Slot machines are the first games you will see when you walk into a casino and hundreds are offered by every online casino since they generate the bulk of a casino’s revenue. Online casino slots have evolved from the first slot machines in the 1890s and with ongoing innovation and technological advances, video slots are encouraging young people to enjoy the fun. Here we look at how the slot machine story began and where it is now:
The first slot machines
The first slot machines were invented in the 1890s, building on the “nickel-in-the-slot machine” games from the 1880s. Even today, it is possible to see how online casino slots are related to these nickel-in-the-slot machines, often referred to at the time as slot machines, even though these games did not involve gambling. It is this technicality over gambling that makes some refute that these were the first slot machines.
The first game on a slot machine
The first gambling game on a slot machine was poker. In New York City, the Sittman and Pitt company created a machine in 1891 that used five drums with ten playing cards on each drum from a standard deck of cards minus the ten of spades and jack of hearts, increasing the house edge with fewer chances of getting a royal flush. Players would play by inserting a coin to roll the drums and pulling a lever to stop the roll, winning prizes from the bar owner, though not cash.
First automated payout machine by Charles Fey
For purists, the Liberty Bell slot machine invented by Charles Fey was the original slot machine since it was the first to have an automated cash payout system and used symbols including horseshoes and a bell.
Why fruit symbols?
The change to fruit symbols in online slots came about to make the games seem more innocent and fun at a time when there were concerns about the game’s association with alcohol, gambling and organised crime. Companies claimed their machines were simply chewing gum dispensers, adding pictures of fruit on the reels and dispensing chewing gum when certain symbols lined up, to get around anti-gambling laws. Fruit symbols have been in continuous use since then, even after cash payout machines began.
First electromechanical slot machine
The first electromechanical slot machine “Honey Money” was introduced in 1963. The reels used electricity to spin, started by a button instead of a mechanical lever. It also introduced the holding and nudging reels. Other significant differences were higher payouts and 3-coin and 5-coin multipliers similar to modern-day pay lines.
Video slot machines were launched in 1976, incorporating random number generators that slot machines and casino games use today. Computer software made the machines smaller and impossible for players to cheat which led to casinos fitting more individual machines on their gaming floor. By the 1990s the games became cashless, though coin-clinking sound effects have been added to most games.
Today, new features, improved graphics, and different game themes are being added to slots all the time. Progressive jackpots, multipliers and bonus credits, as well as bonus slot games, are all now available, with online casinos often offering better deals than land-based counterparts.