Expanding Wilds Expained: What It Is and How it Works

Expanding Wilds Expained: What It Is and How it Works
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Are you looking to find out more about expanding wild symbols in online pokies? You’ve come to the right place!

Our experts have spent countless thrilling hours immersed in the world of online pokies. So we know everything there is to know about all the different types of features in online pokies, including expanding wilds. These symbols amplify the fun factor and give you the power to spin a winning combination!

We’ll guide you through what they are and how they work and give you a list of our favourite pokies games that offer this fun feature.

Let’s get started.

What are Expanding Wilds?

An expanding wild is a bonus feature you can find in some of the best Australian pokies online. It’s kind of like getting the Joker card in a game of cards, where you can substitute it for any other card to create your winning combo.

It works similar to a normal wild. So you can substitute it for every other symbol (except for a wild). But the beauty of an expanding wild is it causes the wild to expand.

Depending on the pokie you’re playing, this means it can cover the symbols of an entire row or an entire reel, leading to big-win combinations. It could also expand in a set pattern specific to your game.

Expanding wilds can work slightly differently depending on which pokie you’re playing. But once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy to get your head around and work out when to get excited!

How Do Expanding Wild Symbols Work?

Expanding wild symbols can appear anywhere on the reels. They’re completely random, and there’s no way to control or pick where you think they’re going to land.

In some pokies games, wilds are only available on specific reels. For example, reels 2, 3 or 4 when you’re playing a 5-reel slot game.

When an expanding wild is triggered and the symbol expands, each winning combination it makes is added to your bankroll. If the wilds happen to create multiple winning combinations, you could be in for some serious cash!

You usually need to land on a highlighted part of the reel to activate an expanding wild symbol.

Top 5 Pokies With Expanding Wilds

Expanding wilds feature in a huge number of video pokies. But unfortunately, not all these games offering them are as good as the wilds on offer.

So, to help you avoid shoddy pokies, we’ve listed some of our favourite pokies below. All feature an expanding wild feature, and you can play them at various online casinos Australia has available.

Iron Bank

Released by Relax Gaming in 2020, Iron Bank is one of the developer’s most exciting games, with excellent mechanics and top-notch graphics.

It follows the theme of a Cuban bank job, where you can spin the wheels to access different heist options with varying levels of volatility.

Iron Bank is played across a 6×4 play area, offering 24 different symbols, 4,096 different pay lines and a maximum win of a huge 49998.9x the original bet.

If an expanding wild lands on the marked reels 3 and 4, they expand to fill the reel. You’ll be awarded a re-spin where you can win more coins. And for any wins where you gain, the multiplier is increased by one on each of the expanded wilds.

The RTP value for the game is great, ranging between 96.2% and 97.0%, depending on the bonus games.

Iron Bank’s volatility is also impacted by the bonus choice - with expanding wilds offering the riskiest option.


The world of online pokies would look very different if it weren’t for Starburst, launched by NetEnt in 2012.

Still popular with pokie punters today, it boasts a nice, simple gem theme with a dark and spacey background that looks great no matter what device you’re playing from.

And even though it’s been around for a while now, it’s lasted the test of time and still feels modern and fresh.

The game has a traditional 5×3 play area with just 15 symbols and 10 pay lines (paying both ways). If you’re a fan of high-octane pokie games, you may be a little disappointed with the number of pay lines. But trust us, the bonus features make up for it.

The RTP is 96.01%, but it’s a low volatile slot. So it’s a perfect low-risk pokie that everyone can enjoy.

Starburst is still one of the most played online pokies games worldwide.


Released by Microgaming in 2015, Ariana is one of the lesser-known online pokies appealing to a niche player category.

The pokie is played underwater, so expect to see submerged treasure chests, starfish and Ariana the mermaid.

There’s a typical play area of 15 symbols in a 5-reel layout and a total of 25 different fixed pay lines. Bonuses are a little scarce. However, the expanding wild acts as a great main feature that keeps us coming back for more.

The RTP is just slightly lower than the industry average at 95.4%. It’s a medium volatility pokie, so if you’ve got some extra cash to splash, go visit Ariana to see for yourself what all the fuss is about!

