Most common slot terms explained for Canadian users

Pick whatever online casino in Canada and you’ll see how slots make up the biggest portion of the website’s portfolio. Casinos offer thousands of slots and developers focus on producing as many slots they can to keep up with the never ending needs of both casinos and players. Anyone visiting an online casino for the very first time will be amazed by how advanced today’s slot games are. With thousands of games on offer, HD graphics, cinematic soundtracks, and jackpots that go up to millions of dollars it’s kinda hard not to become overwhelmed.

This is why we decided to give you an easy-to understand breakdown of the most common online slot terms you’ll find on the internet. By going through this slots oriented glossary you will be fully prepared to make your own win by playing online slots that suit your needs. Rest assured, there are very few sites in Canada that love online slots like we do at Vernons. You’ve come to the right place to commence your online slots adventure. 

Slot terms explained: first things first

Before we move on we want to dive into the definition of a slot first. The rest of the slot terms will be discussed next in alphabetic order, but we will need to explain what a slot is before we feel we’re ready to proceed as this is a guide that is fully based on slot games. 

Online vs. offline slots

A slot game is a gambling machine that creates a game of chance for its players and features a screen showing 3 or more reels that spin when the game is started. This screen is either a physical screen if we’re talking about a slot game in a land based casino or a digital one when it concerns the online counterpart. In this slot guide we will focus on the online version of the gambling machine, despite the fact that the same name is used for both. Adding the word “online” can distinguish the land based and digital versions. As Vernon focuses on Canada based players you will also come across the word “the slots” as the gaming machine is often referred to in Canada and the United States. 

Different countries, different words

The internet is a public space and that is why you’ll probably come across different words used for the same thing depending on your location. In American English a slot game is typically called a slot machine and there are a lot of different definitions that change per English-speaking country. Slots are therefore known as fruit machines in the United Kingdom, puggies in Scotland, poker machines/pokies in Australia and New Zealand, and fruities once again in the UK. Slot games are also widely known as one-armed bandits too because of the big mechanical levers affixed to the sides of traditional mechanical machines and the games’ notorious skill to empty players’ pockets as thieves would.

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Most common slot terms in alphabetical order

This brings us to our glossary of slot terms for Canadian users. A lot of these terms are built around the online versions of slot games, e.g. the slots you’ll find in online casinos. 


This is a slot game that works with 3D effects. Thanks to the 3D-graphics the game will feel a lot more lively than a regular slot. HD-graphics, and 3D-graphics as well, have become increasingly important in slot games. 

3-Reel slot

The reels are the vertical lines where the symbols are placed on and these reels spin around each time a player hits the start or play button. Traditionally, slot games were built with 3 reels, but in recent years, new grids have been introduced.

5-Reel slot

The reels are the vertical lines where the symbols land. Reels spin round each time Start of Play is pressed. Traditionally, slots were built with 3 reels, but in recent years, new formats have been launched such as 5-reel slots. Today, most online slots feature 5 reels instead of 3. 

Auto play/auto spin

The auto spin option enables auto play feature which means you won’t have to press the spin button yourself. The auto play button can be activated for a certain number of spins. Our recommendation is to limit the number of spins as you don’t want to miss a bonus game because you hit the autoplay mode. Some games require the player to play the bonus game or activate the auto spin bonus again once the bonus mode is reached. 

Base game

The base game of a slot is the main game, before reaching the bonus game. Base games tend to yield lower payouts than bonus games.

Bonus game

The bonus game is the most important part of the game as this is what triggers the biggest prizes. Bonus games are considered the game’s second phase and include bonus features like free spins, multipliers, expanding wilds and game-specific bonuses. Bonuses are usually triggered by scatters and can be bought as well via the bonus buy feature that was first introduced in 2017. 

Bonus buy

The Buy a Bonus Feature is a feature that slots offer to make players directly go to the free spins or bonus game pay a certain fee. This means players won’t have to activate the Bonus free spins by, for example, spinning 3 or more scatters in the base game. The prize of the bonus buy access depends on the game. The name also depends on the provider and some definitions used are:

  • Buy Feature (Relax Gaming).
  • Feature Drop Big Time Gaming).
  • Bonus Feature Buy (Nolimit City).
  • Buy Free Spins Feature (Pragmatic Play).
  • Bonus Buy (Blueprint Gaming).

Check out: Top 10 best feature buy slots

Branded slot games

Branded slot games are interactive online games which are themed off of celebrities, TV shows, films, or other mainstream entertainment products. Branded slots require permission of the artist, celebrity, or production company before they can be developed. 

Cascading reels

Cascading reels is a feature that makes the symbols on a payline disappear after which the reels above drop new symbols in their place. These new symbols can lead to new winning combinations without the need to make a new spin.

Cluster pays

Cluster pay slots don’t work with fixed paylines or reels. Winning combinations are made by forming groups of identical symbols, which are called clusters. The more matching symbols you manage to form in the cluster, the higher the payout will be. When you form a cluster with similar symbols, these winning symbols will move off the screen to create space for new symbols. These symbols drop down from the top of the screen and can create new winning combinations without the player needing to make a real money spin. Cluster Pays slots are played on a matrix or a grid instead of on reels and most games in this category work with a square game play. Cluster pays slots are therefore also known as grid slots. 

Demo mode

Most slots offer a free demo mode which gives the player the opportunity to play the game without making a real money bet. This also means players can’t win real money in the demo mode. Playing a game in the demo mode is recommended to effectively test a game and get familiar with the rules and gameplay. 

