If you live in New York state, you can access a great selection of land-based casinos to play your favorite video slots and classic slot machines. However, when it comes to online slots the story is a bit different.
New York currently has legal sports betting including a number of online sportsbooks. We’ll soon see more retail casinos opening in the state as well. However, it remains illegal to play online casino slots for real money in the state.
At present you have two choices if you want to play online slots in New York state. You can sign up to a social or sweepstakes casino and enjoy a variety of online slots selections. Or you can play online slots at one of the social casinos affiliated with land-based New York casinos.
Sign up to these online casinos in NY and spin in NJ
How do online slots work?
If you have ever visited a casino in New York, you’ve seen the banks of slot machines that dominate the gaming floor. Online casinos have adapted many of the familiar and popular games.
You play video slots on a series of reels containing columns of symbols. When the symbols match up on horizontal lines, you win a prize according to a fixed pay table. Online slots operate similarly, functioning very much like the video slots in retail casinos while enabling players to enjoy the games from home on their computers or on the go via mobile devices.
Most online slots also offer bonuses and special jackpots, including some features only possible in an online environment.
- Choose your stakes: When you first open an online slots game, your first move is to choose how much you want to bet. At a real money online casino, you select coin denominations. At social and sweepstakes casinos you do the same, using whatever play money or virtual currency the site employs. The more you bet, the more you can win.
- Select your paylines: Many online slots let you choose the number of paylines you want to play before you spin. Other slots involve a fixed number of win lines. Paylines contain horizontal combinations of symbols. The more paylines you select, the better your chance of hitting a winner. However, choosing more lines means paying more in bets.
- Read the pay table: Each online slots game has its own pay table that displays the full list of symbols and payouts in the game. You can also find details on any bonus features or wild symbols.
- Consider the RTP: It’s vital you study the pay table to get a grasp of the game’s return-to-player percentage (RTP). The RTP indicates the average long-term payouts you can win. For example, if a slot carries a 96% RTP, it pays out $96 for every $100 staked while the remainder goes to the casino. The higher the RTP, the more you can potentially win over a long session.
- Understand variance: The volatility of online slots can differ from game to game. Volatility, or variance, is the frequency with which a slot pays out. You can win lots of small and regular prizes if you play a low-volatility slots game. A high-volatility game may pay out bigger prizes, but you win less frequently. Volatile slots tend to carry significant bonus features and jackpots. For example, an online slots game with a progressive jackpot is usually highly volatile.
You can learn how to gauge a slot’s volatility by studying an online casino slots game’s paytable closely. One sign of high volatility is a large gap between the top paying and lowest paying jackpots.
Real money casinos vs. social and sweepstakes casinos
Many US casino players play slots via social and sweepstakes casinos. It’s essential to understand differences between slots on social and sweepstakes sites and real money online slots.
The RTP in social, free-to-play slots is generally higher than in real money slots. Therefore, you might get used to playing a free-to-play title that reliably pays out big jackpots. You then get a nasty shock when you switch to a real money version of the same game that isn’t so generous with the jackpots.
RTPs are regularly audited and checked at online casinos to ensure that the mechanics and software of the slot are reliable and fair for all players. Regulation of the RTP at social and sweepstakes slots isn’t always conducted the same way or subject to regulatory oversight as real money online casinos are.
If you hit the jackpot or a big win while playing slots at a social or sweepstakes site, you usually unlock a new level that lets you access more popular slots with exciting features. Social and sweepstakes casinos often do the same for players who put in a certain amount of volume playing the games. After providing a few initial games to new players, those who play more earn access to more and more slots titles.
Slot bonus features and jackpots
Most slots you can find online come with the same bonus features as their land-based cousins. Five-reel online slots offer scatters, wilds, and sometimes progressive jackpots.
- Wilds: Wild symbols act like jokers. They substitute for all regular symbols in a slot to help you complete a payline. You can win a jackpot for filling a whole payline with wilds. Some slots reward you with a multiplier on your win every time you use a wild.
- Scatters: Scatter symbols pay out regardless of where they land on the reels. Scatter symbols typically have a prize attached. If you hit several scatters at the same time, you trigger a bonus feature.
- Free spins: Free spins are the most common slot bonus. You can trigger free games by landing three or more scatters anywhere on the screen. You can also retrigger some free spin bonuses when you land extra scatters.
