Video Slots: The South African Player’s Guide to Slot Machines

Video slots are the most popular casino games today. No matter if you visit a casino in Sun City or Durban or check out an online casino, you’ll stumble upon hundreds, sometimes thousands of slots to play. And most of them are video slots. So, let’s take a look at what video slots are, where you can find them, and what makes them so attractive to players.

What Are Video Slots?

Video slot machines or video slots are a type of slot game that features advanced visuals, animations, and sound effects. They provide an immersive and interactive gaming experience. They are the most popular types of casino games both online and in land-based casinos. 

Sweet Bonanza
Provider:Pragmatic Play
Type:Cluster Pays
RTP:96.49%
Volatility:Medium-High

Kong Fu slot by Realtime Gaming
Provider:Realtime Gaming
Type:Video slot
RTP:N/A
Volatility:Medium
Vault Cracker slot
Provider:Red Tiger Gaming
Type:Video slot
RTP:95.66%
Volatility:Low
Provider:Realtime Gaming
Type:Video slot
RTP:N/A
Volatility:High
Provider:Play'n GO
Type:Cluster Pays
RTP:96.51%
Volatility:High

In South Africa, we love to play online slot machines for real money. There are a few game providers whose games are especially beloved here:

Pragmatic Play

Pragmatic Play is one of the top video slot providers today. And it’s not only its video slots - it has a large collection of diverse live casino games, too, covering everything from blackjack to game shows, and everything in between. Perhaps its best feature is its network promotion, Drops and Wins, which comes with random prize drops and generous tournaments.

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Realtime Gaming

Realtime Gaming, operating under the brand SpinLogic Gaming in South Africa, is one of the veterans of the iGaming industry. It has been around since the 1990s, offering a collection of hundreds of video slots for its players. Its games are beloved at South Africa’s top casinos.

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Red Tiger Gaming

Red Tiger Gaming is part of the Evolution Gaming family. It has a collection of unique and attractive video slots that will bring fun - and big wins - into your life. Its games 

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Habanero Systems

Habanero may not be one of the veterans of the iGaming industry but it has already shown the world that it's capable of greatness. Habanero's games are consistently among the most popular among South African players. Titles like Siren Spell, Mystic Fortune Deluxe and Disco Beats bring not only countless hours of fun into our lives, but also the chance of consistent wins.

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A Bit of History

The first slot machine was built in the late 19th century by a mechanic called Charles Fey. It was a completely mechanical gaming machine with just three reels, five symbols, and a single win line. It was simple, and easy to play - needless to say, it became very popular quickly. Over the years, slot machines became more colourful, and elaborate. Symbols like the fruit, BAR, and the Lucky 7 became popular around this time.

The original slot machine, the Liberty Bell built by Charles Fey
The original slot machine, the Liberty Bell

The first electromechanical slot machines were built in the 1960s. These came with all kinds of shimmering lights and ringing bells, which made them a hit among players. They were more complex than the traditional games and came with higher payouts.

Video slots became a thing in 1976. Introduced by a Las Vegas-based company, the game became a surprise hit in Las Vegas, and from there, it conquered the world. Today’s gaming machines and video lottery terminals work on the same principle - except they are, obviously, more beautiful and complex. And, when the internet came along, slot machines made the jump online.

Online video slots went through a few phases of evolution themselves. From proprietary software, they moved on to Adobe Flash in the 2000s, then to HTML5 in the 2010s. Today, all of them are cross-platform, running equally well on computers and smartphones.

There is no telling how many video slots are available today - but we can assume there are at least a few tens of thousands of them.

Common Video Slot Machine Features

Video slots often have high payout potential. Many of them give you a chance to pocket winnings that are hundreds or even thousands of times your bet - and this is without even diving into bonus features and jackpots. Aside from their potential to pay big, most video slots share several common features:

Multiple Reels and Win Lines

Gem Fruits video slot machine multiple reels

The average video slot machine has five reels and three rows - a 5x3 format. Many of them have four rows of symbols (5x4), and there are quite a few that have six reels with four or five rows of symbols (6x4 or 6x5 format). 

The number of win lines changes from one game to another, anywhere from 5 to 243. In general, the more reels and rows a slot machine has, the more potential win lines it works with. 

