Slots! Slots! And Slots! Who doesn’t love a great game of slots. There’s so much variety, and there’s so much action that it’s no wonder that slots is the most popular of all the casino games. As a fun fact, did you know that slot machines generate the majority of income for land based and online casinos.
So why is it so popular? In comparison to blackjack and poker, two other very popular casino games, slots is relatively low skill and is therefore very easy to play. There’s no playing against a dealer and it doesn’t require bluffing. Everyone can play this game, and have the same odds as everyone else. Another reason for its popularity is the winnings! If you can hit the jackpot for slots then you win big. Blackjack, on the other hand, is dependent on how much is placed for each round and decisions that you make for playing a hand, and poker is also very similar.
Prior to 2006, online slots was legal in many states. In the years between 2006 to 2017 it became illegal in most states, with exception of the 3 states Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey. Some states continued to provide real slots at state legislated land based casinos as well as Native American land casinos which fall under a federal act not state law. In 2019, we are seeing a change to more pro gaming laws. We discuss further the legality of slots gambling in the following section.
The history of slot machines, from creation to now is quite amazing. Slot machines have come along way, synonymous with the phrase “the one arm bandit” the old school one lever pull through to today’s electronic, flashy, colorful, and soundilic machines. And, of course, in today’s world we have the option of online or mobile slots.
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Legality of playing online slots in the US
Prior to 2006 online slots gambling was flourishing.
All this changed in 2006 with the introduction of a federal ban on gaming. The federal ban came into force, when congress passed the bill named: Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA).
This bill is vague at best and was passed through in a very haphazard back door manner. It was snuck through via attaching this bill to an overarching Safe Port Act. A safe port and online gambling have no relationship with each other, and yet, this was how the bill was passed.
The legislation gave federal agencies extra judicial rights to arrest and prosecute gambling operators for online slots and other games.
In essence the legislation decimated the entire online casino industry. All the online casino sites were withdrawn. The downfall included online gambling powerhouses such as Ladbrokes, Paddy Poker, and William Hill. Foreign casino software development companies couldn’t escape this wide net either. Playtech, Cryptologic, Net Ent, Microgaming, and IGT, also exited the American online betting market.
What was once a thriving online industry was destroyed and of course the biggest loser of all the games was the online slots, as this was the largest generator of income to casinos and casino service providers.
Then in 2012 to 2016, the Department of Justice changed its interpretation of the act underpinning the UIGEA act. The underpinning Act was the Wire act, and in essence with this change in interpretation, 3 states legalised online gaming. The three states were Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey.
“Why didn’t the other states change?” you may ask. Mostly because of the lack of political will and lack of grass roots support. And on top of that, to make state constitutional changes, it is extremely complex and drawn out.
State Licensed Online Casinos
Regulation of gambling and the casino industry in the US isn’t a straightforward subject. The problem traces it’s roots to the grey area that exists between the Federal Law and State Law. Under the United States Federal Law, gambling is legal. However, individual states have the express authority to regulate or restrict some aspects of online gambling within their states.
Thanks to this ambiguity, you will find some states proclaiming that gambling and anything related to it as illegal, while others allow some form of gambling.
In 2011 the U.S. Department of Justice revealed that it was overhauling the interpretation of the Wire Act. This new interpretation granted the federal states and authorities the powers to prosecute any violations of the Wire Act in reference to sports betting, except other forms of gambling. What followed next was a pandora box of licensing, regulation, and taxing of casino gaming activities and poker betting in a number of states.
Leading the pack in the legalization of online casinos was the state of Delaware. In 2012 Delaware, decided to legalize online casinos. The move to legalization was not a surprise, as the state has had a long history of jurisprudence within the corporate laws ecosystem, therefore the authorities knew what was required to initiate a change. Delaware was then followed by Nevada and New Jersey in 2013 as the two states whom have had a pro gambling stance for online gaming. Fast forward to today, Pennsylvania has endorsed online casino and poker.
All in all, some states may never legalize or endorse any form of online gambling. That said, there is a light at the end of the tunnel as the economic prospects of the industry and stringent laws like UIGEA are being overtaken by events.
