When was the classic slot machine first invented? And how have slots evolved since that milestone day in casino history?
Online casinos first launched in New Jersey in 2013, introducing a whole new gambling method. Before that, players had to visit casinos in person. This was the case for nearly 100 years as the first casino opened in the United States in 1931.
Today, the word “casino” seems synonymous with “slot machines”. Nowadays, there are slot games covering just about everything. From Chinese-inspired slots to movie-themed slot machines.
But where did they come from? Why are slots so popular? And why do all casinos (online and retail) have gaming options that are centered around them?
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When Was the Slot Machine Invented?
Before slot machines, other gambling machines were found in early 1890s Brooklyn, New York. The machine, developed by Sittman and Pitt, had five drums and held 50 cards. It was based on poker. Players would spin the drums and hope to receive a hand that would be beneficial in poker. You can see the similarities to modern-day slots.
Around this time, the first legitimate slot machines would be developed.
The first slot machines were invented before the turn of the 20th century in San Francisco, sometime between 1887 and 1895. The man responsible, Charles Fey, called his first iteration “Liberty Bell”.
Liberty Bell was a three-reel slot with a single pay line and a fully automated payout system. The symbols on this slot were horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts, and a Liberty Bell. For this machine, the top payout was three bells in a row, which awarded you $0.50.
The Rise of Slot Machines…
The machine grew in popularity but was eventually banned in California. Fey’s invention drew attention from elsewhere, and other companies started to copy the design. Herbert Mills created a slot machine in 1907 and even called it Liberty Bell.
Today, you can find an 1899 Liberty Bell in the Nevada State Museum in the Fey Collection. Fast-forward to 1963, Bally advanced on the design, creating the first fully electro-mechanical machine known as Money Honey.
This was the first machine with a bottomless hopper and an auto payout of up to 500 coins.
When Was the First Video Slot Machine Made?
Then, in 1976, the first video slot was made in Kearny Mesa, California. Fortune Coin Co created it. The machine had a 19-inch Sony Trinitron color receiver and was first available to the public at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel.
The machine required some modifications to combat those trying to cheat it. Once those were ironed out, the Nevada State Gaming Commission approved them to be played along the Las Vegas Strip.
In 1978, IGT purchased Fortune Coin Co. and its video slot technology.
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Why Are Slots So Popular?
Whether it’s digital or land-based, why are slot machines so popular? Ever since the slot machine was invented, gamblers have loved them.
While anything can be new and exciting, why hasn’t the appeal of slots fallen off since getting created before 1900? It’s the 21st century, and these are still the most popular form of gaming at online casinos.
First and foremost, it’s accessibility. There’s no skill involved in slots – just put the money in, spin the lever, and hope to be lucky.
On top of this, with online casinos, they’re even easier to play now from the comfort of your own home. The games you’ll find at home or a retail casino are well over 90% slots.
For example, at Golden Nugget Casino in New Jersey, the online platform has 1255 total games. Of those, 1186 are slots.
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So, when you combine ease of access, a large number of offerings, and not requiring any skill to get into it, this creates a default game for anyone to play. Whether you often gamble or only when you travel to Las Vegas for a vacation.