Why Did Online Slots Become the Most Popular Online Casino Game?

min read
A man plays online slots on a tablet.
BetMGM Jul 27, 2022, 11:32 AM

It’s almost impossible to think of a casino experience without the attention-grabbing slot machine coming to mind. This is the case with online casino slots, too. Considering how integral slot machines are to a brick-and-mortar casino setup, it’s no surprise that the same can be said for an online casino.

While there is a wide variety of online casino games to explore, the fact that slots offer the much-loved thrill and excitement associated with a casino makes them a firm favorite. Additionally, they’re relatively easy to play and don’t require you to be an experienced player. 

Before delving into some of the main reasons why online slots are so popular, it will help to consider how these games have evolved over the years. 

The Transition from Land-Based Slot Games to Online Slots

The history of slots can be traced all the way back to New York in 1891. The first machine had five drums and 50 playing cards, and the bar owner used to pay all the winners on the spot. Although these early slot machines were relatively basic and manual forerunners to more modern games, gamblers loved playing them. As their popularity rose, they paved the way for further developments right through the 20th century. 

Of course, once the internet came into being, it didn’t take long for online gambling to take hold. However, it was only in 1996 that online slots as they are now came to the fore. Since then, the rapid growth of digital technology has ensured constant changes and improvements to keep the gaming action exciting and enticing for both novice and experienced players. And because so many people play slots, developers have put a lot of money and creative inspiration into launching fresh titles and groundbreaking genres. 

Take a look at one of the big reasons why virtual slots have become so many people’s favorite casino games. 

The Wide Variety of Online Slots

So, why do people play slots online, and why are slots so popular? There are numerous reasons, the first of which is that you’re truly spoilt for choice. It all depends on the type of game you enjoy playing, the game mechanics, and how retro or modern you like the format to be. But if you can think of a theme, you’ll probably find that someone’s already designed a slot around it, whether it’s animals, landscapes, Chinese good luck, Ancient Egypt, sport-related or even food. But it’s the entire package of a game that attracts fans and keeps them coming back for more — the format, genre, graphics, soundtrack, mechanics, features and bonuses and, of course, how likely you are to land a win. Here are a few types of slots you might encounter.

1. Classic (Three-Reel) Slots

Considered the simplest type of online slots, these are based on the traditional mechanical three-reel slots, which greatly contributed to the rise of Las Vegas as the go-to city for the full casino experience. Whether you were looking to play casino table games or enjoy a session of slots in person, Vegas cemented itself as the epicenter of casino gaming. So it’s no surprise that these traditional-type slot machines have cemented their place online, too — especially for fans of the more retro virtual slot.

2. Video (5-Reel) Slots

These are the most popular slot machines you’ll find at an online casino. The most commonly used format is five reels and three rows (also called a 5×3 grid), with combinations being randomly selected by the game software rather than mechanical reels or levers. This makes them relatively easy to play. All you have to do is set your bet value and click the “spin” button.

Other Formats

While many slot titles employ the traditional 5×3 grid format, you’ll also come across 6-reel and 7-reel slot games. Most of these follow the same gaming principles as 5-reel slots but often with different numbers of paylines. Some have unique structures, such as staggered reels, while others have done away entirely with reels and used more of a “grid” type of system. You’ll discover which is the most fun to play based on your personal preference.

Progressive Slots and Progressive Jackpots

Progressive slots and jackpot slots are some of the most popular slot games offered by online casinos. In jackpot slots, part of the player’s wager goes towards the jackpot. This essentially means the more people who play a progressive slot, the bigger the jackpot becomes. Eventually, one lucky player lands the ultimate combination and scoops the entire jackpot, at which point the game resets to a set baseline level. Progressive slot machines exist in land-based casinos too, where more than one machine can be linked or networked, along with its associated jackpot.

Interactive Slots

Interactive slots (also referred to as i-slots) offer multiple paylines and a multi-reel element, and can be likened to an online video game. They often include an engaging story, as well as drawn-out cutscenes followed by a mini-game that involves a degree of skill. As such, they can be fun to play, especially as there’s an element of interaction as well as luck involved.

