Whether it’s in a traditional land-based casino or online, slots continue to be one of Canada’s most popular gaming pursuits. The reasons why slots continue to be so popular are their accessibility – unlike some card games, or more elaborate casino games such as craps and baccarat, playing slots is easy and straightforward. No specialist knowledge or strategy are required and so they have widespread appeal.
Also, being games of chance, when you’re playing online slots you’re only ever one spin away from a big win – and with a progressive jackpot game, that win could be in the millions of dollars.
There’s also a great variety in online slots – you can still find the classic, Vegas-style 3 reel slots in online casinos, but technology has moved way beyond this. The most modern slots have elaborate gameplay, based on complex themes and narratives, much like video games, and this has increased their appeal to a younger generation of players.
However, if you’re new to slots, or just looking for a different place to play, you need to know which online casinos offer the best range of games, the best payouts, and the most secure gaming environment. Our guide to Canadian casinos gives you in-depth reviews of the best sites to play slots, and tells you all you need to know about getting started.
The 3-reel slot is probably the most recognizable version of the game, although in reality these games are probably in the minority these days. However, if this is the sort of slot you prefer, there are still plenty out there to enjoy.
These games have three rotating reels and 1, 3 or 5 paylines – the ‘lines’ on which symbols have to line up for a winning spin. For this reason, 3-reel slots tend to be straightforward and pretty plain to look at, without too many additional features beyond the basic mechanics of the game.
The advantage, however, is that games are quick and although they are very often low-volatility (i.e., more small payouts but fewer big payouts) there are high levels of engagement because the game moves along at speed.
The most frequently found types of slots game in online casinos are 5 reel slots; however, within this one category there is enormous variety.
The choices of game style are enormous with 5-reel slots (or video slots, as they tend to be known). For instance, you can play for 1¢ or $100 a spin; you can play games with just 15 paylines or as many as 100; you can play games that offer straightforward action or others that have detailed stories and complex characters – the choice is endless.
5-reel slots usually come with a host of special features as well, and these all add to the complexity of the gameplay. Some of these special features include multi-directional paylines, scatter symbols, free spins bonuses, wild reels and symbols, as well as reels that expand and hold. The inventiveness of software developers means that the repertoire of special features is expanding all the time, and rarely do two games ever play the same.
Some video slots abandon traditional paylines altogether – these are called ways-to-win games. This means that instead of a winning spin consisting of 3x or more symbols lining up on the reels in a set pattern, they pay out when they appear in sequence on the reels left to right without having to land in a set position on each reel.
There are two main varieties of this type of slot – 243 ways-to-win games will have 3 rows of 5 reels, while the 1024 ways-to-win version will have 4 rows.
Although there are no paylines as such, for wagering purposes ways-to-win games will have a notional number of ‘lines’ in play (usually 30) on each spin.
Themed video slots are the biggest growth area and one of the reasons why slots attract a growing and wider audience. They’re based on hit movie, TV, video game and music franchises, and use the images, characters and storylines from these as their themes.
Movies are a popular source for themed slots, from Battlestar Galactica to Aliens, from Terminator 2 to Gladiator, from Jurassic Park to Kong. It’s not uncommon for a themed slot to be available not long after a new blockbuster film hits our screens. Video games that have gone on to become movie franchises are also adapted into online slots, with Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Hitman two popular examples.
TV shows have also become increasingly popular as themes for slots games as well. A recent big hit, both on screen and in online casinos, has been Game of Thrones, but you can find all types of shows as online slot, including animated shows like South Park, drama series such as The Sopranos, comedy hits like Little Britain, and even talent shows like Britain’s Got Talent.
The superhero world has also received an online slot revamping, with a huge range of comic book heroes now the inspiration behind a slot game. If you’re into Batman, or Iron Man, or The Incredible Hulk, or Spiderman, you’ll be able to play an online slot based around their adventures.
Music-based themed slots are all the rage, lately. In 2016, Guns N’ Roses by NetEnt became a worldwide smash hit, and this was quickly followed by a Jimi Hendrix slot with a Motorhead-themed game on the way.
When you play a progressive jackpot slot, you’re not just playing for the prize awarded by that particular game in that particular casino at that particular time. Instead, you’re playing for a worldwide networked prize, where every losing spin on that game goes into a central pool, from which the progressive jackpot comes – and which you can win! As a result, progressive jackpots grow very quickly and can reach enormous sums.
Most progressive jackpot networks have a minimum size for their jackpots but there is no limit on how large they can grow – they increase until they are won, and then they begin growing all over again. In most cases the progressive jackpots are randomly triggered, meaning anyone can win at any time, although usually your chances are increased if you’re betting the maximum coin size and number. However, the max bet on most progressive slots is much lower than non-networked games, so everyone has shot at a huge payout.
Each of the major software developers has their own network of progressive jackpot slots, but some of the biggest names to look out for include: Mega Moolah and The Dark Knight by Microgaming; Arabian Nights and Mega Fortune by NetEnt; and Beach Life by Playtech.
If you haven’t played slots much, or you want to try a new release game without spending any of your bankroll, most games at the casinos we recommend can be played in demo mode for free. At most sites (although not all), you can do this without even registering for an account – simply go the slots page, select a game and you will usually be given the option to play for free or for real money (this isn’t possible with progressive jackpot slots).
Alternatively, keep an eye for out welcome bonuses and other special offers, as the online casinos that we list offer free spin and/or no deposit bonuses to new players, and so this is another way to enjoy free slots – by playing with the casino’s money.
The gameplay in slots is very straightforward, but it’s how you manage your wagering that determines how successful you are.
Take note of the number of paylines in a game, the coin size and how many coins you can play per line. You should always aim to play the maximum number of lines and coins, and so the coin size that you opt for is crucial. To determine the coin size you should be playing with, decide how much you want to wager per spin and work back from there.
For instance, you want to play for $2.00 per spin on a 20 payline game where you can bet between 1-10 coins per line. In this case you should opt to play with a coin size of $0.01 – 10 coins x $0.01 = $0.10 x 20 paylines = $2.00. However, if you want to play the same game but only want to wager $1.00 per spin, then reduce the number of coins you play, not the number of paylines e.g., 5 coins x $0.01 = $0.05 x 20 paylines = $1.00.
If you have a choice between reducing the number of paylines you play, or reducing the number of coins, always play with fewer coins, as the more paylines you play, the greater number of chances you have to win.
Because of the different ways in which they operate and the vast difference in their overheads, you get far superior value playing slots in an online casino when compared to playing in a bricks and mortar casino.
The majority of online slots (with the exception of some progressive jackpot games) offer players an RTP (Return to Player Percentage) of 95% and above. With land-based slots this figure is significantly lower, often in the region of 80-90%. This means that the slots’ house edge in an online casino is far lower, which equals superior odds for the player. This RTP also compares well with most other casino games that are played online, making slots one of the best value games around.
If you’re looking for variety and innovation in your online gaming, combined with a good RTP and low house edge, then online slots will always be your best bet.
To find the Canadian casinos where you can play the most popular and lucrative online slots, visit our list of recommended casinos where you’ll find not only the best games, but also some of the best signup offers and bonuses too!