Online slot games and online Scratch Cards are popular forms of iGaming, sharing certain characteristics. Both are an evolution of the physical cabinets and cards before them. Players can win potentially big prizes on both. Both rely on RNGs (Random Number Generators) to keep play fair and balanced. Developers constantly push the limit of what’s possible with graphics, music, sound effects, and gameplay to varying degrees. Both feature a wide variety of themes and genres.
Of course, there are key differences in visual presentation, mechanics and the overall gameplay experience. For one, online slot games revolve around spinning the reels of a virtual slot machine to land winning combinations of symbols across predetermined paylines. Online slots usually have special symbols (such as Wilds and Scatters), one or more bonus rounds, and progressive jackpots. They can also incorporate proprietary game engines such as Big Time Gaming’s Megaways or Red Tiger’s Power Reels mechanic for expanded reel sets, paylines, and payouts. Online slots can also offer enhanced audio-visual presentations, including vibrant graphics, engaging animations, and thematic sound effects to enhance the immersive experience. They can also incorporate greater creative themes, storytelling elements and background music to make the gameplay as appealing as possible.
On the other hand, online scratch cards (by their very nature) simulate the physical act of scratching the coating of a physical card to reveal hidden symbols or numbers. Winning (usually) involves matching 3 (but sometimes more) symbols. Scratch Cards (again by their function) are quicker and more straightforward to play, although some cards offer multiple minigames. Two examples are Light & Wonder’s Subbuteo and Microgaming’s Bowled Over. Even within this scope, however, the scope for adding bonus rounds, special symbols, paylines etc., is more limited. Same with the potential prizes on offer. On the other hand, Scratch Cards offer quick and instant wins. Results can be known in seconds or minutes (however long it takes to scratch off the virtual coating). So while the potential payouts might not be as high as those in slot games, Scratch Cards provide immediate gratification and are suitable for players looking for instant excitement. Finally, while both slots and cards offer a variety of themes and genres, Scratch Cards are more limited in what they can offer in terms of audio-visual presentation, instead focusing on providing a clean and straightforward interface resembling physical cards. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, either. While Scratch Cards may lack the visual flair of slot games, they offer a streamlined and no-nonsense experience compared to online slots.
To summarise, online slot games offer more complex gameplay with spinning reels, multiple paylines, and various bonus features, perfect for players seeking longer-lasting entertainment. On the other hand, online Scratch Cards provide a quick and straightforward experience, allowing players to scratch off the coating to reveal potential winnings almost instantaneously. Both options have unique characteristics and cater to different preferences in the online iGaming space.
Difference in Playing Grids
One of the main differences between online slot games and Scratch Cards is the game grids on which each type of game gets played. The former usually features a grid-like structure known as the “reel set”, consisting of vertical columns and horizontal rows that form a grid where the symbols are displayed. Each cell or square within the grid is called a reel or symbol position. Grid sizes vary from slot to slot, with the most common being a 5-column, 3-row (5×3) reel set, although some slots sport 5×4 and even 6×4 reel sets. Online slots that use BTG’s proprietary Megaways engine, however, have reel sets that usually comprise 6 columns and anywhere between 2 – 7 rows depending on the on-screen action and size of the symbols in play. Megaways slots also tend to have an extra horizontal row that sits above or below the main game grid. The objective of an online slot game is to spin the reels and land winning symbol combinations on the game grid. Winning combinations get formed by matching identical symbols on adjacent reels, starting from the leftmost reel. Slot games often incorporate special symbols like Wilds and Scatters that can trigger bonus features such as Free Spins or cascading reels to increase the chances of winning.
On the other hand, Scratch Cards have a simpler game grid structure, usually consisting of a single panel covered by a virtual layer of scratch-off material, although some cards have multiple panels. Whatever the case, said panels are scratched to reveal the hidden symbols underneath to find matching symbols or specific combinations to win a potential prize. The number of said symbols may vary from card to card. The same goes for game grids. Physical Scratch Cards traditionally sport a 3×3 grid, and this trend carried over to online cards as well, as quite a few online Scratch Cards follow the traditional 3×3 format. However, online cards can also have bigger (and even smaller) grids. Another difference is that, unlike online slots, there are no reels to spin in online Scratch Cards, just designed areas to be scratched to reveal hidden symbols or numbers.
