NetEnt Slot Reviews

Welcome to SlotsInspector

What Are Online Slots?
Symbols, Reels and Paylines
Coins, Lines, Total Bet and RTP
Bonus Features, Jackpots and Getting Paid
Different Online Slots Game Types
Online Slots Developers
Can You Win At Slots Long-Term?
How Does Slots Compare to Other Casino Games?

What Are Online Slots?

If you’re reading this guide, chances are you’re already familiar with online slots on some level. You’ll know that these are the digital, virtual equivalent of slot machines you find in casinos, arcades, and even still the occasional chip shop. Like the AWP games, widely known as ‘puggies’ or ‘fruities’ in the UK, these games see you pay in money, in the hope of landing a lucky winning outcome.

The principles with online slots are basically the same as physical slot machines, but with some key differences. The main difference is the technology available to developers, which allows them to break free of the technical constraints of physical slot machines. The result is that online slots use the same basic ideas, but often deliver significantly more exciting and enjoyable gameplay.

Online slots are of course a form of online gambling, and it’s crucial to always play responsibly, and never to bet more than you can afford to lose. However, it’s also possible to win big money playing slots, especially when you come across games with a high RTP, or even massive progressive jackpots.

The aim of the game is simple – you pay your money, in the form of a per spin wager. You spin the reels, and hope for matching combinations. When you land a winning combination, you get paid. It’s as simple as that.

Symbols, Reels and Paylines

Every online slot game works on the principles of spinning reels and matching symbols. Symbols are the icons that present on the grid of the main game screen, and reels are the usually vertical columns that spin independently of each other, just as with a physical slot machine.

The objective on each spin is to line up a combination of matching symbols (usually three or more in a row) when the reels stop spinning. On a classic fruit machine, this might be lining up three lemon symbols across the centre of each of the three reels. With online slots, it’s a little more complex, in that there are often multiple different ‘ways to win’ – sometimes you can win on diagonals, or on other specific lines that zig-zag across the reels. These are known as ‘paylines’, because you get paid when you land a matching combination on these lines.

Online slots calculate paylines and winnings automatically, so you don’t need to keep this in your head as you play or anything. Each game has its own number of paylines, which can range from 9 to 1024 and beyond. Some games even have all-ways wins, which means basically any combination of adjacent matching reels positions will pay out on your stake.

Not all symbols are of equal value. Some symbols are abundant on the reels, so combinations of them won’t get you very far. In some games, the lowest value combinations don’t even payout at a rate that covers your bet stake. However, there are also symbols that are much rarer on the reels, and combinations of these symbols will invariably pay out at a much higher rate.

There are also specific bonus symbols, often responsible for triggering different features, or for making it easier to land winning combinations on your board. These can also be responsible for jackpot wins. You can see all the information about symbol values and bonus symbols in the paytable, an information screen available within a given slots game documenting the different pay levels for the various possible combinations.

Coins, Lines, Total Bet and RTP

Ahead of each spin, players can set the amount of money they want to bet. The bet is that you will land a winning combination – whether you win or lose, each bet costs you the total bet amount you stipulate, which is the product of the amount you want to bet on each payline.

Say for example you were playing a slot that had 9 paylines, and a minimum bet of £0.01. You’d be looking at a minimum bet of £0.09 per spin if you wanted to play with all paylines active (which is, of course, your best chance of landing a winning combination on any given spin). In this case, the ‘coins’ bet value is £0.01, 9 lines are in play, so the total bet is £0.09 per spin.

In some games, players can vary the total bet amount by changing the coin value, or the number of lines in play. If you changed the coin value in the above example to £0.10, you’d be spinning for £0.90 a go. Or, you could play only 2 lines at £1 each, for a £2 per spin stake. However, it’s increasingly common to find slots games with fixed paylines, where you have no option but to play the maximum number of paylines on any given spin, leaving only the coin bet value as a variable.

Bets typically range from a couple of pence, right up to £100, £200 or more per spin. This might seem a lot to the average player, but for high rollers, it’s essential to have access to this much headroom on any given slots game.

The amount a game pays out is predetermined, and the odds on any slot machine fixed over the infinite term. The measure of how much a machines pays out in winnings is known as the RTP percentage, or return to player percentage. This is a number, less than 100%, which indicates the share of a slot games’ takings in wagers that are ultimately available for payout as prizes.

