Slot Facts

Slot machines have come a long way! In the last century, slots have evolved from mechanical machines into the online video slots we love today. And that isn’t all. The public perception of slots has also radically changed. The first slot machines weren’t considered on a par with blackjack, roulette, and other forms of gambling. Nobody could have known that it would be slot machines that would become the foundation of the massive casinos of Las Vegas.

Mechanical Slot Machines

Before the first slot machine, there were coin-operated “trade simulators”. While there were prizes, they weren’t given automatically. You would have to go to the counter! Popular prizes of the time included a drink or a cigar.

The first slot machine capable of making an automatic coin payout is thought to be the Liberty Bell, created by Charles Fey in the late 1800s. It had three reels, each with just ten symbols. This meant that the jackpot for having three bells appear was a lowly ten nickels! And if that wasn’t bad enough, when you spinned the reels the machine would make an awful racket!

But despite these failings, and despite them even being banned in Fey’s home state of San Francisco, the Liberty Bell was such a success that he couldn’t meet the demand for them. It gave rise to a whole industry creating mechanical slot machines, and soon most bars and shops would have their own.

It was the large handle of these early machines that gave slot machines the “one-armed bandit” moniker.

In the 1930s, the American gangster Bugsy Siegal played an unlikely role in slot-machine history. His desire to become legitimate lead to his involvement in creating the Flamingo Hotel & Casino, on what is now the Las Vegas strip. While slot machines had already arrived, they weren’t considered “serious gambling”. Siegal introduced slot machines into the Flamingo to occupy the wives and girlfriends of his richer customers, but it soon became apparent that slots were a big hit.

Electronic Slot Machines

It wouldn’t be until the 1960s that electronic slot machines started to appear. It was probably the most important development in the history of slot machines. They allowed the use of random number generators to select the spin results, rather than the mechanical turning of the reels.

One problem with the older mechanical mechines was that they were physically limited by the number of stops they could have per reel. This would mean that a machine with three reels, each with 20 stops, would hit the jackpot roughly once every 8000 spins. That was too often to have a big jackpot. Even if the operator made the machine to break even, at 5 cents per spin the jackpot would still only be $400. And that’s with the jackpot being the only possible prize! Putting weights on the reels enabled them to increase the jackpot a little, but it still wasn’t close to the jackpots you see in casinos today.

Another problem with the mechanical mechines was it was possible to cheat. With some slots, it was simply a case of using a stick to stop the reel at the symbol you wanted.

By having the spin determined by a computer, they could create imaginary reels with 1000’s of stops, and make it far harder for people to cheat. They also allowed progressive jackpots (jackpots that increase as people play). The physical reels became purely for show.

Video Slot Machines

In the 1970s, the first video slot machines appeared. While at first people didn’t trust them due to the lack of physical reels, the public perception of them quickly improved. Video slots allowed more reels, more symbols, multiple winning lines, an easily adjustable stake, bonus rounds, and astronomical jackpots.

From video slot machines, it was a simple jump into online casinos, and the online video slots this website is based on! Video slots are continuing to develop, becoming more sophisticated and engrossing than ever before. Be sure to check out our reviews to discover the latest and greatest online video slots!