Online Slots Guide in 2023 – Real Money Slots that Payout

Img source:

People play online slots more than any other casino game. It makes sense since land-based slot machines are where most gamblers flock. It took years to catch up to offline slots, but in 2023 the quality of online games is unmatched.

Why are online slot machines so popular?

  • Pure Entertainment: Great graphics, fun themes, and gameplay features
  • Huge Variety: Designers each produce hundreds of games – and many designers exist.
  • Gamble or Practice: Players can play for free or win real money.
  • Slots Bonuses: Welcome bonuses build your bankroll.
  • Massive Jackpots: Including life-changing progressive jackpot slots.

According to, this guide to online slots will explain it all: the best game designers, how far mobile slots have progressed, and the top online casinos for real money slot players.

Slot Machines Through Time

Img source:

Charles Fey built the first mechanical slot machine, Liberty Bell, in 1895 in San Francisco. Its three-reel 1-pay-line format was the standard for decades. In the 20th century, developers made more elaborate machines with extra pay lines and bigger jackpots. Still, mechanical reels had limits.

When IGT designed the first electronic slot machine in the late 1970s, it revolutionized the casino industry. Using computer chips instead of mechanical reels, they made 5-reel slots and progressive jackpots. As slot machines got better graphics, slots row became a staple part of land-based casinos.

Slot machines quickly became the most popular casino game and a significant revenue source for casinos. Game designers like IGT, Bally, WMS Gaming, and Aristocrat produced bigger, flashier slots with huge lottery-style jackpots.

In the 1990s, the online gambling industry launched. Online slots had limits due to processing power and dial-up networks. As technology progressed, the design caught up to electronic slots in brick-and-mortar casinos.

Progression of Quality

At first, startup companies headed the development of online slots. Microgaming, Playtech, Crypto-Logic, and RTG all launched in the 1990s. Online casino groups licensed these interactive slots from the design houses, while players flocked to their sites.

In the 2000s, designers experimented with more complicated games. Online slots went from basic 3-reel spinners to multi-reel video slots with interactive bonus games and 3D cinematic graphics.

Eventually, traditional slot companies like IGT, Aristocrat, WMS Gaming, and Bally founded their online divisions. The resulting competition drove massive increases in both the quality and quantity of online slots.

Smartphones, Tablets, and Mobile Slots

Img source:

With BlackBerry and iPhone on the scene, mobile casino apps started to pop up around 2007. With bigger screens and more power, the inception of tablet computers boosted mobile gaming even more. Over time, smartphone tech caught up, and excellent mobile slots appeared.

Mobile slots betting became a more substantial part of the online gambling industry with each passing year. Each game took time to convert, so mobile casinos had fewer games than desktop sites. Today, mobile casinos make up 40% to 50% of a site’s revenue.

How Do Online Slot Games Work?

Beginners sometimes express confusion at the many features online slots have. Read through this quick slots glossary anytime you have a question about how online slots work.

  • Paylines: A-line running across the game screen that defines where a winning combination occurs. Each game can have anywhere from one to hundreds.
  • Scatter Symbols: Symbols that don’t have to appear on a pay line to benefit you. Often, three or more scatters help the player in some way.
  • Wild Symbols: Icons that substitute for any other symbol in the game. Usually, wilds don’t substitute for scatter symbols, though.
  • Free Spins: A common bonus feature where you receive free turns without the need to wager. Online casinos sometimes refer to these as free games.
  • Bonus Game: A special game-within-a-game. You receive free spins, bonus wheel spins, or interactive games that let you win cash without risking money. Scatter symbols often trigger bonus games.
  • Multipliers: A feature that multiplies the payout. Expressed in terms of 2x, 3x, and so on, these usually range from 2x to 50x multipliers.
  • Gamble Feature: Slots with the gamble feature let you make a double-or-nothing bet on the prize money you just won.
  • Progressive Jackpot: A jackpot that accumulates over time. Single-area jackpots cover one machine, while wide-area jackpots cover dozens of slot games. These jackpots can climb into the millions of dollars.

