A comprehensive guide to winning real money playing slot machines online in the United States.
The size of a modern land-based casino’s gaming floor is frequently measured by the number of real money slot machines it spreads. The immense popularity of real money slot games can be attributed to their accessibility, high volatility, smooth gameplay, and technical excellence. It’s easy to get carried away while playing a real money game that’s both fast-paced and exciting, especially when you feel like a life-changing payout might be just a few spins away.
While modern online slots are certainly an exhilarating attraction that doesn’t require as much skill as poker or blackjack, they do have one major drawback – they are notorious for making short work of the bankrolls of careless players. If you’d like to learn how to avoid this trap while still enjoying your favorite real money slot games, read on.
Real money online slots generate the lion’s share of modern online casinos’ revenues, which means that there is constant pressure on those online casinos to offer the largest selection of titles possible. As a result, choosing the right real money casino for online slots usually, require less research than choosing one for blackjack or video poker.
Here’s what you should be looking for:
Finding trustworthy online casinos should be your number one priority. The good news is that most licensed, high-profile online casinos available to players in the United States are 100% trustworthy. If you have doubts about whether a particular online casino is legitimate or not, check whether it’s licensed in its region of operation and whether the random number generator (RNG) it employs to determine the outcome of each spin is certified by an independent regulatory body.
The specifics will depend on your area of residence. The best real money online casino sites are going to be operating under Isle of Man, Malta, and Gibraltar-issued licenses. In New Jersey, you should always look for a New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) license.
Keep in mind that playing on offshore casino sites that have a proper certification but which aren’t regulated in your own jurisdiction is slightly riskier unless the casino has a stellar reputation – their casino games might be fair, but that won’t do you any good if their staff places your request for a large withdrawal on permanent hold.
Most real money casinos do not develop their own real money slot games. Rather, they rely on independent software developers to design and publish these casino games, which are then hosted by the various online casinos for a fee.
Because the number of online casinos is significantly larger than the number of quality casino game developers, there’s a lot of overlap between casinos in terms of game selection. Don’t be surprised if you see the same real money slot games on every site available in your region, as high-profile studios avoid exclusivity deals.
Online casinos that offer exclusive online slots usually develop them in-house – not a very popular practice these days, considering the costs involved. When comparing the real money slot games selection between two casinos, you should focus on the number of online slots that are listed in their game libraries, the size of available jackpots, and the number of high-profile developers the casino is cooperating with.
If a casino you’re considering appears to be cooperating with multiple high-profile studios, this should inform you of several things:
The following companies are trustworthy and known for publishing high-quality online slots and casino games for real money:
This is by no means a complete list, but it should give you an idea of what to look for.
Most online casinos are powered by software packages designed by Microgaming, RTG, Playtech, and Net Entertainment. All of these popular platforms provide online casinos with plenty of flexibility when it comes to hosting games from a particular developer. For example, Mr. Green is an award-winning casino powered by Playtech, which doesn’t stop it from offering games designed by IGT, NetEnt, Microgaming, and in fact the majority of developers listed above.
Online casino bonuses typically allow you to claim hundreds or even thousands of dollars as long as you make a large real money deposit with the site. These are sometimes referred to as a welcome bonus. In most cases, a welcome bonus will get you a 100% or higher match on your payment to play online slots. A 100% match deposit bonus up to $500 means you get one bonus dollar for every dollar you deposit, up to $500. If you deposit $100, you’ll get $100 for free, and if you deposit $1,000, you’ll get the maximum of $500.
It’s worth noting that when deciding on a casino, you should never focus on the size of their welcome bonus alone. Instead, you should also check their bonus playthrough requirement, as this is what determines how much of a grind you’ll have to go through before you’ll be allowed to withdraw your money.
For example, a welcome bonus with a 20x playthrough requirement means you are required to wager through your deposit and the bonus 20 times. If you deposit $100 in this scenario, you’ll have to make $2,000 worth of bets before you’ll be allowed to cash out. If you withdraw your money before meeting this requirement, both your bonus and any winnings generated from playing it will be forfeit.
