Online Slots Terminology Explained

by Enrico
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Online Slots TerminologyUnlike the land-based and often bulky slots machines with 3 mechanical reels that you need to walk into an actual casino to play, you know what we’re talking about here, online slots are much more like video games. When you take to online slots action, you can play anywhere anytime as long as an internet connection is accessible. Experiencing the most advanced and fun features with exceptional 2D or 3D quality images and graphics has, quite frankly, never been easier.

Online slots are been developed by professional game providers, especially for players to have fun online whenever they want. Their goal is to create an immersive experience that’s just as genuine as land-based slots games, and there is no denying that they’ve smashed this goal out of the park. With more complex and diverse bonus rounds, four or more reels, plenty of paylines, online slots games are evolving at a surprisingly rapid speed, with millions of new players spinning the reels every day. Game providers are striving to come up with new ideas all the time, with more innovative features to retain and entertain the masses.

Due to the constant addition of new features, online slots are ever-changing, without special knowledge or experience, it could be a struggle to understand game terminology. Don’t worry though, we’ve summarized a comprehensive guide for you with specific descriptions of the most commonly seen words and phrases in slot game today.

Ready to learn more about online slot games? Have a pen and paper ready and hold onto your hats, as we’re hitting you with our covers-all-bases online slots terminology guide.

Bonus Games

When you play a featured online slots bonus game, it gives you the opportunity to win additional money, or potentially even spin your way to the jackpot prize. You will be granted a bonus when certain symbols on the reels have been put together, think of it like a combo that unlocks an extra game feature.

There are many types of bonus games, as game creators certainly like to mix up the action, it can be entirely random or skills-based for starters, or they can involve sophisticated storylines and gameplay just like a true video game. Bonus rounds are your ticket to the big wins in any slot game, so make sure you grab such an extra with both hands whenever you have the chance.

Cascading Reels

Cascading Reels are one of the most popular slots game features around, favored largely by players who want to increase their winning chances and grab a thrill or two at the same time. Compared to traditional slot games, when cascading reels are active and you get a winning combination, an animation automatically will appear to let the icons drop or disappear in order to form new combinations. When in full flow, cascading reels definitely increase the possibility of your next wins coming back to back and being bigger than ever!


The way that the world plays slots is changing. You can always play through the manual options if you so wish, but for those that could do without all the effort, autoplay is an option. Autoplay is in pretty much every slot game around, with it representing a series of options that let the game run without any manual input. Set the bet amount, set the number of spins, hit go and the game will do these, it will only end when the numbers of spins expire or a player intervenes.


Both in traditional land-based casinos and online casinos, coins are the most fundamental medium for you to play any slots game, instead of real cash, they are essentially your virtual money online. You can set the coin value for each gameplay, coins allow you to bet low or high according to your preferences, you will get your winnings in coins as well based on the stake amount you placed. Remember, no coins mean no party, no matter where you play slots.

Wild Symbols

In a slot game, how wild a symbol can really be? If you have ever played poker in your life, it will be so much easier for you to understand why these particular symbols have the name that they do. The wild symbol basically plays the role of a joker, as they can replace anything on the reels, in doing so to form a winning payline. It is the most powerful single symbol in any slot game. With the development of the modern slot game, there are various types of wilds, like cascading wilds, sticky wilds, expanding wilds, shifting wilds, and even stacked wilds.

Make no bones about it, if you want to run away with the riches on any online slot, you’ll need to get your hands on a wild. Often, it will be your only chance at scooping a game’s big prizes, with it commonly being linked to jackpots and progressive jackpots.

Expanding Wilds

Another exciting feature in the world of online slots is the expanding wild. They can substitute symbols in the reels just as a normal wild would, but they go a step further. During the playing process, the wilds expand vertically or horizontally to transform the same line symbols into wilds, and move constantly to generate more winnings by having so many wilds on the screen at one time.

Free Spins Round

As the name implies, it is one of the most exhilarating slots game features, as a free spins round gives you a certain amount of free spins while playing. Who doesn’t like a free game that can generate real money winnings at the same time? There are several ways to activate them, for example, after a paid spin round, you can just randomly activate a free spin, or you can get it by collecting a particular number of special symbols. Either way, free spins are the beating heart of any online slot game, so we suggest that you use them wisely.

