Classic Slot Machines vs. Online Slots: Which Is Better?

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Classic vs. Online Slots

Explore the thrilling world of slot gaming and dive into the vibrant comparison between traditional and online slots. Uncover the secrets behind each and find out which suits your gaming style!

Whether you want to buy a classic slot machine or play online slots for the first time, it pays to know the difference between classic and online slots. In this article, we discuss how classic slot machines work. This article explains the design of online slots and then compares them to the old mechanical slot machines that once dominated casino floors.

Once we cover the evolution of slots, we’ll go over gameplay and features people will encounter. Then we’ll discuss real-world applications of knowing about slot games, plus strategies for success when dealing with classic slots and online slot games. Finally, we’ll answer frequently asked questions that players have about slots online.

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Key Takeaways

  • How Vintage Slot Machines Work: Old-style 20th-century mechanical slot machines were much different than their 21st-century cousins. We discuss characteristics, slot symbols and themes, and the gameplay of classic slots in brick-and-mortar casinos.
  • How Online Slot Games Work: Online and mobile slots use RNGs and video graphics to simulate spinning reels and produce true random results. This unlocks the power to huge progressive jackpots, interactive bonus games, and other video slot features.
  • Comparing Classic Slots to Online Slot Games: We discuss the pros and cons of classic versus online slots. We also give strategies for players who want real-world success while playing slot machines.

What are the key differences between classic and online slots?

Classic slots feature mechanical reels and offer a nostalgic experience, whereas online slots use RNGs to ensure fair play and come with a variety of themes, bonus games, and potentially larger jackpots.

Comparison table to outline the differences between Classic Slots and Online Slots

Feature Classic Slots Online Slots
Technology Mechanical reels, no digital technology. RNG-based, digital technology with sophisticated graphics.
Gameplay Simple play, usually single payline. Multiple paylines, interactive features, and bonus rounds.
Themes and Graphics Nostalgic themes, basic symbols and sounds. Wide variety of themes, 3D graphics, and immersive sound.
Accessibility Physical casinos only. Available online, accessible from anywhere.
Jackpot Types Fixed jackpots, typically smaller. Progressive jackpots, can be significantly larger.
Betting Options Limited betting options due to mechanical design. Flexible betting options, adjustable paylines.
User Interaction Direct physical interaction with the machine. Virtual interaction, clicks or touchscreen.
Payouts and RTP Usually lower RTP due to limited combinations. Higher RTPs possible due to endless combinations.
Special Features Few to none, mostly straightforward gameplay. Free spins, multipliers, wilds, and more.
Convenience Must visit a physical location. Playable on multiple devices at any location.
Experience Traditional gambling experience, tactile feedback. Modern and immersive experience with dynamic outcomes.


classic slot machines

Understanding Classic Slot Machines

The era of classic slot machines began when in 1895 Charles Fey, a German-American immigrant and a San Francisco mechanic, invented a slot machine that paid out coins. Any understanding of classic slot machines derives from Charles Fey’s 1895 invention. While slot machines existed before 1895, the Liberty Bell was the first gaming machine that automatically dispensed coins to the winner.

Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Schultze invented the Horseshoe slot machine, which paid out tokens in 1893. Prior to that, the slot machines of the 1880s required an attendant to dispense tokens or tickets for a payout through the cashier. Charles Fey’s slot machine didn’t require constant supervision, so it became wildly popular in the region.

By 1896, Charles Fey had opened a slot machine workshop to mass-produce slot machines. In 1898, he created the Liberty Bell slot machine, which paid out 50 cents when its three liberty bell icons aligned. The Liberty Bell was a popular machine, and Charles Fey placed it in saloons throughout San Francisco.

Gambling was illegal in California at the time, so Charles Fey could not patent his device. Many competitors thus copied his invention, so slot machines spread far and wide. Their popularity — and a long list of competitors — led to the evolution of slot machines in the coming decades.

The Evolution of Slot Machines

As slot machines gained popularity, state and local authorities banned such machines. It was the Age of Reform when activists tried to cure America of many social ills: alcoholism, gambling, and other so-called vices. States like California banned gambling, but slot machines moved across the border into Nevada. Though Nevada also banned gambling, it would legalize casinos in 1931 when the state needed revenues due to the Great Depression.

When casino developers built resorts in Las Vegas and Reno in the 1930s and 1940s, they placed slot machines on casino floors. While Charles Fey was still alive (died: 1944), he had several major competitors by this time: Schutze, Mills Bros, Watling, Caille Bros, Clawson, and O.D. Jennings.

What Are Some Famous Classic Slot Machines?

