Home / Blog / Slot Bonuses

Slot Bonuses


In today’s online casinos and on video machines offline, slots are all about the bonuses. Free spins, pick-a-prize events, spinning wheels and even bonuses within the bonuses put half the fun and a large portion of the payback into the games. There are plenty of variations and some creative bonuses and promotions that don’t fit the broad categories. Designer imagination and technology allow for a spectacular array of ways to entertain bonuses.

Slot Bonuses Types

Let’s run down some of the major types of slot bonuses and what they can do.

**FREE SPINS: The most popular and most frequently used bonuses on today’s slots are free spins.

It means just what it says. When you launch a free spins bonus, you get a number of reel spins without having to make extra bets.

Sometimes the spins are on the same reels as the regular game. Sometimes the regular reels are replaced onscreen with special bonus reels with different symbols and different payoffs. And sometimes it’s possible to win more free spins during the course of your freebies.

Special bonus reels can lead to a better chance at bigger wins than on the base game. Some games from several game makers eliminate low-paying symbols, with Konami’s Neo Contra as an example. The common A, K, Q, J and 10 symbols are eliminated in free spins, leaving only the higher-paying symbols designed for the game theme.

A different take on bonus reels comes on Rays of Egypt from Incredible Technologies. Choose one of three scarab beetles to reveal how many free spins you get. In the free spins, regular symbols are eliminated; all symbols are coins. Some coins have halos, and collecting enough of the halos can take you to progressive jackpot.

Another way to get creative and make players part of the event is to allow you to choose your volatility. In International Game Technologies’ Golden Jungle Grand, options are 25 free spins with two wild reels, 10 spins with three wild reels or two spins with four wild reels.

With all those wilds, there are going to be some nice wins. Do you want to take a chance on the most wilds but only two spins, or to give yourself more chances to win?

There are plenty of games where the free spins are played on the same reels as the main game, but you get the idea. There’s room for creativity and extra fun within the free-spin format.

**PICK-A-PRIZE: When video slots rose to popularity in the United States in the late 1990s, pick-a-prize – or pick’em – bonuses were the main event.

On games such as WMS’ Reel ’Em In and Jackpot Party and IGT’s Fortune Cookie, pick’em games carved out popularity on slot floors previously reserved for three-reel games.

The early video hits were 5-cent games. A few years later, when penny slots rose to popularity, free spins surpassed pick’ems, but the pick’ems still command a presence online and on offline floors.

A long line of Jackpot Party games, still popular after more than 20 years, includes a classic pick’em bonus.

The screen displays a grid of gift-wrapped packages with ribbons and bows. They swing and sway to music as the bonus event progresses. You touch the packages to reveal prizes. Most are credit awards, but there are games within the game such as a disco character who dances for bonus credits until his pants split.

But watch out for Poopers. If you pick a party pooper, your bonus event ends.

Choices can be more limited, as in Scientific Games’ Fortunes 3 Asian-themed games. When you’re presented with a grid of 12 gold coins, you pick until you have three matching icons. Your three matches determine your credit prize or jackpot.

Regardless, it’s a durable, interactive format that players love.

**WHEEL SPINS: Spinning wheels atop slot machines have been with us since Wheel of Gold in 1996 – the game IGT then adapted to produce Wheel of Fortune.

Offline, physical wheels on towers atop machines are a mainstay, though there also are video wheel displays on the screens. Online, the wheels appear on your screen for a bonus.

In Wheel of Fortune, the wheel is divided into segments, just as on the TV game show. When you get a spin of the reel, round and round it goes, and the segment that stops at the top tells you how many bonus credits you win.

Wheels sometimes are used for more than awarding credits. They can have segments that launch free spins, pick’ems, and even progressive jackpots.

Players should know that even though segments on such wheel look equal in size, there are not necessarily equal chances of winning. Where the wheel stops is determined by a random number generator, and there are fewer random numbers assigned to the biggest credit prize or the most lucrative bonus event than to others:

**A CREATIVE TOUCH: Some bonus events don’t neatly fit into major categories, but they’re fun nonetheless.

WMS/Scientific Games’ Monopoly slots have frequently featured an around the board bonus. Players touch the screen to roll dice that take them around the Monopoly board, and they collect credits for each property landed.

There’s room for bonuses within a bonus, too, with special prizes on Chance or Community Chest.

Bally, now part of Scientific Games, has had a whole line of U-Do-It games. These started as wheel spin bonuses with U-Spin games. Players touch and drag a wheel and let fly onscreen.

The technology has been adapted to U-Play for All That Jazz, where you touch musical notes to play and win, and U-Aim on Pirates’s Quest, where you touch the screen to align cannons.

All bonus formats are flexible enough they can go anywhere the designer imagines. And the hundreds of new games that appear every year are telling us the sky is the limit.