It’s also worth noting that not all casino games contribute equally towards meeting the wagering requirement. Typically, only online slots and other games with a large house edge will contribute 100%, while games with a higher return-to-player, such as Blackjack and roulette, usually contribute between 10% and 25%. For example, if you wager $10 on a game that contributes 10%, only one dollar will count towards meeting your playthrough requirement. Luckily, online slots are games with the highest house edge and, as such, you should always expect them to contribute 100%.
Additionally, make sure you understand whether the playthrough requirement is calculated with respect to the welcome bonus size alone, or the combined value of your deposit and bonus. In the former case, depositing $100 and receiving a $200 bonus with a 10x wager requirement means you’ll have to place a total of 10 x $200 = $2,000 worth of bets before you’ll be allowed to withdraw. In the latter case, you’ll need to bet 10 x ($100 + $200) = $3,000 to clear the welcome bonus. Big difference.
Finally, if you’re looking to cash out your bonus once you’re done clearing it, you should note that the house edge can whittle your bonus down quite significantly. While uncommon, it’s possible to lose more money to the casino in the process of clearing a bonus than the bonus itself is worth. This is typically only a problem when:
As long as you focus on games with an RTP of at least 95% or a bonus with a wagering requirement of 15x or less, you should theoretically be able to turn a profit on your bonus.
One of the trickiest parts for US players trying to play online slots for real money is depositing and cashing out winnings. That’s because most online casinos that accept US players are located offshore. And because of US laws like the UIGEA, credit cards and banks try to block offshore casino transactions.
If you’re lucky, you can find a real money casino that accepts e-wallet payments such as PayPal, which provides extra layers of security like encryption and Fraud Protection. Unfortunately, most US online casino sites don’t offer Paypal.
Most real money online casinos accept credit and debit cards such as Visa or Mastercard. If you’re worried about using your personal debit or credit card you can play real money slots with a prepaid debit card from one of the major retailers like Walgreens or Target.
Another option if you want to play online slots discreetly is to deposit and cash out using cryptocurrency like Bitcoin or Ethereum, which doesn’t use any of your personal information.
To help you decide how you’d like to fund your online casino account, simply visit the Cashier or Banking section of the casino to see what payment methods they accept. Next, you choose the amount of cash you’d like to deposit and follow the casino’s instructions. After that, you’ll receive virtual credits for your deposit and you can start playing online casino slots for real money.
Hopefully, you play online slots and win big. Maybe you get really lucky and win one of the progressive jackpots. Either way, you’ll want to cash out your winnings.
Before attempting to cash out, make sure you’ve provided the casino with all the necessary documentation. Next, make sure you’ve met the wagering requirements for any deposit bonuses you’ve accepted. (If you haven’t met the casino bonus requirements, your withdrawal won’t be approved) If you’ve met all the requirements, visit the cashier and click the Withdraw button. Then choose your withdrawal method and follow the casino’s instructions to complete your cash out.
TIP: Look for online gambling sites that allow you to cash out using the same payment method you used to deposit. It’s always easier that way. And if you withdraw in cryptocurrency, your winnings should be paid in 24-48 hours. You’ll also want to check to see what the casino’s withdrawal limits are. Some real money casinos have weekly maximum withdrawals. Also, pay attention to any fees associated with cashouts.
Real money slots are very accessible games – the basic formula is to adjust the size of your bet, select the number of predetermined pay lines you’d like to play, press the spin button, wait for the reels to stop, and get paid if you manage to score one of the multiple winning combinations of symbols. You get paid more or less depending on which symbols appear and how many winning combinations are created. The various titles differ in terms of the number of pay lines and even the number of reels, but the vast majority of modern slots are five-reel games with 20-30 pay lines.
Over the years, this basic formula has evolved thanks to the introduction of several now-standard features, such as Wild symbols, which can replace any other symbol to form a winning combination, or Scatter symbols, which award free spins and trigger bonus mini-games. Plenty of modern slots push this basic formula even further by introducing Expanding Wilds (Wilds Symbols that appear all over the reels when specific conditions are met) or Tumbling Reels (when symbols form a winning combination, they disappear, making room for other symbols to tumble down, potentially forming even more winning combinations).
Listing all the innovations and quirks that have been introduced to the casino industry over the years would mandate a separate article, but keep in mind that even well-established developers tend to stick to the basics rather than push for more innovative (and risky) solutions.