Gamble Round

This is one of the most exhilarating slots features that dates back to the old fruit machines of yesteryear. It basically gives players the opportunity to bet on their winnings, usually to the tune of double or quadruple the money. After you have won a game round, you will be offered to double, triple, or even quadruple your winnings if your gamble pays off, otherwise, if you lose, all your winnings will be lost as well. Expect a gamble round to take the form of a red or black card draw, although some games like to mix it up by repackaging the round as a simple coin toss. 


When you are really lucky, another bonus round or additional free spins can be retriggered inside another bonus feature. How this can be done will be outlined in the game’s paytable, sometimes this is by lining up the bonus symbols again, or in other cases it can just be pure dumb luck. Double free games, with more and more winnings, isn’t that just something that can make your day a little bit brighter!


Return to Player is a casino specialized term. It is used to describe a certain percentage of the money you wagered that will return to you over your gameplay period, or a set period of gameplay time. The RTP in slots differs from each game. Usually, the more specific information about the RTP of a particular game you can find in the game’s info or it’s the paytable. Let’s give you an example, if a game’s RTP is 99%, you make a hundred 1$ bets, you have the chance to win back $99. There are some really high RTP games out there that certainly put the edge in your favor, so make sure you find the time to check them out.

Scatter Symbols

Here comes the all-time favorite feature of most slots players – the much loved and often illusive scatter symbol. With this symbol’s appearance on any game reel, any position on the screen, you will get a win immediately without the necessity to form a winning payline. It will automatically trigger the fun features of a game, either a bonus or free spins. Generally, it represents one of the highest paying symbols too, which has been designed and linked directly to each game’s theme. Find a scatter symbol when you’re spinning the reels and you’ll soon be getting your hands-on prizes, jackpots, bonus features, and more.

Sticky Wilds

Nowadays, wild symbols are not hard to encounter in a slot game, it is an indispensable part of the main features for most games. Moreover, sticky wilds are the even more thrilling symbols, that other than the traditional kind, they remain and “stick” at the same place for next single or multiple spin rounds. Because of this unique feature, the players can make the most use of it to earn even more wins. Sticky wilds are becoming incrementally popular in both game providers and players’ worlds, so make sure you keep a special eye out for them.

Transferring Wilds

Sometimes, instead of sticky wilds, you kind of wish the wild symbol can simply shift from one position to another on the reel, at this point, all you need is a transferring wild. The transferring wilds symbols can show up anytime randomly during a game round on top of a usual wild symbol, so they can transfer themselves from one spot to another, in consequence forming a potential payline, gives the players a higher chance to win that round.

Tumbling Reels

Another winning round immediately after a win, is it possible for this to happen in just a single spin? Yes, anything is possible in online slots games these days. If you fancy experiencing this kind of fun, you should specifically look for slot games with a tumbling reels feature. So, how does it work? The tumbling reels will trigger exactly when a winning line has been identified, all the symbols on these lines will drop down to allow the new ones to show up. Through this super-fun bonus feature, players can string together consecutive wins via a single spin, how amazing is that?

Turbo Mode

Want to kick up the pace? Then turbo mode is the option for you. Ramping up the reel spin speed, this setting is perfect for those that want to experience the game at its maximum. There is no real instant result option when you play slots, but turbo mode is the next best thing and pretty much as close as you can get.


The multiplier symbol just sounds like what it does. Any slot game with multiplier symbols can multiply your winnings by a specific amount, commonly from 2x up to 20x. For some games, it can be up to 100x or 1000x times, but be aware these levels are quite rare and a little out of the norm. Players feel absolutely excited when they see the big “X” on the reels, as it can often only mean one thing, a huge prize-boosting multiplier is on the way.