Expanding wilds

Wild symbols expand to cover the whole reel, giving your more winning chances.

Free spins

Free spins are spins that don’t require a real money bet and are awarded by an operator. Free spins are free bets that are part of a bonus such as a welcome package or a reload bonus. Often free spins do require a deposit before they are awarded. Free spins usually come with bonus terms which we recommend you to read before you claim your spins.

Fruit machine

Fruit machine is the traditional name for the original slot machine that featured fruit symbols like melons, cherries, lemons, and pears. Fruit machines are considered retro slot games and never go out of fashion. A lot of casinos still offer online fruit machines. 

Grid slot

Another word used for a Cluster Pays slot. 

House edge

The statistical advantage that the house, or casino, has over the players. For example, a slot machine with a payout percentage (RTP) of 96%, will have a house edge of 4%. Learn more about the house edge here.

Jackpot slot

Jackpot slots keep a percentage of every wager and add it to a jackpot. Some games offer multiple jackpots and require minimum stakes to be triggered by the player. Jackpot slots potentially lead to bigger wins than regular slots. This explains their widespread popularity.


A lobby, or game lobby is where the casino or operator houses its games. Game lobbies usually consist of separate parts such as an online casino, live casino, and sportsbook. The lobby with video slots is typically divided into different categories. 

Live Casino

The term Live casino is used to referred to the live streamed section of table games. That includes game such as roulette, blackjack, baccarat and other game shows.

Maximum bet

The maximum bet refers to the maximum wager you are allowed to make on any spin.

Minimum bet

The minimum bet is the minimum required bet a player must wager to be able to play a game.

Mobile slot

Mobile slots are games that are also available for mobile play. Most modern games are optimised for both mobile and desktop play. Some games, however, aren’t available for smartphones. This usually concerns older and less popular games.


Megaways are interchangeable reels where the symbol’s height on each reel varies per spin. This way, the number of ways to win constantly changes. Fully expanded Megaways will give players as many as 117,649 ways to win. Most Megaways slots feature six reels with two to 7 or 8 symbols per reel. Megaways were introduced by Big Time Gaming.


This is a bonus feature that multiplies winning combinations by as much as 10 times. The higher the multiplier, the bigger the win.

Nudge slot

The nudge is a feature especially found on older slots, allowing the player to move a symbol into a winning payline. This feature lets the player adjust the result of a spin, by moving a single reel down by one position in order to make a winning combination. Nudge games have dropped in popularity in recent years.

Online casino

Online casinos are the online versions of land based casinos that offer slots and other casino games on their website. Slots are listed in a game lobby and often contain different filters or categories that help users find a game that suits their needs. Online casinos are also called casinos or operators. 

Return to Player (RTP)

The Return to Players, often abbreviated to RTP, is a percentage that shows how much a game will pay in the long term. Different outcomes can occur in the short term and the percentage is only an indication of long term results. The Return to Player is displayed in a percentage and most slots work with RTP’s of around 96-97%. A 96,2% RTP would mean that the player will make $96,20 out of every $100 wagered. The remaining $3,80 is earned by the casino, also known as the house edge. In the long run the house will always win. 

Check out: Top 10 slots with the highest RTP of all time


A payline is the combination that can be seen on the reels on the slot game and leads to a certain win. The amount won corresponds to the payline shown on the slot and the amount linked to that payline and combination. If you land the symbols on the right positions on the reels and rows, a payline is formed. The amount of paylines depends on the number of reels and rows of the video slot.


The pay table shows which payout corresponds to the various symbol combinations made in both the main game and the bonus round.

Progressive jackpot

A progressive jackpot is a jackpot that increases in value each time the game is played and the jackpot is not hit. Out of every stake made, a small percentage is added to the jackpot. When the progressive jackpot is won, the jackpot for the next game is reset to a predetermined value and the same process repeats again until a new jackpot hit occurs. 


The company that has designed and launched the slot game. A provider is also called a developer or a game developer. Some games can be produced by a sister company or partner company and hold a different logo than the actual developer. Usually, this means the provider is part of a bigger organisation that holds several subsidiaries. Popular slot providers are NetEnt, Big Time Gaming, and Microgaming


The vertical line on the slot. The number of reels affects the overall experience when playing slots as this defines the difficulty level of a game. The horizontal lines are called rows. 


The horizontal line on the slot. A slot game that works with rows usually works with reels as well. The vertical lines are called reels.


Scatters are symbols that aren’t required to land on a payline to lead to a winning combination. Most slots have scatters which are also known as scatter symbols. 

Slot Tournaments

In a slot tournament players compete in the game in order to win a prize. Slot tournaments are usually organised by online casinos and offer a certain prize pot. 


The theme, or game theme, is the story the slot was built upon and shown by the game’s main characteristics such as the gameplay, background, soundtrack, and symbols. Some game themes are easier to identify than others. Common examples include Egypt, Vikings, animals, or Las Vegas. 


The variance or volatility of a video slot indicates how volatile a game is, which stands for the risk-to-reward ratio. Highly volatile slots consume a lot of credits, but lead to bigger, less frequent wins, while low volatile slots consume less credits, and lead to frequent, but smaller wins. Slots with a high variance are more suitable for players who have a larger budget and who mainly want to play for a profit. Low volatility video slots are especially suitable for recreational gamblers who care less about wins and have less credits to spend.

Video slot

Same as a slot game, usually an online version of a classic slot machine. Video slots are often abbreviated as slots. 


Another word for variance. The definition of volatility is more widely used than variance, but for the meaning of this word we kindly request you to read the definition of variance above.

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