Purely mechanical slots are a thing of the past, so the answer is no. Aside from the ambiance, online slots that are available at real money gambling sites are no different from their land-based counterparts. Whether your game is 100% digital or encased in a casino cabinet, its heart and soul is still a piece of computer software.
The random numbers generated by the RNG are mapped to particular reel combinations the moment you initiate a spin, which is just a fancy way of saying that the outcome of each spin is determined digitally and isn’t influenced by a system that’s prone to frequent mechanical failure.
One of the big differences between casino slot machines and online slots is that you can practice online slots for free. While the idea of practicing before playing an RNG-based game might sound bizarre, there are good reasons for playing free online slots before placing real money wagers. These include:
The vast majority of online slots offered by internet casinos can be classified as video slots. Real money video slots feature immersive graphics and sound effects and are quite often based on popular movie franchises (Planet of the Apes, The Matrix), music bands (Guns and Roses, Motorhead), or celebrities (Bruce Lee, Jimi Hendrix). Video Slots tend to come with five reels and 15+ pay-lines. Most video slots offer multiple extra features, such as Wilds, Scatter symbols, free spins, and bonus rounds.
From a technical standpoint, classic real money slots aren’t different from video slots – the outcome of each game is still determined by an RNG. The main difference is cosmetic: these games are designed to resemble the classic fruit machine playing experience. They typically feature three reels and a limited number of pay-lines. Many of them come with familiar symbols such as Bar, Seven, cherries, and lemons.
Progressive jackpot slots are essentially real money slots with a massive main prize that grows each time someone bets on the game. These jackpots are often shared between several casinos, which is why they are often valued in the millions of dollars. Keep in mind that real money slots with progressive jackpots tend to have fewer extra features than their classic counterparts – the main prize is supposed to be the biggest draw.
These can best be described as real money online slots that don’t adhere to the basic formula of five reels, multiple pay-lines, and bonus features. A good example is Wealthy Monkey, which comes with only four reels and no paying combination – payouts are determined by the total number of times a particular symbol appears anywhere on the reels. However, sometimes developers go so far it becomes difficult to classify their creation as a slot. This is certainly the case with the latest Slingo games, such as Slingo Extreme, which combines classic slots gameplay with bingo.
Real money online slot machines are notoriously difficult to beat, which has a lot to do with how casinos earn their money. Every game has a built-in casino advantage, called the house edge. This advantage can be very small – in the case of skill-based games, such as video poker or blackjack, it can be smaller than 1%. For example, if you play a game with a 5% house edge, it means that you can expect to lose an average of 5% of your total bets in the long term. In the short term, however, anything can happen (more on this below).
In the case of online slots, the house edge falls in the 1% – 10% range, with most games closer to between 3% – 6%. Keep in mind that online slots are fast-paced games – in many cases, a real money slots player can complete a dozen spins before a Blackjack player is done with a single hand. This pace tends to reduce what could otherwise be unbearable variance, particularly for online slots with a larger house edge.
The grind has a significant impact on the way online slots impact your bankroll. Anything can happen within the span of one spin, 10 spins, or even a hundred spins, but as the number of rounds gets larger and larger, the house edge starts to show and negatively impacts your profitability. As a result, the only way to “beat” slot machines is to focus on the short-term.
A 96% RTP game like Spring Break might not seem very attractive. However, the odds of triggering free spins in this game are 1:143, which means that playing it might turn you a profit in the short term, as it offers you a decent chance of nailing a major payout early on.
This remains in stark contrast to progressive jackpot slots – thousands of casino customers play these games for years without anyone scoring the elusive main prize. Thus, a bankroll-conscious player will want to choose Spring Break over a game with a very large jackpot and an equally small chance to win big in the short term.
This is true even when the jackpot is so big that it negates the house edge in mathematical terms. A progressive jackpot slot with 94% RTP and a starting jackpot of $500,000, such as Monty Python’s Spamalot, is still going to play like a 94% RTP machine even when the jackpot grows to $3,000,000, bumping the RTP to 103%.
The reason for this is simple: most players, including high-rollers, are infinitely more likely to run out of money than to hit the jackpot within the number of spins that they can afford. The players who don’t score the big win end up paying for the jackpot.
