The worlds of online and offline slots aren't as different as they might appear. In fact, with a number of titles appearing in both land-based venues and on the web, the online experience is closer to hitting the slots in a bricks and mortar venue that it's ever been.
This is even truer of tablet gaming which, with its touchscreen gameplay, is very reminiscent of tapping the buttons of a land-based video slot machine. On this page we'll take a look at how online slot machines are programmed to mimic their offline equivalents, as well as the advantages of playing online and off.
But how can I be sure that I'm ever going to win?
That's probably the number one question we receive from would be online gamblers who remain sceptical about online gambling. To be fair to them, it's a valid question...even if it is one that the same players would never think to ask about video slots in land-based venues.
The answer is that online casinos use RNGs (random number generators) to power the outcome of slot machines, and the rest of their games for that matter. These powerful computer programs put out results for games in a way that has no bias towards the casino or players, beyond the house edge that's already associated with casino games.
RNGs are subject to regular reviews as part of a casino's auditing process, and casinos risk hefty fines or even being shut down entirely if they're found to have tampered with a RNG to skew results in their favour.
Online casinos will often publish the results of their audits, as well as their payout percentages, on their site to demonstrate to potential players that they can be trusted. If you're not sure that you can trust a site you should simply move on and find another one.
If you're just feeling cagey about the process in general, rather than the reputation of an individual casino, you might want to look into using a prepaid card or e-wallet service so you can stake as much cash as you're comfortable with without having to share your credit card or banking information with any casino sites.
One of the best things about playing offline slots is the experience itself. There's something very compelling about enjoying the sights and sounds of a casino, and maybe a drink or two, while you sit back and play.
Websites have done their best to imitate this, with some pumping out authentic casino ambience through your speakers, but it's unlikely that they'll be able to manage it perfectly until fully immersive 3D/virtual reality gaming makes it debut.
Playing online does require an element of caution that isn't usually necessary in land-based venues unless you're feeling reckless enough to play in some sketchy back alley casino – there's almost no chance that a well known land-based casino will try to cheat or con you. Of course, we should point out that rogue casinos are actually quite rare online too.
A quick trip to the cashier is all it takes to arm yourself with enough credit for a night on the slots in offline venues, and cashing out at the end of the night is just as easy. Depending on the payment method(s) you use, that's a process that can take a little longer online.
A major advantage of playing online is that you can enjoy a session whenever you like, whether it's in the middle of the night or while you grab some lunch, without the need to leave your living room. There's no dress code, no minimum spend and no fighting your way through the crowds during peak hours. Offline casinos just can't match that level of convenience.
Plus, there's the improved element of choice on the web. Smaller casinos may have just 20 or 30 different slots titles available, and even the biggest offline venues will struggle to crack much more than 100 different games. Compare this with the online casino experience, where it's not unusual to find 400+ games available and it's easy to see which option comes out on top.
Online slots players have plenty of different payment methods they can use to fund their gambling, while offline players are largely restricted to credit/debit cards and cash. Online slots fans, on the other hand, can use banking options like e-wallets and prepaid gift cards as well. That element of choice is really helpful if you're looking for a way to keep your gambling spending separate from your income and other transactions.
The main thing to remember here is that there's really no need to choose between the two. Many players enjoy playing both online games and in bricks and mortar casinos, maybe the former on weeknights when they don't have much time and the latter on weekends when they feel like a night out.
Of course, if there are no land-based venues within comfortable driving distance then it may well be that the decision has already been made for you!
The fact of the matter is that both online and offline slots have plenty of good things going for them that the other one doesn't and, to that end, there's no clear winner as to which is "best". It will, to some extent, depend on your personality type and what you want to get out of your next gambling session.