A Brief History of the Humble Slot Machine

Over the past few years, there has been significant growth in iGaming, which is an online offering that allows players to bring their favorite pastime onto their home computers and mobiles.

An interview featured on SBCAmericas stated that iGaming is a very important element for the industry in the future, and it couldn’t be further away from the origins of the slot machine. The original machine, produced in 1887, was developed in New York and had five drums containing 50 playing cards. It had the trademark lever to play, and winners would take home a prize if a poker hand was revealed on the win line. While physical devices have undergone a lot of change since the 19th century, the premise is the same, and the machines are proving to be as popular as they’ve ever been.

Let’s look at just how things have evolved over the years and where things could go in the future.


Entering the 20th century

From playing cards, the symbols changed to the suits of the playing cards themselves, and a bell was added and, players had to pull a lever and match three to win. But just ahead of World War I, the fruit machine was born, as cash slot machines were banned, so players were now matching fruit-based symbols, and prizes were paid out in sweets corresponding to the flavors on the reels.



Swinging Sixties

The first electromechanical slot was released in 1964; while the machine’s internals changed, the lever was still there to start the game, and the cash winnings were back with a bang too. It was the first machine with a bottomless hopper, which meant a 500-coin payout could be on offer to the jackpot winner. Such was the interest in this automated gaming tech that horseracing, roulette, and poker games were also developed.

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Video slots arrived

In 1976 the first video slot was developed; it used a TV made by electronic giants Sony to display the game and was available to play in the Las Vegas Hilton. While the advances were clear, it still used the fruity images of yesteryear, but here are where the origins of the current online slot machine offerings can be found. Companies began to develop differing games for the players, around themes that deviated from the accepted norms, which has continued today. The range of online slots from Gala Bingo reflects this trend; they have titles such as Rhino Blitz and Red Wizard, which deal with very distinct themes not found in what you might term traditional slots. The current games certainly have their roots in the mid-seventies, and even then they proved popular. These new advanced titles had players hooked, and it wasn’t long before the Nevada State Gaming Commission approved these games, and they were commonplace on the Las Vegas Strip.

Further development

The subsequent development came in the 90s as the machines got bigger, with a second screen being added into the cabinets. These second displays were programmed to be used when players triggered bonuses. They often revealed a completely new game; these offered additional payouts to those on the reels and soon became so popular in modern casinos that it’s said they were responsible for them over 70% of their income. Also, new themes arrived, with slots based on imagery from popular culture.

Modern gaming

With over 2000 games now available online and many of them being accessible on modern smartphones, the ease of accessibility has lowered the number of people accessing the casinos for slot play, with people choosing to play from home, but what’s next? Games on virtual reality headsets like those from Oculus are a real possibility for the slot machine, which would take the slot machine to a level of immersion never seen before.

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