- Progressive jackpots: You can often find progressive jackpots at real money online casinos, and some social and sweepstakes casinos feature them as well. A small portion of each bet goes towards a linked jackpot. You can trigger it by lining up special symbols or activating a bonus round.
Best slots games and developers
When they first debuted, many social and sweepstakes casinos in the US featured substandard slots with poor gameplay. Today, however, you can enjoy high quality free-to-play slots at many of these sites.
The best slots developers in the world are often represented at sites that offer real money online slots such as those operating neighboring New Jersey. If New York state legalizes online casinos, you can expect to see a similar range of titles and developers.
Scandinavian developer NetEnt is one of the world’s leading slot providers. They hold a New Jersey license to provide real money slots to online casinos in the Garden State. Slick five-reel NetEnt games like Blood Suckers and the crime-themed Jack Hammer are popular with players the world over. You can trigger free spins and a host of bonus features in both games. You will also discover some NetEnt games at some free-to-play online casinos in NY.
Online slots sites regularly feature popular games from other developers as well. You can play your favorite offline slots from major US brands like IGT and Bally. In most cases, the gameplay and graphics are the same. Look out for top titles from IGT like Cleopatra, Wolf Run and Wheel of Fortune, or classic Bally titles like Hot Shot and Quick Hit.
As noted, social and sweepstakes sites sometimes offer games by top slots developers. They also often feature games created “in-house,” meaning in many cases the games are proprietary and exclusive to the particular site. Whereas in the early days of social and sweepstakes casinos these games weren’t as sophisticated as the ones found at real money online casinos, today that has changed. Many of the games have top-notch graphics, animation and sound that in some cases rival the most popular video slots and real money online slots games.
Finding a good NY online slot casino
New York state lawmakers are racing to catch up with neighboring states like New Jersey, where real money slots are legal. Once online casinos in New York are legalized, we expect top slots sites available in state to include DraftKings Casino NY, BetMGM Casino NY, FanDuel Casino NY and Caesars Casino NY.
If you live in NY, however, you can still enjoy slots at various social and sweepstakes sites. Sites like Chumba Casino offer online slots that New York players can play. The games at these sites use virtual currencies, although in some cases offer opportunities to redeem winnings for real cash prizes.
Best play money slot sites in NY
Many land-based casinos in New York also operate play money online social casinos. Here are three of the best:
- Del Lago Casino: The del Lago Casino in Waterloo, NY, owns a social casino on the Play4Fun Casino network. You can play dozens of free-play slots on desktop or tablet and even test out games before you sign up. You can play for free or purchase additional virtual credits to play more high-profile slots. Del Lago’s online casino works as a true social casino. A handful of slots are available for you to play upon sign-up and you can unlock more slots as you hit winning spins and earn achievements. Games include Bally favorites like Quick Hit and Hot Shot alongside WMS classics like Zeus III. The casino adds new titles regularly.
- Akwesasne Casino: New York boasts a tradition of tribal casinos, and some like Akwesasne offer social casinos online. Play Mohawk Casino is the “Home of the everyday winner,” and can be played on desktop or tablet. You can even merge your land-based loyalty card with your online account. When you sign up to Play Mohawk Casino, you receive 1,000,000 chips that you can use to play slots. Starter deals are also available and allow you to purchase cheap extra chips. Play Mohawk Casino provides two rooms of slots – Diamond and Emerald – and games from developers like AGS and Amaya. Play Mohawk Casino also runs regular slot tournaments.
- Empire City: Empire City in Yonkers owns an online social casino with slots and table games to play for free. The site is based in Nevada and does not support real money gaming. The more you play at Empire City Casino, the more Empire Points you can earn. If you are an Empire City Casino cardholder, you can earn extra online points by playing in Yonkers. Conversely, you can redeem Empire Points you earn online at the land-based casino for comps. Empire City offers more than 100 free-play slots, including major titles from major developers like NetEnt and Bally.
Social and sweepstakes slots vs. traditional online slots
In addition to Chumba Casino, other social and sweepstakes sites offering slots include Pulsz Casino, Luckyland Slots and Funzpoints.
As described above, these sites use virtual currencies rather than cash for their games. However they do in some instances allow chances to redeem winnings for cash prizes. The slots games at these sites are in many cases just as sophisticated and entertaining as traditional online slots, making them a great alternative in states like New York that don’t yet have real money online slots.
The beauty of these social and sweepstakes casinos is that they are legal in most US states, including New York. While you wait for New York to legalize online casinos, give the slots games at these social and sweepstakes casinos a try.