While PA gambling sites offer up virtual table games of all types, video poker and more, slot machines are undoubtedly the most popular game type of them all. Here’s all you need to know about online slots in PA, how to play, which offer the best odds and which to avoid.
Best PA online slots in 2020
Who offers online slots in Pennsylvania?
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board set aside licenses for each brick-and-mortar casino operator, with any unpurchased license offered to qualified out-of-state operators. Application fees were $4 million each for licenses for online slots, table games, or poker, or a $10 million fee for a combination license for all three.
All of the PA casinos purchased the online casino licenses except Rivers Casino, Meadows Casino and Lady Luck Casino. Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh does offer online sports betting and now slots and operates under its sister casino Play SugarHouse which is also by owned by Rush Street Interactive. Two of the extra licenses were later purchased by Golden Nugget and MGM, which operate online casinos in neighboring New Jersey.
Online casinos kicked off in PA in July 2019 where we saw three online casinos launch that month. Since then, more sites have began trickling in and we can expect up to a dozen to be fully operational in the coming years.
List of PA gambling sites with online slots
Operator Casino Partner Online Since BetRivers Casino Rivers Pittsburgh December 2019 Hollywood Casino Hollywood Casino July 2019 Unibet Casino Mohegan Sun Casino November 2019 PokerStars Casino Mount Airy Casino October 2019 FanDuel Casino Valley Forge Casino January 2020 Parx Casino Parx Casino July 2019 BetAmerica Presque Isle Downs January 2020
How do online slots work?
With any slot machine the general goal is to make one or many lines of matching symbols. Specific payouts are determined by the type and number of symbols matched, proportional to the amount bet.
Generally lines must be made starting from the far left going right, and most modern slots run five vertical reels of symbols spread across three or four active rows.
- Paylines are the possible matching routes that are eligible for a win. Many combinations of horizontal and diagonal paths are offered, with vertical paths rare.
- Wild symbols are allowed to be substituted for a match with any other symbol in a line.
- Scatter symbols (often represented as coins or jewels) can result in a win if a large enough number turn up regardless of where they appear on any lines. These will usually award a specific set prize and unlock free extra spins, or trigger a special “bonus round” mini-game with different gameplay.
Player options are usually limited to choosing how many credits to bet and sometimes how many pay lines they want active on each spin, which will determine the values for each win on the pay table. More complex choices and strategy are usually only possible for that occasional bonus round.
Every slot game offers a specific rate of winnings usually calculated as “return percentage” or RTP. This number refers to the amount of money that can be expected to be won compared to the amount bet, over a long enough period of time. For instance, if a game boasts an RTP of 96%, over the long-haul players will lose $4 per $100 wagered.
Many major software providers such as NetEnt offer games that have static RTPs that do not vary. Other key providers like IGT offer different tiers of returns on its slots, but we have not seen PA operators exercising this option. However, even the worst online slots (Grand Monarch, Shark Bite) rarely drop below 92% RTP, which is still somewhat better than land-based casino slots, and there will always be a few rare games such as Blood Suckers and Jack Hammer in the 97-98% range.
A final aspect of a slot’s value is its volatility, which is a very important factor when choosing a game to play. High volatility games pay out very rarely, but when you win, the prize is usually huge. A low volatility game will pay out smaller prizes much more often, which is less thrilling but results in a more stable experience and allows a player to tend closer to the stated RTP without having to play for an extremely long time. Games like Dead or Alive and Wheel of Fortune: On Tour offer good RTP but are so volatile that short-term returns are very random, while Blood Suckers is a very reliable play with low volatility.
What are jackpot slots?
Online casinos may offer hundreds of standard slots, but there will also always be a handful of special jackpot games that hold the possibility of a giant win.
While a few unique games like Colossus Frac/Pot are considered jackpot games because of special bonus win conditions, most jackpot slots fall into the category of progressive games. In these, there is a special bonus prize that increases slightly in value every time someone plays without winning it.
This grand prize eventually grows gigantic, becoming a very appealing draw for the game. Note: Many of these slots offer a lower base RTP, but when the jackpot prize grows the return increases as well. These games also may tend toward slightly higher volatility, and of course, the factor of the mammoth payout is itself extremely volatile by nature.
Some progressive slots are stand-alone and generate their own jackpot, but at many online casinos there will also be a group of progressive slots that all share the same jackpot prize. Progressive jackpots may also be linked between the same game at different partnered casinos.
Progressive slot example: Divine Fortune
Divine Fortune is an extremely popular progressive slot machine with notable good value. This NetEnt game sports a theme based on ancient Greek mythology.
The slot has five reels with three rows and 20 paylines. Divine Fortune is available on many sites in other markets, and draws enough play that it awards massive jackpots much more frequently than most other progressive games.
The jackpot bonuses can be won with any bet, but bigger spins can result in better odds. Divine Fortune has multiple ways to earn extra spins, but the most important is the “Falling Wild” Pegasus symbols. These wilds stay on the reel, moving one spot down while you get an extra spin. If you are lucky enough to spin another wild on this space, it becomes a “Wild on Wild” in which the Pegasus is spread out across all three rows of that reel (at least three more spins with wilds remaining on the field).