Each of these manufacturers had major successes, and each drove the evolution of slot machines. The Caille Brothers increased payouts when they released the Shamrock Slot Machine in 1927. OD Jennings scored major successes with the Silver Club Sports Game in the Thirties and Forties, as the game showed how wide-ranging slots themes could be. Watling’s Rol-a-Top Slot Machine and Jennings’ Red Skin Slot Machine followed suit, offering players more aesthetic choices to go along with the interesting themes.

The Mills Bros scored a success with Cherry Falls in 1945. It was a post-World War II gaming machine that proliferated in the Las Vegas casinos, which attracted the new American middle class. Jennings became a major player in the Forties and Fifties, as it produced classic slot machines like the Bronze Chief Triple Bell, Export Chief, and Nevada Club’s slots. By the 1960s, classic slots were a mainstay in Vegas casinos, enough so that Aristocrat Arcadian released Old Reno ’49 as a throwback slot machine.

Slots were huge beyond the United States. In Australia, Aristocrat Leisure created famous games like Honey Bee, Regal Super 22, and Moneytree. Bally has big success with Lucky Sevens and Golden Nugget Nickel Slots.

Characteristics of Classic Slot Machines

All of these gaming machines had something in common: they were mechanical slot machines. The mechanical nature of the machines is essential to understanding the characteristics of classic slot machines. Because they were mechanical, classic slot machines had several limitations.

First, the mechanical reels of classic slot machines could only contain a certain number of reel symbols apiece. This limited the jackpot size on classic slots, because there were only so many reel combinations possible.

Second, the machine could contain only a certain number of mechanical reels. Three was the most feasible maximum number of reels. Designers experimented with 5-reel mechanical slots and even 7-reel slots. These machines were so large that they took up too much of slots row. Land-based casinos only had a certain amount of gaming space, so 3-reel mechanical slot machinese became the standard.

Big Bertha and Super Big Bertha Slots

Big Bertha was an 8-reel slot machine of the 1950s and 1960s. Its reels were powered by 5-horsepower electric motors and used twenty-inch wide chain wheels. It cost $100 a spin to play, which made Big Bertha a high roller slot machine in its day. Super Big Bertha had eight reels with 20 symbols apiece, meaning it had 25.6 billion possible combinations. The payout for a jackpot was $1 million, but the chances of hitting the jackpot were 1 in 15 billion spins.

Most slots of the era stuck to the 3-reel format. Again, this limited the number of winning combinations, which in turn limited the size of jackpots. In short, classic slot machines could only pay out smaller sums of money — hundreds of dollars or a few thousand dollars at most. Combined this with the fact the pre-electronic slot machines couldn’t be as bright or loud as electronic slots and one can see why classic slot machines were something of an afterthought in casinos before the late 1970s. Other games paid out as much or more, while offering social interaction.

Classic Slot Symbols and Themes

Along with the limited jackpot sizes, classic slots are known for distinctive slot symbols and more limited themes. Common symbols include fruit symbols like cherries, oranges, grapes, and bananas. They’re known for bar symbols: a single bar, a double bar, and a triple bar. Number symbols are common, including triple-sevens (777).

Diamonds, dollar signs, shamrocks, horseshoes, and other symbols of wealth or good fortune are common. So are playing card symbols like Kings, Queens, Jacks, and Aces. Trophies, crowns, dice, and liberty bells are common. So are symbols with the word “Wild.”

Classic slot themes are more limited than video slots. Often, they’re simply known by the jackpot symbol on the machine: Liberty Bell, Shamrock, Bronze Chief, Double Diamond, and Honey Bee are examples.

Early mechanical slots did not always dispense coins. Because California and other states quickly passed laws against gambling machines, some manufacturers designed slots that dispensed other items: gum, cigars, candy, and fruit. The fruit themes became a standard of reel symbols, which is why the slots in English pubs are called fruit machines.

Playing Classic Slots in Land-Based Casinos

Classic slot machines never went away. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, so casinos cater to people who like old-school slot games. While most land-based casinos use electronic slot machines currently, some contain a handful of mechanical slot machines on their gaming floor.

Several smaller Nevada casinos have mechanical slots. Examples include the Big Wheel Casino in Lovelock, Sundance Casino in Winnemucca, and the Bucket of Blood Saloon in Virginia City. The first two casinos have stated they might get rid of their mechanical slots in the future, so enthusiasts should visit sooner rather than later.

Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans once had mechanical slot machines, though it cost $25 a spin to play them. Circus Circus on the Las Vegas Strip also had them at one time.

Where Can I Buy Refurbished Slot Machines?

