Pokies, fruities, one-armed bandits – they are all terms which describe one of the most popular casino games of all time. We’re talking about slots, whose popularity hasn’t dwindled since their arrival on the gambling scene over a century ago.

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For the design of the first slot machine we have to go back to the year 1891. Sittman and Pitt make a machine with 5 reels in New York. Each reel contains 50 different poker cards as pictures. The machine is immediately popular and every bar in New York wants to have this machine.

It doesn’t take long for people all over New York to play. For a nickel, players can pull the lever with the hope of a winning combination. Players who manage to do so receive a free beer or similar reward.

Sittman a Pitt’s machine may be primitive but is very popular. It doesn’t take long before the first real slot machine is there: The Liberty Bell.

The Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell

The Revolutionary Liberty Bell

In 1895, Charles Fey invents a simpler casino game based on Sittman and Pit’s slot. It has 3 spinning reels and 5 symbols including diamonds which are still in use today.

The slot also has the Liberty Bell as one of its symbols. With a maximum prize of 10 nickels, the Liberty Bell is a huge success. Following The Liberty Bell, Herbert Mills makes a new machine in 1907. He calls it Operator Bell. It is an improved version of The Liberty Bell. In no time this slot machine will be in every bar, brothel, and barbershop in New York.

The Operator Bell gives fruit-flavored chewing gums as rewards and had fruits on the reels. These symbols still appear on modern slots. The payment in gum and food prizes is to avoid gambling laws in most American states and it works flawlessly. The Operator Bell is popular for decades until Bally developes a fully automated machine in 1963: Money Honey. When you look back in time, this is the first modern slot machine.

The Booming Popularity

Thirteen years after Money Honey, Fortune Coin Co. develops the world’s first slot machine. The first few units are placed in the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas. IGT buys the rights to the company’s technology in 1978. The rest is history.

Slot machine
A spinning slot machine

After the huge success of Money Honey and Fortune Coin’s slot machine, casinos were soon flooded by different kinds of machines. Players were at the machines 24/7 and casinos were drowning in money. Sure, many players win big sums, but as the old adage says, the casino always wins in the end.

The First Video Slot

The next major landmark in history is in 1996 when WMS Industries releases the first video slot. This machine has a bonus round. Called Reel ‘Em, the slot was an instant hit and set the stage for future versions that dominate the gambling industry even today.

Reel ‘Em has a second screen for the bonus round which featured additional payouts. This makes all the machines even more popular in casinos. These days the machines bring in more than 70% of the casino’s profits.

The Birth of Online Slots

The next logical step in the history of online slots was for them to enter the world of online gambling. At the end of the 90s when online casinos were already growing at an astounding rate, the need for more and games led developers to produce new exciting video slots, this time based on different themes.

In the beginning, the visual style of the games resembled classic slots which was understandable – the industry was still learning and wanted players to be in a familiar setting. However, the IT industry started making huge leaps forward in terms of gameplay and design, opening the door to a variety of innovations when it comes to online slots.

As IT technologies evolved, so did the machines. New features were being added, the graphics were much improved, and there were new added to the library of all online casinos every day.

The incredible growth of online machines meant that they would soon take over the industry, and it didn’t take long. Online slots are getting better day-by-day and there are thousands of great players can enjoy in online casinos right now. Whether you’re a fan of a specific theme or just like spinning those classic one-armed bandits, there are plenty of options to pick from, some more profitable than others.

You can Play online
You Can Play Online

Progressive slots are in a league on their own. This term describes machines that offer progressive jackpots that pay out huge sums of money. Progressive jackpots mean that the jackpot is forever growing until someone lucky enough wins it all, and some have already won millions on machines such as Mega Moolah and Mega Fortune created by industry giants Microgaming and NetEnt.

Progressives give you a chance to earn head-spinning sums with a tiny bet, which is why they’re so popular in casinos.

Slots FAQ

Online slots have a random number generator, or RNG, to ensure randomness. Gaming regulatory bodies inspect the machines on a regular basis.

RTP stands for Return To Player. Percentage return to player (% RTP) is the expected percentage of wagers that a specific game will return to the player in the long run.

A progressive jackpot is a jackpot (a gambling grand prize or payout) which increases each time the game is played but the jackpot is not won. Machines that are connected to this jackpot give players a chance to win this jackpot.

The word “volatility” in gambling refers to how much you win and how often you win during a given gambling session. “Low Volatility” means small prizes relatively-frequently. “High Volitality” means rare but large jackpots and payouts.

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Where Do Slots Go From Here?

It’s difficult to tell which way it will go in considering the always evolving nature of the IT industry. Right now, 3D slots are all the rage and there’s no doubt it’s because of their stunning graphics and gameplay. Progressive Jackpots might not evolve that much, but they do offer riches you can only dream of.

Who knows – with VR technology making strides in the past decade, maybe it won’t be long before we see the first VR slot, which we hope comes as soon as possible.

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