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The Ultimate Slots Glossary

When you start playing slot games at an online casino, you may feel confused by some of the terms that are used in the games. If you’ve played slots at land-based casinos, a lot of these terms may be old hat, but with all the ongoing innovations happening in the gaming industry, there is always something new to learn!

In this ultimate glossary, we cover the most common terminology used today in the world of slot machines, organised into different categories for easier reference.


Basic terminology

  • All ways – Traditional slot machines usually pay from left to right, but an “all-ways” machine allows you to land winning combinations in all directions.
  • Bet – To play casino games of any kind, you need to put down a deposit and make a wager before you can win any real money! Just remember to stay within your limits, and note that many games, and bonuses or promotional offers, come with wagering requirements (so it’s important to read the T&Cs).
  • Payout – This is the amount that you’ll win after you land a winning combination on the reels, which can be influenced by the type of game you’re playing, bonus features, multipliers and more.
  • Scatter – The scatter is often one of the highest-paying symbols in the game. Unlike other symbols, it can be “scattered” across the reels, and doesn’t have to form part of a winning line to bring in some prizes! It can also trigger bonus features.
  • Stacked symbols – As these types of slot games have progressed, technology allows for symbols to “stack” on top of one another, to form higher-paying winning combinations. Sometimes, this means the “stack” can end up being higher than the reel itself!
  • Symbols – These are the icons you see on the reels, which are different for every game and can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on the theme. Some are simple static images; others can be highly stylised animations.
  • Wilds – A wild symbol is one of the most exciting symbols to spot on the reels. This is because it can help you form more winning combinations by substituting for any symbol (except for the scatter and any other bonus symbols).

Game features

  • Bonus round – Thanks to evolving game and visual technologies, online slots games aren’t limited in the same way that traditional one-armed bandits or fruit machines are, and can offer a variety of bonus rounds! This can involve some free spins, a pick-me bonus round, or another in-game feature.
  • Free spins – As the name suggests, free spins means chances to click “spin” without paying, which can help to extend your bankroll (although you should be gambling responsibly anyway!).
  • Jackpot – This is the largest prize you can win in a game. Sometimes jackpots will be fixed (and there could be more than one of varying amounts), or, depending on the title, this can also be a progressive (growing) jackpot (see below).
  • Pick-me bonus round – This bonus round will take you to another screen – a game within the game – where you can choose between certain icons, or click on them all. Often, if you get a certain number of matching symbols, you’ll win an allocated prize or jackpot!
  • Progressive jackpot – In progressive slots, a percentage of every players’ stakes is added to a pot. This means the “progressive jackpot” grows and grows until someone wins it. In some titles, these jackpots can be unlimited, but others place either a money or time limit on them.

Game mechanics

  • Cascading reels – Tumbling or cascading reels is a type of game mechanic, where once a winning combination has landed, the winning symbols fall away, allowing other symbols to drop down in their place. This means a greater chance of winning!
  • Megaways – Related to the above, Megaways slots use a mechanic whereby the number of symbols per reel changes on each spin, which also allows for a much greater range of potential combinations than a limited payline structure. These slots can offer literally thousands of ways to win (see below).
  • Multiplier – Depending on the type of game you’re playing, multipliers can be linked to other symbols, and depending on their denomination, they’ll give you your winnings multiplied by the value of the symbol. This usually starts at 2x and increases from there.
  • Payline – A payline is a predetermined line that is set in the game’s mechanics which determines winning combinations. Usually, there are many paylines (unless you’re playing Megaways), and if the right symbols land along this line (which isn’t always linear), you’ll win!
  • RNG – RNG stands for “random number generator”, and is the software that’s used to make sure that every time you click “spin” and play slots online, a completely random arrangement of symbols lands on the reels. This is used to make sure that gameplay is fair for everyone. RNGs are audited by third parties to ensure they are completely random and unbiased.
  • RTP – RTP stands for “return to player”, and is a calculation that determines the average proportion of your bet you are likely to get back (as a percentage) after playing a game a certain amount of times. This is a theoretical calculation based upon playing the game thousands of times, but is not a guarantee of the outcome. It is mainly used to show which games will offer the most value for money in the long term.
  • Volatility – Volatility refers to how often and how much a slot pays out. For instance, a game with low volatility will pay out more, but in lower amounts, whereas high-volatility games will pay out less often, but the payouts will be higher!
  • Ways to win – Related to the Megaways and payline entries above, the number of “ways to win” refers to the number of possible combinations that you can land on the reels, or the number of paylines in the game. In other words, how many different opportunities you have to win!

Menu options

Depending on the game you’re playing, menu options might differ, especially if you play mobile slots on smaller screens, but many of the terms below can be found across all titles.

Autospin – This is a setting you can choose so that you don’t have to keep clicking “spin” manually, which is convenient! You can set various numbers of autospins for autoplay, for example,10, 20, or 100. Some games let you customise this function further, for example, by allowing you to choose whether you want the autospins to stop when you hit a win or a bonus game.

Coin size – This terminology will also differ depending on the game, but in the menu, you’ll usually find an option to increase or decrease your bet or coin size, sometimes with an icon showing coins, or “+” and “-” symbols.

Maximum bet – This is the maximum amount that you can bet on a game per spin. Sometimes, you will need to bet max to qualify for a certain jackpot prize – this is especially true of progressive slots. It’s important you’re aware of the hit to your bankroll when you play with max bets!

Paytable – Available on every game’s menu, the paytable explains the value of each different symbol on the reels, and tells you how much you’ll win when you land certain combinations or other symbols on the reels.

So that’s it! Now you know all the lingo, or have brushed up on a few terms new to you, you can put this knowledge into practice!


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/ 14 July 2021