Beyond that, people can buy old slot machines for home use. Sites like JLB Games, Gamblers Oasis USA, and Casino Supply sell refurbished slot machines. Certain eBay users sell mechanical slots machines, while Conn’s Dotcom also sells them.

Classic Slot Machines for Sale

  • Check or Nickel Machine – Clawson Machine Co – 1898
  • Play Ball – Industry Novelty Co – 1907
  • Revamp Bell – Industry Novelty Co – 1907
  • Bell Fruit Gum – Industry Novelty Co – 1907
  • ’39 Super Track Time – JH Keeney & Co – 1931
  • ‘Leven Come Seven – Kalamazoo Automatic Music Co – 1931
  • 777 High Top – Mills Novelty Co – 1947
  • 8 Star Bell – Pace Manufacturing Co – 1948
  • Money Honey – Bally Gaming – 1964
  • 777 High Top EM Machine – Bally Manufacturing Co – 1970

It’s illegal to own slot machines in certain states. Many others have laws that restrict citizens from owning gaming machines unless they’re a certain age, which is great for those who like classic slots.

Comparison table based on the legal status of slot machines in various states:

Legal Status States
All Slot Machines Are Legal Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia
Class II Machines Only (Lottery) Alabama
All Slot Machines Prohibited Connecticut*, Hawaii, South Carolina, Tennessee
Legal Slots Machines: 20 years or older Florida
Vintage Slots Machine Legality: 25 years or older California, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Slots Machines Legality: Based on Date of Manufacture Massachusetts (30+ years), Missouri (30+ years), New York (30+ years), Indiana (40+ years), Colorado (before 1984), Vermont (before 1952), Washington DC (before 1952), Georgia (before 1950), Idaho (before 1950), Kansas (before 1950), New Jersey (before 1941), South Dakota (before 1941)

online slots

Exploring Online Slot Games

Digital enthusiasts who want the latest in online slot technology are lucky. This is a great time to delve into online slots. We’re seeing a revolution in graphics, gameplay, and jackpots. The number of designers has exploded in the last 10 years, which means innovation has exploded. Advances in technology means slot gaming has evolved, while the sheer number of themes is mind-boggling.

HTML5 technology helped graphics in several ways. First, HTML5 animations help the cut scenes in online slots look like the cut scenes in the top video games. The artwork of the top slots now have cinematic quality. Even the design houses that don’t have the best graphic artists offer more vivid and creative reel symbols.

Gameplay is much smoother, whether you use a desktop computer or a mobile device. The reel animations allow for more exciting wild symbols, whether it’s exploding wilds, cascading reels, or stacked wild icons. The bonus games are more entertaining, while the soundbites and theme music work more seamlessly with the game’s ups and downs.

New game mechanics have increased jackpots, too. The All-Ways rules in many cases got rid of traditional paylines. Instead, you’ll find 243 ways to win or 1024 ways to win — or MegaWays slots. This not only keeps a player engaged with more winning spins, but paves the way for much higher jackpots. Most of the record-setting online slot jackpots on Mega Moolah and WowPot have happened in the past 5 years.

The Rise of Online Slot Gaming

The rise of online slot gaming starts before the Internet went mainstream in the 1990s. Most of the innovations that made online slots such a success hit brick-and-mortar casino floors 10 to 15 years before online gaming. When IGT introduced electronic slot machines to land-based casinos, it set the stage for slots online.

Electronic slot machines didn’t use mechanical reels. Instead, they used a special computer chip to produce results. The chip contained a random number generator (RNG) which spit out thousands of results per second. When a player hit “Spin,” the slot machine used the last random number produced to show the results. The number was compared against a massive pay table with every reel combination possible (in the correct percentages.)

Meanwhile, the slot’s video screen produced the reel images electronically. Instead of mechanical reels, the reels were computer animations. The RNG and video reels allowed game designers to push the boundaries. They could create 5-reel or 7-reel slots with many paylines. With the extra winning combinations, jackpots could go much higher. In time, IGT introduced progressive jackpots.

The Rise of Online Casinos

By the time online casinos launched in 1994, the technology used for casino sites was perfected. Online slots used the same RNGs that electronic slot machines used, so they were a proven and evolved technology. Slot designers incorporated the video graphics both from electronic slots and video games, making the games entertaining.

Progressive jackpots already existed, while 50-payline and 100-payline slot games existed. IGT began to create licensed slots like Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, and I Love Lucy. IGT’s competitors did the same with a startling number of pop culture franchises.

Features and Advantages of Online Slots

Slot themes became varied and sometimes weird. Every theme one could imagine was possible, so you’d find slots based on alien UFOs, flying pigs, flying cows, and lots of zombies. Of course, more traditional themes remained popular: Ancient Egypt, Greek Mythology, Norse Mythology, Chinese Mythology, and pirates. Sports inspired slots, while virtually every country inspired its own slot machine.