Special Symbols

Video slots have symbols that have special roles in the game:

Bonus Features and Free Spins

One of the most loved things about video slot machines is their bonus features. These are usually triggered by three or more Scatter symbols landing on the screen:

Jackpots

Big Cat Links jackpots video slots

Jackpots are the most sought-after bonus features in video slot machines. They are the biggest prize the game can pay out - and they are not easy to hit. There are several types of jackpots associated with slot machines:

Video Slot Metrics You Should Know

Not all video slots are created equal, though. There are differences between them that go beyond their theme, format, and bonus features.

RTP (Return to Player)

The Return to Player (RTP) is a metric that expresses how much money you can expect to spend when playing a video slot machine in the long term. It doesn’t really affect short gaming sessions, though, so if you are planning to play just a few minutes on a break, this is not the metric you should be looking at. 

In general, though, it’s always a good idea to pick a slot machine with a high RTP.

Volatility and Variance

While these two metrics express similar things, they are not exactly the same.

Volatility refers to how often a video slot machine pays, and how big the winnings will be, calculated over a shorter period of time. It can be:

Variance, in turn, looks at the same over a longer term. 

In general, a low-variance, low-volatility slot machine is more entertaining because it hits more often, even if the winnings themselves are smaller. This makes them a better choice for casual players. On the other hand, high-variance and high-volatility slots are better for players with a big bankroll and a lot of patience. They may not pay anything for a dozen spins, but when they do, it will have been worth the wait. As a general rule, progressive slots have high volatility and variance.

Bet Range

As its name suggests, the bet range of a video slot machine tells you how much the minimum and the maximum bet are. Knowing if you want to manage your budget and playtime is important. Some slots have low bet limits and cater to players on a tight budget or those playing for fun. Those with a high maximum bet are great for high rollers hoping to play for profit.

Format and Game Mechanic

Reactoonz Cluster Pays mechanic

Before choosing a game, you should know its format and game mechanics because these also influence the way your game will play out. Most video slots have 5 reels and 3 rows. The number of win lines can be highly variable between games. A slot with 5 reels, 3 rows, and 10 win lines is usually marked “5x3x10”.

The game mechanic has a serious influence on the way the slot machine plays. The standard mechanic for video slots is reels-rows-win lines, with the winning combinations counting from left to right. But this is not always the case. Some games use a different mechanic:

Types of Video Slots

The strongest point of video slot machines is their diversity. If you can think of a theme, you can be sure someone made a video slot machine inspired by it. Still, there are a few major categories in which most of them can fit:

Classic Video Slots

These games have simple gameplay with three to five reels and a small number of paylines. Most Vegas-style slots and fruit machines fit into this category. You’ll often find classic symbols like fruit, BAR, Lucky 7, and bells on the reels, sometimes diamonds and Jokers, too.

Branded Slots

Street Fighter II The World Warrior Slot by NetEnt

Branded slots are a special breed of casino games that are based on movies, TV shows, bands, and similar pop culture phenomena. These slot machines are licensed - the developers pay a fee for the usage of the brands, and the licenses don’t last forever. So, if you stumble upon a branded slot that you like, play it while you still can.

“Cluster Pays” Video Slots

Cluster slots are a relatively new type of slot machine. They no longer have win lines. Instead, they pay for groups of symbols - if a set number of symbols touch horizontally or vertically, you’re a winner. Many cluster slots also have a “cascading wins” feature where the winning symbols disappear from the screen, and others fall into their place.

Megaways Slots

The Dog House Megaways video slots format

Megaways is a format invited by Big Time Gaming in 2015 that adds an extra spin to the already exciting world of video slot machines. On top of the symbols being randomly placed on the reels, Megaways operates with symbols of different sizes. So, a reel can contain anywhere between 2 and 7 symbols, and a Megaways game can form over 100,000 possible ways to win. Megaways slots often come with extra reels to add even more possible winning combinations. At the same time, they usually have high or very high volatility, which makes them even more rewarding to play - especially for high rollers.

Your Guide to Playing Video Slots in 2024

Countless video slot machines are available at South Africa’s online casinos today. Don’t think that all of them are the same - they can give you a completely different experience, not to mention your chances of winning. So, let’s take a look at how to choose the right one and how to play them successfully - and have fun.

1. Choose The Game

The first step to a satisfying and fun slot machine session is to choose your game right. How do you do that? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Theme

Video slots casino games themes

The first thing you notice about a video slot machine is its theme. Which is the best? Well, this depends on what you like. There are thousands of video slot machines with every theme you can imagine, from safaris to sports, from movies to music, and everything in between. Some of the most popular video slot machine themes include:

Video slots formats and metrics

Slot machines come in many shapes and sizes. The most common format is 5x3, but there are many others - and this affects your experience. And so does the game’s mechanic - some prefer the high-stakes madness of Megaways slots, while others love the casual gameplay of cluster pays. 