Ways to Win

Everyone likes to think about how they can win when playing a slot game. The goal is always to rake in as much cash as possible, thus, it is important to know the ways to win in any slot you are playing. If you are still just aware of the simple vertically or horizontally straight payline, it’s time to get some new knowledge about how advanced the modern slots’ world is. Normally, there are hundreds, even thousands of ways to win across the reels besides the traditional winning lines, basically, any combinations they have been designed with so-called 243 or 1024 ways to win. The days of several ways to win are over, by playing online slots you have more ways to win than ever before in front of you.

Win Both Ways

Traditionally, from left to right is the standard way of counting a win in an online slot game, however, you can also win from right to left in certain types of slots too, this is called the win both ways feature. By winning both ways, it’s open season on the reels, as no matter the direction a winning payline lands, you can be sure that you’ll pocket the cash.


This is an easy one and if you didn’t know it already, maybe online slot games aren’t for you. A payline in slot games can be understood as the winning combination of symbols across the reels. It is fundamentally the lines you hit that will generate a payout for you to win a game. The paylines start from the leftmost reel and go to until the rightmost end, across at least 3 up to 6 or 7 reels. Each slot game consists of hundreds to thousands of paylines, you can choose how many paylines you would like to play, then based on your stake amount, hit any of the winning lines and the prizes up for grabs will be yours to bank.


Before jumping into a new slot game, it is highly recommended that players to take a look at the paytable of a game, which provides comprehensive information about what it has to offer, giving you all the meanings of the symbols, and most importantly what are the ways to win. Surely you will want to know when you hit a winning payline? The easiest way to know is to take a long look at an online slots paytable before you start spinning the reels.

Progressive Jackpots

Another super popular and fascinating innovation in the world of slots is progressive Jackpots. Many online slots offer this feature, which draws an insane amount of people to keep them playing. So, what’s the charm of this kind of jackpot? The biggest difference from a regular slots game to the games with progressive jackpots is this, every time a player plays the game, the predetermined jackpot amount will increase, until the point, someone wins it, the winning amount can easily reach six, seven, or even eight-figures. Even though the chance of winning is a lot slower than the standard slot games out there, think about the giant prize and it all makes taking a shot a winning a progressive jackpot worthwhile.

Themed Slots

People have preferences just like they do with music, movies, and video. Slots games are themed around popular movies, music acts, TV shows, and more these days, with no media medium, seemingly being left untouched. In addition to the bonuses, paylines, and winnings, slots are much more interesting and intriguing when your favorite characters are incorporated within the game theme design.

Some of the most famous themed slots games include Guns N’ Roses, Wheel of Fortune, Motorhead, and Superheroes. Once you are familiar with their corresponding plots, the whole game scene even becomes more vivid. It’s safe to say that themed and officially licensed games have taken the world of online slots to a whole new level.


The volatility of a slot refers to the level of risk found within a certain game, it links to the frequency and the amount of the payout. Players can choose to play high risk, medium risk, or low-risk games depending on their volatility. In a high volatility game, you can win big but it’s more difficult to do so than in low volatility games. You can get payouts through low volatility games with mostly small wins. Based on the budget that you have to wager, the games’ volatility level gives you a better and clear idea prior to play.


Every slot game has multiple prize levels, most of which are token offerings that will keep you active in the game. Each slot will also have a jackpot, which represents the game’s top prize. This is, as you might expect, the hardest prize of all to win in any slot. The amount a jackpot consists of will vary from several thousand to hundreds of thousands and potentially even millions. Each jackpot will be represented by the coin value. Standard jackpots vary from progressive jackpots, as they are fixed.

Random Number Generator (RNG)

Ever wondered what stands between you and victory when you spin the reels of a slot? It’s the Random Number Generator, also known as RNG. RNG is a mechanism or algorithm that dictates the symbols on the reels and how they appear at total random, ensuring the game experience remains fair and unique. An RNG mechanism is usually quite complex and near-enough impossible to manipulate, ensuring that slots play remains upstanding and tamper-free.

There is More to Learn…

Let us say this now, this list is by no means exhaustive. The world of online slots keeps growing day after day, with new features and terms being added into the mix every single year. That being said, we certainly thing think that this list provides an excellent starting point for understanding slots and terms you might come across.

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