This means that instead of allowing the grind to chew through your bankroll, you should limit the number of spins and hope that the inherent volatility of real money online slots will allow you to make short-term gains. If you’re having trouble visualizing how this works, try comparing it to a coin toss – hitting tails three times in a row is perfectly possible, but hitting tails one thousand times in a row isn’t likely to happen in a fair environment.
In order to minimize the grind, you should look for games where a single spin with all pay-lines activated will cost 1% or less of your bankroll – if you go beyond that, you’re more likely to lose your entire bankroll early on. For example, if you have $1,000 in your account, you should be looking for a slot game that will take $10 or less per spin.
Additionally, you should concentrate on games that either give you decent odds of getting ahead on standard line wins or on games that provide a decent chance of triggering a potentially lucrative bonus feature, such as free spins or perhaps a pick’em bonus round. A good example of the former would be games with expanding wilds, such as the Golden Wolves from Konami, while an example of the latter would be a number of Microgaming online slots, including the aforementioned Spring Break, as well as Cashville, Cashapillar, and Secret Admirer.
The bottom line is that you’ll need to play slots online around the house edge and count on variance helping you out in the short term. As a result, focusing exclusively on RTP isn’t always the best strategy – a 1% difference in house edge isn’t all that important when there’s a significant difference in your chances of quickly scoring a large payout that will allow you to get ahead and quit with a profit.
Taking the aforementioned factors into account, we conclude that a healthy approach to playing real money slots should involve the following:
-Focus on the entertainment value, because the odds are never in your favor. If you’re playing a high-volatility game with a significant house edge, you should be prepared to lose all your money. Playing real money slots is akin to giving the casino money in exchange for entertainment. As long as you accept this and are OK with the potential losses, you’re good to go.
– If you’re in it for the money, don’t push your luck – quit playing as soon as you score a big hit. You’ve already won against the odds, the goddess Fortune has smiled upon you, and the high variance of the game negated the house edge in your case. If you keep on playing, you’re increasing the odds of the house edge catching up with you.
Before we discuss betting systems, it’s important to make something absolutely clear: there are no winning systems for real money online slots. You can’t beat the house over the long-term – if this was possible, the casinos would promptly go bankrupt. The best you can hope for is to get lucky and exploit the volatility of the real money slots during the short or medium-term.
The more spins you make when playing real money slots, the more likely your results are to reflect the house edge. All so-called “surefire betting systems” are either grounded in gambler’s fallacy, or they’re based on some form of wagering progression which seems fool-proof at first glance, but which has zero mathematical impact on your long-term odds.
The gambler’s fallacy boils down to a false belief that the outcome of one spin has an impact on the outcome of the next one. This is not true – all spins are independent of one another and your odds remain fixed for any one particular spin. Again, you could compare spinning the reels to tossing a coin – if the outcome is tails, that doesn’t mean you’re more likely to get heads on the next toss. The probability of landing heads or tails is always 50:50 for any one particular toss.
With this out of the way, we can move on to discussing specific systems in more detail.
The Hot and Cold system and the Zig-Zag method
These two systems are the embodiment of the gambler’s fallacy.
The first system is based on the assumption that a slot machine oscillates between a “cold” state, in which it doesn’t pay out any money, and a “hot” state, in which it’s almost guaranteed to line up your pockets. Players are supposed to look for signs that a “hot” state has commenced, at which point they are supposed to significantly increase their bets. The second system is based on observing patterns on the reels, which are supposed to indicate that a machine is turning “hot”.
Since every spin is independent of all previous ones, and since the result of each spin is determined by the RNG, these systems are grounded in false assumptions. Following them is going to be detrimental to your profitability if you manage to score a big payout. The proponents of these systems would say that this indicates that the slot turned “hot”, urging you to continue playing, which in turn would expose you to more grind.
The Martingale technique boils down to doubling your bet whenever you lose. This means that if you bet $1 and lose, you should bet $2 on your next spin in order to cover for your previous defeat and still turn a profit.
There are several reasons this does not work with online casino slots. For starters, most slot machines have a rather low bet ceiling – there’s only so much money you can bet on a single spin, and you’re going to get there pretty fast if you keep doubling down.
For example, if the maximum bet is $100 and you’re currently betting $1 on a losing streak, you’re going to max out in 8 spins. Even if this wasn’t the case and the theoretical slot machine allowed you to bet as much money as you’d like, you’d still eventually have to bet your entire bankroll and possibly go broke on that single spin.
