How Casino Slots Were Invented
Whether we are talking about online gambling or gambling in real-world casinos, one thing is for sure and that is that slot machines are one of the most played games in the casino space. Slot machines actually provide a lower chance of winning some money compared to other casino games in the long run just because they come with a fixed house edge that makes sure that the house makes money.
However, slots are the most common choice for gamblers just because they are simple to play and do not require any skill or knowledge.
But how do slots manage to grow and dominate the casino industry even though they were released in casinos many years after other games like Poker or Blackjack?
Well, let’s look at the history of slot machines and find out when where they were invented and how they managed to become the most popular games in casinos, until they evolved into the online slots we can play anywhere nowadays.
The History of Slot machines
When we talk about the first slot machine ever created, there is some dispute about which one started the entire slot movement. However, one thing is for sure. The beginnings of slot machines date back to the late 1800s, and it all started when the card Machine was invented by Sittman and Pitt in 1891.
This was the first time a mechanical device is used as a game of chance that people can bet on. Unlike today’s slots, this was a rather simple machine that held 50 cards and dealt out one poker hand to the player. It was based on standard poker rules, and depending on the quality of the player’s hand, gamblers will win different amounts of money.
Even though this was the first mechanical slot machine ever created, it is very much different from the ones we can see today. First of all, the Card Machine didn’t have a built-in payout system, so the prizes varied from one place to another. In order to increase the house edge, two cards were intentionally left out of the deck in the machine. These cards were the 10 of Spades and Jack of Hearts.
This would be considered illegal now, but at that time Sittman and Pitt reduced the chance of getting straights and flushes by 50%.
Since we mentioned that there is a lot of debate about the first slot machine, many people believe that the Liberty Bell was the first ever slot machine created by Charles Augustus Fey. There is not an official date about when this machine was created, but according to some sources, the machine was created anywhere from 1887 to 1895.
This was the first machine that had automatic payouts and was similar to a slot machine that we know and love today. This is where the iconic slot symbols were born since Augustus Fey decided to include hearts, diamonds, spades, horseshoes, and liberty bell.
The highest payout was awarded for 3 bell symbols, which is why the machine was called the Liberty Bell. This machine started to gain a lot of popularity, and because Fey didn’t apply for a patent for his slot design it was copied by many other slot manufacturers.
At that time, in order for a slot machine to have automatic payouts, Fey decided to reduce the complexity of the slot machine and made it with 3 reels instead of using five drums like the poker machine.
Since then, almost all slot machines came with three reels.
The Ban of Slot Machines
Even though slot machines gained a lot of popularity over a couple of years, government officials decided to ban slot machines in 1902. This is an important time for slot machines just because slot machines continued to be manufactured but their design changed.
Instead of giving people prizes in money, manufacturers built the same principle of a slot machine but instead of money, these slot machines were handing out chewing gums and sweets as rewards.
This is where slot machines started to use fruit symbols that corresponded to the flavor of the chewing gum or sweet you are about to get. These machines were placed in tobacconists, bowling allies, saloons, and shops, and the BAR symbol we know nowadays is based on the logo of the Bell-Fruit company.
Electronic Slot Machines
60 years later, the government has softened its look on slot machines which brought the birth of electromechanical slot machines. The first machine of this kind was called Money Honey and operated entirely electronically.
This was the first machine that was introduced where players needed to pull a lever in order to make the reels move. This machine was so popular that it increase the dominance of electromechanical slots, which is why casinos jumped into the industry and decided to include them in their game selections. Since then, the slot machine continued to advance reaching the first video slot in 1978, which led to the birth of digital slots in late 1990s, which are the most popular at the moment.