Slots gambling in 2023

Slots have come a long way since their inception late in the 19th century. Slots gambling is done all over the world but has perhaps undergone its biggest transformation in the last 25 years. The creation of online slots has largely revolutionized the gambling industry, with billions of dollars wagered ever year on these virtual slot machines. Our guide to slots gambling, slot machine strategy, types of slot games and other aspects of real money play is extensive.


How do slot machines work?

Modern slot machines
Slot Machines have advanced a long way, since the early days of Fruit Machines and mechanical reels.

Slot machines, also known as one-armed bandits, are casino gambling machines with three or more reels which spin when a button is pushed.

The machines include a currency detector that validates the coin or money inserted to play. To start playing, you insert coins, cash, or a ticket with a barcode into the machine. You then have the option to choose the number of paylines you want to activate and the amount you want to bet per line.

Once you hit the “spin” button, the reels will start to spin. The goal is to line up matching symbols on the paylines in order to win payouts. The amount of the payout depends on the combination of symbols and the amount of the bet.

Most modern slot machines use a computer program called a random number generator to determine the outcome of each spin. This means that the result of each spin is determined randomly, and the odds of winning are determined by the number of symbols and weightings of the reels.

Traditionally when you hit a jackpot or payout on slot machines you win coins, with it possible then to hit the payout button and your coins will fall into the hopper. Many modern slot machines will, however, often spit out a ticket with your winnings, which you can then cash-out at the venue’s help desk or “cage”.

Slot machine rules

Slot machines are gambling devices that generate a game of chance for their customers. The rules for playing slot machines vary depending on the specific machine, but generally follow the same basic format.

  1. Insert coins or currency into the machine: In order to play a slot machine, you must first insert coins or currency into the machine. The amount required to play will vary depending on the specific machine and the maximum bet it allows.
  2. Choose your bet amount: Once you have inserted coins or currency into the slot machine, you can choose the amount you want to bet per spin. This can typically be done by pressing buttons on the machine or by using a touch screen.
  3. Spin the reels: After choosing your bet amount, you can start the game by spinning the reels. This is typically done by pulling a lever or pressing a button. At modern slots machine venues it is more likely you will press a button, than pull a lever.
  4. Check the paytable: The paytable displays the winning combinations and the payouts for each combination. It is important to familiarize yourself with the paytable before playing a slot machine.
  5. Receive winnings: If the symbols on the reels match up with a winning combination on the paytable, you will receive a payout according to the amount of your bet and the payout for the winning combination.
  6. Repeat: You can repeat the process of betting, spinning, and receiving winnings as many times as you like until you either run out of coins or currency, or until you decide to stop playing.

It is important to remember that slot machines are games of chance and there is no guaranteed way to win. The outcome of each spin is determined by a random number generator, so the results of each spin are completely unpredictable.

Slot machines history & timeline

The thrum of slots is synonymous with casinos around the world. You’ll hear the clinking of coins falling, jackpots going off and excited cries as winners are declared.

The Nevada Gaming Commission says around 70 per cent of revenue at casinos in the USA is from slot machines. It is a similar high rate in markets such as Australia and the United Kingdom. It is lower in the Chinese market, where baccarat and other high-stakes games are king.

The humble slot has its origins in New York where Sittman and Pitt created a gambling machine similar to what was to become the slot. It had five drums and 50 cards and was based on poker.

The prizes were anything from a free drink to a cigar; they were chosen by the bars that all suddenly seemed to have these trendy little gadgets.

The limitations, because there were so many possible payouts in this poker-based game, forced the slot to ultimately take a step back, to take a step forward.

Due to the vast number of possible wins, it proved practically impossible to come up with a way to make a machine capable of making an automatic payout for all possible winning combinations.

Charley Fey invented the slot machine
Charles Fey is credited with inventing slot machines.

Charles Fey is credited with creating the first slot machine with a much simpler automatic payment mechanism. It had three reels and was called the Liberty Bell. It had horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts and, of course, a Liberty Bell on its reels.

After the release of Liberty Bell in 1907, mechanical slot machines became extremely popular in the USA, even though slots were swiftly banned in Fey’s home state of California.

