The Evolution of Slot Machines


Evolution of Slot Machines

A slot machine is a casino gambling machine that is characterized by three or more reels, which rotate upon the pushing of a button. Initially, the term slot machine was used to refer to automatic vending machines. However, in the 20th century, the term started to apply mostly to gambling devices. The early machines ran on one lever on one side instead of a button hence the term one-armed bandits is sometimes used to refer to them.

1880's saw the emergence of the first coin-operated gambling machines in America. The devices attracted a lot of players and winners were given drinks, cigar, or trade checks. Machines that could pay off using coins hit the streets around 1888. The first machines had an internal balance scale where coins fell and sometimes made the balance scale to tip and fell out other coins.

Famous Inventors

The first gambling machine that represents the modern slot machines was developed by two American inventors namely Sittman and Pitt. The game was based on poker, and it became popular in many bars in New York at the time. Since the machines didn't pay out in coins, players could win free beer, cigars, and other presents depending on the offers available. The main reason this machine could not make automatic payout was that it had many possible winning combinations.

The first machine with an automatic payout mechanism was developed by Charles Fey from San Francisco. This machine was developed between 1887 and 1895 and was called Liberty Bell. The machines were in such a high demand that even when gambling was banned in San Francisco, Frey continued to produce them for other states. After a few years, the machine became very popular, and in 1907, a Chicago-based manufacturer, Herbert Mills, developed Operator Bell.

Challenges in the Early Years

At the beginning of the 20th century, slot machines became very popular. However, at the same time, they attracted a lot of criticism from the clergy and forces of morality, and soon they were banned in some cities such as Francisco in 1909. This forced the manufacturers to develop new models to circumvent the law. They successfully developed machines with no coin slots. Due to these difficulties, a majority of the companies dealing with the machines relocated to Chicago.

Even in the 1930's, slot machines were prevalent. However, soon it was discovered that organized criminal groups distributed most of these machines. As a result, strict laws that controlled their sale and distribution were passed. Shortly after the end of World War II, other countries came to know about the machines. The governments later discovered that they could be collecting taxes and legalized their use.

Towards the end of the 20th century, most of the gambling laws were relaxed, and this saw an increase in electronic gaming machines. Video poker games became popular. Casino revenues in America increased from 40 percent in 1970 to about 70 percent in 2010. Gambling has become an important source of government revenue.

Emergence of Online Gambling

At the beginning of the 21st century, there was a sudden rise and popularity of online casinos. This allowed customers to make online payments and play games using their computers irrespective of their location. The increased use of smartphones has allowed for the development of mobile-based games that would enable people to gamble even without visiting casinos physically. Android and Apple users can access various games using their devices by downloading and installing apps such as Caesars Slot Machines & Games app among others.

Regulation of Online Gambling

Online gambling comes with its risks such as allowing minors to participate in the game. As a result, various rules have been put in place to limit access to these online games by the underage. In many countries, online gambling is illegal. Some countries like the USA have passed laws that have banned banks and other financial institutions from transacting with gambling companies.

About the Author

The author has over two decade's experience playing and writing about gaming and gambling in general. He has visited various cities in America such as Las Vegas, New York, and Philadelphia just to have an opportunity to meet with gamblers from other towns. When not in the casinos, he spends his time with his son watching movies and playing computer games.