Proponents of this technique assume that the numerous wins are going to cover the few catastrophic losses. However, since the
Martingale technique has no impact on the game’s odds, this simply isn’t true.
The Anti-Martingale technique
This is another system based on exploiting “hot” and “cold” streaks. If you don’t hit a winning combination, you’re supposed to scale down your bet in order to limit your exposure during the “cold” streak. If you do get a payout, you’re supposed to place a larger bet in order to exploit the “hot” streak.
Since “hot” and “cold” streaks don’t really exist, this strategy does pretty much nothing. What’s more, it has the potential to put you on tilt once the results stop matching your expectations, which is one of the worst things a slot player can be forced to go through. If this happens, you’ll immediately stop having fun and you’ll be more likely to lose even more due to bad bankroll management.
To sum up, everything that we’ve discussed above can be distilled down to the following practical tips:
Unless you’re playing a progressive game with a massive jackpot, your bets will be long-term EV negative. This means that you are statistically more likely to lose than you are to win at any given point. When you play online slots for real money, always assume that you’re paying for entertainment and don’t spend more than you can afford.
Back in the day, the common advice was to always max bet. But these days, you shouldn’t automatically use max bet because real money slots have more lines and allow you to bet more credits per line. So if you’re not careful when using Max Bet, you could end up betting upwards of $100 per spin or more.
Nowadays, our advice is to bet whatever it takes to qualify for the jackpot or bonus rounds. For example, let’s say you’re playing a single-line 3-reel dollar slot machine that has a max bet of 3 credits. The jackpot for a max bet is 10,000 credits. But if you bet 1 credit you would only win 1000 credits and just 3000 for 2 credits. In that case, you should bet the max.
Since you’re paying for entertainment, there’s no reason to get angry if you don’t win. After all, you’re making EV negative bets and you know it. If you manage to beat the odds and win, even better.
Also, make sure the slot you’re playing is actually entertaining. Things like the game’s soundtrack, motif, backdrop, and animations all have a significant impact on your enjoyment of the game. Even a serious losing streak becomes somewhat tolerable when you’re enjoying the action.
There are no betting systems that work when you play real money slots. Each spin at a reputable casino is completely random. The systems that are advertised as “surefire” are either based on the gambler’s fallacy, or they fail to take certain facts into account. Take the Martingale system for example – yes, you can’t lose with an unlimited bankroll, but since every bankroll is limited, it’ll end up propelling you to defeat, much like any other system that’s based on betting progression.
The only smart way to play is to pick a slot that’s suited to your bankroll and to limit the number of spins in order to minimize the grind.
This is probably the most important piece of online casino slots advice we can give. If you’ve managed to beat the odds and you’ve scored a massive payout, leave the game and cash out, unless you haven’t finished playing through your bonus or you’re playing for entertainment only. Don’t let the adrenaline rush resulting from winning get to your head. You’ve already beaten the game, and this can’t go on forever.
This way you’ll get a good feel for the design and behavior of the game while making sure it’s not bug-ridden or too boring to be worth your money.
A: Yes, players win real money playing online slot games every day. But, just like in Vegas, the odds aren’t in your favor. Online slot games tend to have a low return-to-player rate, especially compared to the most player-friendly variations of video poker, blackjack, and roulette, some of which have a return of over 99.5%.
The best way to increase your odds of turning a profit when playing real money slots is to decrease the number of spins and hope that the high variance will act in your favor. In this sense, real money slots are the opposite of skill-based multiplayer poker. Instead of making profitable EV-positive decisions and hoping you’ll win money in the long-run despite the volatility, you’re consciously betting your money on an EV-negative game and hoping that the high volatility will allow you to beat the game.
For more information on this, please refer to the “how to beat slot machines” section earlier in this article.
A: Finding the best real money slots is a challenge because the payback percentage of a particular slot game can vary based on the casino. One of the best things you can do is play slot games that allow you to adjust the size of your bets to the size of your bankroll, which is more important than finding the highest-RTP game at a certain online slots casino. You should also focus your attention on slot games that provide the best odds of winning on any given spin.
Please read the “how to beat slots machines” section above for significantly more information on this topic.
