Compare the UK's best online casinos

A Complete Guide To Online Video Slots

Knowledge is power in the iGaming industry and video slots are perhaps the most important games to understand. Because the genre is so varied, you need to have a fundamental understanding of what video slots are and how to play them. With some baseline knowledge in place, you can then turn your hand to any game on the market. This guide is your way to build a baseline of knowledge and become a veritable video slots expert.

The Basics Of Online Video Slots

Before we launch into the specific features you’ll find inside the top video slots online, let’s start with a general overview. In simple terms, video slots are modern versions of the one-arm bandits. This means that each game contains a set reels and symbols that spin in unison. From these features, the aim of the game is to line up three or more matching icons in order to win a prize.

The main difference between modern video slots and live slot machines is the number of reels. In general, one-arm bandits have three reels, while video slots have five. This naturally opens up a lot more possibilities in terms of paylines and prize potential. Indeed, although the number of paylines will differ from slot-to-slot, you’ll typically find between five and 100+ paylines in the latest creations. In fact, as well as fixed paylines stretching up, down, left, right and diagonally across the reels, some slots have a “ways to win” structure. These games essentially allow you to hit wins in 240, 720 and even 1,024 different directions.

FACT ATTACK“Liberty Bell, the world’s first slot machine, was created by Charles Fey back in 1895”

Another important different between old slots and today’s spinners is bonus games. With more reels there are more symbols and that means it’s possible to introduce more special features. Through a combination of wilds and scatters, developers have made mini-games a reality. By introducing bonus rounds, where the action moves away from the main reels and turns into more of an arcade game, video slots have become more immersive than their forerunners. In fact, it’s this video gaming element that has given video slots their name.

Sights And Sounds

As we’ve said, online video slots are about more than reels and symbols. Yes, the multiple paylines and six-figure jackpots are appealing, but the main attraction is often their sights and sounds. To give you a better idea of what you can find online, here’s an overview of some of the common features you’ll find at the top slot sites:

Space Themes

If something doesn’t happen on earth, it takes place in space. Why? Well, because the final frontier offers a universe of possibilities in terms of bonus rounds, special features and, importantly, escapism (i.e. they take you into a more interesting realm). Starburst is perhaps the best-known video slot and a testament to why this genre is so popular.

Asian Themes

When you scroll through our recommended video slots sites, you’ll see a bevy of Asian themed games. Because China and its continental peers have a long history in the casino industry, software developers have created games based on traditional icons from the Far East.

Movie/TV Themes

One of the most impressive genres, movie slots are licensed products that feature video clips and sound effects from the big screen. Whether it’s The Incredible Hulk, Gladiator or Spiderman, these slots are all-action affairs that feature some seriously impressive imagery.

Music Themes

In recent years, musical video slots have become popular. Often based on bands and major artists, spinners such as Guns N’ Roses and Jimi Hendrix are not only visually impressive but allow you to spin while chart hits play in the background.

Action/Adventure Themes

As well as taking inspiration from popular culture, software developers such as Microgaming, NetEnt and Playtech also come up with their own storylines. In a nutshell, games such as Gonzo’s Quest feature quirky characters, engaging stories and tons of images and animations.

2D Vs. 3D Video Slots

Video Slots Jackpots And Bonuses

As a general rule, there is a hierarchy in the online slots world when it comes to jackpots. On the bottom rung of the ladder are classic/three-reel slots. Because these games often have a single payline and fewer symbols, the top prizes are usually the smallest you’ll find. At the top of the ladder are progressive jackpot slots. Because a small portion of your bet is added to a communal prizepool, the prizes in these games are constantly growing. With thousands of players contributing to the prizepool every day, the average progressive jackpot you’ll find online is well in excess of £100,000 and often more than £1 million.

In the middle of the pack are video slots. Because these games are designed to be as entertaining as they are lucrative, you won’t find million-pound jackpots in Avalon II, Book of Ra and Immortal Romance. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t lucrative. For the top spinners, you can expect to play for payouts topping £100,000. However, it’s important to remember that video slot prizes are based on your line bet. For example, if you play Hotline, you’ll notice that the payout table has prizes ranging from 5X to 200X. This basically means that winning combinations will unlock a prize that’s a multiple of your line bet. Therefore, the biggest prizes are only available if you bet the maximum per line.

