JeffBet by Matthew Gover |
Date of Publishing: 16 May 2023

5/5 - (10 votes)

Scatter Symbols 101: Everything You Need to Know for Big Wins

Often referred to as a slot game player’s best friend, scatter symbols unlock numerous bonus features integrated within a slot game. In other slot games, they also act as multipliers or substituting symbols to form winning combinations. 

Contrary to how symbols usually must be lined up on a payline to trigger a win, scatters are special because they merely have to appear on the reels to trigger a payout or bonus feature.

Ultimately, scatter symbols are a highly valuable part of any slot machine, and understanding their importance as a slot player will, without question, add to your knowledge of the game.

What are Scatter Symbols?

Scatter symbols, or scatters, describe a bonus symbol you can expect to find in many slots. In most new online slots games, besides other basic symbols, you can also find wild symbols and scatter symbols. While wild symbols mainly act as substitutes for other symbols, scatter symbols are known to trigger bonus features such as mini-games, bonus rounds, and free spins, for instance.

The usual way to trigger these symbols is by simultaneously landing three or more scatter symbols on the reels. That said, remember that this can vary from one slot game to another based on the game’s design. 

Scatters are represented by a specific graphic unique to the overall theme of a particular slot machine. For instance, the Sphinx statue represents the scatter symbol on the Cleopatra slot, an Egyptian-themed slot released by IGT.

As mentioned, another unique function scatter symbols display is that they act as both the wild symbols and the scatters. When they appear as the wild, the scatters substitute for other symbols to help the player create winning combinations. When they appear as scatters, they activate additional bonus features. 

One fine example of a slot machine where the scatter functions as both the wild and the scatter is Play’n GO’s Book of Dead

How Do Scatter Symbols Work?

Scatter symbols are different from other symbols in two ways. First of all, they do not have to appear on a payline to trigger a win. Instead, such symbols may appear in any position on any slot reel to award the player. Secondly, these symbols cannot be substituted by wild symbols. As we know, wilds function as substitutes for other symbols, generating winning combinations where there would not have been any otherwise; however, they cannot substitute for scatters.

The rules for scatter symbols usually vary from one slot game to another. Usually, to activate a bonus round, there is a certain minimum number of scatter symbols that need to appear on a single spin. Opening the game information page verifies the precise mechanics of the scatter slot you are playing.

Most slot games require three or more scatters to appear on the reels, which typically leads to a potential win being multiplied. Scatter symbols multiply both the total win and the line win. Many slot players like to bet on all lines to increase the potential payout when scatters appear.

So, suppose you are playing Dead or Alive II. Its scatters have two functions. Firstly, by getting two or more scatters on the reels, you win your wager x the number displayed on the pay table (the fixed wins paid out on landing 2, 3, 4, or 5 scatter symbols). Secondly, if you get three or more scatters, you will trigger a free spins round that lets you choose from three free spins games.

Types of Scatter Symbols

Scatter symbols come in various types, some of which are discussed below:

Free Spins Scatters

On a fair majority of scatter slot games, if you match three free spins scatters or more free spins will be unlocked. This typically would range from 5 to 10 spins, however this varies from slot to slot. Upon triggering the bonus feature, the bet amounts and active paylines for each free game are based on the last spin.

Bonus Game Scatters

Slot games without free spins usually feature bonus mini games. Such games are activated by getting three or more scatter symbols to appear on the reels. The bonus game will all depend on what slot you are playing. Multiple choice rounds and the Wheel of Fortune would be examples of what you might expect.

Scattered Wilds

Certain slot games have scatters that convert into wilds and act as substitutes for other symbols in a game. The newly-converted wilds, in turn, reduce the number of redundant symbols on the reels, making it far more likely that players will land a winning combination.

Strategies for Using Scatter Symbols

Below are a few helpful tips to keep in mind for playing video slots with scatter symbols:

  • Check the game information and pay table of any slot game you play to know what scatter symbol to look out for
  • Note your chosen slot game’s RTP and volatility level. Since bonus features can trigger scatter payouts that are significant, such games usually have lower RTPs and higher volatility. That means you can sometimes score big wins–but not as frequently
  • Try looking for slot machines with higher payout rates, as this raises your chances of earning more during bonus games. Note that understanding the science behind the game will contribute to your slot knowledge
  • Play with maximum paylines: Scatter symbols can appear anywhere on the reels, so to increase your chances of winning, make sure you play with the maximum paylines available
  • Remember the importance of responsible gambling at all times, and don’t get hooked on the thrill associated with scatter symbols.


Scatter slots are highly popular among slot players because, apart from showing up to trigger bonus features more often than regular bonus symbols, they also increase a player’s chances of landing a winning combination.

If you want to have a ball next time you play slots, check out our many slot titles at JeffBet. Now you know how valuable scatter symbols are, let’s hope they trigger something exciting for you when you next spin those reels.

About the Author

Author: Matthew Gover.

After graduating, Matthew began working as an English teacher abroad, initially in Spain and then Vietnam before finally coming back to the UK to settle. Matthew has always had a love for writing and an even bigger love for the igaming industry... Read More

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