Slot Machine Terms | LeoVegas

Slot machine terms: what you need to know

If you’ve ever played slot games online, then you may well have come across a few terms and phrases that you’re not familiar with. A great deal goes into designing and developing these games – and over time, you’re certain to get used to some of the more complex terms used!

Of course, it’s important to remember that knowing common slot machine terms will in no way guarantee a win in any kind of slot game – but it will help you to better understand what to expect from specific games and how to make the most of them.

Whether you’re new to slots or are an old hand at some of the biggest and best games around, it’s worth broadening your mind. Here’s a complete guide to some of the most important slot machine terms.

There are different slot machine terms for different games

The first thing you need to understand about slot machine terminology is that it is a wide vocabulary to learn! Given how much slot games have evolved in just a short period, it’s reasonable to expect one game to look very different from another.

For example, a game that offers cluster pays or is part of the Megaways line will be very different from a simple 5x3-reel game that supports scatters and free spins.

Most common slot machine terms

Ways to win

Many slot machines have a ‘ways to win’ notice – for example, you may come across a slot machine with ‘250 ways to win’ emblazoned at the side or below the main grid. This means there are 250 different paylines where you can line up symbols and make winning combinations.


Megaways games take paylines to the extreme! This is a series of games where there are thousands of different ways to win in the main game. Plenty of well-known titles have Megaways versions that boost the size of prizes available.

However, the more paylines you bet on, the more expensive your bet will be – so be careful and monitor your bankroll.


Many slot games offer 1,024 ways to win as standard – meaning that if you come across slots with the number 1,024 attached, that’s how many potential ways you can line up symbols to win prizes.


The same as 1,024, a machine that has 243 ways on it offers 243 different ways of winning in the main game.


Paylines are where, if you line up enough matching symbols, you win prizes. It always pays to check them before you start spinning.

Scatter pays

Scatter pay symbols don’t have to line up on paylines to give prizes. In fact, as long as you have two or three anywhere on the screen, you could win a prize. This will, naturally, vary from game to game.

In some cases, scatters unlock bonus games. Be sure to check your slot game’s paytable before getting started!

Cluster pays

Slot games with cluster pays work differently from the usual reel setup and present you with a grid of symbols. In some cluster pays games, if you group together a certain number of symbols, they ‘explode’, and a new set of symbols falls down in their place.

Cascading reels

In cascading reel games, winning paylines explode and allow symbols from above to fall in and replace them, potentially creating new wins. This works similarly to cluster pays, but it’s usually on a traditional slot game grid.

In some games, cascading reels can keep triggering wins, meaning the game can continue until a losing combination lands. Sometimes, cascading reels can help players unlock bonus games or free spins.

Tumbling reels

Tumbling reels is just another slot machine term for cascading reels. Both terms mean that reels tumble down and replace exploding symbols when they form winning paylines.

Win both ways

Most paylines work either from left to right or right to left. However, a slot machine with the ‘win both ways’ option means that you can win with paylines going either way.

Slot machine terminology: wilds

Many online slot games offer wild spaces, which help to create winning lines – let’s break down three of the most common types you’ll find.


Wilds, or a wild symbol, can change to match most of the other symbols on the screen, provided that it’s part of a winning combination on a payline.

Wilds can appear at any time and often in any quantity, and they can take the place of standard paying symbols that aren’t scatters or bonus activators. Different games have various twists on wilds to look out for, two of which we explore below.

Expanding wilds

As the name suggests, expanding wilds land in a reel and expand to fit an entire reel or several reels with wild symbols. This means that instead of simply spinning in one wild symbol to connect up a line win, you could connect up several in one go.

Sticky wilds

Sticky wilds, again, as the name suggests, stick around. They stay on the grid from spin to spin until they drop away or until a certain number of spins are exhausted.

It’s perhaps more common to see sticky wilds in bonus games such as free spins rounds, but they can appear in some base games to help connect up line wins.