A: On January 20, 2013, a player from Finland won €17,861,800, or about $24 million, while playing Mega Fortune on PAF, a Scandinavia-facing online casino. Mega Fortune is a progressive jackpot slot designed by Net Entertainment. The jackpot pool was generated by a number of online casinos operating on the same network as PAF.
As a side note, the lowest of the top 10 largest jackpots scored by a real money slots player was worth $8.6 million. All in all, that one-in-a-million spin certainly doesn’t happen frequently, but when it finally does, expect some major fireworks.
A: All credible online casinos provide their customers with several deposit methods to choose from. Typically, you’ll get to pick between an e-wallet solution, a credit card payment, and local payment processing services. The most popular e-wallet options are Neteller and Skrill. PayPal isn’t as popular among online casino operators, even though it’s definitely the largest e-wallet provider in terms of market share.
One piece of advice: consider avoiding credit card payments if you’re a US-based player since American financial institutions often reject gambling-related transactions even when money is being sent to a government-licensed real money casino. The rejection rates hover between 25% and 45%, depending on the service providers and jurisdictions involved.
A: Yes, most US gambling sites and online casinos allow you to deposit in Bitcoin and other cryptos to play slots online for real money. There are also a growing number of small crypto-only real money casinos out there, but most of them don’t even have the proper certification.
When cryptocurrency payments are allowed, you can usually pay using Bitcoin, and sometimes Monero and Litecoin as well.
A: The availability of specific cash-out methods will depend on your region, the casino in question, and a few other factors, including the size of your bankroll and your banking history. For example, some online casinos allow e-wallet withdrawals only if you’ve already used that particular e-wallet to make a deposit.
What’s more, the availability of certain methods may depend on the amount you’d like to withdraw, and many real money casino sites have monthly and weekly cash-out limits, which can be a problem if you manage to hit a large jackpot – payment by check might be necessary in this case. What remains a constant among reputable sites is that you’re guaranteed to get paid.
Generally, nothing bad. Since the outcome of a spin is determined by the RNG software as soon as you hit the “spin” button, the end result is already known to the casino and reflected in your bankroll even if you disconnect. However, not all real money casinos honor this rule – we, therefore, encourage you to contact your casino’s support team for confirmation.
Yes, many online casinos offer a large deposit bonus to real money online slots players. These slot bonuses are typically very generous and go a long way to helping you play slots longer and win real money.
Yes, there are real money slots apps that you can download on your iPhone or Android device. Also, most real money casinos offer mobile casino slot games that you can play directly on the casino’s website.
Yes, you can find licensed and regulated online casinos that have real money slots in New Jersey, Michigan, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Unfortunately, the rest of the United States doesn’t offer regulated online casinos for real money. Therefore, players without legal online casinos are forced to decide between Sweepstakes slots apps and offshore casinos.
History of slot machines
The first gambling device which can be considered a precursor to the modern slot machine was built by Sittman and Pitt in New York in 1891. This device contained five drums holding 50 card faces and was modeled after popular poker hands. The machine proved very successful and it quickly spread across bars in Brooklyn. It’s interesting to note that while players had to insert a nickel in order to start the draw, payouts weren’t automated yet and had to be manually processed by staff. Around 1895, this shortcoming was overcome by Charles Fey from California, who constructed a simpler machine with three spinning reels that featured five different symbols.
Fey’s device was copied by many manufacturers in the early 20th century. They were collectively known as “Bell machines”, named so after the Liberty Bell which was the highest-paying symbol in the game. Later designs also featured various fruit symbols, as well as the classic BAR symbol, which was based on the early logo of the Bell-Fruit Company.
The first electromechanical slot, Money Honey, was introduced in 1963 by Bally. This machine supported automated payments even for the largest payouts, which encouraged other developers to drop the older designs in favor of Bally’s invention.
The first video slots were developed in 1976 by Fortune Coin Co. They were equipped with a 48 cm Sony display and were sent to the Las Vegas Hilton for trials. Video slots quickly became popular on the Las Vegas strip, and in 1978 Fortune Coin Co. was purchased by IGT, a company familiar to most present-day casino enthusiasts.
The first slot to feature a modern bonus round, the “Three Bags Full,” was developed in Australia in 1994. This innovation caught on in America in 1996, when WMS Industries released their classic “Reel’Em In” game. The updated, digital version of this slot is still available on numerous online casino sites.
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