The first widely accepted video slot was created in 1976 and passed rigorous testing by the Nevada authorities. From there they have grown extensively. Many of the world’s leading slots providers are in countries as diverse as Australia, the USA, England and Sweden.

Online slots are also the largest money-spinner for casinos on the Internet. It is impossible to gauge just how much money is spent worldwide on online slots but it would be a staggering figure.

Types of slot machines

We will look at this topic more extensively in other articles, but here is a brief overview of the types of slots you will find in casinos. It’s crazy to think there are more than 2400 slots at the Bellagio alone. There are literally millions of slots in various countries around the world.

3 reel slots

3 reel: These are the classic slot machines with three reels with symbols on them. When you hit a winning combination you are rewarded. Most 3-reel slots allow you to bet anything from 1 to 3 coins. Generally the payout rate is better when you put in more coins, meaning the same payout combination may have better odds if you have put more money down. For instance, a combination might pay out 2-1, but if you bet max coins it might pay 3-1.

5 reel: These work on the same principle as three-reel slots. Except they give you more ‘ways’ to win. It costs a coin to activate each payline and you can generally bet up to 10 coins per payline. For instance, you might bet two coins on each line, meaning it would cost you 10 coins in total for each spin. Different 5-reel slots have different bet limits but it is not uncommon to play 5-reel games which allow you to bet $500 per spin.

best video slots

Video slots: These are based on slots with reels, but instead of actual spinning reels are powered by random number generators. Because they are powered by computer there is often more than five reels and usually juicy features, or side games that can be activated. The video slot is probably the greatest single advancement in slot machines, and we will be forever grateful.

All-ways slots machines: All Ways slots offer players multiple ways to win on every spin, rather than just a set number of paylines. Instead of having a fixed number of paylines, “All Ways” slots typically offer a set number of symbols that can appear on each reel. For example, a 3-reel “All Ways” slot with three symbols per reel would offer 243 ways to win on every spin, as there are three possible symbols that can land on each of the three reels. Similarly, a 5-reel “All Ways” slot with four symbols per reel would offer 4,096 ways to win. All Ways slots typically have higher hit frequencies, meaning that players can expect to win more often on these machines. However, the payouts are typically smaller than on traditional slot machines with a set number of paylines.

Bonus slots: These are slots that allow the player to get a feature when you hit the correct symbols on the same pay-line. The bonus can come in the form of free spins and even a multiplier which will boost winnings. Bonus slots are among the most popular land-based games.

Progressive slots: These take a small monetary portion of each spin you have, putting it into a jackpot pool which can reach into the millions on some of the bigger games. While the payouts may not be as frequent, the rewards are generally huge when you hit a minor or major jackpot. The most well-known progressive is the Megabucks Network, which starts at $10 million, but has got as high as $30,000,000 before going off. Progressive jackpot slots have been a big contributor as to why slots gambling has got so popular online.

Linked slot machines: Linked slot machines, also known as progressive slots, are a group of slot machines that are connected together and contribute to a shared jackpot. A portion of each player’s bet is added to the jackpot, which grows until one lucky player wins the prize.The progressive jackpot can be won on any of the linked machines and can be a life-changing amount of money. The odds of winning the progressive jackpot are typically much lower than the odds of winning a regular payout, but the potential payout is much higher. Linked slot machines can be found in brick-and-mortar casinos as well as online casinos. They are popular among players because of the excitement of the progressive jackpot and the possibility of winning a large sum of money. It’s important to note that the odds of winning the progressive jackpot are typically lower than the odds of winning a regular payout on a slot machine. As such, it’s important to understand the rules and regulations of the specific linked slot machines you are playing, and to always gamble responsibly.

Slots payout percentages

Slots payout percentages vary significantly. Often if a slot is in a regulated environment, like Las Vegas, the laws will ensure a certain percentage of all money put in is returned.

Depending on where you are, land-based slots can pay out anything from 81% to 97%. Almost always the percentage falls somewhere in between.

Online players generally get a much better deal, with the fact there are lower running costs meaning they can afford to give more back to the player. You will struggle to find an online casino that doesn’t pay out at least 95% of all money put into slot machines.

