Today, you can enjoy the entire casino experience online: slots, poker, roulette, blackjack, and sports betting. Although all of these elements of the casino have come a long way over the last century or so, this post is going to focus specifically on how slots have evolved over time, from its origins to online gaming.
The Early Years
The first slot-like machine was developed in 1891 in Brooklyn, New York by Sittman and Pitt. This machine was based on poker and had five drums with 50 card faces. The game was similar to slot machines in that you pulled a lever to rotate the drums and card faces, hoping for a lucky combination. But because of the nature of poker — and the possible number of winning hands — this made the machine too complex.
A few years later, a much simpler slot machine — with automatic payout — was produced by Charles Fey. His machine, called the Liberty Bell, had three drums with five images. The images included liberty bells, horseshoes, diamonds, hearts, and spades. This machine was so popular that it inspired a host of copycat designs to be manufactured, like the Operator Bell slot machine. By the early 1900s, these types of slots were popular in saloons, drug stores, bowling alleys, and beyond.
In 1963 the first electromechanical slot machine was created by Bally Manufacturing. The machine was called “Money Honey” and it had an automatic payout mechanism up to 500 coins. It became hugely popular, and it helped to put electronic games on the map. So you could say that it helped to kickstart both the casino gaming and video game industries.
Slot Machines in Casinos
In 1976, the first video slot machine — which had a state-of-the-art 19-inch display — was produced in California. It debuted at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel, where it was a huge hit. It shortly gained the approval of the Nevada State Gaming Commission and made its way to casinos all along the Strip.
Two decades later, in 1996, the first “second screen” slot machine was developed in the U.S. The machine was named so because of its addition of a “second” screen, which offered another game that could be played for additional payout.
Today’s slot machines in casinos are similar to these models, but much improved since the technology behind them has improved. They’re also regularly updated to include new themed machines for guests to play. For example, modern machines might feature the latest popular TV show or movie to entice casino guests.
As the internet started to increase in popularity in the ‘90s, so did online gaming. Now, slots can be played all over the world, at any time of day, from any type of device. This is one of the main reasons slots have seen so much success online is because gamers can play them on their terms — whenever they want to, wherever they want to. From the comfort of their home they can awaken ancient mysteries in the Book of Ra, light up the dance floor in Disco Divas, or battle for the throne in TV-themed slots like Game of Thrones.
But the sheer number of slots that are available online is also a huge draw for gamers, as demonstrated above. There are fandom-specific slots, seasonal slots, longtime classics, and new and exclusive site offerings being thought up all the time. So, unlike brick-and-mortar casinos, which can’t update its machines as frequently, you never quite know what you’re going to get with online casinos. Your new favorite game could be just a click away, and that makes gaming that much more exciting.
There’s no denying that slots are hugely popular worldwide, and they’re often considered to be the most popular casino game, whether online or offline. And when it’s time for them to once again adapt to changing times or new technology, you can count on them to do so — they’re not going anywhere.