Scatter Symbols: How They Work When Playing Video Slots

  • If you’re a free spins lover, the scatter symbol is your best friend
  • Discover how the scatter differs from the wild symbol

Scatter symbols are not something you can find on every slot; most often you’ll find them on 5-reel video slots, rather than the more old-school single-payline fruit machines.

Jungle Jim scatter symbols
Check out a game’s paytable and info to find out just what you get for landing some scatter symbols

Not to be confused with wild symbols, scatters function in a slightly different way, and have sometimes been referred to as a slot player’s closest ally in regards to how they give you advantages and access to all the bonus rounds of the slot while spinning the reels.

The keys to the kingdom of riches

Unlike wild symbols, which need to be on a payline to function in the place of the other symbols of the game, scatter symbols are called as such because they can be scattered anywhere on the reels, not just on a row within a payline, in order to be counted toward free spins or a bonus game.

Mega Fortune
Scatters usually follow the theme of the game, hence the champagne above for Mega Fortune

These symbols are usually one of the most valuable in the game, and often have a close connection to theme. For example, in a pirate themed slot you might have the skull and crossbones flag functioning as the scatter symbol. In slots featuring space and aliens, the planets and stars will likely be the lower-paying symbols, whereas the spaceship or alien itself might play the role of the scatter.

Scattering your way to success

Usually, the scatter symbol acts as your gateway to a free spins feature, but sometimes there are separate scatter and free spins symbols, so the scatter symbol might instead be your key to unlocking another type of bonus game.

On simpler slots, the scatter symbol can function just like any of the others, providing a lump sum payout instead of launching a special feature. More often than not, landing on three scatters is enough to be rewarded with a prize, but four or five will generally reward you with an even higher payout or even more free spins than what you would be awarded with just three scatter symbols.

Butterfly Staxx scatter symbols
Land the scatter symbols right and you can be in for some decent rewards

A brief history of the scatter symbol

Believe it or not, the scatter symbol isn’t actually that new of an idea. In the days when the three-reel fruit machine was king, the original scatter symbols were those classic red cherries. While the other symbols in a fruit machine paid out depending on how they were aligned and how many of them were present, a cherry symbol would pay out no matter which reel it fell on or what other symbols were present on that payline.

Because scatter symbols can function slightly differently in every slot, it’s always best to have a look at the paytable before deciding how much to bet and if it’s a good idea to invest real money into that online slot.

Overall, it’s safe to say that scatter symbols will always help you rather than harm you, so if they’re listed as a feature it means that there are probably free spins or bonus games waiting for you to discover in that particular slot.

Find out more about online slot, and where to play them in our comprehensive slots guide.

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