Slot machines are by far one of the most popular forms of gambling. From the retro One Arm Bandit to the thousands of games available online – they've been a part of gaming history since the 1890s.
Whether you play online or at a casino, modern day slot and fruit machines follow the same basic idea – place a bet and press the button that activates a set of three or more reels.
The final lineup of these reels determines the payout as per the paytable of the individual game. When it comes to playing slot machines, it's always a good idea to get familiar with the different paylines.
Slot machines can be found in casinos, bars, hotels or any public place that has a permit to run gaming machines. They remain one of the most popular machines in any casino.
Online slot machines work in pretty much the same way as land-based machines, except, you can play them anywhere and at any time.
The only real difference is that rather than using coins to play, you transfer your money directly from your bank account to your online gaming wallet.
Online and land-based slot machines may seem as though they're on a level playing field, but that doesn’t mean that one isn’t better than the other.
This guide will highlight some of the benefits of playing slots and highlight the differences of both online and land-based slots so you can decide which one you’d rather play.
As humans, we're naturally drawn to bright lights and catchy jingles, that’s why casinos have always come across as glamorous and attractive.
If you play land-based slots, you have access to that atmosphere; whether it be in a casino or your local pub. You can enjoy the ambience of people enjoying a few drinks, the tangibility of the machines and of course, the huge fanfare when your paylines hit the jackpot.
The atmosphere isn't quite the same when it comes to online slots. You don’t exactly get to enjoy the social side of playing when you’re sat at home with Coronation Street on in the background.
That being said, online may not bring the atmosphere, but technology means that the graphics and sounds that come with online play add more excitement when playing.
While playing online may not provide the same atmosphere, you do benefit from the convenience. One of the biggest advantages of playing slot machines at online casinos is that you can play from anywhere and at any time.
You don’t need to travel, you don’t need to get dressed up and you don’t need to stick to a timetable. You just kick back and log in when you’re ready to play.
There’s also the time aspect. Who wants to travel all the way to a casino or the pub to play one or two games? If you visit a land-based slot machine then you’re likely to be playing for a longer period of time.
This could also mean that you end up spending more than you would if you'd stuck with the online version. Online slots make it easy to have a couple of quick games and stick to your budget.
This is where land-based slots and online slots see eye to eye. Regardless of which type you play – there are plenty of games to choose from.
Of course, this does depend on where you’re playing your land-based slots; if you’re in your local pub then you’re likely to only have one or two machines to choose from, whereas a casino will have a large variety.
You also have to factor in wait time for machines when it comes to land-based slots. Unlike their online counterparts, there will be limited machines. If the machine you want to play is taken then you either have to wait for it to become free or move on to a different game.
With online slots, however, it doesn’t matter how many people are playing that one game, there’s always availability.
Another advantage that online slots have over land-based slots is that you can pick your own price point. There are a variety of stakes for you to choose from and you can also decide to play for maximum coins and paylines or place smaller bets to stick to your budget.
Easier to stick to a budget
Land-based slot machines have been hitting the headlines lately with players being allowed to stake up to £100 every 20 seconds. While, in theory, you can do this online, it is easier to set limits on how much you want to spend per day.
You can’t go into a casino and ask to play the slot machines for free. Yet, with online slot machines, there is often an option to play demo versions of the game.
This gives you chance to learn the paylines and to get used to the game before you play for real money. It also lets you play for a bit of fun if you’re not bothered about winning real cash.
So what everyone really wants to know is: which pays more – online slots or land-based slots?
Well, the answer is that the payout rates and odds are similar.
Some people think that land-based casinos have, what is sometimes coined as, “loose slots” meaning that the payout rate can be over 100%. But in reality, this doesn't exist and the payout from a land-based casino slot is around 90-95%.
Online slot machines are similar on land-based slots and the payout percentage is around 99%.
It’s worth noting that UK casinos have no statutory minimum percentage payout for gaming machines - either online or land-based. But they are both bound by the UK Gambling Commission regulations.
This means they have to clearly display the percentage return to player figures or the odds of winning a prize on every gaming machine, slot machine or fixed odds betting terminal.
It’s important to understand that the percentage return to player is an average achieved over a number of games and not each time the game is played.
And remember that both online and offline machines use a Random Number Generator system so that it’s fair for all players. RNG doesn’t remember the previous game, so your odds for winning are always the same. You won’t win because you’ve lost the last 5 games in a row.
So which is better? Of course, the answer to that is pretty much the same as asking someone if they prefer tea or coffee - it’s all down to personal taste.
If we were to make the choice though, we’d have to say that online slot machines take the edge because they are convenient, there’s no faff around playing and you can do so in the comfort of your own home.
Rachael is a freelance writer with a particular interest in online gaming. As an enthusiastic online bingo roomie, Rachael enjoys writing about the history of the UK's favourite game as well as discovering the latest trends.
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