To summarise, the main difference in playing grids between online slot games and online Scratch Cards is that the former traditionally have a multi-reel set with multiple rows, columns, and symbols to spin. The latter typically have one or more panels to scratch off to reveal the symbols and determine the outcome.
Game Theme & Graphics
Both online slots and online Scratch Cards feature a wide range of themes, including history, mythology, fantasy, sports, casino, Celtic luck, fishing, pop culture, animals, seasons, holidays, nature, and many more. The main difference is that slot game themes are usually more elaborate and immersive, with the aim of captivating and creating an engaging player experience.
The key difference lies in the graphical capability of online slots and Scratch Cards. The latter is naturally more limited, having to stick closely to the format laid out by physical cards. Thus, Scratch Cards typically have more straightforward graphics and minimalist designs than online slots. That doesn’t mean they can’t have vibrant colours or appealing graphics; they’re more limited only because of the medium. Slot games can deploy visually rich, detailed, and elaborate graphics and animations to immerse players in a fully interactive experience.
To summarise, Scratch Cards and online slots use a variety of themes. However, whereas the former tend to conceptualise them through simpler graphics, the latter can deploy stunning visual presentations that bring them to life, making them more elaborate and immersive than what’s usually possible with Scratch Cards.
Special Bonus Features
Bonus features are elements within online slot games and online Scratch Cards that work as an enhancement and add-on to the main game mechanics once unlocked in the base game. Let’s look at some of the most popular bonus features for both, starting with online slots.
Slot Game Bonus Features
- Free Spins = probably the most popular and widely implemented bonus feature in online games. Usually triggered by landing a certain number of Scatter symbols on the reels. Players then get awarded a set number of Free Spins, i.e. spins that don’t require additional wagering on your part. Some slot games allow unlimited Free Spins (providing certain conditions are met), for example, landing additional Scatters during the feature. In other slots, the bonus feature ends after the last predetermined spin. Additionally, some slot games feature multiple Free Spins rounds. One such title is Microgaming’s classic Immortal Romance slot.
- Wild Symbol = one of the most common bonus symbols in online games, Wild symbols substitute for other symbols to help create winning combinations. Some slots have special types of Wild symbols, such as expanding Wilds that cover entire reels or sticky Wilds that remain locked in position for a determined number of spins. One of the most famous slots to use expanding Wilds is Blueprint Gaming’s Eye of Horus.
- Scatter symbol = another common bonus symbol in online slot games, Scatter symbols are usually involved in triggering bonus features such as Free Spins.
- Multipliers = these can increase winnings by a certain factor. For example, a 2x multiplier would double the payout, while a 3x multiplier would triple it, and so on. Some slots also come with a progressive multiplier, via which multipliers increase exponentially with each successive free spin or roll. For example, Triple Edge Studios’ Absolootly Mad Rolling Reels feature comes with a multiplier trail via which win multipliers increase with each successful roll.
- Cascading Reels/Avalanche = when a winning combination occurs, the winning symbols disappear or explode. New symbols then fall into place, potentially creating additional wins in a single spin. One such slot to make use of both features is Red Tiger’s Gonzo’s Quest Megaways, with the avalanche feature even coming with win multipliers.
- Pick Me Bonus = usually triggered by landing certain bonus symbols. Players get taken to a separate screen and presented with objects or symbols, each hiding a different prize, cash, multiplier, jackpot or Free Spins. Players make picks until they reveal a specific symbol that ends the round. One example of a slot with a Pick Me bonus is Pragmatic Play’s Mustang Gold. Here, players can pick horseshoe jackpot symbolism and picking and matching 3 of the same jackpot horseshoe symbols awards a jackpot.
- Respin = this mechanic allows players to respin one or more reels after a regular spin to potentially increase the chances of landing winning combinations. In Ruby Play’s Alice and the Mad Respin Party, for example, players need to land six clock symbols to trigger the respin bonus and get 3 respins, while clock symbols remain sticky on the reels for the duration of the round.
