Slot Machines Symbols Explained

Last modified: September 30, 2019

Every slot machine has a predefined set of symbols which makes up the gameplay on the reels. Most classic slot games will feature usual symbols like Bars, Sevens, Cherries and Bells. However, modern video slots will rarely use these symbols anymore as they will want to match their symbols with the game theme. In general, symbols are divided into two categories: payout and special symbols. This article will break down the meaning of each type of symbols for new slot players. But first, let’s dig briefly into the story behind the first slot symbol.

Slot Machine Symbols: History

The first-ever slot machine was created in 1895 by Charles Fey. It was named the Liberty Bell since the highest paying among the slot machine symbols was a cracked liberty bell. This game set the path for the future development of slot games and slot machines, to the modern versions we can see today online and across the casino floors.

What is the meaning of BAR on the slot machine?

In the early 1900s, the Bell-Fruit Gum Company created a new type of slot machine that dispensed chewing gum flavours as against cash prizes. This little innovation was adopted because laws in the US banned gambling. The Bar on the slot machine is simply an indication that you won a piece of chewing gum.

At that time, gums were common prizes found among gamblers. It’s been over a century later, and slot manufacturers are still very much designing their slot machines with the same bar symbols and fruit colours.

Payout Symbols on a Slot Machine

In this category, we put the base play symbols which are responsible for creating winning combinations on the reels. The payout symbols are divided into 3 categories, which include low, medium and high paying game symbols. Almost every slot machine has different paying symbols, which make the gameplay fun.

Special Symbols on a Slot Machine

The special symbols in slot games usually come in 3 forms: Scatter, Wild and Bonus symbols. These symbols are responsible for triggering the features in the game, and each one can come with different functions.

Wild Symbol

The Wild symbol is also known as the Joker among experienced players since its primary function is to substitute for other symbols. Some Wilds can only replace the basic payout symbols, while in some slots it can substitute for all other symbols. But at the same time, the Wild can have more functions.

Stacked Wild

This symbol can land stacked on the reel, covering 2 or more positions.

Expanding Wild

As its name indicates, this wild symbol will expand to cover the entire reel it lands on.


It means the Wild will spread in a given direction when landing on a reel.

Sticky Wild

The Wild will remain in position for the duration of the feature.

Multiplier Wild

It will multiply the winning combination it contributes to.

On the other hand, the Scatter and Bonus symbols have a similar function. Both of these symbols trigger a feature, usually when 3 or more of them land on the reels or on a winning pay line. In many cases, the only difference between the Scatter and the Bonus symbol is that the Scatter usually comes with some payout attached. On most video slots, landing 5 Scatters will award you a 100 times the total stake payout. On the other hand, most Bonus symbols don’t award any payout. Nevertheless, you will want to see both the Scatter and the Bonus symbol on the reels as much as you can since they are responsible for triggering the bonus feature.

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