Many of the online slots were knock-offs of popular land-based slot machines. When Aristocrat Leisure produced Buffalo Slots, virtually every online slot developer created their own Buffalo-themed online slot. Wheel of Fortune was mimicked by games like Wheel of Luck and Reels of Fortune. MegaBucks spawned copycats like Mega Moolah, MegaSpins, and MegaWays.

Beyond that, a host of new slot features arrived. Wild symbols were popular, including stacked wilds, cascading wilds, exploding wilds, expanding wilds, and countless others. Free spins became a huge draw, while multipliers became almost as popular. Interactive bonus games that had free spins and multipliers became the Holy Grail for many players.

How Progressive Jackpot Slots Work

For others, the best online slot feature was the progressive jackpot. A progressive slot is a game where the jackpot grows every time a spin happens without triggering the big jackpot. As the progressive jackpot grows into the millions of dollars, word spreads and players seek out the game.

Those are just some of the features available. Scatter symbols, scatter pays, the gamble feature, and the autoplay function are other popular game features.

Online Slot Bonuses and Promotions

Land-based casinos draw players with slots clubs, which offer comps and cashback for volume play. Online casinos have their equivalent: online slot bonuses and other promotions. The basic slot bonus is the welcome bonus, which is a reward given to customers who make a first deposit at the site.

The welcome bonuses at most of the top US online casinos allow slots, scratch cards, and Keno to clear the wagering requirement. Bonuses have terms of use like the wagering requirement, which stipulates players must gamble the amount of the bonus a certain amount of times before withdrawing the money. Online slots are the main way you play through that requirement.

Reload bonuses are for continuing players. These come in many forms: daily bonuses, weekly bonuses, and monthly bonuses. Several types also exist: slot bonuses and table game bonuses being the two main types. Again, slots bonuses require players to clear the requirement while playing online slots.

A third major type of slot bonus exists — the free spins bonuses. Online casinos use these to feature the latest or more popular slots on the site. They’ll give players between 20 free spins or 1600 free spins on select slots, usually if a player makes a qualifying deposit and uses a promo code. Players should use all three types of slot promotions to stretch their bankroll and lower the effect of the house edge on their gaming sessions.

Accessing Online Slots via Mobile Devices

Here in the 2020s, over 50% of all online slot play happens on mobile smartphones and tablet computers. Americans have less free time on their hands than ever. They like to play slots on the go as they move around on a busy day. Whether they play while waiting for lunch or waiting in the doctor’s office, mobile slots let players have a quick gaming session anywhere Wi-Fi is available.

Accessing online slots via mobile devices presents several challenges. First, mobile play tends to be in the public, so the security encryption must be world class. Strangers see you playing, so it’s certain you’ll run into hackers and scammers who’ll try to steal your financial and personal information. Mobile casino sites must have 128-bit encryption and SSL certificates.

It also helps if those sites support deposits and withdrawals using cryptocurrencies. When you use crypto payments, identity thieves find it impossible to steal your information. That’s because blockchain transactions use a one-time code that is obsolete the second you send it.

classic and online slot gameplay

Comparing Gameplay and Features

It’s a stark contrast when comparing the gameplay and features between classic versus online slots. People who love traditional slot machines are not in it for smoother gameplay, more features, or better graphics. They want to hear a coin clink into a mechanical slot machine, then pull the lever on the one-armed bandit.

Conversely, players who prefer digital slot machines to vintage slots tout the ease of play, the many exciting features, and the cinematic graphics. Of course, many tout free spins, huge multipliers, and progressive jackpots. Big prizes equate to big thrills, and that’s what their slot gaming is about.

Differences in Gameplay: Classic vs. Online

The first thing someone notices when switching from classic slots is the huge number of features available in online slots. Players should look at the call sheet for online slots to see what features are available. This also shows the return-to-player (RTP), which describes the theoretical payback percentage of the game. It also shows the jackpot size and whether the game is a progressive slot or fixed jackpot slot.

Online slots have much more dynamic gameplay than classic slots. They have more paylines, or ditch paylines for the “ways to win” or “buy a pay” method. They also have bonus games, wild symbols, scatter symbols, multipliers, and free spins. The gamble feature allows players to make a double-or-nothing bet on their previous winning spin.

Huge jackpots mean the variance on the game is much more than one 3-reel classic. You’ll go longer without winning sessions but can expect bigger prizes when the wins happen.