At both land-based venues and on the internet the payout percentages should be transparent, but they not always are, which is a great bugbear of the World Gambling List.

Slots strategy

There is no magic formula here. If you didn’t know previously, slots are a game of luck. The winnings are paid out as a percentage of money put in by all players.

However, there are a few slots strategy tips you can do to make sure you make the most of your slots game time. For starters, always make sure you are playing enough coins and lines to qualify for available jackpots. The last thing you want to do is get the correct sequence and fail to qualify for a major jackpot.

The only time any skill actually comes into a slot game is when there are side games. This is more likely to happen at an online slot, but there have been a few exceptions where a poker machine has had a side game which involved skill.

An example is the Mr Vegas slot with blackjack and roulette both featuring. Obviously if you know how to play these two games you will do much better in the bonus round.

How to play slots online in 2023

Slot machines have become very popular at online casinos
The selection of slot machines at online casinos is growing all the time.

There are many online slots available in 2023, with online gambling making rapid strides into the land-based industry in recent times. The top slots online typically operate much the same as traditional slot machines, although they tend to have some cool features that can’t be matched by the land-based industry.

For instance, the fact that online slots are essentially computer code and don’t take up physical space, means they can be distributed and played far more widely, with far fewer overheads. This means that online slots can cater to all types of players around the world and are not just the domain of wealthy people.

Another cool perk of online slots is that the volume of players on things like linked jackpot games can lead to huge payouts. For instance, a very popular progressive jackpot slots games is Mega Moolah, with it having paid out 100s of millions of Euros across many years, including many people millionaires. These progressive jackpot online slots essentially take a small fee every time there is a spin on the game, putting it in a pot, which can then be won when you successfully spin certain combinations.

Online slots are also far more prolific than their retail counterpart, with literally thousands of different games available to play for real money, from a plethora of casino software companies. Some gambling sites even have slots tournaments available, where the crux is essentially that the more you play, the more points you accrue and the more cash and prizes you can win.

Major online slots companies include Microgaming, Net Entertainment, Playtech and Play’n Go, although these are seriously many different companies, that provide first-rate experiences.

Online slot machines for real money

It’s crazy to think it’s been more than 20 years since we were first treated to an online slot machine. Our first experience was with an early Microgaming demo product on a dial-up modem. It’s safe to say there has been a lot of progress in online gambling since.

Now punters can play online slots on their computers, smartphones and tablets. Early on there were just a handful of companies trying to develop casino software; now there are hundreds of tech companies attempting to bust into gambling.

Remarkably, Microgaming still sits at the top of the heap when it comes to online slots, with the industry veteran providing stunning themed games and many of the most popular progressives.

Some of the challengers in online slots are NetEntertainment, BetSoft, Playtech, TopGame and RTG. We will cover these companies in individual articles down the track, but for now, we will give you a few of our favourite slots titles.

Six of the best online slots

Game of Thrones: We just want to be clear – if there was a Breaking Bad slot it would be No.1. But instead we have to settle for the second-best show of recent times – Game of Thrones. There are several variations on the game, with the standard 243 ways to win and 1024-ways variants. The game features many of our favourite characters from Westeros.

Mega Moolah: Microgaming takes out the top two spots in our sexy six, and second spot goes to their most popular progressive game. It earns its spot simply because the payouts are so big. Twice punters have won more than €5 million. It has 5 reels and 25 pay-lines and features mini, minor, major and mega jackpots.


X Men: A themed slot by leading software developer Playtech, X Men is a 5-reel, 25-pay-line game. It features well-known characters such as Professor Xavier, Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Storm and Cyclops. It has an above-average payout percentage of 96.02.

Mr Vegas: This online slot is a favorite of the crew at the World Gambling List — Jack in graphics even looks like Mr Vegas. It’s a BetSoft production (yes, a production) and features a swaggering, yellow-haired heart-throb entering a casino. The side games include roulette and blackjack and the graphics are sensational.

Beach Life: A trendy progressive video slot by Playtech, obviously with a surf theme. It regularly has jackpots in excess of USD $5 million. There are also several other features triggered by wilds. The tacky beach tunes are a highlight.

