We all know that a slot machine features a number of different symbols on the reels which reward you with a win when you line up three or more of them on a pay line. Some symbols are designated as special symbols which will lead to bigger wins or open up bonus games, and these are often referred to as scatter symbols, wild symbols or multiplier symbols.

The scatter symbol is usually the most important, and is often representative of the overall theme of the game. For example, the scatter symbol on IGT’s Egyptian-themed Cleopatra slot is an iconic Sphinx statue.

How do Scatter Symbols Work?

Scatter symbols vary from other symbols in two distinct ways. Firstly, they don’t have to appear on a winline to award a win. Instead, these symbols can appear in any position on any reel to reward you with a win. Secondly, they cannot be replaced by a wild symbol. Wilds act as a substitute for any other symbol, generating a winning combination where otherwise there would not have been one, but they cannot replace scatters.

The rules for scatters vary from game to game, so it’s worth checking the pay table before you play, so you know what you’re aiming for. Most online games require three or more scatter symbols to appear on the reels, and this usually results in a win being multiplied. Scatters multiply the total win, not just the line win, and many players bet on all lines to increase the payout when scatter icons land.

Other games use the scatter icon to launch a bonus game, and landing three scatters on a payline will initiate one of the slot’s features. These features can vary from bonus games to free spins – some of the most popular slots like The Dark Knight Rises and Immortal Romance use a combination of scatter

The Original Scatter Symbol

On early traditional fruit machines, the original scatter symbol was the red cherries. These were introduced to add an extra element to the game, and the cherries were not bound by the same restrictions as other symbols. Where the others had to line up across the payline, the cherries could appear anywhere on the reels to generate a small win. The wins were generally small, but could increase with more scatter symbols landing on a single spin, and the wins were paid out in addition to any other winning line.

Modern video slots have changed the way scatter symbols are used, and gaming developers are always coming up with new and inventive ways to use the symbols to create more exciting games.

Scatter Symbols and Video Slots

With many modern video slots having five or seven reels, and some offering hundreds of paylines on a single spin, the function of the scatter symbol has moved on from those early machines.

Scatters on video slots are often animated and will come to life when they land on the reels. Many slots now feature video streaming and 3D graphics, and when three scatter symbols land and lead to a bonus round, it’s not unusual to see video clips and animations that take you into the bonus game.

The original slot machines only required one scatter symbol to land on the reels for a small win, and although many video slots use a combination of three or more to launch features, some still pay out on single or double scatter symbols

Find out What You’ll Win

When you begin playing an online slot, it’s always worth checking out the pay table to find out about the winning combinations, the scatter and wild symbols, and the payout levels. The pay table is usually accessible from an icon on the main gaming screen, which launches a pop-up window with all of that information. Find out which symbol is the scatter, and how many you need to land to generate a decent win or open up the bonus feature. It’s much more fun playing when you know what to aim for.