In most cases, you’ll find online slots are above 95%, in terms of the amount they make available for player returns. Some run as high as 98% and more, and using RTP, it’s possible to compare different slots by the rate at which they payout winnings.

The gap between the RTP and 100% is the house edge, which is effectively the casino’s margin – in the case of a 95% RTP game, that’s 5%. This is incredibly cheap, compared to other casino games, and indeed offline slot machines, where the house edge can be as high as 20%. This means comparatively that online casinos offer better value for money than offline slot machines in most cases.

Bonus Features, Jackpots and Getting Paid

There are typically a number of different bonus features built in to most slots games. In most cases, there’s a wild symbol, which helps you find combinations right across the board whenever it appears. Wilds are effectively a substituting symbol – so if you’re one away from a winning combination and you spin a wild symbol, you’ll usually be paid as if you’d landed all three symbols – whatever symbol you’re looking for. There’s also often the chance for a multiplier for any wins running through a wild, so you could be in line for 2x the win, for example, simply for relying on a wild-made combination.

There are also scatter symbols, or bonus symbols, which are responsible for launching bonus features and mini games when you land them in sufficient number, anywhere across the reels. Unlike other symbols that must fall on a payline to be awarded, it’s usually enough to land three or more scatter symbols anywhere in view, and you’ll start the bonus feature.

Bonus features can often have free spins, additional wild symbols, wild modifiers (like stacking wilds, cascading wilds, etc) and multipliers. They take a variety of different formats, which keeps the gameplay interesting, and the bonuses are both the most lucrative parts of a game, and the main distinguishing feature between different slots titles.

Jackpots are awarded variously, depending on the slots game and the specific rules in play. It might simply be a case of landing five of the most valuable symbols on any payline, or landing five wilds on your reels. In some cases, you need a jackpot symbol, or some other triggering feature, to start a jackpot game – where you embark on a mini game or a secondary bonus round to be in with a chance of winning the jackpot.

Keep an eye out for slots that have a progressive jackpot – Mega Moolah is perhaps the most obvious example, but there are dozens and dozens of others. These games link up different players through a network, and take a share of each of their stakes to add to a shared jackpot.

This allows the jackpots on offer to mount up into the tens, hundreds of thousands and even millions of pounds. They’re not won every day, but when these jackpots drop, they do change lives. And you can only be in with a chance of winning if you play one of these progressive slots. Look out for a special category of slots at your chosen casino – often called ‘Jackpot’ or ‘Vegas’ slots, these are the games with the biggest progressive prizes on the line.

Different Online Slots Game Types

There are various different types of slots games online, all of which have their own specific features. Depending on what type of game you’re looking to play, it can be helpful to be aware of these differences, so you can make the most informed decision when searching for games to play.

Amusement with Prize (AWP): This is your classic fruit machine-style slot, just like you’d find in any arcade or old-style pub. Usually there’s only one payline and three reels, and all you have to do is lineup matching symbols across the middle of the three reels. You might also expect holds and nudges in these types of online slots, similar to what you’d get in the offline equivalent.

3-Reel Online Slots: Similar to AWPs, you have 3-reel online slots. These are games that employ three reels, often the same number as AWPs, but that don’t necessarily adhere to the fixed structures of physical slot machines. You could still expect bonus rounds and additional features, but these games are usually by definition a little less detailed or feature-rich than some other slot machine games.

5-Reel Online Slots: This is the standard for online video slots, and most of the celebrated slots games like Gonzo’s Quest, Mega Moolah, Starburst, Rainbow Riches, Immortal Romance – they all deploy the standard five reels. This opens up the board to many more paylines, because there are so many symbols in play with any given spin. It also gives developers room to breathe, so they can create games that are more interesting than the more basic slot game configurations allow.

Progressive/Jackpot Slots: Finally, there are those games that come with one or more progressive jackpots attached. These games often have a lower RTP percentage than other slot games, but this is skewed by the progressive prize, which by definition, can’t be won on every spin. However, when it does drop, these jackpots can be worth millions of pounds, so that’s a clear attraction for many slots players who are chasing the big win.

Online Slots Developers

Online slots developers work with casinos and slots providers to offer a selection of games, all based around different visual themes and concepts. Interestingly, casinos often don’t create their own games, so slots are not usually exclusive to one operator or another. Instead, they license game content from these independent, third-party developers, which enables them to leverage the expertise and skill of some of the best, most innovative developers the industry has to offer.

