It has long been the case that the most popular games in casinos are the slots. That’s true both in brick-and-mortar retail casinos and online casinos.

Slot machines have a long and storied history. Known by many names — fruit machines, pokies, one-armed bandits — slots have been a gambling staple that date back well over a century.

Indeed, for many the introduction of slot machines into an establishment is what transforms a “gambling hall” or some other facility into a full-fledged casino. In other words, a casino may or may not have roulette, craps, or even poker, but isn’t really a casino unless it has slots.

For much of the history of slot machines, ones with mechanical reels were most common. The earliest classic slots had five reels, then eventually the three-reel slots became the norm.

By the 1980s, advances in computing enabled the introduction of slot machines with “virtual reels” that used random number generators rather than physical reels with symbols. That innovation helped revolutionize casino slots into a much more varied gaming experience.

Soon after that came video slot machines with computer screens showing graphics that would mimic the traditional spinning reels. Further advancements enabled ever more complex animation, and eventually game manufacturers began to introduce a wide range of different types of video slots incorporating increasingly entertaining and immersive displays.

As video slots have evolved, most have generally continued to resemble the reel-based slots of old, at least superficially. But with many more combinations and the ability to play many different “lines” (instead of just the middle row as on reel-based slots), slots have evolved into a type of gaming that can offer a much greater variety of experiences to players.

Thrilling players with jackpots

Video slots are popular for many of the same reasons traditional slots have been. Bonuses such as free spins or extra payouts often work to keep players interested. The ability to win big prizes including huge jackpots is also a major reason why players are attracted to slots.

Slots can feature either fixed jackpots or progressive jackpots. Fixed (or “non-progressive”) jackpots never increase, while progressive jackpots gradually get higher and higher until they are finally won.

The computing technology behind video slots also gives game makers some added options for progressive jackpots, including pooling several different slot machines to create an even bigger jackpot. The prizes can come from a “bank” of machines in a single casino or even a network of machines in many casinos, sometimes growing to millions of dollars.

Keeping players entertained

Slot machines with themes based on characters or shows from popular culture are especially prevalent. Vegas slots have long featured such games. Indeed, they were around well before the introduction of video slots, but they have become even more prevalent since.

Movie-themed video slots are a favorite of many players. There are slot machines based on famous films like Star Wars, Rocky, Grease, Ghostbusters… even Sharknado. Some of these video slots incorporate video clips along with high-definition graphics that invites the player into the world of the film as a setting for playing the game.

For example, the Ted slot machine based on the popular 2012 comedy has proven a hit with many slots players. The game takes place (so to speak) in the basement where the talking teddy bear lives in the film, uncannily reproducing lots of details of the setting.

Video slots based on television game shows like $100,000 Pyramid and Deal or No Deal are quite popular. So are music-themed slots ranging from Guns N’ Roses to Dolly Parton.

Fans of particular artists or genres of music can enjoy listening to tunes while playing the games. As you can imagine, video slots enable a full sensory experience with videos featuring musical performances, thereby adding to the entertainment provided by the games.

Moving the games online

Video slots aren’t just popular in casinos, but on desktop and laptop computers and mobile devices as well. Video slots lend themselves especially well to online slots, and in many cases the “home” versions of these games are the same or even better than the casino slots.

Practically all of the most liked slot games found in casinos turn up in online casinos as well. Popular titles like Divine Fortune, Jumanji, and Wheel of Fortune are well represented both live and online.

Below is a screenshot from the popular Starburst slot game as it appears in the PokerStars Casino. It has all the same graphics and sounds of the casino version, and has proven as popular in online casinos as it has been in retail ones.

The 'Starburst' slots game at the PokerStars Casino

The ‘Starburst’ slots game at the PokerStars Casino

Online casinos have an additional advantage as well, being able to offer hundreds of different video slots without the physical limitations of their brick-and-mortar counterparts. That’s also one of the many benefits of online poker.

Keeping pace with the competition

There is a lot of competition when it comes to video games. Slots certainly provide a particular kind of pleasure to those who enjoy them, with the gambling element central to their fun. But in the casino patrons have lots of other ways to gamble available, and when playing online there are still more varieties of gaming available to entice players away from slots.

Thus have video slots deliberately managed to incorporate some of the best liked elements from other kinds of video games, yet another way they have remained so popular.

Some like Lara Croft: Temples and Tombs mimic the “choose your own adventure” aspect of role-playing games. Others such as Street Fighter introduce an element of conflict as found in fighting games. And a few like Tetris Super Jackpots offer a kind of hybrid gaming experience mixing slots and non-slots video games.

Thanks to such innovation, these days slots players are more likely found pressing buttons than pulling long metal arms. Such growth will no doubt continue when it comes to video slots as game makers continue to seek new ways to attract slots players.

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