The motto for most gamblers who go to casinos is rather simple – go big or go home. Although poker is a game of skill, people opt for Slot Machines which is entirely based on a game of chance. Slot machines are one of the most popular casino games ever made. Whether online, or land-based, there are literally thousands to choose from. Known in Britain as the ‘Fruit Machine’ or the ‘Slots’ in Canada, this gambling machine has gained popularity since the 19th Century across the globe.
Slot Machine devices are operated by dropping coins into a slot and pulling a handle or pushing a button to activate the reels allotted in the gambling device into horizontal segments with various symbols. Depending on how the symbols line up when the rotating reels come to a rest, the machine pays off by dropping two to all the coins in the machine.
Symbols traditionally used include stars, card suits, bars, numbers in which Seven was a favourite. Machines later pictured various fruits such as cherries, plums, oranges, lemons, and watermelons and in the latest electronic machines, it features the words ‘Jackpot’ and ‘Bar.’
The first coin based gambling machine can be traced back to the 19th Century. The first slot machine was developed by Sittman and Pitt in 1891. The game consisted of 5 drums with a total of 50 playing cards. The machine could be found in many bars and would cost a nickel to play the game. Although the machine had no payout mechanism, wins were paid at the bar such as free drinks or cigars. Charles Augustus Fey is often named as the inventor of the first slot machine. It is believed that the first machine was created somewhere between 1887 – 1895. Fey created a machine that allowed automatic payouts and he also replaced the playing cards with just 5 symbols – hearts, diamonds, spades, horseshoes and a liberty bell. The highest payout was awarded for three bell symbols, and as such, the machine was named the Liberty Bell. The machine gained huge popularity but Fey did not apply for a patent for his design, it was copied by many other slot machine manufacturers.
The era of the fruit machine began in 1902, despite the ban on slot machines. The Liberty Bell continued to be manufactured even though cash prizes could not be distributed. The machines used fruit symbols and paid prizes in sweets and chewing gums in different flavors. Slot machine called Operator Bell was introduced in 1907 by manufacturer Herbert Mills. The BAR symbol was introduced to slot machines in 1908 and was based on the logo of the Bell Fruit company. Mills Company also invented the ‘jackpot’ in 1916, whereby certain combinations of symbols on the reels regurgitated all the coins in the machine.
The first popular electronic gambling machine was the 1934 animated horse race machine called ‘Paces Races’. The game was hugely popular, and led to the increasing dominance of electromechanical slots and the familiar mechanical lever was removed from new electric slots. In 1964, the first electronic gambling machine was built by Nevada Electronic called the ‘21’ machine. Other electronic versions of gambling games followed including ones for roulette, dice, horse racing, and poker. In 1975, the first electronic slot machine was built by the Fortune Coin Company which was approved by the Nevada State Gaming Commission after gaining popularity on the Las Vegas Strip.
The next milestone in the history of slots came in 1996, with the release of ‘Reel Em’ by WMS Industries Inc. This was the first video slot to feature a second screen bonus round where the bonus round triggers a completely different screen where additional payouts can be won. During this time, slot machines became increasingly popular at casinos and were responsible for around 70 percent of a casino’s income which also took 70 percent of the available floor space.
The rise of the internet in the mid 90’s encouraged the development of the first online casinos. At the start, only the classic casino games, such as roulette and blackjack were available and later, slots were added too. Slots became one of the most popular casino games with a variety of versions to be played. Since the initial versions, slots have evolved with the latest features based on different themes. Manufacturers even today are continuously upgrading and innovating the latest systems and securities for people to play a game of chance.
The great success of the slots is based on the desire of the player to gain a lot by betting very little. The gambling device has gained much success from the action of pulling the handle or pressing a button, the sound of the reels falling into desired lines and the sound of the coins rushing out of the machines are all essential parts of the attraction. If you are an avid gambler and love casinos, you can play on online casino sites such as Genesis, LeoVegas and Royal Panda.
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