A History of Slots and Where They’re Headed Next

It is thought that the origins of what we know today to be the slot machine started as a game of chance, found in New York bars towards the latter end of the 1800s, that was based around poker hands. Costing a nickel to have a go, players would have to try and make poker hands to beat the machine’s hand. However, there was never the rattle of winnings being dispensed because it was left to the barman or woman to dole them out, usually in the form of free drinks or snacks rather than cold hard cash.

Things have come a long way since those days, with fruit machine reels spinning everywhere from pubs to websites, and there being no sign of their popularity waning. Here’s a history of how the machines came to be what they are today and where they may be headed in the future.

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Where it all Began

The Liberty Bell was the pioneering machine from which all future slot machines would be based, taking the initial idea of Sittman and Pitt’s poker machine. The machine’s inventor was Charles Augustus Fey whose eureka moment came when he decided to allow his machine to dispense winnings directly to the player. This sent people wild for the thrill of instantly striking it lucky and also appealed to premises who could leave the machines to work their magic.

Unfortunately for Fey, he was better at inventing things than he was at applying for patents, meaning his once potentially lucrative invention was swindled from under his nose by another manufacturer.

The Rise of the Fruit Machine

The reason slot machines are also known as fruit machines is because back in 1909 slot machines were officially banned in the US after objections to them were made by religious bodies. Bound by law to no longer dispense money, the machines were altered to instead spit out candy, with many of the reel symbols players see today stemming from these events. The popular “BAR” symbol for example stems from the alterations that the machines’ manufacturers had to make.

Slots are Shocked into Life

As electronic gadgets and machines began to revolutionize the way business was done in the world, so too do it change the world of slots. The first electricity powered gambling machine was similar to those horse racing ones seen at fairgrounds today, where people choose a horse, fire balls into holes, and watch on to see if their steed passes the post first.

However, it was in 1976 that the first proper video slot machine was built, becoming what is viewed today as a traditional slot machine, the likes of which you would find offline at the likes of a Las Vegas casino resort.

The Internet Sets Reels Spinning Online

With the advent of the internet it was only a matter of time before someone designed a slot people could play on their computers and that’s just what happened in 1996. With the online gaming market set to be worth $256 billion by the end of 2025, the industry and its players have never looked back, with online casino slots providers riding the wave created by reels going into overdrive.

Is VR the Next Logical Step

Although it hasn’t quite taken off as quickly as its founding fathers might have thought it would, VR technology is beginning to seep more and more into the daily lives of gamers and the general public alike. This is certainly the case for anyone who’s visited an online casino or card room lately.

With games developers such as NetEnt and Microgaming already introducing VR tech into certain online slots such as Gonzo’s Quest and Jack and the Beanstalk. With huge players like Facebook vesting plenty of capital in VR ventures, this there’s no doubt that the future of slot machines is that there will be no machine, but just a digitally reimagined one that looks and feels just like the real thing.


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