street Fighter Slot

Street Fighter II

Fans of retro gaming will adore this slot, but gambling veterans will enjoy it just as much. Developed by NetEnt, this creative take on the iconic Street Fighter world blends fun slot action with retro graphics and sounds. You begin by picking a fighter, then spin the reels on a 5×5 grid. There are plenty of wilds and wild combos, and even Beat the Boss Free Spin levels to complete. The RTP is 96.06%, and you can hit a maximum jackpot of 7,142x your stake.

Full review here. Video preview here.

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Wings of Ra

Wings of Ra has an intriguing theme, being set in Ancient Egypt, and this is nicely evoked via the shiny graphics and sound design. It plays well too, offering ten pay lines across a slimline five-reel, three-row grid. While using standard card symbols – J, Q, K, etc. – it innovates in other ways, particularly via its intriguing Mystery Coins feature. You can win up to 3,000x your stake here, and the RTP is 95.5%.

Full review here. Video preview here.

Final Thoughts

As video poker has surpassed traditional poker in many ways, so video slots have surpassed regular slots. They’re quicker and easier to play, there’s more variety in both themes and features, and there’s an unlimited amount of choice in which games you play. Crucially, they’re probably fair nowadays too.

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