What Are Sticky Wilds?

Article by Andy Potts
Stiky wilds
Last Updated: Apr 2nd, 2024 Share On Your Network:

Wild symbols are a core feature of most of today’s popular pokies that have evolved significantly over the years. Today, wilds come in all sorts of configurations and functions designed to influence both the base and bonus rounds. 

Sticky wilds, also known as frozen wilds or locked wilds, are among the most effective at dramatically increasing win potential wherever they appear. As the name suggests, these wilds don’t move once they appear on the reels but stick around to ensure even bigger, faster and more lucrative winning combinations. 

Slots with sticky wilds often give players a better chance of hitting vital bonus rounds such as free spins or cash jackpots. In this quick guide to sticky wilds, we’ll explore exactly how they work and how you can find great sticky wild slots at our top recommended online casinos today. 

What Are Wilds in Pokies?

Wild symbols work similarly to how the joker works in a deck of playing cards. The wild symbol can substitute almost all other symbols to make winning combinations faster and easier. Usually, the only exception to this rule is the game’s scatter symbol, which can’t be substituted.

When top software providers like Microgaming, NetEnt and Playtech introduced wilds to their slot games, it revolutionised how players could rack up wins far more effectively. Suddenly, making those desirable winning combinations became nearly effortless as players could see multiple wins adding up with each spin as wilds appeared across the reels. 

Software providers saw how popular their slots with wilds became and began to work on wild symbol innovations. Sticky wilds are among the most revolutionary wild symbol variations appearing on popular pokies. Online casinos started stocking more and more titles that featured sticky wilds. 

Sticky wilds take the basic function of a wild symbol and add a new dimension to it. By making them sticky, players can enjoy far greater consistency of wins per spin because, unlike standard wilds, the sticky wilds don’t disappear at the commencement of a new spin. Instead, they stay in place, making it much easier for other symbols to fall in next to them and instantly creating bigger wins, even multiple wins per spin.

Some of the most popular slots with sticky wilds played today include Starburst, Narcos, Sticky Bandits and many others.

How Do Sticky Wilds Work?

Sticky wilds work by staying on the reels while the player initiates the next spin. When playing slots with sticky wilds, you’ll notice other symbols either fall away or spin away, depending on the game’s design. However, sticky wilds will stay exactly where they first landed, and other game symbols will fill the open spaces.

Exactly when sticky wilds appear in online pokies is really up to the game designer. Some online slots feature sticky wilds during the game’s bonus or free spins round. In this case, sticky wilds can work tremendously by substantially increasing free spins during the bonus round, thereby exponentially increasing the win potential. 

Some slots with sticky wilds will have the added benefit of featuring sticky wilds that appear in the base game. In this case, the sticky wilds can help the player get to the bonus rounds a lot quicker, and the sticky wilds may even carry over again to the bonus round. 

Sticky wilds are not just a one-trick pony, and many of today’s best online slots come with exciting variations:


  • Expanding sticky wilds: This type of sticky wild is designed to stay in place and, at the same time, expand to cover an entire reel, making the whole reel wild.
  • Multiplier sticky wilds: An expanding wild with a multiplier component designed to increase your wins by multiplying the total by a preset value.
  • Random sticky wilds: Sticky wilds that appear randomly on the reels at random times. 
  • Walking sticky wilds: This type of sticky wild stays on the screen and will shift horizontally or ‘walk’ across the reels, moving across each reel one spin at a time.

Best Pokies with Sticky Wilds

Let’s take a closer look at some of the best sticky wild slot machines you can play right now at our recommended new online casinos, our best Bitcoin casinos, and mobile casinos

All of the slots with sticky wilds reviewed here contain a variety of sticky wild functions along with fantastic animations and graphics, great bonus rounds and much more. 

Highlight some of the best and most popular online pokies with Sticky Wilds, such as Narcos, Starburst, and others. Discuss their unique features, gameplay, bonuses, etc.



The Netflix real-life crime thriller based on the life of cartel boss Pablo Escobar was a worldwide smash hit a few years ago. Hot on the heels of the show's success, NetEnt released Narcos, which contained many artistic elements, imagery, and storylines from the original show.

Narcos features 243 ways to win (betways) over five reels and a return to player (RTP) of around 96.23%. The game is packed with superb graphics and sounds to create an immersive experience true to the original story. Walking sticky wilds (the police badge) help to make plenty of winning combinations during the game's free spins bonus feature.


Sticky Bandits: Wild Return

Sticky Bandits: Wild Return is a Wild West-themed pokie from Quickspin and features 40 paylines over five reels with an average RTP of 96.28%. Sticky Bandits: Wild Return has a low to medium volatility, giving you plenty of wins during the base game and no less than two bonus rounds - the Quick Slots bonus and the Lucky Shot bonus round.

Sticky Bandits: Wild Return is quite unique and replaces the standard 5x3 reel layout with a 5x4 layout and further enhances this with massive Bandit Symbols. These vast symbols can also turn into sticky wilds, greatly increasing wins during the bonus rounds.



Released in 2012, Starburst became one of NetEnt’s biggest online pokies and has achieved cult status over the last decade of its existence. Starburst is a visual feast and is the ideal pokie for anyone looking for that perfect combination of glitzy style and smooth and easy gameplay.

Starburst features an RTP of 96.09%, along with symbols that pay both ways, which allows wins to come from right to left or left to right on any spin. Starburst does not feature any bonus rounds or free spins, but it does contain the Starburst Wild, which appears on reels 2, 3 or 4. The Starburst Wild is an expanding sticky wild that will turn the entire reel wild, which can trigger respins and increase wins substantially.


Book of the Dead

Inspired by blockbuster movies like Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider, Book of the Dead from Play ‘n GO is a visual feast of archeological adventure and high jinks. Released in 2016, the game RTP is around 96.21% and has an interesting Gamble feature and a free spins bonus round.

The Gamble feature in Book of the Dead appears after every win and allows you to potentially increase your winning total by guessing the colour or suit of a playing card.

However, the gamble feature is a high-risk option and could see you quadruple your winnings or lose all of it, even your base winnings. The free spins bonus is triggered when three or more book symbols land on the reels. Ten free spins are awarded, and a random symbol is selected to become the bonus rounds expanding sticky wild.

Wrapping Up - Why Play Sticky Wilds Pokies?

Slots with sticky wilds offer tremendous opportunities to stack up wins very quickly and, quite often, very easily. This is especially true when multiple sticky wilds appear on the reels during a bonus game. All of those positions remain occupied, often for the entire duration of the bonus round. 

Another way to think of sticky wilds is like adding a supercharger to your winning potential during bonus rounds. This can get even crazier if you have expanding sticky wilds covering an entire reel.

The visual aspect of an entire reel becoming a sticky wild is thrilling, let alone the sight of skyrocketing winning totals. Be sure to read our in-depth reviews to find the best stick wilds casino for exhilarating play on desktop or mobile. 

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