Like every industry, the casino world is full of technical words and jargon. These examples of corporate business-speak appear to be intended to confuse and complicate rather than actually explain. It can almost seem like they are there to deliberately make things difficult for beginners.
Things are so bad that it may just be that there is simply not enough bandwidth in your life for you to leverage the deliverables. There’s a good chance that you don’t feel empowered to drill down to find solutions when you are simply unable to focus on giving 110 per cent.
Ok, perhaps this is a bit less of an issue in the casino industry, but there are still lots of technical terms which are not obvious to newcomers. So if sorting your Scatters from your Wilds sends you wild, and differentiating your Megaways TM from your Multiplier drives you mad, this could be just the place for you. Indeed, this Glossary of Terms may even take you to the next level…
- Beginner’s Luck
- Bonus Feature
- Cash Out
- Casino Tournament
- Classic Slots
- Free Spins
- Gamble Feature
- Live Gaming
- Megaways TM
- Pick to Win
- Progressive Jackpot
- Random Number Generator (RNG)
- Return to Player rate (RTP)
- Ways to Win
- Win Both Ways
A playing card game which is regularly featured in real-world casinos, and is often found online too. As the name may suggest, it is French in origin and comes in many forms. By far the most common is known as ‘punto banco’. Each player competes against the Banker. It’s a surprisingly complex game. Each card dealt has a ‘points’ value, and the winning hand is the one which scores closest to nine.
The amount left in your account. Much like a bank balance, it is the difference between the amount you have paid in and the amount you have spent. Your casino balance is made up of your deposits plus your winnings minus your ‘bets’ or ‘stakes’.
This is basically the entity that holds all the money. In the classic board game Monopoly, for example, the ‘banker’ is not actually a player as such, but all players must abide by the banker’s rules, pay fines and mortgage properties through the bank. In casinos, the banker is effectively the casino owner, often referred to as the ‘house’. The dealer or croupier is a representative of the owners, effectively acting on its behalf. For online casinos, the banker is effectively the casino site operator, usually listed at the bottom of the homepage.
The world of gambling is full of myth and superstition. Beginner’s luck is a term used to refer to players who win when playing a game for the first time. The implication is that beginners are ‘lucky’ whereas more experienced players win by using their experience, intuition and skill. I suppose this is possible in sports betting and in some games of strategy and bluff such as Poker, but it is unlikely to be much of a factor in online slots which are, by law, required to be random.
This is one of many different terms for what is effectively the same thing. ‘Bet’, ‘stake’ and ‘wager’ all mean the amount of cash you risk when predicting an uncertain outcome. ‘Bet’ is most commonly used in sports betting, particularly horse racing, but all these terms are in regular use and are mostly interchangeable.
This is another very popular card game – an ever-present in real-world casinos. There are many different forms, all with slightly different rules, but essentially the basic idea is that each playing card is assigned a points value. Players must try to get as close to a value of 21 as possible, without going above it. Exceeding this figure is known as ‘going bust’, in which case you automatically lose.
These are regularly seen on real-world slot machines and are almost universally present in online slots. On land-based slot machines, the ‘nudge’ feature is perhaps the most obvious, whereas, with online slots, it is ‘free spins’. As online slots have become ever more complex, there are now far more complicated and intricately designed bonus games, many of which involve a whole new game or ‘environment’.
This is an alternative term for the action of withdrawing your winnings.
This is a situation where players compete against each other in a kind of ‘league’ format. Several rounds of games can take place, and the player at the top of the league at the end of the tournament is the winner.
These are old-fashioned, traditional slots. In the real world, they are frequently found in amusement arcades and on the seafront and piers of the UK’s coastal holiday resorts. They are often referred to as ‘fruit machines’. Some of the older models are entirely mechanical, powered by a lever at the side of the machine (hence another widely used term, the ‘one-armed bandit’).
Classic online slots follow this format by often having only three reels, and by being relatively simple with few extra features. They also tend to feature nostalgic reel characters, including common fruits such as cherries and oranges, and traditional symbols such as a ‘bell’ the number ‘7’ and the word ‘BAR’.
