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The Psychology Behind Online Casino Slots

Updated: July 15, 2024

In 2020, the global gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the social casino segment reached $6.2 bn. By 2026, this is expected to rise to $7.5bn annually. Today, online casino gaming, and especially online slots, are getting extremely popular thanks to the worldwide mobile usage and technology leverage.

In this article, we will focus on social online slots and not gambling experiences.

The difference between social gaming and gambling is that in social gaming, there is no withdrawal.

You play for fun and experience only.

If there is no reward, what makes social online casino slots so popular? Keep reading to find out the answer.

Online slots are extremely captivating despite being a very simple game. They fully replicate the traditional slots machines except for the fact that these are online slots. And like any online video game, they have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Casino architects and designers study very closely how people think, feel, and behave. Millions of dollars are being invested in learning about human psychology, but more importantly, the psychology of a gambler or a risk taker. Having that knowledge, casino owners are able to create an environment in which people are willing to play for long hours and come back for more when they are done.

However, what works in the actual casino such as music, design, style, and atmosphere cannot be simply transferred to online slots. Nevertheless, there is one core element that remains unchanged. And that is the process. A dedicated slot game development company can effectively adapt this process to create engaging and immersive online slot experiences.

It’s the anticipation that matters. The moment of waiting for the reward while the reels are spinning is what makes it addictive.

90% of the gambling experience is in anticipation

In the online world, the principle is the same.

Apart from the process, it’s also about the gaming elements and features that make slots so entertaining and great.

The masters that make people come back for more are actually the game designers who implement a variety of techniques, triggers, and approaches to make people stay in the game for longer and spend more money to get any competitive advantage in the virtual slot machine.

If you study game design closely, you will quickly realize that all these levels, bonuses, awards, sounds, animations, sharing buttons, and leaderboards are there for a reason. These are all the fundamentals that make any social online game so addicting and captivating. However, what truly makes both traditional and online social slots so awesome is that they are so easy to play for any user.

Slots are easy to learn and play. The anatomy of an online slot machine is pretty simple:

  • Random Number Generator (RNG);

  • multiple reels and “paylines”;

  • fancy symbols with animations;

  • a few screens with a score or balance;

  • a button.

A slot machine doesn’t require any brain activity, planning, or strategy. You simply hit the spin button and wait for the reward. Lost? Hit again. The victory is in the next spin, huh?

Online slot machines are appealing and relevant

Usually, online slots are very thematic which makes them relevant and appealing to different demographics, ages, cultures, and interests within a certain region.

Today, it’s very popular to develop branded slot games to increase brand awareness or create an experience which players can relate to. For example, the slots may be designed to reflect:

  • popular movies or series such as Game of Thrones;
  • games such as Far Cry 4;
  • celebrities;
  • foods;
  • cultures.

The variety of genres is endless, however, it’s exactly what makes the online player relate and play their favorite thematic slots.

The emotional connection with a favorite movie star, game, or interest is what gets people excited when they play something that is close to them in any way.

The social factor of online slots makes them incredibly engaging

With the early adoption of mobile phones that are connected to the network 24/7, people spend a fair portion of their lives communicating via mobiles on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels. They exchange experiences, compete, challenge each other in games, and do a plethora other activities that help them keep in touch with their friends.

Casino experts have found that a fair portion of senior gamblers don’t play for money only. The majority of casino players value experience and communication.

When it comes to online slot gaming, possibilities for social interactions become endless. Implementing a scoring system, leaderboard, or even a chat helps to boost a user’s LTV significantly.

Just like in any RPG game, people want to compete, create alliances, organize clubs, and be driven by the same mission and interests. If the competition system is realized wisely, it opens up the whole new world for users to gain competitive advantage making different portions of donations to boost their scores and stats.

Apart from that, a social online casino is often supported by a social media group of like-minded people or even club memberships that unite people in a particular way or give them an advantage over casual players.

Social gamers pay for in-game benefits and aren’t worried about losing the money

In social gaming, it’s vital to understand that players are not focusing on the losses. They just don’t care. What they want is to have a great time playing, communicating, and enjoying the game.

Paying for games that you like is completely normal. Recently, my friend bought a game while going on his way back home from work by simply clicking a button at Google Play.

If we grab that experience of “easy donations” and implement a similar system into the slot game, it can drive a lot of sales and make everybody happy. Payments for in-game experiences is something that online slots apps are leveraging all the time.

Online slots offer various rewards and engagements

Another reason why online slots are so popular and addictive is that they offer a whole variety of rewards and bonuses. Different win screens, payouts in the form of coins, experiences, etc., help to engage people.

The reward system is based on instant gratification which makes a player’s brain release dopamine and keeps them playing for the next win.

Some of the major online slots rewards include:

  • free spins, multipliers, wild and scatter symbols;
  • bonuses for social media shares (Refer-a-friend);
  • multipliers for real cash deposits;
  • mobile bonuses;
  • reload bonuses;
  • loyalty points;
  • leaderboards, VIP ladders.

The whole system is based on making people start playing, make them bait, and try not to lose hold of the game for as long as possible.


An online slot game is one of those games that provide a very engaging and relaxing experience because they do not require a lot of brain work. The whole process boils down to hitting the button and watching the reels spin. Perfect design with the simplicity of the game and room for communication is what makes online slots so captivating.

At Game-Ace, we offer online slot development and redesign services. Our experts have over 15 years of experience working with slot development projects and our artists are masters of slot art creation. Our cost-effective and transparent process makes collaboration with us truly professional and easy-going.

Have an idea in mind? Click here to contact us.
Online slots infographics

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