Mechanics of Online Slot Games

Stuart Williams
By Stuart Williams 5 Min Read
mechanics of online slot games

For good or bad, we see mechanical reels slowly becoming a thing of the past. The gambling industry welcomed video slots with open arms as a much-awaited substitution. To the uninitiated, it may seem like a strange decision, but rest assured that it is worth it.

Some people are still at a loss to understand how online slot machines function and distance themselves from remote gambling. Hopefully, after explaining the mechanics of online slot games, you will gain the confidence you need. Games of this type are scrutinized, so there’s rarely, something about them that should raise concerns.

Theoretical Return to Player Rate

This is a big one. RTP (theoretical return to player) is something gaming developers take pride in quite a lot. All intricate bonus features and pay lines are taken into consideration when the RTP of an online slot is calculated. RTP shows you how much of your bets should be paid back in the form of winnings if you were to continue playing for a very long time.

To be frank, a mathematically derived number might not explain too much to the player of a practical turn of mind. That’s why playing a demo version of the online slot machine is always a good practice that interests you. Should you decide to play slots from NetEnt for free, you’ll still have access to game information such as RTP, pay lines, symbol value, and all the rest.

Payout Percentage

Much like RTP, the payout percentage indicates the portion of your bets a slot machine is supposed to pay back as winnings over an infinite period. It’s a statistic that many players use as a trusty indicator that a game of chance is profitable. This would be wrong if you don’t factor in volatility. The payout percentage is influenced by features such as bonus rounds, jackpots, re-spins, bonus spins, and the like.

The more control the player can exercise over the gameplay, the bigger the payout percentage. No slot machine is programmed to return a full 100% of the money wagered. The typical range is from 88% to 99%. NetEnt’s hit Blood Suckers, for example, has a payout percentage of 98%.


Volatility is another metric that is programmed into the software of an online slot machine. It gives you an idea of how often a winning combination is supposed to occur. For instance, jackpot slots have high volatility because they pay big every once in a while, when the jackpot drops. That doesn’t happen often at all, but when the jackpot is won, the payout is very big, hence the categorization “high volatility”.

Sometimes a specific bonus stage that’s triggered extremely rarely is what drives volatility way up. Conversely, low volatility games pack in more action and pay more often. However, the size of the payouts tends to be smaller than the payouts of a high-volatility slot machine. If you know how to download Opera web browser on your PC you will be just a step away from starting to play a slot machine with a volatility of your choosing at a licensed online casino.

Number of Reels

Long gone are the days when slot machines with three reels were the only type available. These are the vertically positioned wheels that spin in a slot machine. ‘Nowadays, the established gaming developers are constantly experimenting with the number of reels.

Five-reel slots seem to catch the most attention. In addition to the bigger number of reels, come features like cascading reels and giant symbols to spice up things even more. Games like Gonzo’s Quest immediately come to mind as a shining example of a slot machines with cascading reels.


The most important thing that determines whether your spin will be a winning one is the paylines. You get paid if you manage to line up symbols of the same kind per one of the payline combinations. Typically, the number of winning combinations gravitates around 20, but some slots pack upwards of 100 ways to win. 243 is a very popular number with these types of slots. Here, we should also mention the MEGAWAYS slots, which somehow implement thousands of paylines in a single game.

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Hey, I'm Stuart, a tech enthusiast and writing expert. With a passion for technology, I specialize in crafting in-depth articles, reviews, and affiliate content. In the ever-evolving world of digital marketing, I've witnessed how the age of the internet has transformed technology journalism. Even in the era of social media and video marketing, reading articles remains crucial for gaining valuable insights and staying informed. Join me as we explore the exciting realm of tech together!
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