Classic Reels vs. Video Slots

Despite those major differences in gameplay between classic and online slots, many players still prefer the classic reels. For one, they like hearing mechanical machines produce the results instead of a computer chip. It’s the difference between driving a vintage hotrod made in the 1950s and a fancy electric vehicle made last year.

Many slot experts talk about slot cheat learning when mechanical reels are starting to line up. Those tips help people guess when a jackpot is about to happen. Much of that advice is bunk, but classic reels at least make that a realistic possibility.

When you play video slots, the reels are not “lining up.” Simply put, video slot reels reset many times per second, so there is simply no way to know when a jackpot is about to hit. Video slots use true RNGs, so each spin is 100% separate from every other spin.

Paylines and Betting Options

Since the inception of electronic slots, we’ve seen a proliferation of paylines land betting options. Classic slots had one payline. Later, 3-reel spinners might have 3 paylines or even 9 paylines, but it seldom got higher than that. Video slots routinely have 20, 25, or 30 paylines. Some have 50 paylines, 100 paylines, or more.

Eventually, it became absurd to add more and more paylines. Online slot designers decided to get rid of paylines altogether. These they replaced with simple winning combinations (that weren’t tied to paylines.) These Allways slots are the famous games with “243 ways to win” or “1024 ways to win.”

Over time, the number of ways to win proliferated to truly astounding numbers. Aristocrat Leisure led the way with successful 243 ways to win slots like 5 Dragons, Red Baron, and Choy Sun Doa. Microgaming followed the path with its version of The Dark Knight Slots, which also had 243 ways to win. Microgaming then upped the stakes with Hot Ink and Arctic Fortune, which each have 1024 ways to win.

It didn’t end there. Microgaming’s Dolphin Coast Slots has 3125 ways to win, while Big Buffalo Badlands from Skywind Gaming has 4096 ways to win. That led the way to the MegaWays slot games, such as Megaways Buffalo Rising from Blueprint Gaming and Buffalo Blitz Megaways from Playtech. Both games has 117,649 ways to win.

Progressive Jackpots in Online Slots

While Aristocrat, Skywind, Playtech, and Microgaming were pushing the boundaries with Allways online slots, Microgaming was escalating the size of progressive jackpots in online slots. Microgaming’s two most ambitious progressive slots — Mega Moolah and WowPot Slots — dominate the top ten list of the biggest online progressive jackpots ever.

They took their inspiration from IGT’s progressive slots, which similarly dominate the list of land-based progressive slots jackpots. While other progressive slots existed before it, Wheel of Fortune was a huge breakout hit for IGT in the 1990s and beyond. It was followed by MegaBucks, which has 8 of the top ten land-based progressive jackpots in history.

While Microgaming slots have their biggest progressive jackpots in online slots, that doesn’t mean players should seek out only Microgaming casinos. RealTime Gaming (RTG) and Betsoft each have million-dollar progressive jackpots at any given time, and their slots are found in most of the best offshore online casinos that accept US play.

Strategies for classic and online slots

Real-World Applications and Strategies

Whether someone plays classic slot machines or online slots, it pays players to know real-world information abut the games they play. That lets them craft slot strategies for their gaming sessions. Slot machines don’t require classic strategy like video poker machines or blackjack does.

Despite that, each slot game has different odds, jackpots, volatility, and payback percentages. Thus, players can learn real-world applications and strategies for picking the best classic slot machines or online slots based on that information.

Strategies for Classic Slot Machines

Because classic slot machines use mechanical reels, players can pick which game to play based on reel alignments. The old zig-zag method taught players to walk slots row looking for slot machines with reels starting to align. We don’t put much stock in that strategy, but the mechanical nature of the slots means the strategy has some merit.

Slot cheats like Tommy Glenn Carmichael might suggest using top-bottom joints or the monkey paw, cheating tools that could rig classic slot machines in the player’s favor. We certainly don’t suggest such tactics, since those techniques landed Tommy Glenn Carmichael in prison several times.

In short, the best plan is to find the classic slot machines with the best odds and hope for good luck.

Strategies for Online Slot Games

Players will find the same limitations when playing online slot games. Cheats used devices like the light wand to beat electronic slot machines in land-based casinos, though these devices were also highly illegal. Though slots online use similar RNG technology, light wands wouldn’t help anyway.

The zig-zag method and other techniques don’t help, because the RNGs in online slots do not give players hints about the reels aligning. Thus, players fall back on learning about the online slots with the highest payback percentages. Some online slots have RTP percentages in the 97% to 98% range, so players should find the best games based on RTP and play those online slots only.