Virtual Reality Slots

Virtual reality (VR) has changed how people interact and participate in an assortment of games and online experiences. As possibly some of the most realistic and exciting online slots, these allow you to feel as if you’re truly on an actual casino floor. VR slots make you feel as though you’re doing more than just interacting with a screen.

In addition to the types of slots mentioned above, some of the most famous franchises have also inspired an assortment of online slots. Baywatch, Ghostbusters and Jumanji are just a few examples of them, but there are tons of titles that sit within this genre, should you wish to try some.

The Perks of Playing Online Slots

While playing online slots is great fun, here are some of the other big plus points.

Little to No Experience Is Required

People tend to be drawn to online slots because of how easy they are to play. Although there may be slight differences between the various slots, the premise remains the same. This makes players more likely to experiment and keep trying new slots every chance they get. You’ll always find simple instructions for the game, and many titles show a paytable that lists the different combinations of symbols that constitute wins and how much they’re worth.

They’re Ideal for Beginner Gamblers

For the reason mentioned above, just about anyone can give online slots a go. While other casino games may be intimidating for novice players, that’s not the case with online slots. However, it’s really important that you gamble responsibly and set yourself a limit on how much you’ll spend on your slots session — it’s very easy to get carried away.

You Can Access a Live Casino Online, Even When You’re on the Go

This is perhaps the main draw of playing online slots. They’re easily accessible from wherever you might be, and you don’t have to search far and wide for the nearest casino to join in on the fun. Once you’re registered at an online casino of your choice, you’re free to browse its entire collection of games and take your pick.

Value for Money

Unlike certain casino games that demand hefty wagers to participate in, slots strike the perfect balance between entertainment and affordability. They allow players to place extremely small bets and adjust them based on their budget so they can stretch their bankroll as much as they need to and keep the excitement going for longer. Plus, with jackpot slots, players still get the opportunity to win big despite the smaller bets. 

Slot Bonuses and Online Casino Promotions

The online casino industry is more competitive than ever, and players are reaping the benefits. Casinos need to find ways to attract players and keep them coming back, so they tend to add games to their roster that offer attractive bonuses in an effort to draw in players. Plus, with casinos constantly vying for the attention of new players and the loyalty of existing customers, they even offer additional bonuses such as welcome bonuses, cash-back bonuses, and deposit bonuses. Usually, these bonuses come in the form of free spins for slot machines, so new players get the opportunity to spin the reels and potentially win big without risking their own money. 

They’re Fun and Interactive

With ongoing improvements and developments being made, the world of virtual casino gaming is more interactive than ever. From astonishing visuals and graphics to gripping narratives and interactive features — through the likes of virtual reality slots — it’s becoming much more fun as you truly immerse yourself in the online casino game experience. 

They’re Relatively Easy to Design

Given that the premise of online slots has remained unchanged for decades, developers continue to up the ante. By keeping the core of online slots the same, developers are able to add features and elements that are sure to keep the masses returning. So whether it’s a grid, reels or incredible features such as bonus rounds, pick-me games, and cascading reels, there is always something fresh to discover.

The Choices Are Endless

Developers of online slot games are consistently releasing new and exciting titles for players to try their luck at. From the traditional three-reel layout to more complex variations with multiple paylines and even unique variations like Slingo, most online casinos will have a slot game to cater to every preference. 

Beyond the game layout and features, online slots are also being developed with more and more engaging, visually appealing themes to attract players and make the slot experience more exciting. With so many different games on offer, when you’re looking for a slot to play online, the question is not so much about which slot game or theme to choose but how to choose a slot machine for the best results and gaming experience.

Play Some of the Best Online Slots at BetMGM

Visit BetMGM to experience the thrill of playing casino games at your own pace and on your terms. To discover some of the best casino games to play online, including online slot titles galore, register at BetMGM. 

BetMGM’s online casino also offers many traditional and variety games. You’ll also find exciting live dealer casino games (which embellish casino table games with an interactive live element), so if you decide slots are not for you, there are loads of other casino games for you to try.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.