In the past, gambling revolved around brick-and-mortar casinos, where players had to visit the establishments to play physically. They also needed to carry cash to buy into table games while coins were used on slot machines. When the dot-com bubble hit in the late 1990s, there was a massive growth in the adoption of Internet solutions, and a few notable casinos in the gaming industry took advantage.
It changed the dynamics of gambling, and virtual versions of slot machines were developed as computer programs. Most casinos transitioned into the new digital spaces and retained physical locations. Online table games tend to pay out less frequently than slot machines, and thus slots became an instant hit because of how cheap it was to win.
While table games were considered for high flyers, slots accepted stakes of as little as a cent. Betting as little as 5 cents can yield hundreds in return. Furthermore, a bettor anywhere in Europe could play at an online casino. Take, for instance, a Polish player playing on the Starburst slot at the UK Casushi casino.
Players can access international casinos from various jurisdictions via a stable internet connection. But how did slot machines come about, and how different are they from physical ones in brick-and-mortar casinos?
Firstly, they are digital renditions or virtual forms of physical slot machines which had massive upgrades. The first is the use of RNGs or Random Number Generators. Algorithms determine the functionality of the RNGs to ensure that each spin is random. Gambling regulators require that each online casino employ these algorithms in its games to the highest standard to prevent the exploitation of players.
Therefore, when you play at an online slot, you can be sure that the RNGs determine the outcome rather than an individual. In the past, players complained that most slot machines in brick-and-mortar casinos were biased. While playing online slots, it is difficult to get the same outcome twice in a row.
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What is fascinating about the RNGs used on slots is that they don’t need external input of data or numbers to guarantee an output or result. Developers program the RNGs to use seed numbers that employ a Mathematical operation, e.g. division, subtraction, addition, and multiplication, to create a random outcome.
So, if it combines division and addition, it will combine different mathematical operations in the following sequence to come up with a new outcome every time. It is fair compared to the physical slots players could rig to win without paying, or the casino would tamper with its payout structure.
Nowadays, messing with the payout structure is difficult because RNGs guarantee different average payouts in online slots. It is referred to as RTP (Return to Player) ratio, and on average, it should range between 90.2% to 98.25%. Players will look at the RTP before wagering in a slot, and it usually depends on the developers and the nature of the slot.
Some slots have progressive jackpots where the cash prize runs into millions of dollars. Others have a non-progressive jackpot worth a few thousand dollars. These two slots have a different RTP because it is difficult for the one with hundreds of millions to pay out regularly, especially when most players wager the minimum.
The second notable upgrade in online slots is the theme and appearance. Before, there were very few classic slots because they primarily differed in their functionality, i.e. three reel and four reel slots. Since they were mechanical machines, the themes were not really essential. Casinos or independent gaming centers could buy the slot and repaint to change the theme.
However, today the theme is just as important as the slot because it also adds to the marketing. A good theme translates into proper software design because the detail showcases the complexity in graphics. The slot’s theme involves sound effects and animations as well and this creates an immersive experience.
Can you imagine playing on an online slot where the numbers are not legible and the sound quality is horrendous? In essence, a good software design also enables players to wager on their mobile phones, tablets, and iPads. Every player wants the same gaming experience regardless of the device in use.
The final notable upgrade in slots was the incorporation of more reels and paylines. While most classic slots had three reels with up to five paylines, the newer ones have five to seven reels. If a player wagered $10 on a classic three-reel slot they could, therefore, make more money on modern online slots. Modern online slots with more than six reels guarantee as many as 1,024 different paylines.
So now that you know the technology behind your favorite slot, the game will be even more fun. As technology continues to change every day, we can only wait to see how much slots will evolve with time.