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Slots around the world

A slot machine would seem to be a standard device which is bascially the same where ever you are in the world and so playing one in any country is just the same as any other. But there are many obvious differences and some hidden ones. Firstly the term slot refers to anything that had a “slot” in which to place coins to allow a game or spin to proceed. Now of course that is becoming obsolete but here we are talking about physical slots that you find in casinos or other legal venues. Not included are skill based games as the law in many countries is uncertain about their legality. In some places they are seen as a way around local gambling laws.


“One-armed bandit” comes not just from the obvious look of one of the older machines, a big lever on one side that activates the reel spin but also because of pre-Vegas machine that were popular in the U.S.A that were actually statues of a masked bandit with a lever shaped like an arm holding a gun. The bandit's body was the reel mechanism. The marketing was intentional and it stuck to all similar slots for decades afterwards.

In the UK the common name that lasted for a long time was “Fruit Machine” purely from the popular pub and club style slots machine made by the Bell Fruit Manufacturing Co. that originated as the old Watling slot company in Reno, Nevadea. This name change was followed by a move to Nottingham in the UK and did well when the UK market developed an appetite for these great profit generating machines. The key feature of the early machines was three reels with symbols mostly of different fruits. Hence the name became synonymous with slots in the UK.

For Australia and New Zealand the dominant name for slots is “pokies” or “poker machines” or even “poky”. This is not to be confused with machines where you play poker with fixed hand payouts as you often see in the casinos of Nevada.. The name simply comes from the action of poking coins into a slot.

In Japan the scene is very different and their equivalent to slots is Pachinko. A pachinko machine is basically a vertical old style pinball machine (without flippers) where you purchase metal balls to place in the machine and fire them up into the machine and they are deflected into cups which payout more balls, or fall to a no payout at the bottom of the machine. Balls can be exchanged for prizes, not money as this is illegal. Pachinko is huge business, accounting for 5.5% of Japan's GDP. Unofficailly prizes can be taken out of the pachinko parlour and exchange in a purpose built store for money and so circumventing gambling laws.


Although slots seem ubiquitous when you search for a country name and casinos online, the online casinos can be based anywhere and call themselves anything. The country itself may not allow such gambling devices at all or reserve them for foreigners to abide by cultural of religious rules.

Most countries that have some part of an islamic culture do not have any legal slots with the exception of places with a dependency on tourists. Egypt for example has casinos meant solely for tourists or foreigners and the currency in use is either US dollars or Euros. No Egyptian curreny allowed.

Brazil has outlawed all casino style gambling including slots since the 1940s and so if you find a slot machine it is illegal. Skill based gambling is allowed in Brazil such as poker, fantasy sports and racetrack betting. In China of course there are only legal slots in Macau.


There is a common misconception that there is a minimum legal RTP percentage (return-to-player %) in the UK but there is no statutory minimum percentage payout for a gaming machine. There is however a requirement to clearly display the percentage return-to-player figure (% RTP), or the odds of winning a prize. So typically you will see values in UK casinos or over 96% but slots in pubs in clubs can be much lower.

In France slots were illegal until 1988, there having been a large scale criminal element running backroom slot parlours in the major cities, especially Paris. Now legal they have to have a minimum RTP of 85% but are typically higher than that in casinos. Restaurants and bars are often using the minimum legal payout.

If you choose to play real money online slots then make sure its a licensed website as it will come under the payout regulations of the commission or regualtory body and so you will now just how generous the slot is. With s much competition it is not hard to find them at above 96% RTP.

There are semi-restrictive countries like Russia where slots are only allowed in the five special gambling zones, like Sochi on the Black Sea, Russia's answer to Monte Carlo where they also hold the Formula 1 grand prix. This is because up until 2009, when the restrictive gambling law was enacted, there were hundereds of thousands of unlicensed slot machines supporting the mafia all over Russia.

A surprise is the USA where slots are a state-by-state regualtion and some of the rules are pretty crazy. In Nevada and Texas all types of slot are legal. However in the state of New Jersey the only legal slot machines are those that were made before the year 1941! As if Pearl Harbour had a bad effect on them. The states of Connecticut, Hawaii, Nebraska, South Carolina and Tennessee all prohibit all types of slots. The states not mention have a variety of restrictions similar to New Jersey.

The story is similar in India where only four states have legal casino style gambling which includes slots. They are Goa, Daman, Diu and Sikkim which is the only state to licence gambling online within the state. Games of skill are not prohibited.


We have covered over half of the world population but if you do visit a country not mentioned and would like to play a slot then just do a quick check to see if it is legal in that country. Online slots at a properly licensed casino are likely to guarantee you the best RTP % but are inherently more addictive because of the constant ease of access to them. Always gamble within your limits.
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