While the mermaid theme isn’t unique, the expanding wilds in Ariana are well worth a visit.

Jack and the Beanstalk

NetEnt’s classic Jack and the Beanstalk is another pokie that’s been around for a while, but is still a fan fav.

It’s based on the timeless classic fairytale, Jack and the Beanstalk. Expect to see Jack, watering cans and an unimpressed goat, acting as symbols across the reels.

It’s played across a total of 15 symbols in a 5×3 construction. There are 20 paylines available. And a treasure collection to boost wilds, along with walking wilds. Plus, you can cash-in with multipliers offering 3x wins.

Although the maximum win isn’t as impressive as other pokie games at 1,500x your original wager, it’s still a solid pokie game worth a shot.

Jack and the Beanstalk is a high volatility slot with plenty of action.

Hot Shots 2

Hot Shots 2, from iSoftBet, comes off the back of the incredibly popular Hot Shots slot.

The game is played over a traditional 5×3 area with 243 different ways to win.

There’s a series of great features, including expanding wilds. This all works together to create a maximum win of 12,150x your original wager – a pretty decent offer!

The RTP value sits bang on the industry average that we’d expect for a soccer/dog-themed slot with a rating of 96%.

Volatility in Hot Shots 2 is rated high, favouring players with a larger bankroll that like a riskier pokie.

Types of Expanding Wilds

Expanding wilds usually come in a few different forms, with some offering higher pay outs than others.

Here are some of the most common types we’ve come across while playing pokies online.

Multiplier Expanding Wilds

These wilds expand and multiply your winning payouts, potentially giving you some big wins. Depending on the pokie you’re playing, the multiplier value can vary. The average payout is generally high.

Sticky Expanding Wilds

The wilds are ‘sticky’, which means they stay expanded and can trigger additional wins.
The amount of sticky wilds and their positions can vary. And the payout rate ranges between medium to high.

One Reel Expanding Wild

These wilds expand to cover the entire reel, boosting your chances of forming a winning combination. But it's important to note that the wild may not expand if it lands on a specific reel. Their payout rate is typically medium.

Mini Expanding Wild

With a mini wild, small wilds expand to cover adjacent reel positions. The number of mini wilds and their patterns for expanding can vary. And the payout rate is usually low to medium.

Random Expanding Wilds

Wilds randomly expand during the spin, adding an element of surprise and excitement.
The timing and positions of the expanding wilds are unpredictable. The payout average for these wilds is low to medium.

Transforming Expanding Wilds

These types of expanding wilds transform into other symbols. These transformed symbols can be limited to specific symbols. Payout rates for these wilds are typically medium.

Cluster Expanding Wilds

Wilds form clusters by expanding and connecting to other wilds, which can trigger more wins. Although clusters and their formations can vary, payout averages are high for these types of wilds.

Chain Reaction Expanding Wilds

These wilds trigger a chain reaction by expanding and causing nearby symbols to also expand. The chain reaction can stop after it reaches a certain number of steps. The payout average is high for these wilds.

Why Players Love Expanding Wilds

Plenty of Aussie punters enjoy playing pokies at online casinos that offer this type of wild symbol.

That’s because an entire reel of expanding wilds can boost your chances of securing a winning combination.

And a reel that’s full of wild symbols helps you match more pay lines, which could mean doubling, or even tripling your payout.


Expanding wilds are just one of many features in a pokie you can find when you visit an online casino in Australia.

While not every online pokies game will offer expanding wilds, there are plenty that do. You’ll find them in games from some of the world’s top software developers. So you can be guaranteed to find high-quality graphics, sound and a fun gaming experience.

Like all other symbols, expanding symbols aren’t guaranteed to give you a win. So make sure that you’re enjoying the thrill of the game rather than just chasing the cash. We recommend trying out a few games in demo mode before working out which one’s right for you.


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Ryan Anderson
Ryan Anderson
Pokies Expert
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Ryan is our resident pokies expert. Not only does he provide readers with the latest insights, innovations and technology news related to pokies, but he also knows all there is to know about pokies game developers.

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