If you prefer a chance at a life-changing jackpot, then you should play the progressive slots with the biggest jackpots. Please remember these games usually have a lower return-to-player. The odds of winning aren’t good and the odds of losing a lot of money are high. For instance, Mega Moolah has an 88% payback percentage, which is considered awful. A lot of players must lose for that one lucky player to win a $20 million jackpot.

Choosing Between Classic and Online Slots

Choosing between classic slots and online slots is a simple choice. If you have nostalgia for classic slot machines, then you should visit one of the relative handful of land-based casinos that feature mechanical slots. Alternatively, you can go online to buy a classic slot machine and place it in your house — if you live in a state that allows it.

If you prefer bigger jackpots, more elaborate themes, or better graphics of online slots, then sign up for a real-money online casinos. Gaming sites have hundreds of online slots with a huge variety of themes, artwork, game features, and jackpots. For most players, online slots far surpass the classic slots of yesteryear.

That’s the upshot. Slot machines have improved wildly over the decades and generations. The Liberty Bell Slot Machine was great for its time, but it has nothing on Gonzo’s Quest, Starburst, Mega Moolah, or a hundred different branded slots. Online slots are a great improvement over their predecessors.

Real-World Success Stories

If you want real-world success stories involving online slots, you should look at the winners of Mega Moolah, Mega Fortune, and WowPot Slots over the years. Marcus Goodwin won $11.6 million at Yako Casino in 2016, while John Heywood won $20.8 million at Betway Casino in October 2015. The Twitch streamer “Trainwreck” won a $22.5 million jackpot on Might of Ra Online Slots on

Most big jackpot winners choose to remain anonymous, but the list below represents the current Top 9 list of the biggest online slot jackpots of all time.

  • Absolutely Mad Mega Moolah (£18.9 million) – $23.6 million – Napoleon Casino
  • Mega Moolah (£18.86 million) – $23.5 million – Grand Mondial Casino
  • Mega Fortune (£16.9 million) – $21.5 million – Paf Casino
  • Mega Moolah (£16 million) – $20.36 million – Betway Casino
  • Mega Moolah ($15.76 million) – $20.057 million – Zodiac Casino
  • Arabian Nights (£13.9 million) – $17.60 million – Betsson Casino
  • Mega Moolah (£13.61 million) – $17.32 million – Luxury Casino
  • Mega Moolah (£13.21 million) – $16.69 million – Betway Casino
  • Mega Moolah (£10.08 million) – $12.95 million – Luxury Casino

Classic vs Online Slots FAQ

What are the differences between classic and modern online slots?

Vintage slot machines have mechanical reels, while digital slot machines found on the Internet use a computer chip called a random number generator. RNG produces the results, while graphics software simulates the spinning reels. Graphic simulations appear on your computer screen or touchscreen, mimicking the spin of traditional slot reels.

Online slots have a much wider range of graphics and winning combinations. 21st century players view them as more entertaining because the artwork and animations are brighter and more creative. They also see the huge jackpots as an improvement. Some players prefer vintage slots, because they offer a nostalgic experience and the ability to play for smaller payouts with better odds.

Are slots better to play on a land-based gaming machine or online?

Most land-based slot machines these days use the same RNG and graphics software technology that online slots do. Electronic slot machines offer a comfortable chair, entertainment sounds, bright lights, fun themes, and huge jackpots. They also offer membership to the slots club, which provides comps and cashback.

Online and mobile slots offer convenience, privacy, and no travel costs. They also offer slots bonuses for signups and deposits. Besides that, they offer VIP loyalty programs with benefits matching the rewards of the slot clubs. When you combine those advantages with similar gaming mechanics, graphics, and jackpots, then slots played online have more benefits.

When did the slot machine evolution begin?

The first electromechanical slot machine was the Money Honey Slot in 1963, which Bally produced. Money Honey was a mechanical slot machine powered by electricity, though. Fortune Coin Co. developed the first video slot machine in 1976. The machine uses a Sony Trinitron color receive to display graphics and logic boards to handle the slot machine’s functions. Developed in California and first displayed at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel (Westgate Las Vegas), it created a sensation when it first appeared in Las Vegas.

The machine had to prove it could beat cheaters before the Nevada State Gaming Commission approved the machine. By 1978, IGT had bought the Fortune Coin Co, so IGT in introduced electronic slot machines to Las Vegas. IGT remains the leader of electronic gaming machines to this day.

The first poker machine with a second screen bonus round was Three Bags Full Pokies, which appeared in Australia in 1994. WMS Industries introduced a similar game, Reel ‘Em In, to the American market in 1996. That same year, IGT introduced the Wheel of Fortune slot machine. Its wide-area progressive technology allowed IGT to become the leader in progressive slots — a roll it continues with MegaBucks Slots.

