“Las Vegas!”

Quick… what popped in your head?


We bet it is the slot machine icons or those fruit symbols with the sound of moving reels, the jingling noise of coins, and the triumph of the jackpot. Right?

Casino games have been one of the oldest and most popular games since the 19th century that continue to hold the appeal even in the world of online gaming through engaging visuals and sound effects.

The first online gambling technology was created in the British Crown Dependency of the Isle of Man in 1994, by a company named Microgaming that paved the way for the earliest online casinos. Now, more than two decades later, according to the official Gambling Commission, the UK leads the way in online gambling. As per its figures till September 2019, the gross revenue for the sector was £5.3 billion. It is almost a third of the total for the whole online gambling industry.

Globally, more people continue to overcome the fear of becoming addicted to online casinos, and many set a realistic budget to enjoy online gambling responsibly. If you enjoy playing online slot machines and want to learn about those online slot machine symbols, we are here to help you.

This guide on online slot machine symbols will help understand what they mean and how you can improve your win percentage by understanding the symbols and how the slot machines work.

How online slot machines are programmed?

How online slot machines are programmed

Whether you are playing on an online slot machine or a slot machine in a real casino, once you understand how they work, things become quite interesting. The primary part of all slot machines is the reel, and they use a random number generator (RNG) to create random sequences every millisecond.

NOTE: All online slot machines have these features:

  • Balance: The amount of money you place to use on that slot machine.
  • Display box: A box that lets you know how much you win.
  • Paytable: A table that shows how much a pay-line can gain you.
  • Reels: The part of a slot machine that displays the symbols as you spin.
  • Bet per line: The amount of money that you want to bet per line for your next spin.
  • The number of pay-lines: Choosing how many of them you want to play. Payline is the combination of symbols that results in a win.
  • Maximum bet: The bet per line multiplied by the number of pay-lines is equal to the maximum bet.
  • Play/Spin: A lever or button that spins the reels.

In an online slot machine, the symbols are displayed randomly, every time a player clicks spin. The games have no memory, which means no record to track the wins and losses of a player.

“The inbuilt RNG system is a complicated network of mathematical algorithms that generates all the outcomes.”

Can you predict the outcome and know when a slot machine will hit?

Well, in theory, you can hack an RNG, and predict the next sequence, only if you know the algorithm. But in reality, the algorithm is concealed from everyone and everything, except the regulating bodies.

So depending on the number of pay-lines (mostly 25 to 30 per slots) you can choose to place the bets. Each time you spin, a pay-line will always cross with a set number of symbols (five symbols on a 5-reel slot). The fewer pay-lines you activate, the lesser your chances get for winning.

On the contrary, it is essential to look at the symbols and understand which is a winning combo, scatter, a wild symbol, or a bonus symbol.

Symbols of Online Slot Machines

In 1891, when the prototype of the first slot machines was displayed, its icons were heavily influenced by poker. The 5-reels displayed card symbols and required a human to hand out the reward when you won.

“Soon, these slot machines became the iconic one-armed bandits, as the protruding lever became the famous ‘one arm’ of the bandit who made the player go bankrupt.”

Even nowadays, in many online slots games, the base symbols are cards that represent more powerful poker gameplay to win.

It was in 1895 when Charles Fey, set out to turn slot machines fully automatic, reduced the reels to 3 and replaced the card symbols with horseshoes (a traditional lucky symbol) and the Liberty Bell.

Thereby these slot machines got the name the Liberty Bell, and it became one of the evergreen symbols that is still in use.


Fruit Machine Symbols, BAR Symbol, the Number 7 Symbol, and Bubble Gums

In the 1900s, slot machines were officially banned, due to the reputation of one-armed bandits stripping people of all their cash. Manufacturers then introduced new symbols on the reels – Fruits and Fruit Bubble Gum. It would payout different types of fruit-flavoured gum based on the slot machine icons that landed on a winning line. They called the slots ‘vendor machines’, but it followed the same principles of RNG.

Did you know that?

Shortly the logo of the Bell-Fruit Gum Company was added to the slot machine fruit symbols as it looked like a bar of gum which slowly got changed into the BAR symbol.

So now if you see the BAR symbol on the online slot machine, you know what it means – bubble gum flavours!

Similarly, the Lucky Seven symbol came from the sign of good fortune in the gambling circle and became a synonym for pleasure and prosperity. It became a part of slot machine icons too.

How Many Symbols in Slot Machines?

How Many Symbols in Slot Machines

If you are confused about how many symbols are there on a physical or online slot machine, let us explain with an example of a 3-reel slot machine of Charles Fey.