- Progressive Jackpots = Progressive jackpot slots are online games linked to progressive jackpot networks. A small portion of each wager contributes to the jackpot prize pool, which can run into the £1000s and beyond. The jackpot grows until a lucky player hits the winning combination and takes the accumulated prize. Red Tiger is the undisputed king of progressive jackpot slots, with such titles like Mystery Reels under its belt.
That’s a lot of potential bonus features to incorporate into online slot games!
Scratch Card Bonus Features
- Multipliers = like online slots, some Scratch Cards offer multipliers to increase potential winnings. In Microgaming’s Asian-themed Lucky Numbers, for example, potential winnings can be multiplied by various multipliers between 1x – 8888x (the number 8 is considered lucky in China).
- Bonus Side Bets = some Scratch Cards include bonus side bets that complement the main game. One such example is Evoplay’s Football Scratch. The base game action occurs on the 5×4 grid, where peeling off golden footballs can reveal hidden symbols. Players can also place a bonus side bet with the potential to pay out 777x the stake.
- Minigames = Scratch Cards may include one or more minigames. Light & Wonder’s Subbuteo, for example, has three. The first is a traditional scratch and match 3 symbols game. In the second, players attempt to beat an opponent’s football scores. Meanwhile, the third game again involves scratching some coating to reveal more matching symbols. Sabbuteo also has a penalty shootout bonus game, triggered by collecting Subbuteo players throughout playing the three main minigames.
- Free Games = the Scratch Card equivalent of Free Spins, these are usually obtained by scratching and revealing hidden symbols, such as in FlipLuck Games’ Kings of War Scratch Card, where revealing 3 Free Games symbols can award 5, 8 or 10 free games that pay double the amount from the paytable.
- Paylines = believe it or not, Scratch Cards can also have paylines! Via this mechanic, matching symbols have to align vertically, diagonally or horizontally to count as a win. Such is the case with Playtech’s Halloween Fortune Scratch.
- Progressive Jackpots = like online slots, it’s possible to link Scratch Cards to progressive jackpot networks (where a small portion of each wager contributes to a growing jackpot). Revealing a specific combination of symbols or entering a bonus round can lead to winning the jackpot. Blueprint Gaming’s King Kong Cash Scratch, for example, is linked to the Jackpot King network; the current jackpot prize amount gets shown at the top of the card, and prizes of £1m+ are possible, making this a potentially lucrative Scratch Card. Entering the Barrel Bonus round (itself the last of three minigames) is necessary to have a chance of winning the jackpot.
- Bonus symbol = believe it or not, some online Scratch Cards include bonus symbols that can unlock Free Games or Scratch Cards. For example, in Dragon Gaming’s Play with Cleo, revealing 3 pyramid bonus symbols awards 10 free Scratch Cards with prize amounts multiplied by a random 2x – 10x multiplier.
Scratch Cards have come a long way since the 1970s, incorporating many bonus features one would normally associate with online slot games!
Online Scratch Cards at Lottomart
Several of the above features are incorporated into the bespoke Scratch Cards we offer at Lottomart. Cleoscratcha, for example, includes two mini games. The first involves scratching the coating on the horizontal line of sun symbols on top of the play grid. The second is scratching off the virtual coating on the play grid to reveal symbols, with 2x, 5x or 10x multipliers applied to any winnings.
Alpine Escape similarly has two minigames. In the first, players peel off the area above the main 3×3 grid to hopefully uncover a snowflake symbol underneath. In the second, players scratch off the coating on the main play grid to hopefully reveal 3 matching symbols to win a prize.
Online Slot Games at Lottomart
One or more of the bonus features listed above are found in many of the online slot games we feature here at Lottomart. Some, like Inspired Gaming’s popular Centurion Megaways, have many: Scatters, Wilds, cascading reels, multipliers, mystery symbols, retriggers, bonus wheel, two Free Spin bonus rounds, modifiers – the list goes on!
NetEnt’s Finn and the Swirly Spin is another title with several bonus features. For starters, the slot showcases four different random features. Not only that, but NetEnt has also seen fit to layer four different Free Spins bonus rounds.
If you enjoy playing these two slots, we now offer over 1,500+ titles on the Lottomart site, including bona fide classics like Big Bass Bonanza, Rainbow Riches, Starburst and Gates of Olympus.