This feature is pivotal, because it drastically increases your chances of collecting three of the scattered Bonus Coin symbols, which is the only way to unlock the game’s jackpot bonuses.
Triggering the bonus game allows you multiple spins to earn other prizes and additional coins. Completing one or two rows awards the static Minor or Major jackpot prizes, but filling all three rows results in the full Mega progressive jackpot.
Best and worst PA slots to play
Not all slots are created equal. Some may be slick and flashy, yet offer abysmal returns, while others may be bare bones but boast near-100% payback rates. Here is a rundown of some of the best and worst slots you’ll find at PA online casinos.
Slots with a very favorable RTP
- Blood Suckers, RTP 98%, low volatility
- Wolfpack Pays, RTP 97.76%, low-medium volatility
- Jack Hammer 2, RTP 97.1%, low-medium volatility
- Jack Hammer, RTP 97%, low-medium volatility
- Joker 10000 Deluxe, RTP 97%, medium-high volatility
- Divine Fortune, RTP 96.6%, medium volatility, progressive jackpot
The craziest slots, measured by high volatility
- Dead or Alive, RTP 96.8%.
- Wheel of Fortune: On Tour, RTP 96.80%
- Jack and the Beanstalk, RTP 96.30%
- Merlin’s Millions Super Bet, RTP 95.3-95.6%
- A While On The Nile, RTP 95.3-95.6%
Which slots should I steer away from?
Over the long run, these games will have a much greater negative impact on your bankroll than slots with the highest RTPs:
- Champion Raceway, RTP 94.2%, high volatility
- Grand Monarch, RTP 92.99%, medium volatility
- Wheel of Fortune Ultra 5 Reels, RTP 91.96%, low-medium volatility
- Most progressives immediately after the jackpot has paid out.
How do online slot machines compare to other casino games?
Some but not all online casinos have online poker rooms and/or sports betting options, but one thing that can always be found will be at least a small assortment of table games and video poker.
Most commonly this will include a few varieties of blackjack and roulette, and occasionally other traditional casino staples such as craps or baccarat. On the video poker side one can usually find a few Game King classics like Jacks or Better and Double Double Bonus, and sometimes a few proprietary exclusive poker games that are close variants of the Game King products.
The question then comes down to why to choose slots over table games. It is a very subjective decision, but here are a few key points to remember:
- Table games tend to have a better RTP than most (not all) slots, and video poker is often even better than table games.
- However, if the table game offers any “side-bet” options these will offer a much worse RTP.
- Casino games generally tend to have much less volatility than slots.
- Because of these advantages, online casinos will usually penalize non-slot games in terms of bonus credit, it will take much longer to unlock your promotional bonus on anything besides a slot. With the tax rate on table games being lower than slots, we have seen some sites allow table games to contribute 100% towards bonus clearing.
- Table games tend to be harder to learn and play with perfect strategy than slots, which can often just be set on auto-pilot. Video poker games often have an easy strategy to learn that is very nearly as ideal as the perfect one, but still requires a lot more effort and attention than slots.
- Like video poker, slots offers an extremely similar experience to that of playing the same games inside the casino, whereas table games only offer a computer facsimile of the usual experience. The exception is Live Dealer games, which attempt to virtually recreate the casino floor as much as possible.
- Many table games have multiplayer options, offering more communal gameplay and interaction. This is especially true of Live Dealer games, and a big part of their popularity.
Frequently asked questions about slots
Are online slots available in Pennsylvania right now?
Yes, online slots first launched in July 2019 when PlaySugarHouse, Hollywood Online Casino and Parx Online Casino went live. They were later joined by Unibet and PokerStars Casino, BetRivers and BetAmerica.
Are there welcome bonuses for slot players?
Also yes! Each online casino offers their own welcome package ranging from no deposit bonuses to deposit matches. Check the table on our dedicated bonus page to view current bonus offers.
Can you play slots on a mobile device?
Slot developers recognize the importance of making their games run on mobile iOS and Android devices, and have made many of their titles available for play on-the-go. Some adjustments must be made to the design for smaller screens, but usually the experience is very similar to that of playing the full game on a desktop computer. Mobile slot libraries are generally smaller due to the extra development work involved, but libraries are growing at a fast clip due to the popularity of smartphones and tablets.
What is the most popular jackpot slot in PA?
The most popular jackpot slot in Pennsylvania is undoubtedly NetEnt’s Divine Fortune. The progressive slot is not limited to one online casino, and is offered by many operators. The game features a progressive (Mega Jackpot), two smaller jackpots and several other exciting bonus opportunities. It’s not uncommon for the main jackpot to climb into the six-figure range.
Who are the major providers of online slot machines in PA?
The two major online slot providers that we have seen are NetEnt and IGT.
Does the high tax rate on slots have any effect on payback percentages?
So far, we have not seen any impact on payback percentage on PA slots due to the high tax rate.
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