Who invented online slots?

Microgaming claims to have create the first online slots software in 1994. A handful of other companies — Bodog and CryptoLogic — also claimed to have launched in 1994. That seems to be the year that online slots launched, though there’s some dispute who was first. What’s important is online slots tend to follow the lead of the land-based slot machine designers. Thus, progressive jackpots and second screen bonus games came a few years after WMS, Bally, and IGT were introducing those innovations to land-based slot games.

How have paylines in online slots evolved over the years?

They’ve only increased. At a time, 9-payline, 20-payline, and 25-payline slots dominated the market. Then slots had 50 or 100 paylines. Then Aristocrat introduced 243 ways to win pokies, which got rid of paylines altogether.

Currently, players can choose paylines in online slots or go another direction. They can choose Allways slots, grid slots, or buy-a-pay slots. That’s the story with slots online — players have a whole world of options.

What are the advantages of digital slot machines?

Whether it’s in brick-and-mortar casinos, online casinos, or mobile gaming sites, digital slot machines give game designers so many options. It’s really up to the imagination. Digital slot designers can have artwork at the higher level or jackpots that set records. Or they can offer simple animations for penny players. Digital slots can have their weirdest themes, or they can have throwback slot machine themes as simple as a century ago. The sky’s the limit.

Do online slots pay out more?

It’s on an individual bases, but online slots often pay out more. Consider the fierce competition to sign online players. Gambling sites online have much more competition than land-based casinos, especially those outside Las Vegas. Most commercial and tribal casinos outside Sin City have little competition, as you have to drive at least 50 to 100 miles or more to the next gaming venue.

For that reason, land-based casinos don’t need to set high RTP percentages to attract customers. They’re the only game in town. With online slots, players only need to click a few buttons to play elsewhere. The return-to-player therefore is set higher in certain online slot games. It’s best to research RTPs of a game before you play.

Do online slots have bigger jackpots?

The highest land-based slot machine jackpots are still higher than online slot jackpots, but both are good. MegaBucks has the record jackpot amount at over $39 million, while Mega Moolah Absolootely Mad has the record for online slots at $23.6 million.

Mega Moolah, Mega Fortune, and WowPot online slots have begun to match the size of all but the largest MegaBucks jackpots — in the $20 million or more range. Play in the right jurisdiction and online slot jackpots are just as high.

Are online slots the same as real slots?

Online slots are real slots. We’re assuming you’re asking about land-based slot machines in a big game cabinet. When you get rid of the expensive screen, seat, and lights, the same technology drives online slots and land-based slot games. Both use a random number generator to produce results, while both use graphics software to depict the spinning reels.

Has anyone ever won big on online slots?

Yes. Among our list of big winners, we listed Marcus Goodwin, John Heywood, and Trainwreck (Twitch handle) above. About 75% of the top online slot jackpot winners have chosen to remain anonymous, but a lot of players have won millions of dollars. Several players will win 7-figure and 8-figure totals from online and mobile slots each year.

What are the features of classic slots?

The main classic slots feature is a set of mechanical reels. Because of size limitations, traditional slot machines tend to have 3 reels. Such games have simpler designs and simpler reels symbols. The themes are less elaborate, while players can place coins in the machine.

What are examples of classic slot symbols?

Classic examples include fruit symbols, including oranges, cherries, grapes, and bananas. In fact, fruit symbols gave UK pub slots their name: fruit machines. Other classic slot symbols are 7s, bars, shamrocks, coins, gold bars, stars, and liberty bells. They tend to be simpler to produce than online reel symbols.

For that reason, playing card symbols are common: Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks, and Tens. That might be why Australians called their slot machines by the name of poker machines — often shortened to pokies.

What are some classic slot themes?

The themes are much simpler among the vintage slot machines. The Liberty Bell was the first slot machine that found major success. The Shamrock slot machine of the Twenties is another example of a popular slot. Later successes included cherries, Native American chiefs, rockets, and honeybees.

Why would some players prefer to play mechanical reel slots?

It’s mainly for nostalgia. Of course, mechanical reel slots tend to be cheaper if you want to buy a slot machine to install into your own home’s game room. Few states ban the sell of slot machines, though most have a stipulation about how old the machine must be.

Often, personal slot machines must be 20 years or older. In some cases, the law stipulates the machine must have been manufactured before a certain year — somewhere from 1931 to 1984. Due to US slot machine laws, most of the slot machines sold on the secondary market are mechanical reel slots.

What are the differences in slot gameplay between classic reels and video slots?

