How Online Slots Work: Mini Beginners Guide

If you are new to online slots and have always wondered how they work, our how online slots work, we will provide you with all the information that you are looking for.

We will take you through what online slots actually are, the different types that are available to play, how RNG works to determine the results, how they are regulated and so much more that you will need to know.

Once you have finished reading this mini-guide, we can guarantee that you will not only know a lot more about online slots and online casinos but will also know that most of them can be trusted to give you a fair and enjoyable online gambling experience.

How Online Slots Work

What are Online Slots?

If you have ever seen a fruit machine down the local pub or at the land-based casinos, these are pretty much what you will be playing online but in a virtual format.

These slots can be enjoyed on your home PC, laptop and through evolved technology, they can also be enjoyed on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

While physical slot machines make use of mechanical random number generators to establish the results, these online slots will use sophisticated online software for the random number generators instead.

The software behind random number generators and the online casinos that host the online slots are all regulated by regulatory authorities that ensure that everything is fair, safe and secure for the players using them.

There are generally two ways in which you can play at online casinos:

  • Downloadable – These online casinos can be played by downloading either some standalone software or in the case of mobile devices, apps that can allow for easier access.
  • Instant-play – Instant-play casinos are all played through a web browser using either HTML5, Flash or Java. The most popular of these is HTML5 as it can be used by both desktop and mobile players across a variety of platforms.

What Kind of Online Slots are There?

There are literally thousands of online slots these days and while each will have their own theme, they are usually categorised through the type of slot that they are.

Three of these categories can be found below, we have used modern slots to cover the wide range of slots that come out today with a variety of different reel formats:

  • Classic Slots – These online slots are the type that are designed to be as simple as possible and are based on the sort of fruit machines that you might be familiar in pubs back in the UK.
  • Modern Slots – Modern slots are the more featureful and unique style slots that you will find online. They will normally have a ton of features such as different variations of wild symbols, scatter symbols, free spins, multipliers and bonus games.
  • Progressive Jackpot Slots – These slots are where you will want to be if you want to have a chance of winning as much as multiples of millions. They use a progressive jackpot that is increased whenever a player players on them at an online casino or a group of online casinos. It is a cumulative jackpot that all players contribute to until one lucky winner walks away with the lot.

Online slots can also be broken down by their reel formats but there are so many variations we will just show you a few of them.

  • 3-reels and 1-payline
  • 5-reels and 20- paylines
  • 5-reels and 25-paylines
  • 5-reels and 40 paylines
  • 5-reels and 243 paylines
  • 5-reels and 486 paylines

Some online slots will even have more than a thousand paylines and even as many as 4,000 paylines in rare cases.

Who Develops Online Slots?

There is a large number of casino game software developers out there but some of the biggest and most well-known ones include the likes of Microgaming, NetEnt, IGT, Playtech, Play N’ Go, Novomatic and BetSoft.

There are tons more out there but those are the bigger names you will see around today.

Many of these development houses have been in the industry for many years and some since online gambling even began. Microgaming and NetEnt are the two oldest developers so it is no surprise that they are two of the very best around.

How are Results Determined on Online Slots?

Players are often very wary of online slots as they are not quite sure how the results are determined. They obviously understand that software will be behind how results are determined but are never sure if this can be deemed as a fair way for this to happen.

There is always a little bit of mistrust when it appears that a program which can be altered can determine the results at an online casino.

However, as long as the online casino is licensed and regulated by a leading regulatory authority such as the UK Gambling Commission or the Malta Gaming Authority, you can be almost certain that the online casino is operating fairly.

This is because they are forced to adhere to strict regulations and they are open to being audited and have their casino games checked at any time by these authorities.

How Does RNG Work?

RNG is software that spits out a random number (could be anywhere between 1 and billions) every millisecond. The number that was spat out at the very moment that a player pushes the spin button is what will determine the result of that spin.

RNG software is programmed to stick to specific payout percentages attributed to the online slot as well as the hit frequency. This ensures that an online slot with an RTP of 96% will stick to that percentage and always payout 96% of the money that has gone into it at an online casino.

As for the hit frequency which is also pre-set, this can be classified as:

  • Low volatility – A low volatility slot will pay out frequently but mostly with low-value payouts.
  • Medium Volatility – As you might expect, a slot with a medium volatility will be something between a low and a high volatility slot with regards to frequency and payout amounts.
  • High Volatility – An online slot with a high volatility will not pay out very frequently but when it does there is a high chance that it will be a high-value payout.