When you choose your game, take a look at the metrics - this will affect your experience and your winnings. A low-volatility slot with a high RTP will give you a fun casual experience with a low risk for your pockets. A high-volatility slot will give you a high-stakes adrenaline rush with a chance for big wins.

The provider matters

Does the game provider matter? Sometimes, it does. Slot studios have their unique style of building games, and this can also influence your video slot experience. From Yggdrasil’s grandiose slots to Play’n GO’s cosy and fun games, the provider can make a huge difference. Choose an online casino which has your favourite provider’s games for the best chance to have fun.

2. Set The Bet

How much should you bet on a spin? The answer is, as you might have expected, “It depends”. Video slot machines allow you to set a wide range of bets per spin, so it’s up to you to decide how big or how small the stakes you want to be. Higher stakes come with the thrill of taking a bigger risk and a chance for more serious wins. On the other hand, a small stake ensures you’ll play for longer - and even winning a small amount is hugely satisfactory. To set the right bet per spin, you have to keep in mind:

3. Don’t Lose Track of Time!

Playing video slot machines is a repetitive activity that can make you lose track of time. You need to make sure you don’t spend an unexpected amount of time - and money - on your slot machine session.

The easiest way to do that is to set reminders. It’s simple: you take your phone and set a countdown for the time you want to spend playing - half an hour, one hour, or however long you want your session to be. 

4. Don’t Chase Your Losses

Remember - slot machines are supposed to be fun. While you do have the chance to win money while playing them, it’s the exception, not the rule - nothing is guaranteed. You mustn’t consider playing the slots a way to make money. 

If the game you chose proves not to be as much fun as you expected, or you feel like you’ve lost too much already, simply stop playing. And if you lose, never continue playing in the hopes of winning back the money you lost. If you do, you will inevitably lose even more. 

5. Keep It Fun!

We can’t insist enough that playing video slots is supposed to be entertaining. Keeping it fun is part of the game - until it isn’t. If you feel like you’re playing and spending too much on gambling, if you think of gambling even when you’re supposed to do something else, or if you can’t stop playing, you might have a problem. 

Video Slots FAQ

  • What are video slots?

    Video slots are a type of slot game that features advanced visuals, animations, and sound effects. They provide an immersive and interactive gaming experience and are the most popular types of casino games both online and in land-based casinos.

  • Where can I find popular video slots in South Africa?

    You can find popular video slots in South African online casinos. Some popular games include Sweet Bonanza by Pragmatic Play, Vault Cracker by Red Tiger Gaming, and Reactoonz by Play’n GO.

  • What is RTP, and why is it important?

    RTP stands for Return to Player. It is a metric that expresses the percentage of all wagered money a slot machine will pay back to players over time. A higher RTP means better long-term payout potential, but it does not guarantee short-term results.

  • What are the volatility and variance in video slots?

    Volatility refers to how often a video slot pays out and how big the winnings will be over a short period. High volatility means larger, less frequent wins, while low volatility means smaller, more frequent wins. Variance looks at the payout behaviour over a longer term.

  • What are some common features of video slot machines?

    Common features include multiple reels and win lines, special symbols (Wilds, Scatters), bonus features (free spins, multipliers, stacked wilds), and jackpots (local and progressive).

  • How do I choose the right video slot game to play?

    Consider the game's theme, format, metrics (RTP, volatility), and the provider. Choose a game that interests you and matches your playing style and risk preference.

  • What are the different types of video slots?

    The main types include classic slots, branded slots, cluster pays slots, and Megaways slots. Each type offers a different gaming experience and mechanics.

  • What are some popular video slot providers in South Africa?

    Popular providers include Pragmatic Play, Realtime Gaming (SpinLogic), Habanero Systems, and Red Tiger Gaming. These providers are known for their diverse and engaging slot games.

  • How should I manage my bankroll while playing video slots?

    Set a budget for your gaming session, decide on a bet range that suits your budget, and set reminders to avoid spending too much time or money. Always play responsibly.

  • What should I do if I feel like I'm spending too much time or money on video slots?

    If you feel like you’re playing and spending too much, take a break and reassess your habits. If gambling is interfering with your daily life or you can't stop, seek help from a responsible gaming support organization.

  • Can I play video slots for free?

    Yes, many online casinos offer free demo versions of video slots. This allows you to try out the games and get a feel for them without risking real money.