FACT ATTACK“The first video slot was developed in 1976 by Fortune Coin Co. and was placed inside the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel”

While this might not seem like a good deal, it’s worth remembering that everything is relative. So, even if you stake a small amount, you could still win a huge prize relative to your bet size. In tandem with bet multipliers, video slots also have more bonuses, wilds and special features than their peers. Three or more scatters will initiate a series of ‘free’ spins, wilds will substitute for other symbols, release jackpots and even spread themselves across the reels to create more winning combos.

Finally, some video slots have a gamble feature. Available as an optional extra, these mini-games allows you to speculate on the outcome of a 50/50 proposition and double your prize. So, even though video slots don’t offer the largest prizes, they typically give you more ways to win than classic and progressive jackpot games.

Slots Software: What To Expect From The Top Brands

Before we leave you with some video slots tips, let’s take a look at the leading casino software suppliers and what they offer. With so many options out there for desktop and mobile casino players, it’s worth knowing where to go when you want a specific feature, theme or style of game.


Perhaps the best-known software provider, NetEnt does a lot of things well. However, if you’re in the market for a musical game, NetEnt is always a good bet. From Guns N’ Roses to Jimi Hendrix, this developer has carved out a niche as one of the best music slot providers in the industry. Another thing NetEnt does well is mobile slots. Thanks to its touch controls and swipe provisions (you can swipe down on the reels to start a game), it’s easy to play and win via any mobile device.


For movie and TV slots, Microgaming is the industry’s major player. Thanks to a selection of exclusive licensing deals with Hollywood production companies such as Universal and TV networks, Microgaming has a ton of hit slots. In fact, what’s neat about games such as Jurassic Park, Terminator 2 and Bullseye is that you’ll get to watch clips from the movie/show and take part in themed bonuses rounds.


For all-round gaming, Playtech is a standout performer. Using its industry-leading omni-channel software (Playtech One), you can play a single game across multiple platforms. For example, you can start playing Age of Gods on your desktop and then continue the action via your iPhone, Android, Windows Phone or tablet without skipping a beat.


Despite being one of the younger software providers, Yggdrasil has become a hit with players thanks to its innovations. As well as unique themes and 3D animations, Yggdrasil games allow you to employ automatic betting options. Otherwise known as strategies, these options will automatically increase or decrease your wagers in line with a set strategy.

Online Slots Tips

The best slots tip we can give you is be at the right place at the right time. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done because you never know when a jackpot is going to hit. However, what you can do is give yourself the best chance of being at the right place at the right time by betting sensibly. As a general rule, you should use no more than 5% of your entire bankroll in a single session.

FACT ATTACK“Outside of the best online casinos, Las Vegas is the world’s slots capital with more than 200,000 machines”

So, let’s assume you have £1,000 to spend on casino games. In this example, you would ante up with no more than £50. Once you’ve got your sessions stake, you then need to divide it into smaller chunks. To give you the best chance of spinning for long enough to hit a jackpot, we suggest spending no more than 2% of your session stake per spin. Doing this will give you a better chance of surviving a run of back luck before things turn in your favour.

Another tip to help you improve your chances of a slots win is to play as many paylines as possible. By opening up the maximum number of paylines, you’ll not only increase the number of ways you have to win, but it will help you unlock bigger prizes and bonuses. As we’ve said, video slots are packed with added extras, so it makes sense to give yourself the best chance of activating them by playing multiple win lines.

Play The Best Video Slots Today

Hopefully this guide has given you an insight into why video slots are so popular. As well as being potentially lucrative, the genre is packed with features, bonuses and entertaining themes. Whether it’s a movie tribute or a unique creation, today’s video slots are impressive on multiple levels. For more information on the best video slots, what they offer and how to play them, make sure you check out our expert online casino reviews right here at Top5 Casino Sites.