There are dozens of slots developers out there, each vying for their place in the market. Below are some of the biggest, and a handful of their most impressive games you might want to check out.

Microgaming: Thunderstruck II, Mega Moolah, Kings of Cash
NetEnt: Gonzo’s Quest, Aliens, South Park, Starburst
Playtech: Gladiator, King Kong, Ice Run, Cops n Bandits
NextGen Gaming: Cleo’s Wish, Wonder Hounds, Dragon Wins, Lightning Gems
Yggdrasil: Jungle Books, Super Heroes, Spina Colada, Beauty and the Beast, Vikings Go Berzerk
Blueprint Gaming: Romeo and Juliet, Worms Reloaded, King Kong Cash, Wish Upon a Jackpot
IGT: Siberian Storm, Da Vinci Diamonds, Cluedo Classic, Wolf Run
Play’n GO: Sweet Alchemy, 7Sins, Viking Runecraft, Golden Colts

Can You Win At Slots Long-Term?

This is a common question for new slots players – can you actually beat the slots, or will you definitely lose money over time? The answer to this question is that nobody knows, and you’ll never know for yourself unless you give it a try.

Don’t get the wrong impression – slots are by definition setup to bias the casino or slots operator, by building in that percentage house edge. If slot machines didn’t setup this way, casinos couldn’t survive – casinos have bills to pay! We can see this margin in the gap between RTP and 100%. A game with an RTP of 100% would pay out every penny it took in bets as prizes, back to players. But of course, that game would make a loss for the casino, who still have to service any associated costs, as well as only breaking even on the gambling side. That’s why there is always a percentage to your disadvantage, as in all forms of gambling, which provides the casino with their cut.

Mathematically, when you play slots, you’re putting in £1.00 to get £0.95 back – with the casino keeping £0.05 from this transaction. But is that really how it feels for most players? In reality, this is only an average, and individual results may vary.

There are plenty of examples of players who won big on their first spin – players who deposited a tenner, hit up some £0.25 spins, and landed tens of thousands or more in jackpot wins. Sure, they were still disadvantaged by the game which is by definition biased against the player. But try telling them that when they’re spending their winnings!

Same with any type of gambling – the house always has an edge, and over an infinite period, mathematical probabilities mean you would ultimately lose money. However, it’s very possible to win good money playing slots, and there have even been dozens of multimillionaires, made solely by getting lucky with online slot machines.

How Does Slots Compare to Other Casino Games?

Chance-Based: Unlike games such as blackjack or poker, where your degree of skill determines how successful your gameplay will be, slots are purely a game of chance. Anyone can win the jackpot on their next spin, and there is no discrimination between experienced players, newbies, old, young – it doesn’t matter. As long as you’re spinning to win, you’re in with a chance – that’s part of what makes slots such an attractive gambling game genre.

Slim House Edge: The house edge in roulette is 5.26% for European roulette, although some different game versions will vary. This is equivalent to an RTP of 94.74% – which is actually lower than most modern video slots. Contrast that with the fact that most slots are above 95% RTP, and you can see that online slots actually usually have a slimmer house edge. That means more money is paid out to players, than in comparable games.

Excellent Graphics and Themes: Good luck finding a roulette game with a quirky theme, or based around your favourite film or TV show – they just don’t exist, with most roulette games being straight down the line, or maybe with one or two interesting rule variations. With slots, it’s all about the incredible graphics, appealing themes and mini-games, all of which make every slots game different from the last. From a sheer engagement point of view, this makes slots more interesting to play than other casino games.

Big Jackpots: Of course, there is also the small matter of huge jackpots to contend with. There are very few gambling games where a bet of £0.25 can be enough to make you a millionaire, and short of playing the lottery, you’re going to struggle to find jackpot returns like this. Not so with slots, where particularly progressive jackpot games can tempt players in with the potential for these massive jackpot wins.

Entertainment Value: Finally, there’s the entertainment value of slots that you just don’t get from any old casino game. Not only in the main game, but also in the bonus features and mini-games, online slots make for much better entertainment value. Before you know it, you can lose hours playing slots, because the games nowadays are that good – it’s all in the entertainment value.