This is a casino game which is popular in America. It sounds vulgar to British ears, but it is just another one of those words like ‘bonnet’ (hood) and ‘pants’ (trousers), which mean something completely different over the pond. It is a dice game which is frequently found in land-based casinos. It’s less common online, but larger casinos do sometimes offer it.
This is another Anglo-American oddity. ‘Croupier’ is most often used as a job title in high-end European casinos, but it’s just a fancy name for a ‘dealer’.
The dealer is responsible for the delivery of card and table games in real-world casinos. They are employed by the casino owner/operator to represent them and to ensure fair play.
Now outmoded, early online games often required players to import software onto their computer/device in order to play games online. This was common in the days of dial-up modems and early mobiles (younger readers may need to ask their parents about this). Downloads are rarely required today, as games are usually played ‘live’ via high-speed broadband or Wi-Fi.
This is the name for the commission the casino or online operator takes when players make bets. It is an average rate, calculated from all players’ bets added together. Often referred to as the ‘house edge’ it represents the casino’s profit margin.
It is interesting to note that the ‘edge’ is effectively the opposite of the Return to Player rate (RTP) (see below). So, if the house edge is 4% (a typical figure for online slots, for example), then the RTP is 96%.
These are the most common form of special feature to be found on online slots. These are usually triggered by achieving three or more ‘Scatter’ symbols (see below) on your reels. You are then awarded a specified number of additional spins, which you don’t have to pay for. Sometimes these are simply additional spins with the same reel format as the main game. Other slots add more symbols or change the format in some way to add extra excitement to your bonus spins.
Often provided as an additional feature for online slots, this enables players to gamble their winnings from a spin. This is usually done by predicting the colour of a randomly selected playing card. There is therefore a one in two chance of getting it right (red or black), effectively making the gamble double or quits. Alternatively, you can often choose to predict the suit of the random card, in which case you have a one-in-four chance of guessing right. If you are correct, your prize is quadrupled. You can continue to gamble as long as you keep guessing right, but the first time you get it wrong, you lose all your accumulated prizes from that spin.
This is the name for the top prize in a game. Bingo and slots generally promote a jackpot prize. On slots, this is often awarded in a standard format game by achieving all five of the top-scoring symbol in a winning sequence.
This is an extremely popular feature offered on many contemporary online casinos. It enables you to play ‘live’ with a live-streamed dealer, located in a remote studio. It represents the closest you can get to a real casino experience, even if you are sitting at home in your onesie and slippers, or playing on your mobile while sitting on a bus on the way to work. Many online casinos offer a vast range of traditional casino games in this form.
This is an innovative new format for slots. It offers extra excitement on games by adding additional reels and rows to the standard five-reel format. The extra reels and symbols mean that there are far more potential winning combinations, with some games offering several hundred thousand different possible ways to win on an individual spin.
Invented by Australian software company Big Time Gaming, it is frequently licenced to other providers, enabling them to upgrade their best-known titles with this new mechanism. There are already well over a hundred different games which include this feature, including top titles like Gonzo’s Quest, Great Rhino and Rainbow Riches.
The ‘multiplier’ is another regularly seen feature on both real-world and online slots. When active, it means that whatever prize you are eligible to win will be multiplied by the stated amount. This really could be any figure, but generally tends to be in the range of 2x up to 10x.
These are the stated chances of winning in any situation. Sometimes these are real and specific. An example of this is the odds of matching all six numbers in the UK’s National Lottery, which are 45,057,474 to 1. On other occasions, they are guesses – effectively an offer to trade provided by bookmakers and sports betting companies. Examples here would be Manchester United to win at 2 / 1, or the odds on a horse to win at 100 / 1.
Pick to Win
This is another form of bonus game frequently found on slots. Players are generally taken to a new screen, where you can choose from a random range of objects. Each reveals a hidden prize. A similar format, more akin to a scratch card, is where players have to match three identical symbols or prizes to win that prize.