Pub fruity: Another Microgaming title to round it out. We have all played Pub Fruity before and know how simple it is. There is just something about this game that takes us back to the late 1970s, so we had to include it. Oh to be young again.

Other names for slot machines

The term slot machine is distinctly American English. If you live in the United Kingdom you probably call a slot anything from a fruit machine, to a puggy and, of course, just the slots. In Australia and New Zealand slots are known as pokies.

Slots names by country

  • Australia: Pokies, poker machines
  • New Zealand: Pokies
  • Japan: pachisuro or pachislo
  • USA: Slots or slot machines
  • China: Slots
  • England: Puggy, poker machines, fruities
  • Holland: speelautomaten
  • Germany: speelautomaten

What countries have legal slots gambling?

Slot machines are commonly found in many countries around the world. Some of the countries that have legalized slot machines include:

Note that the availability and regulation of slot machines can vary greatly from country to country, and some countries may have restrictions or prohibit their use altogether.

Does Africa have slot machines?

Yes, some countries in Africa have legalized slot machines. However, the availability and regulation of slot machines can vary greatly from country to country, and some African countries may have restrictions or prohibit their use altogether.

For example, South Africa is one of the countries in Africa where slot machines are legal and widely available in casinos and other licensed gaming establishments. Other countries, such as Egypt, may have more restrictions on the use of slot machines.

What Asian countries have slots gambling?

The availability and regulation of slot machines vary greatly among Asian countries. Some of the countries in Asia where slot machines are legal and widely available include:

  • Philippines
  • Cambodia
  • South Korea
  • Vietnam
  • Macau (Special Administrative Region of China)
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia

In these countries, slot machines can be found in licensed casinos, as well as other gaming establishments. It’s important to note that while slot machines may be legal in these countries, there may still be restrictions or limitations on their use.

On the other hand, some Asian countries, such as Japan, have more strict regulations and restrictions on the use of slot machines, and they may only be available in a limited capacity or not at all. Japan does have a cool home version of slots gambling, known as Pachinko, which WGL readers should definitely check out if they ever visit or live here.

What European countries have retail slot machines

Slots gambling is very popular in Europe, but not all countries have got these types of games available in venues, because of local laws. For instance, slot machines are readily available in places like Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom, however there are also many countries that do not allow these types of games.

Many European countries have slot machines, including:

  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • France
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Norway
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Switzerland
  • Belgium
  • Ireland
  • Netherlands

Basically, if you are looking to play slot machines in Europe, it pays to do a little bit of research on whether they are available in your location. Generally if slots gambling is banned in a country, they probably have also outlawed online gambling, which means you will have to dig a little deeper to play real money games.

Slot machine glossary of terms

  1. Payline: a line on the reels that determines if you have won on a given spin.
  2. Payout: the amount of money you win from a winning spin.
  3. Reel: the spinning cylinders on a slot machine that display the symbols.
  4. Symbol: the images on the reels that determine the outcome of a spin.
  5. Wild symbol: a symbol that can substitute for other symbols to create winning combinations.
  6. Scatter symbol: a symbol that can trigger bonus rounds or payouts even if it doesn’t land on a payline.
  7. Bonus round: a special feature that is triggered by landing a certain combination of symbols, offering additional chances to win.
  8. Multiplier: a feature that increases your winnings by a set amount, such as 2x or 3x.
  9. Free spins: a bonus feature that gives you a certain number of spins on the reels without having to bet any of your own money. Contrary to some myths about slot machines, free spins can be a great way to boost your bankroll.
  10. RNG: a random number generator, a computer program that randomly determines the outcome of each spin.
  11. Hit frequency: the frequency with which a slot machine pays out, expressed as a percentage.
  12. Volatility: the degree of risk associated with a slot machine, with high volatility machines offering the potential for larger payouts but less frequent wins, and low volatility machines offering smaller payouts more often. There are some simple tips for winning on slot machines you can follow to improve the odds that you win.
  13. Jackpot: the top prize on a slot machine, often a progressive jackpot that grows with each player’s bet until it is won.