How to Play Online Slots

Online slot games are the beating heart of most online casino lobbies. Playing online slots is more popular than ever, with thousands of exciting and unique slots to choose from. In this guide to how to play slots, we are going to look at how slots work, how to pick an online slot and much more.

Step-by-step guide of How to Play Online Slots

Playing online slots has never been easier. All you need to do is follow these simple steps:

Screenshot of Spin Genie slot page

1. Select your Game

Choose your preferred online slot at your selected online casino. 

screenshot of the sweet bonanza paytable showing the different payouts for different combinations

2. Understand the Paytable

Once you have loaded the game up, check the paytable to make sure you understand how it works, its bonus features, and winning potential. 

Screenshot of Sweet Bonanza Bet and Coin Value selection

3. Choose your Stake

Select your stake using the control panel provided. 

Screenshot of Sweet Bonanza slot spinning after you click spin button

4. Hit the Spin button

Double-check the stake and hit the spin button. 


5. Enjoy the Game

Keep playing for as long as you want; just remember to practise responsible gambling techniques.

How Does an Online Slot Machine Work?

To newcomers, online slots can appear a little daunting. Regardless of which slot type you are playing, though, the basic principles of slot games remain the same. Let’s take a look at some of the basic terminology you will need to understand and how everything comes together to make online slots work.

Showing what a reel looks like on a slot game


Slot reels are where the action takes place. Reels are vertical columns displaying symbols that spin around. The number of reels will vary between slots, with most video slots having five reels.

Showing a row on a slot game


Rows is the term used to talk about the horizontal alignment of symbols across the reels. Once again, the number of rows will vary between slots, but three is the standard number.

Slot paylines show where symbols need to land to get a winning combination


Paylines are the patterns laid out across the slot that symbols will need to land on in order for you to win. While paylines are the traditional way of paying out, slots have developed more complex methods, including things like cluster pays and pay-anywhere.

symbols can appear anywhere on the slot reels


Symbols are the images that appear on the reels. You will need to land symbols across paylines in order to win on an online slot machine.

An example of a winning combination on a slot game

Winning Combination

A winning combination is a set number of symbols, typically three, that has landed across a payline and will reward a player with a win.

RNG stands for random number generator

Random Number Generator

A random number generator (RNG) is an algorithm that is used to determine the outcome of a spin on an online slot. These are used to ensure that neither the player nor the operator can have any sort of influence over the outcome of a spin, guaranteeing 100% fairness.

Online Slot Special Symbols

As well as the standard paying symbols in online slot games, there are several other types of special symbols you will encounter when you spin the reels.

Scatter symbols can appear anywhere on the slot reels

Scatter Symbols

Scatter symbols are symbols that often serve two purposes. They will pay regardless of where they land on the grid, hence their name, and they are often used to trigger bonus features such as free spins rounds.

A wild symbols can substitute for any other symbol

Wild Symbols

Wild symbols are extremely useful. Wilds can substitute for other symbols to help make winning combinations when landing on a payline.

Expanding Wilds example spreading on different reels

Expanding Wilds

Expanding Wilds are a special type of Wild symbol. Whenever these land, they will expand to fill the entire reel, boosting their chances of being part of a winning combination. It is also possible to get expanding versions of standard symbols.

a stacking wild can take up an entire reel

Stacking Wilds

Stacked Wild symbols are Wilds that land one on top of the other, acting as individual symbols while all performing their duties as a Wild. 

Rules When Playing Slots

When playing slots online, there are no set rules. However, there are steps that players should always take when playing. Firstly, checking the pay table is an absolute must. This ensures you understand how the game works and that you are not going to be betting on something you do not understand. Secondly, always make sure you are gambling responsibly and never bet more than you can afford to lose. You should remember that playing online slots is supposed to be fun.

Land-Based vs Online Slot Machines

If you are used to playing land-based slot games, then you will have no problem making the move to online slots. The basic gameplay of land-based slots and online slots is the same, and players will be able to use all of the same slot strategies and methods they have been using regardless of which they are playing. 

Online slots do tend to lead the way in terms of gameplay mechanics and bonus features. Developers put an emphasis on online-based action, with mechanics like Megaways flourishing here. There also tends to be much bigger progressive jackpots available in online slots, given the connected nature of the online world.

How to Choose the Best Slot Game

With so many online slots on the market, knowing which one is the best for you can be difficult. We have listed just a few factors that you should consider when choosing the right online slot to play.


The slot theme is a big factor for a lot of players when deciding what slot they are going to play. While this might not necessarily impact the gameplay quality, no one wants to play a poorly designed slot game or one that does not interest them. This also includes the soundtrack and sound effects, all of which can influence how much you enjoy a game.


Gameplay features can make or break an online slot game. Bonuses are often a great way of keeping a slot engaging and can lead to some big wins. Of course, some people prefer more stripped-back online slots with less complex features.


The availability of slots will also be important when deciding which one to play. You will want a slot that can be accessed on your mobile or desktop in case you need to switch playing, and you will also want to find ones that are widely available and popular.


RTP or Return to Player is a critical factor when selecting a slot game. It represents the percentage of all wagered money that a slot will pay back to players over time. For example, if a slot has an RTP of 95%, it means that, on average, it will return £95 for every £100 wagered. RTP is important because it provides insights into a slot's potential payout and your chances of winning. Understanding a slot's RTP can help you choose games that align with your playing style and objectives. However, keep in mind that RTP is a long-term statistical measurement, and individual results vary in the short term. It is not a guarantee, just an indication.

Playing Slots on Mobile

An example of a slot game played on a mobile phone

In the modern slot world, 99.99% of games are developed using HTML5 technology. This ensures that games can be enjoyed across various devices and operating systems. Most online slot games can be played on Android and iOS operating systems and are also supported by mobile casino apps if the operator has one available. 

In most cases, slots are developed so that the gameplay is not impacted at all when you make the transition to a different screen size, with bonuses, winning potential, and design all maintained during the move.

Slot Games Final Thoughts

Online slots are a lot of fun to play, and they come in all different styles and types. One thing that remains the same, however, is that they are totally random and that the casino will always retain a house edge. Slots are games of chance, and there is no way a player can influence the outcome. As such, Gambling Zone would like to remind its readers to always gamble responsibly.

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