It is important to note that there are other names other than volatility that is used to describe the above when it comes to online slots. Hit frequency and variance are two such terms.

This software ensures that all results are completely random and are by no way preplanned or predetermined. All that you can be sure of is that this high-tech software will be able to ensure that players always get the advertised percentage of chance.

How Fair Are Online Casinos?

Are Online Slots Regulated?

Any slot that is operating in a legal capacity will be licensed and regulated by at least one regulatory authority. These authorities grant the online casinos licenses which allow them to operate in their jurisdiction.

An example would be that any online casino that wishes to provides it online casino services to players in the UK will have to be licensed by the UK Gambling Commission.

What Kind of Regulations Does an Online Casino Have to Abide by?

As well as having their RNG software and their casino games tested regularly by the regulatory authorities, online casinos will also have to adhere to other areas as well. Everything from have privacy policies in place to keeping player funds separate from operating funds is common regulations.

  • Prearranged and random RNG testing
  • 128-bit encryption software and firewalls must be used to protect transactions
  • Separate accounts for player funds and operating funds
  • Proper ID verification process must be put in place
  • Have to promote responsible gambling

Above are just some of the main regulations that will be common across most online regulatory authorities.

How Can I Be Sure That an Online Casino is Being Regulated?

The only way to know for sure would be to check with the online regulators that the online casino claims to be licensed by. This information can usually be found in the footer of the online casino.

If there is no information regarding licensing at an online casino – you best bet would be to stay away altogether.

All regulatory authorities can be contacted, so if you wanted to check and make sure, you can simply blast them an email.

Which are the Best Online Regulatory Authorities?

The UK Gambling Commission is usually seen as the leading authority and it has done a lot of work that is responsible for the increased safety of online gambling.

Other leading authorities include the Malta Gaming Authority and the Gibraltar Gambling Commission.

Each shares common regulations and even work together by sharing ideas and policies. There are quite a few more regulatory authorities but if were to ask anyone who knew, they would tell that these three are probably the best out there right now.

Can I really Win Millions Online?

Yes, you can and this has happened many times since online gambling started out. There have been many millionaires created from online slots.

The slots responsible for creating these millionaires are progressive jackpot online slots such as Mega Moolah by Microgaming and Mega Millions by NetEnt.

Actually, in some cases, there have been players that have won as much as $15 million. Go to the Guinness Book of Records and you will actually find that the world record payout was one by an English man who took down almost 18 million euro(s) when playing on Mega Moolah.

The best part is that he was only betting 0.25 per spin win the win came in!

If you want to win millions, it is progressive jackpot slots that you should be playing at.

Am I Taxed on My Winnings?

This depends on where you are from as it will come down to the particular country and the regulations. If you are based in the UK, you will be glad to know that any money you make from gambling online is no longer taxable.

This means that should you take down a big payout, you will get the full amount once the online casino processes your withdrawal amount.

How Online Slots payout

Three Online Casinos we Recommend

Now that you understand a little more about online slots and how they work, you might want to try out a few online casinos that can vouch for.

They are all licensed, regulated and have won awards over the years for the excellence that they provide for players.

  • LeoVegas – Tons of games and easily the best welcome bonus of the three with €1600 and 200 free spins up for grabs.
  • Mr Green – A multi-award winning online casino that has a good selection of games and is completely mobile-optimised.
  • Bovada Slots Casino – been in the industry for a long time and has a number of online gambling options alongside online slots.

There are tons of other good online slots around but none will be able to compare with the three we listed in most areas.

They each have good catalogues of games, intuitive interfaces, top-notch security, good bonuses and promotions and responsive customer support.

Final Thoughts

Armed with the information we have given you about online slots and casinos, you should now be able to understand how they work and indeed understand how they are fair to play at in the main.

The online gambling industry has come a long way since its early days where there were quite a few rogue casinos.

Online regulation has gone a long way to pretty much wiping those issues out and you can be sure that these days online gambling is incredibly safe for players to enjoy.

We do hope that our post on how online slots work: Mini Beginners Guide has been valuable to you and that you now feel a lot safer about playing online.

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