Online Slot RTP and What To Look For

Img source:

Return-to-player or RTP is a statistic that shows players a slot’s average payout as a percentage. RTP is a theoretical house edge calculated over thousands of spins. A 98% RTP means you would expect the machine to pay back $98 for every $100 you wager.

Types of Slots You’ll Find Online

Each slot machine has a slightly different look and feel. Here’s a list of the types of online slots you’ll find at casino sites.

  • 3-Reel Slots: 3-reel classics or 3-reel spinners, based on the old mechanical slot machines. They may have fewer pay lines, simpler graphics, and smaller jackpots.
  • 5-Reel Slots: The most common form of online slot. 5-reel slots usually have enhanced graphics, wilds, multipliers, free spins, and other added features.
  • Video Slots: These games use video cut scenes and entertaining bonus games. They have often had amazing features like expanding, stacked, and cascading wilds.
  • 3D Slots: Advanced video slots with 3D, cinematic graphics on the reels, and in the bonus games.
  • Progressive Slots: Slots with progressive jackpots. The pot grows until someone hits it. Some games eventually reach lottery-sized prizes.

Playing for Free vs. For Real Money

Whether you play for free or bet real money, online slots have entertainment value. Here’s a list of the benefits and drawbacks of each form online slots play.

Img source:

Pros & Cons of Free Online Slots


  • Practice online slots and learn the system.
  • Decide whether you enjoy the game.
  • Don’t risk your bankroll.


  • You don’t keep what you win.
  • Not as thrilling as playing for real money.

Pros & Cons of Real Money Online Slots


  • Keep your winnings.
  • Claim bonuses that allow you to bet house money.
  • Reproduce the fun of land-based slots.
  • It’s an adrenaline rush to wager and win.
  • Progressive slots offer potentially life-changing jackpots.


  • Your bankroll dwindles if you lose.

Bigger Bankrolls with Online Casino Slot Bonuses

Img source:

The online casino slot bonuses we mentioned above are a great way to get some extra bankroll. Here’s a quick rundown of different promotions a gambling site may offer.

  • No-Deposit Bonus: Register for a player account and receive free play cash without the need to deposit. Signing up may put you on the email newsletter list.
  • Deposit Bonus: A bonus when you make your first deposit. Also called a match bonus, these often double your money or better.
  • Reload Bonus: Match bonuses for loyal, longtime players. These can be redeemable many times over.

Most online slot bonuses have a match rate and rollover. A match rate is how much bonus cash you receive per deposit. A 100% match means you earn $1 in bonus money for each $1 you deposit, up to a certain amount.

The rollover requires you to wager a certain amount before withdrawing the bonus money. If it has a 20x wagering requirement, you must bet the bonus 20 times.


These days, online casinos host slot tournaments. Players pay a fee to enter the event, then receive cash prizes if you place high on the leaderboard.

Other Slots Promos

Other promotions lower the house edge and provide the fun of online slots gaming without risk to your bankroll.

Img source:
  • Free Chips: Free bonus for high volume play.
  • Free Spins: Often attached to a bonus code.
  • Strategy to Win More Playing Slots Online

Slots machines are luck-based, but there are a few things you can do to start on the right foot. Read through these tips and tricks for playing online slots before you play for real money.

  • Set Proper Bet Levels: Pay attention to pay lines. With 10 lines, five cents becomes 50 cents at max bet.
  • Practice Bankroll Management: Have enough bankroll to play many spins. Bet 1% to 2% of your bankroll each turn.
  • Limit Losses: Learn what a bankroll is and how it differs from your budget. Only play what you can stand to lose.
  • Don’t Seek Hot Slots: The games are random. No hot or cold machines exist.
  • No Strategy: Don’t try slot systems. They don’t work.
  • Pace Yourself: Don’t play too fast. Hit “Spin” every time. Don’t choose Autoplay.
  • Pick Slots Wisely: Read online slot reviews and pick games with the best RTP.

Enjoy the World of Online Slot Games

Playing online slots can be exciting and rewarding. Nothing is more thrilling winning a huge jackpot, especially when the theme is fun, and the gameplay is seamless. Make sure to play within your means, and gamble responsibly. Now that you know everything about these interactive games pick a casino site, sign up for an account, and start playing online slots today!