Online slots gaming has never been more appealing or exciting than in the last year or two, with new slots software providers competing to produce the most intensive slots gaming experience possible. Traditionally, slots are the most popular casino games, and consequently, you will always find more varieties of slots than any other casino game. This is the same regardless of whether that is in a brick-and-mortar casino or an online one.

In the world of slots, there are two main types that you will find at any casino – standard slots and progressive slots. Newbie slots players are often not quite sure what the differences are between these two. After all, they’re often grouped together on the floor (virtual or otherwise). So, what are the main differences between regular slots and progressive slots? How can you tell which is which, and perhaps more importantly, which should you be playing?

Of course, both types of slots are appealing for different reasons. Both offer excitement and a great gaming experience. It often boils down to what your actual goals are when you play slots. Are you aiming to build up a slow and steady bankroll, or are you chasing that huge payday that you’ve been dreaming about? Knowing the answers to these questions can be a good starting point in choosing between progressive or standard slots. However, let’s unpack each type of slot and see how they work, how they are structured, and what benefits you can get from either of them.

Standard Slots vs. Progressives – Differences at a Glance

While regular slots and progressives are often grouped together, there are significant differences between them. These differences can often be the deciding factor regarding which game you decide to go with.

  • One of the most significant differences between regular slots and progressives is that the jackpot in regular slots is a fixed amount.
  • This essentially means that the highest possible jackpot win is set by the slots developer, and it cannot be changed or added to.
  • Progressives, on the other hand, have variable jackpot amounts which can always be added to by participating players.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the differences between regular slots and progressives so you can make a more informed decision as to which would be best for your needs.

Standard Slots – The Backbone of Any Casino

Standard slots make up around 70% of all casino games on the floor, and it’s the same for both brick-and-mortar casinos and online casinos. “Standard” slots aren’t really all that standard since they come in a variety of options, including the number of reels and paylines they feature, as well as various special in-game features.

Classic Slots

Classic slots, also referred to as 3-reel slots, are based on the original slots found in Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos during the forties, fifties, and sixties. These slots are often easier to play since they only feature 3 reels and 1 to 5 paylines, making them ideal for beginners or casual slots players. Classic 3-reel slots are popular for their vintage look and feel, borrowing many of the original theme ideas and features, such as fruit symbols, stars, Lucky 7’s, and bars. Typically, jackpots are fairly small in comparison to other slots games, but fans of classic slots are often more about having fun than making huge wins.

Video Slots

Video slots can be thought of as the modern cousin to the original classic 3-reel slot games. By adding two more reels, increasing the overall structure to 5 reels, there is a significant increase in winning opportunities. There are far more chances of hitting big winning combos with 5 reels than 3 reels. In addition, most 5-reel video slots feature far more paylines, such as 10, 20, 25, or 50 paylines or more. Some video slots will allow you to choose how many paylines you want to be active per spin, which is great if you are on a bit of a tighter playing budget. However, there are video slots where all the paylines are active on every spin. In these instances, you still have control over your coin size, which can mitigate the costs of having all your paylines active all the time.

Video Slots In-Game Features

Video slots are hugely popular thanks to their special in-game features which can add a great deal to your overall slots experience. There are all sorts of in-game features, and depending on the design of the slot, they can trigger special bonus rounds, substitute symbols to increase winning combos, multiply winnings, reward free spins, expand bonus symbols across reels, and much more.
Popular special symbols include:

These are usually used to substitute for other game symbols but can have additional functions. Wilds can include expanding wilds, stacked wilds, sticky wilds, walking wilds, and more.
Scatters are usually used to trigger bonus rounds or award free spins. In most video slots, getting at least three scatters across the 5 reels will trigger a bonus round such as a free spins round.
Often found in video slot bonus rounds, multipliers will multiply your winning total, and depending on the strength of the multiplier, they can boost your wins in an instant by 2x, 5x, or 10x your stake.


Progressives, also called progressive jackpots, are similar in many ways to regular slots in the way they look and are designed. Most progressives will follow the 5-reel and multiple payline formats, making it easy for video slots players to switch over to progressives without an additional learning curve.

However, the real main difference between regular slots and progressives has to do with your potential winnings. In regular slots, the jackpot is predetermined by the manufacturer, and that is the highest amount you could ever win. With progressives, this is not the case, and the size of the jackpot is theoretically limitless.

How Do Progressive Jackpots Work?

Progressive jackpot slots are ingenious in their design and can have the potential to make a lucky player an instant millionaire in just a few spins. The reason why these slots are called progressives is that their jackpot total keeps growing, or “progressing.” Where video slots are limited in their winnings, with progressives, the sky is the limit. The way progressives work is quite simple, really. As each player tries their luck on the game, a percentage of their wager goes to the jackpot. The more players, the faster and bigger the jackpot grows.

What You Should Know About Playing Progressives

Progressive slots can be very enticing and exciting. Most casinos will push their progressive slots more than their regular slots because these are the real money makers for them. You will often see the best progressive prominently displayed, either in a high-traffic or high-visibility area in a land-based casino or right at the top of the homepage of an online casino.

Progressives always have a jackpot meter, showing potential players just how fast the jackpot is growing. Watching the meter grow into the millions can be one of the most tempting things you will see at a casino. Add the flashing lights and sirens when someone hits that big progressive jackpot, and you have a sure-fire game that attracts millions of players every minute of every hour.

However, in order to qualify for a shot at the big progressive jackpot (some progressives will have more than one jackpot, with the others being minor jackpots), you will be required to play at maximum. What this means is that you will need to select the largest coin size and have all the paylines active on every spin. This can prove to be very expensive, so you should only play progressives if your budget is strong enough to sustain long playing sessions.

Adding It All Up – Which Is Best for You?

Deciding whether you should be playing regular slots or progressives can be tricky, as both have their own pros and cons. Just because a slot does not have a progressive jackpot does not mean it isn’t worth playing. Some standard slots have a better potential to pay out (albeit smaller amounts) over a longer period, which some players prefer since there is inherently less risk involved in playing them. On the other hand, progressives present a more exciting prospect and are especially suited to players that love a challenge or are closet adrenaline junkies. Sure, chasing that huge payday can be risky, but if it happens to pay off, you could be set for life.

Deciding when and where to play can also be a deciding factor. Some players believe that the best time to play slots, especially progressive jackpot slots, is when the casino is at its busiest. This is when more people are playing and contributing to that ever-progressing jackpot. However, some players prefer to play when the casino is quieter, as they feel more comfortable playing with less attention or scrutiny. Playing online is arguably the best of both worlds, as players that prefer a bit more privacy can still take advantage of an online casino’s busier periods, where jackpots are usually at their highest. The best part about this is that you don’t even have to wait your turn to play a particularly hot slot.

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