Definition of slots jackpots

Some games make jackpot prizes a central part of the slot, meaning that there’s more to play for than standard payline payouts. Let’s look at a few common jackpot types you might come across.


Jackpots are the top prizes offered in many slot games. Depending on the slot game you’re playing, the jackpot could be a fixed amount or part of a progressive pot (meaning that it raises as you play and often links to other casinos hosting the game). Jackpot totals can also depend on the levels of the game you’re playing.

Fixed jackpots

A fixed jackpot is a set amount for a player’s prize if they win in the slot – meaning that they won’t change with play, the time of day, etc.

Daily jackpots

Some online casinos set specific daily jackpots for slot games where the biggest prize pool resets each day, or needs to be won by a specific time.

Hourly jackpots

Similar to daily jackpots, hourly jackpots are available for set amounts of time and will expire within 60 minutes of being set.

Progressive jackpots

Progressive jackpots build up prize totals based on the number of people who play a specific slot game and how much they pay in. Progressive jackpots are usually available to players of the same game across different casinos.

Slot machine terms: alternative games

You’ll find that there are plenty of different twists on traditional slot machines beyond the standard 5x3. For example, there are several based around classic video games, such as Reel Rush, where you can unlock features as you play.

Slingo, meanwhile, is a popular range of slot games that combines bingo with slots. On each spin, you reveal up to five numbers to mark off on a bingo sheet. By the end of the game, the number of lines you make dictates your prize.

Slot machine terminology by type

Three-reel slots

Three-reel slots tend to be the ‘older style’ of games you’ll see in arcades and amusement parks. Instead of 5x3, these games are 3x3, meaning that there are fewer reels but still a handful of paylines to play on.

Five-reel slots

Five-reel slots tend to be the standard in most online casinos. There are five columns and frequently three rows of symbols.

Bonus slot machine terms

Bonus features

Many modern slot machines have bonus features, which are hidden games to unlock when you line up specific symbols.

Popular bonus features you’ll find in slot games include free spins rounds, where there might be added multipliers to help boost the prize potential.

Scatter symbols

Slot games often feature scatter symbols as a way for players to unlock bonus features. They usually don’t have to fall on a win line, and you usually need at least three to access a hidden game.

Free spins

Free spins are extra games you don’t have to pay for. They usually arrive in bonus rounds or as part of random spot prizes.

Bonus round

The term ‘bonus round’ is frequently used instead of ‘bonus feature’ – they mean the same thing.

Other slot machine terms


In slot machine games, the bet is the set amount of money you place on a single spin. The amount of the bet placed increases the potential prizes but also the risk involved.


In slot games, you win or lose! A win combination offers players prizes.


Similar to bet, your stake is how much money you place on a given spin.

Max bet

The max bet refers to the maximum amount you can stake on any given spin.

Minimum bet

The opposite of max bet – this is the absolute lowest amount of money you need to place on a game to get started.

Expanding reels

Expanding reels extend upwards at random moments or as part of bonus rounds, increasing the number of paylines and potential winning combinations.

Fruit machine

The term ‘fruit machine’ is a classic phrase used to describe a slot game. It’s a little old school now, but it’s still often used.

Line bet

A line bet is the amount you stake on a single payline, which then adds up to multiple paylines.


Some slot games multiply prizes at random intervals with multipliers, such as 2x, 3x or 5x.


A payout is what you receive from a slot game if you win.


A slot machine consists of reels – these are vertical columns that spin and reveal symbols to create combinations.


RTP refers to Return to Player. Displayed as a percentage, this tells players how frequently a game is likely to pay out over its hypothetical lifetime.


A game’s volatility refers to how frequently a game is likely to pay out and how big the prizes might be – but never use this or RTP as a way to judge if you’re likely to win!

High volatility means that a slot is paying out infrequently but wins can be high. Low volatility refers to more frequent but lower payouts.