Cascading Reels, Rolling Reels, Avalanche – Is There a Difference?

Slots are the most popular category of games in any online casino in the world. This is because online slots come in various themes, payouts, graphics, and features. If you are a slot lover, then you have surely come across terms like “avalanche”, “cascading reels”, “rolling reels”, as well as “tumbling reels”.

Different game providers use all these terms, and you might be confused when you see them in slots you like. If you move between slots all the time, you may get a bit frustrated at finding the difference between these terms.

You might answer the question of whether there is any difference at all with these features? Let's break down the answer to that question and see whether all these features have any difference or are they just different terms for the same feature.

How Do These Features Work Exactly?

Traditional online slots in any online casino allow you to form winning combinations with each spin. The aim is to land matching symbols to secure a win. But slot machines that have the above-mentioned features work in a different way.

They are so popular and used by providers as they bring more chances for players to secure winning combinations in each round. Payouts keep appearing as long as the player forms winning combos.

So, the main points for all these features are the following:

  • You need to spin the reels and secure payouts
  • Symbols that are part of winning combinations will vanish and leave empty positions
  • New symbols will take their place
  • The game will continue, and you can secure big wins
  • This process goes on as long as you form winning combinations

Features Work

So, Are They the Same?

You might already guess the answer to the question asked above. Each term describes the same mechanism. Symbols that are part of winning combinations will vanish from the reels, and new ones will take their place.

As the process goes on, as long as you secure wins, the feature is trendy among players. Even better, you don’t need to wager and risk any more of your money to secure extra winning combinations.

You just make a single bet and the game goes on with that wager. It will only stop when there are no additional wins left.

Therefore, it is time to give a direct answer to the question – developers may use different terms for one feature. There is really no difference between cascading reels, rolling reels, and the avalanche feature.

How Did It All Start

How Did It All Start?

Slots with the avalanche feature were the first ones to be introduced to the online gambling world. Before the introduction of these features, slots only gave players one chance at winning before a new round began.

NetEnt is credited with introducing the avalanche mechanism, which is a perfect description of what happens when the feature is in motion. When winning icons disappear from the screen, they leave empty positions, and more symbols will fill those holes.

You can see how this mechanism can become a spectacle when several winning combinations are formed. The result looks exactly like an avalanche of new icons falling onto the reels.

New Terms Were Later Introduced

Top-class software developers don’t rest on their laurels. They have all noticed how popular NetEnt’s avalanche feature is, so they have made sure to introduce this feature as well, but with different names. They didn’t want to copy the competition’s work and just give the same name, and it is understandable.

So, shortly after we witnessed new terms being introduced to describe the same mechanism. You can find various terms, depending on the provider:

  • Rolling Reels – Microgaming is credited with this term. Jungle Jim: El Dorado is the game that introduced the rolling reels mechanism
  • Cascading Reels – It is not yet known exactly which provider came up with this phrase, but it is one of the most popular ways to describe the avalanche feature
  • Tumbling Reels – IGT introduced this term and uses it for all slots in its offer

Moreover, each game provider can add some modifiers to the avalanche feature. As an example, Microgaming has interesting win multipliers in addition to its rolling reels mechanism.

New Terms

Why Are These Mechanisms So Popular?

Nowadays, all these mechanisms are very common in any game developer’s offer. There are tons of benefits that come with them. Let’s see some of the reasons why these features are so popular.

  • More Action with the Cascading Reels

    There Is More Action with the Cascading Reels

    As mentioned above, before the introduction of the avalanche mechanism, players could only enjoy simple slots. Understandably, punters were not satisfied with it, so the demand for more excitement was met by software providers.

    More action and entertainment followed with NetEnt’s release of the avalanche mechanism. Apart from that, slots became more visually rich, and the entire industry exploded in popularity.

    Cascading reels became so popular as it gives way more action for players. Symbols explode, and new ones take their place so that you can secure countless wins with just one single bet.

  • Win Big Prizes

    You Can Win Big Prizes

    The main attraction of the avalanche feature is that it allows plenty of consecutive payouts, so the winning potential is enormous. If you are on a hot streak, you can secure some handsome prizes. Furthermore, some game providers spice things up with win multipliers which increase as you secure more wins.

    Win multipliers will reset after each round, but sometimes, bonuses in certain games will allow you to have the same multiplier in each round.

  • Fell in Love with the Avalanche Feature

    Players Just Fell in Love with the Avalanche Feature

    It is very simple, players instantly fell in love with this feature and that is why we see it being so popular many years after its introduction. All reputable game developers insert this mechanism in their games. Basic slots give you just one chance to win, so they are not that appealing to players anymore.


Even though you might be confused when you see all these names thrown out by game providers, we are here to tell you that they all describe the same mechanism. Game providers just use different terms to avoid copying each other.

The mechanism is not complicated at all, so all you need to do is try it and you will instantly fall in love with it. You are spoilt with choice when it comes to online slots and different features these days, and it is only good news for you.

Top rated casinos

Kevin Cochran
Kevin, a seasoned marketing manager with a 20-year tenure in gambling marketing, where his expertise lies in slot reviews and trend analysis, providing invaluable insights to players and casino operators.
Slot reviewer
Université de Montréal
Université de Montréal degree, Behavioral Economics knowledge, 20-year career in gambling marketing, personally developed Random Number Generation Theory.
Expert in:
  • Slot Reviews
  • Content Marketing
  • Trend Analysis
Reviewed by Head of Content:
Dmitry Rogalchuk
Last updated on: 01.02.2024

Related articles

Please turn your device for the best gameplay
By using this website, you agree with our use of cookies to improve its performance and enhance your user experience. More info on our cookies policy page.