How to Get Started Playing Slots

Online slots are a simple and fun way to spend some time and hopefully win some money, and with a whole array of different games to choose when you play slots at Virgin Games, getting started can be a bit overwhelming.

Before we get into playing online slots, let’s look at where they came from – way back in 19th Century America.

The History of the Slot Machine

One of the earliest versions of what we would recognise as a slot machine was the Liberty Bell created by Charles Fey in 1894. Featuring 3 reels with a single payline and an automated payline, this machine used simple icons like bells and card suits.

The Mills Novelty Company produced slot machines that were marketed as ‘chewing gum dispensers’, to get around the burgeoning anti-gaming laws that were in the US in 1910 when it was first developed. This gave rise to the term ‘fruit machine’ first being used.

Bally created the first electromechanical slot machine called Money Honey, which needed a lever pull to make the reels spin – and this is why we call slot machines in the casino a ‘one-armed bandit’ – which is a phrase that is still used, even in the digital age.

Video slots were introduced in Las Vegas in 1975, recreating the reel spinning on a video monitor, and these new machines were met with some derision from the hardcore players who wanted to hear the joyful sound of the cascading reels and the sound of all those coins emptying when the jackpot was hit.

By 1986, the development of technology meant that slot machines could now be linked, creating Super Jackpots that could net huge winnings – in fact, in 2003 a Las Vegas casino paid out nearly $40 million from a slot machine.

In the mid to late 1990s, online casinos were developed by internet businesses like Microgaming and InterCasino and suddenly players could access their favourite casino games from their personal computers. The growth of the internet and other technological innovations means that the online slot experience now includes up to 9 reels, beautiful graphics, and thousands of paylines.

With all this in mind, there is a lot to think about when it comes to playing slots – which is interesting considering that the basic gameplay is so simple and straightforward. The more you know about what you are looking at, the more you will understand and you will be able to get more out of your experience.

Slot Basics

Although they might look different, with exciting themes and colours, the basic structure of the online slot game doesn’t tend to vary much, so below are some of the basic elements that you can expect to see.


The reels are your playing area, and they can spin either horizontally or vertically. There is usually an odd number of reels, usually 3 or 5 but sometimes as many as 9 or more.

The reels are where the symbols will be that you need to line up on a payline to get a win.


The payline is where you want to line up the symbols to win. When the right symbols land on this line, you’ll trigger a win along the rows, running left to right.


The symbols are what you are looking for in each spin so that you can win. The way the symbols look will depend on the theme of the slot game, so you might have Egyptian symbols or characters from a movie franchise.

  • Wild Symbol: Sometimes referred to as a joker, the wild symbol can replace a symbol on the reels and help you win.
  • Scatter Symbol: The scatter symbol usually launches you into bonus rounds and free spins, plus they also help you work towards progressive jackpots


This is where you can find out more about the game you are about to play. The paytable describes what the different symbols mean, how much each combination could win, and any other information like bonus games.

RTP Rate

The Return to Player rate is displayed as a percentage and shows you how much you’ll usually get back for each deposit – a 94% RTP rate means that for every 100 coins played, the return will be 94. The higher the RTP rate, the more likely that you will win.

Get Started

Now you know what you are looking for, you can get playing on some amazing slots.

Choose the Casino

Look for an online casino that is regulated and licensed, and one that has good offers for new players.

Make an Account

You will probably need to share some important details with the online casino before you get started, especially if you are going to be playing for real money. You will also need to make a deposit.

Pick a Game

This is where the fun comes in. Choose a theme that you might be interested in, whether that is fishing, rainbows, or something from your favourite TV show. Look at the RTP rate and the paytable so you know what you need to look for when you are playing.

Play the Demo

Most games will give you the chance to play for free so you can get used to the mechanics and the gameplay – take this advantage so you can feel your way through the game before you start playing for real.

Spin to Win

Once you’ve got the basics down in the demo, you are ready to spin and win – so get playing!


Huynh Nguyen

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