“On average, there are about 20 symbols per reel, which makes it a total of 60 (20x20x20). That means, more than 8000 combinations to score a jackpot!”

Types of Symbols

Here are some of the symbols that you can see on a slot machine.

Standard Symbols

These are basic 3-reel slot designs like fruit machine symbols (cherries, grapes, oranges, melons, and lemons) and card symbols (Ten, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace). These are the slot machine symbols based on the traditional poker game.

However, the newer video slots are more eye-catchy and based on the theme of the game. They are also more rewarding than classic symbols.

Wild Symbols

It is a distinctive type of bonus symbol, and most 5-reel online slot machines nowadays have them. It can stand in the place of any other slot machine icon when the game checks for a winning combination, like a joker in a card game.

It increases your odds for winning, but you should check whether they appear on all reels, or not. Sticky wild symbol increases your chances for a series of wins as it holds its position on the reels for several spins. Similarly, multiplier wilds have an additional-bonus effect of increasing the sum of your prize, but it is a rare one to get.

Scatter Symbols

It is mostly associated with extra free spin rounds, usually between 5 and 15. They are a common bonus feature on video slots but harder to land. If you get three or more scatter symbols anywhere on the reels, it will trigger the bonus effects of a game.

Bonus Symbols

They are the new, innovative features of online slot machines. They differ from the standard slot gameplay and feature engaging visual effects with bigger prizes. Such bonus games require decision making and some screen interactions. But just like any other casino game, winning always comes down on luck.

Multiplier Symbols

They are among the rare bonus features and whenever this symbol lands on the reels, they increase the size of the payouts from winning lines 2x, 3x, 4x, or even 6x times. The most beneficial multiplier symbols are multiplier wilds.

Stacked Symbols

It is relatively a new symbol, that takes larger space on the reels. It increases the odds of them becoming a part of a pay-line. Most profitable stacked symbols have bonuses, and stacked wilds increase the chances of a winning combination substantially.

Sticky Symbols

They remain fixed in place for several spins on the reel and have bonus properties. Sticky Wilds and Sticky Scatters can give you some free spins to land the other necessary spins for winning pay-line. But smart game designers, mostly place them towards the end of the reels making it harder to get.


Which Online Slot Machine Pays the Most?

Which Online Slot Machine Pays the Most?

In the case of modern slot machines, the reel composition no longer establishes your exact odds of winning. It is based solely on luck and complex RNG modules hidden deep within the coding of the machines.

For online slot machines, go for the one with a higher return-to-player rate (RTP). RTP is the opposite of the casino term, “House Advantage”, that displays the potential of winnings of a player.

The higher the RTP percentage on a game, the more often you will win in the long run. Any game with more than 95% RTP, is a game with higher chances of positive expected value. To find out the RTP percentage of your online slot machine game, select help and go to the game guide. When you scroll through it, you can see the RTP percentage of it. You can check our list of the best slots sites with high RTP games.

Always set a budget before spinning and then bet for the number of pay-lines you want to play. Spend what you can afford and stick to the sum. The slot machines with smaller jackpots are the best option to play. They tend to pay out more frequently than large ones. So, if your goal is to win, consider smaller jackpots on 95% or higher RTP percentage slot machines.

What is the Latest in Slot Machine Symbols?

Video slots and 3D video slots are the latest in the slot machine icon industry. The designs and graphics are life-like. The designers have created the symbols and the artwork on these slots to look so real that it would feel like they’re popping out at you. They are appealing, with extremely high-quality graphics and advancing each day. The top recent 2020 online slot machine games also aim for more than 96% RTP.



Winning in a casino game doesn’t solely depend on luck. You can be smart about it. Even if you feel you understand all the symbols, and how the machines work – do not rush! Play with a set budget so that you can enjoy online gambling.

Now that you know all about Slot machine symbols, next time onward, explore the RTP percentage first. Furthermore, before placing bets, scrutinize the necessary licenses and permits of the casino games. Even if they are heavily regulated, the danger of online scammers still looms.

Enjoyed reading this guide? If so, be sure to check out our online slots tips, strategies & secrets guide.


amelia cassiday profile pictureAmelia Cassiday is an online bingo writer and player for the past 5 years. Her expertise and knowledge of the online bingo industry are utilised when covering the latest news and trends. Amelia particularly enjoys reviewing new bingo sites as well as writing detailed game guides. When offline, she can be found maintaining her garden and reading a good book at her home in Newcastle, UK.