Poker is a traditional card game found in real world casinos. There are a number of different formats, but the basic idea is that players bet on whose hand is the highest scoring, according to that particular format’s rules and scoring method. The twist is that the ‘best’ hand is not necessarily the winner. It is a game of bluff and strategy which can involve deceiving opponents into believing your hand is stronger than it really is. The game is also available to play on most online casinos.
This is a specific form of jackpot, frequently found in Bingo and on slots. Here, a proportion of all players’ stakes is collected over time into a massive top prize. This process continues to increase the value of the jackpot until it is won. For slots, the top prize can amount to several million pounds / euros / dollars. The actual amount offered for any game varies according to how many players have played it and how recently the jackpot was won.
Random Number Generator (RNG)
The RNG is a computer generated algorithm which is used to ensure that games of chance are completely fair. It ensures that the outcome of any spin, draw or other mechanism is completely random. Both real world and online casinos must ensure that their games are truly random, as a requirement of their gambling licences.
Return to Player rate (RTP)
This is the amount of a game’s stake money which will be returned to players in prizes. It is a long-term average. This means that if thousands of players are playing a game, and the RTP for a game is 97%, then on average, for every 100 currency staked, 97 is returned in prizes, and 3 in your currency is retained by the casino/casino operator/house. The house ‘edge’ in this example (see above) is therefore 3%, as it is what remains after the RTP is deducted.
This is a classic casino game found in both land-based and most online casinos. Its precise rules can vary, but all feature a revolving numbered wheel. Players must predict where the ball will land as the wheel slows down.
The ‘scatter’ is a special symbol found in online slots. Getting a winning sequence of these on your reels can trigger free spins.
The amount of cash you are prepared to risk when predicting an uncertain outcome. It’s an alternative term for ‘bet’ or ‘wager’.
This is a specific mechanism found on online slots. In a conventional game, reels are spun and come to a halt, revealing the final arrangement of the symbols. A tumbling mechanism involves removing certain symbols on a reel, whereupon characters below this remain in place, while those above ‘tumble’ into position from above. Many online slot titles include this, either as the main game or as a bonus feature. The most famous example is probably NetEnt’s classic Gonzo’s Quest.
A VIP is a special category of casino player. To qualify, players usually have to spend a lot of money or at the very least play very regularly. The casino or operator usually offers such players special enticements in order to encourage them to spend even more, such as extra bonuses and incentives.
Ways to Win
Traditional slots generally have winning lines, whereby players have to match reel symbols along a pre-determined path. ‘Ways to Win’ style games allow players to match symbols on any path, just so long as the matching symbols run consecutively across neighbouring reels, without a gap. This can be from right to left too. Because of the standard five reel format, early examples almost always offered ‘243 ways to win’. Today, with extra and expanding reels, some games can boast a potential of hundreds of thousands of different ‘ways to win’. The most obvious example of this is the Megaways TM format (see above).
Wilds are a specific type of reel symbol found in slots. There are many different types of Wild, but their basic function is always the same: they can substitute for any other reel symbol, in order to increase your chances of achieving a winning combination.
In addition to the standard ‘standalone’ Wild, today’s games can feature any number of other special forms. These can include ‘clusters’ (Wilds appear together in groups); ‘expanding’ (they can randomly spread up, down or across reels); ‘Stacked’ (running consecutively along a reel); Sticky (remaining in place while other symbols continue to spin), and more.
This is another term for ‘bet’ or ‘stake’ (see above).
Win Both Ways
This is a feature which is often seen on an online slot. A conventional slot pays out on winning combinations which run from left to right. On a standard five-reel slot, therefore, you would only receive a prize if you have matching symbols which begin on Reel 1 and then progress across to Reels 2, 3 and so on. A ‘win both ways’ slot would also pay out if your symbols were on consecutive reels from the right, running from Reel 5, onto Reels 4, 3 and so on.
This is the procedure of claiming your cash when you have won at a casino. Your cash is then either converted from chips back into cash (real-world casino), or transferred from your casino account into your personal bank, debit account or e-wallet (online casino). You can then actually spend your winnings.