Why Do Slots Form the Backbone of Online Casinos?


11 May 2021

Updated: 24 Apr 2023

Modern online casinos enjoy an unprecedented level of game diversity, yet one set of titles take a far greater place in the spotlight than the others – slot games. Born from curious experiments over a hundred years ago, slot games have long been a physical casino standard, with their popularity translating perfectly into the online space. Far outnumbering all of their contemporaries, the reasons for the success of slot games are myriad and mean more than outsiders might initially think.

The Start of Online Slots

The very first physical slots came about in the 1880s, where they were used as novelty games incapable of direct payouts. Proving an instant hit in pubs, later refinements to the machines simplified them to a point where monetary payouts were possible, and history was born.

Over the decades, slots would continue to evolve, becoming more streamlined and leveraging better technology to make the machine increasingly complex. Finding a home base in physical casinos, slots became a staple that no professional gaming establishment could do without.

"Fruit Machine" (CC BY 2.0) by garryknight

When the 1990s rolled around and the internet appeared, casinos were just one of many businesses to make their way into the online sphere. As it just so happened, slot games would be one of the types of games that could be easily translated into digital systems. This made them a huge hit when they first appeared in 1996, as they leaned on rapidly growing computer potential.

Strength in Flexibility

The biggest strength in slots was evident in how easily they were adapted into the digital marketplace. Slots were, and still are, incredibly flexible games that rely on only minor computing power to provide an enjoyable experience. At first, early slot games were simple reflections of the idea of slots, of basic spinning reels and themes, but their evolution was just a matter of time.

As internet devices grew more powerful, the software which powered slots grew more capable, and the games kept striving for bigger and better things. Fundamentally, this tied into how only the core components of slots needed to stay the same for titles to be recognized as slot games.

From a base, creating a slot game online meant including some form of spinning reels. Aside from this, developers have free reign to make titles as complex and involved as they want. Additions began to include special features like expanding wilds, changing reels, and an enormous range of bonus games. The move to software had given slots wings like never before, and developers were quick to soar to new heights.

"System Code" (CC BY 2.0) by Yu. Samoilov

Creating a Welcoming Environment

The other side of this equation comes from how slots serve as a sort of doorman for online casinos. Visit any modern online casino and one of the first things you’ll see are offers such as deposit bonuses and free spins, both of which are targeted towards slots. This serves to give players a reason to stay, during which time they’re free to explore other titles like poker, craps, baccarat, and more.

While it’s impossible to say for sure which types of games in online casinos are the most important, there is no question that slots sit at the highest tier. Giving so much for players to do and see, slots are both a gateway and key feature, an inseparable part of the experience that sets the tone for the online gambling environment. They’re more than the games themselves, and for this reason, we’d expect slots to always act as the prime vanguard of the online gaming marketplace.