Historically, the industry hit rock bottom between 2007 and 2013. During this time, although Realtime Gaming and Bodog were operational, they found it near impossible to establish a legitimate slot machine online presence.
The restrictions that begun in 2007 led to a massive migration of large gambling companies from the US to the Caribbean. Many large companies had their businesses ruined as a result of the loss of market.
In 2018, there was a change in the air for online gaming. Just recently the federal ban was overturned in regards to online sports betting. Yes, online sports betting is different to online casino games, but there is a relationship. The supreme court effectively said that the UIGEA introduced did not have the authority to oversee the prohibition of online sports betting. This outcome occurred in mid 2018, and as a consequence, set off a massive change of events. The first being, this paved an easier way for states to have the power to change their constitutions in relation to their own gambling laws. Those most liberal in constituents, and with the political will began almost immediately to initiate proposals to change the state constitution, while other states which were more conservative really had a “meh” moment i.e. It doesn’t interest us, because we don’t want to change anyway. The most recent state to legalize online gambling is Pennsylvania. Other states are following suit.
And how does this change the landscape of slots? Both land based and online slot can now virtually be easily expanded. The door is now open and the industry, particularly online, can begin to thrive again.
Fun Fact: The creation of the Slot Machine
Slot machines have a really interesting beginning. In the 18th century, the term slot machine was in fact used to describe vending machines. In 1880, as a precursor of developments to come, the machines were changed to work by inserting a coin and, rather than dispensing an item, a “winner by chance” would be rewarded with drinks, cigars, and trade checks. This boomed in popularity, and of course developments in technology have led them to where they are today.
Slots Online vs Live Play
Playing slots online or playing at a brick and mortar casino has both its own pros and cons. I personally like to play online or mobile, but equally when going out for a social event and there’s time to chill the occasional pull of the lever is quite fun.
Below we list out the top considerations for playing online versus playing at a casino.
There’s no doubt that playing online or mobile is really convenient. Granted, if you live in an area with slow internet connection, it can be frustrating and even not an option. But otherwise the internet hands down beats going to a real land based casino for convenience.
Having said that, maybe you reside conveniently close to a slots parlor and it’s not an issue to check out the availability. Either way convenience may be an important factor for you.
If in your state and/or country that you reside in doesn’t allow you to play online then naturally this means the only other option is land based. If legality is a grey area, of course, be cautious if you are wanting to play slots. And if you are considering playing online consider using a crypto currency payment method. Most online casinos will accept a form of crypto currency (typically bitcoin).
Maybe you like being social and hanging out with other players, then live is the maybe better option. Also playing slots doesn’t have to the sole focus when going out to have fun. It maybe the occasional few games on the side which is a great way of having fun.
Other don’t like the crowds. And prefer to play online coupled with texting or messaging others with that extra bit of privacy.
Online slots and online in general, you will find a wide variety of games. Much more than you could ever find at a land based casino or parlor. The games online will also offer much outside of the normal slot machines games as well. So, if you are searching for that something more different, maybe with a little more skill needed then go online.
Ease of playing other games online
Online there are so many options. You can easily move to another site to see other slot games. Whilst live perhaps not as easy, you can’t just jump next door to another casino to check out what different slot machines they have.
Comps and perks
The comps and perks are different between online and live. Online you have sign up bonuses, free credit etc. Whilst live, have drinks, discounted food and accommodation, live entertainment, performances and music.
Tips and Advice for playing slots
Know your boundaries, your limits. If you feel that online will let you loose, and burn through your budgeted bank roll then don’t do it. If you feel that going to a live casino for slots with a friend give you that added comfort that you can be in control and go live. So know your boundaries.
Jackpot prediction is impossible– Unless you are the one who programmed the slot machine or the online slot game, then you cannot predict when you will hit the jack pot. Some people think you can predict on your last spin… but no you can’t. Don’t get suckered into this misconception.
It’s important to note that casinos use random number generators and not your typical endless list of numbers. These RNG’s produce multiple results per second once you hit the spin button and the results are just a fraction of your previous spin. As a result, it would be lackadaisical and unfounded to make your prediction basing on the previous spin as the reel alignments don’t have a starting point.
The same goes for jumping onto a machine after watching someone continually lose on a particular slot machine. The odds don’t suddenly go up.