The debate between video slots vs. classic reel slots often comes down to jackpots, features, and graphics. Classic reel slot machine have smaller jackpots, but that often means the games have a lower house edge. That’s not always the case, because casinos had much less competition in the old days. Still, the jackpots hit more often, because they had smaller payouts and fewer paylines.

Video slots have a lot more features than classic reels, too. For instance, video slots offer multipliers, free spins, wild symbols, scatter symbols, and the gamble feature. Among wild symbols, video slots have a wild array of options: stacked wilds, expanding wilds, exploding wilds, and cascading wilds to name a few.

Why do slot players debate nostalgia vs. modern gaming?

It’s the nature of game enthusiasts to debate their preferences. Contemporary slot players will argue modern gaming is better because they have more themes, better graphics, better sounds, and more features. They’ll point out they have progressive jackpots, Allways to win, and grid-pay slots. They’ll point out branded slots and 3D graphics.

On the other hand, traditional slot players will argue the nostalgia of a bygone time. They might have memories of the old style slot machines, or like the history of casino gambling. Perhaps their parents or grandparents told them stories of mechanical reel slots, or perhaps they inherited vintage slots from a family member. Or perhaps that person is a traditionalist who likes the way machines were made in the 20th century.

Could you give a return to player (RTP) comparison of online slots?

Yes. Click the link to our list of the best US online slots by RTP comparison. Our well-researched article provides the latest payback percentage and odds analysis for slots produced by top American companies like RTG, Rival Gaming, and Betsoft.

Are the progressive jackpots in online slots comparable to land-based slot machines?

They are comparable, but still not on a par with MegaBucks. Microgaming has the biggest progressive jackpots with games like Mega Moolah and WowPot Slots. NetEnt’s Mega Fortune Slots is a direct competitor with Mega Moolah, though it only has one spot in the Top 10 online slots jackpot list.

In the offshore online slots market, RTG has the biggest progressive jackpots with games like Megasaur, Jackpot Pinatas, and Aztec’s Millions. Betsoft has a few competitors with games like Good Girl Bad Girl, Greedy Goblins, Mr Vegas, Slots Angels, and Mega Glam Life. These games’ jackpots top out at $3 million or $4 million, though.

Why do so many slot players prefer Internet slot casinos?

The convenience of online gambling is one of the key reasons. Everyone seems to work longer hours each year. It’s hard to find time for a vacation trip to your nearest land-based casinos. It’s harder to play a holiday at a destination spot like Las Vegas, Tunica, or Atlantic City. Thus, Internet slot casinos are a nice answer to time constraints.

In the time it takes you to walk from the kitchen to your computer room or game room, you can start playing online slot games for real money. You don’t have to book a room. You don’t have to pack your bags or load your vehicle. Players don’t have to fill their car with gas or drive to a casino resort. You simply turn on your computer, log in, and choose the online slot game you prefer.

Then why would people choose physical slot casinos?

It’s simply cool to walk into a physical casino and see slots row. It’s even cooler to sit down at a huge physical slot machine with flashing lights and a neon sign stating the jackpot is worth $300,000 or $4,500,000. That’s a lot of entertainment value.

Land-based slot games have the best graphics and the latest releases. They sound cool and often have huge jackpots. Land-based slot machines are often branded slots, which have soundbites and soundtracks from your favorite pop culture franchises.

Besides that, physical slot casinos have other attractions. They have good restaurants, nice bars, and cool nightclubs. They have live shows and concerts, so going to a land-based casino is a special event. If you’re with the right company, staying at the resort can be romantic. If you’re with a group of friends, casino visits can be a memory of a lifetime.

On top of that, those players lucky enough to win a jackpot receive a special memory — and can pay for the trip with their handpay jackpot!

Which Internet slot casinos have the best online slot bonuses?

Read our comparison of the best online slot bonuses of 2024. We discuss the welcome bonuses and reload bonuses at the most trusted online casinos that accept US Players. Our guide to the best online slot bonuses breaks the promotions into categories and recommends a bonus offer for each type of online casino player.


The debate between classic slots and online slots will continue for decades. More people play online slots or mobile slots every year than traditional slot machines. The gulf will grow each year, especially as Internet slot machines introduce VR technology, 3D advancements, and AI influences to their repertoire.

That doesn’t mean vintage slot machines will disappear. Each year, more throwback slots enter the secondary market. More Americans now own their own traditional slot machines than ever. At the same time, more land-based casinos will feature mechanical slots to attract old-timers, slot historians, and those who like novelty.

The key thing about classic versus online slots is this: players have more slot gaming options now than ever. Players should glory in this golden age of slot machines. If you want to try the latest innovations in online slots, sign up at one of our recommended casinos today and start playing the best slots!

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