Are Online Slots Really That Risky?

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Online slots carry a reputation for being extremely risky. They evoke visions of players risking house and clothes just to spin the virtual reels.

That said, some gamblers avoid these games like the plague. They don’t want to become the next person to lose everything through slots.

But are internet slot machines really this hazardous? Or is their risk blown completely out of proportion by the general population?

The following guide discusses the true risk factor behind online games. It also covers ways that you can play internet slots in a rather cheap fashion.

Why Online Casino Slots Get a Reputation for Being Risky

Real money online slots haven’t drawn their perilous reputation on thin air. Instead, these games feature certain elements that can make them quite risky. Here are the key aspects to watch out for when you play these games.


Volatility alludes to how likely a casino game is to deliver short-term winnings. If a game presents low volatility, then it will see you win quite often. The drawback, though, is that it won’t offer as big of wins.

A game with high volatility, meanwhile, will pay less frequently. The upside is that it will deliver larger payouts and/or more features.

Online slot machines can differ regarding volatility. But in comparison to the average casino game, all slots are quite volatile.

Even when a game features hundreds or thousands of paylines/ways, it might not pay out for several spins in a row.

There’ll also be times where these games provide lots of tiny payouts that don’t even equal your bet size. In either case, you’re taking greater risk due to the high volatility.

Large Maximum Bets

Most internet slots feature of a wide betting range. The average online game presents a minimum bet worth $0.20 and a maximum wager worth $100.

Most gamblers like sticking with the lower end of this spectrum. They fully realize that slots games move fast and can quickly drain their bankroll during in a dry spell.

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However, some bettors get carried away and jack up their wagers. They want to maximize their win potential in case they hit a jackpot.

The latter scenario isn’t so bad when a player has thousands of dollars to play slots with. However, it becomes a problem when one only has a few hundred spare dollars.

Fast Game Speed

Online slots move at a rapid pace compared to most other casino games. You can easily spin the reels 500 times or more in an hour.

By comparison, more-strategic games like blackjack will see you play at a slower rate. If you want the best chance to win in blackjack, then you need to think about each decision before making it.

Slots, meanwhile, don’t require much—if any—thought. You just need to select the appropriate betting options, and you’re good to go until you change your mind.

The quick play rate of slot machines makes for exciting action. However, it also pits you against the house edge more.

Here’s an example to show how more spins cause more theoretical losses:

  • You spin the reels 500 times per hour.
  • You bet $2 per spin.
  • The house edge is 4%.
  • 500 x 2 x 0.04 = $40 in theoretical losses

Normally, $2 wagers are nothing in the gambling world. You might only be facing a few dollars in theoretical losses with this bet size.

But the speed of slot machines can accelerate your theoretical losses. This situation becomes even more troublesome when you’re hypnotized by the reels (see later).

Buy Bonus Feature

Buy bonus is a betting option that’s come about within the past few years. It enables gamblers to immediately purchase a bonus round for a multiple of their stake.

Here’s an example:

  • You’re betting $1 per spin.
  • You’re getting tired of playing the base game.
  • You activate the buy bonus option.
  • Buy bonus costs 80x your stake in this particular slot.
  • You must wager $80 total to activate the feature.

Not every developer provides this option. However, some of the hottest slots producers are allowing players to immediately purchase bonuses.

This decision pays off when you experience a great bonus round. However, it hits your bankroll really hard when you don’t win much.

Hypnotizing Play

Online slots have a way of making you forget your surroundings. They feature quick play and exciting animations and sound effects when you win.

Developers make slots this way for a reason. They want you to think that you’re winning big no matter if the payouts are large or small.

You should pay attention to each prize to see if it’s actually worth more than your original bet. After all, you don’t want to fall for losses disguised as wins (LDWs).

The latter refer to wins that aren’t actually wins in terms or pure profit (e.g. $0.50 payout on $2 spin). However, you may have trouble separating LDWs from real wins based on the fast game speed.

Internet Slots Don’t Have to Be So Dicey

Based on everything covered above, you may think that the odds are heavily against you in online sites. The volatility, fast game speed, and large potential bets all increase the risk factor.

However, you don’t have to take on incredible risk when playing online slots. In fact, these games are actually set up to let you play relatively cheaply.

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By using the tips covered in the next section, you can enjoy internet slots with a smaller bankroll. You just need the right know-how and some discipline.

Of course, the latter is hard to come by in some cases. You may be especially tempted to play more slots than you should when stuck in a losing streak.

Again, though, you can avoid such scenarios with the correct knowledge. When sticking with a plan, you’ll be less likely to lose serious money with online slots.

5 Ways You Can Reduce the Online Slots Risk Factor

Internet slots will never be anything close to risk-free. Nevertheless, you can still chase large prizes without betting the farm thanks to the following tips

1 – Play Less Volatile Games

The big attraction to volatile slots is that they offer more features and/or a larger maximum prize. For example, a highly volatile game might provide multiple bonuses and a top prize worth 40,000x your stake.

The downside to volatile slots is that your winnings will be more spread out. If you don’t hit a big bonus prize at some point, your bankroll will drain faster.

That said, you might consider less-volatile slot machines—especially when dealing with a smaller bankroll. Low-volatility games offer more-consistent payouts.

Some online slots provide a volatility rating. In the absence of this rating, you can judge the volatility by considering how many bonuses there are and what the maximum prize is worth.

2 – Find Slots With High RTP

Return to player (RTP) doesn’t have as much bearing on your short-term winnings as volatility does. Nevertheless, it plays a small role in how much you can immediately expect to win.

Simply put, games with higher RTP are more likely to pay you extra money. A slot with 97% payback, for example, is more generous than one with 95% RTP.

Most internet slots provide their payout percentages within the information/help screen. If you don’t find the RTP here, you might try googling this information for a specific slot.

3 – Make Sure You Never Bet Too Much Money

The biggest mistake that you can make with slots, or any type of gambling, involves betting more than you can afford. You should never risk money that’s meant for more-important areas of life.

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That said, you really want to go through your finances before playing online slots and figure out how much you can afford to lose. If you can only afford a $50 bankroll, then you should stick with this amount.

Of course, you may be able to increase your bankroll by steadily saving money on the side. But in the beginning, you certainly want to stick with a predetermined budget.

4 – Don’t Use the Buy Bonus Feature

Buy bonus is tempting when you’re tired of playing the main game and simply want to skip to free spins, or whatever feature is available. These rounds offer the biggest payouts and most excitement.

However, you pay a hefty cost to purchase the bonus. You typically must spend anywhere between 60x and 100x your stake to activate a feature.

The problem with buy bonus is that it forces you to make a large single bet. You could very easily lose most of the amount you risk if the feature doesn’t produce much.

5 – Take Frequent Breaks

As covered earlier, slots can hypnotize you with their animations, exciting sound effects, and LDWs. Therefore, you may find it difficult to pull yourself away from the reels.

But it’s imperative that you take breaks every now and then. These breaks will slow down your play rate and provide time to think about whether continuing to play is a good idea.

The latter is especially important. Many gamblers lose too much on slots because they get sucked into the games and don’t think about potential losses.


Slots might seem like the riskiest games at internet casinos on the surface. However, they don’t have to be this way.

You can lower the risk factor just by taking a few precautions. Most notably, you should place bets that you can comfortably afford.

Don’t think about placing high wagers just to win bigger prizes. Instead, you want to focus on making bets that better align with your bankroll. Additionally, you should avoid buy bonus if you aren’t a wealthy slots player.

Online slots offer no guarantees. Therefore, you want to guard yourself with reasonable bets just in case the slots aren’t being generous on a particular day.