Slot Tutorials

Slot Vocabulary: Stepper Slot Machine

Reel 'em In Catch the Big One 2 by WMS
Written by Joshua

Sometimes you may be reading about slot machines and see reference to a stepper. A stepper machine is another name for mechanical reel slots.

Steppers are commonly three-reel mechanical slot machines, so the traditional image of one is that three-reel mechanical slot. However, five-reel steppers also exist, and some major manufacturers

The name stepper is because of the stepper motors that spin the reels, through various steps on the reels (also known as reel stops), using sensors to know where on the reels they are, and reel strips to illustrate for the player where they are in turn.

Steppers were the workhorse of the casino industry for many years, until video slot machines became more popular, and slowly took things over. But you’ll still find many classic stepper slots on many casino floors, with some machines surpassing two decades on the casino floor at this point.

One thing that makes steppers what they are is the fact that the way the games are designed, with weighted reel stops and blanks, that you many times will see near miss scenarios that give the impression that you almost hit something, at a higher rate than the actual hits, which is in some ways by design because some reel stops will be used more than others to achieve the game’s expected payback over time.

While steppers as a whole take up less of the casino floor than they used to, they’re not necessarily a dying breed, as there are modern steppers hitting casino floors with games such as Dancing Drums Reels and Quick Hit 5-reel games newly hitting the floor, ensuring the next generation of slots will have its representation of stepper slots.

About the author


My name is Joshua, and I’m a slot enthusiast who works in tech as a marketer by day, and dabbles in casinos periodically during off-times. Know Your Slots will reflect my interests in understanding the various ways you can play slots, travel, casino promotions and how you can get the most out of your casino visits.

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