History of slot machines


Here at Lucky Nuggets Casino, we want to educate as well as entertain. So in this blog series, we’re going to look at the history of the slot machine. You never know, that little extra bit of knowledge might help you win big one day. And, if not, it might help you in a pub quiz.

Slot Machines

No modern day gambling institution would be complete without a few slot machines scattered around the casino floor. Today, slot machines represent the epitome of the land casino: the jingle of the coins falling into the winner’s tray and the flashing lights which illuminate when a jackpot is won is every player’s dream.

Slot machines are one of the most modern games in the casino ensemble and only appeared on the scene about 120 years ago. Now, you’ll find casinos online as well as on the casino floor. But how did we get to where we are today?

Earliest Slot Machine

While many other casino games have disputable roots, slot machines are the youngest of the games and their history can therefore be clearly traced back.

Brooklyn, New York was the location for the development of the first slot machine in 1891 when Sittman and Pitt Company designed a gambling machine that is considered by many to be the predecessor to the modern day version.

These machines were extremely popular and within a short period of time nearly every bar in the city was hosting one.


The Father of the Slot Machine

Do you know who Charles Fey is? No? Well, you’ve now just got a classic pub answer to pull out of your pocket sometime in the future. Charles Fey is undoubtedly the Father of Slot Machines.

In the late 1880’s Fey developed what was known as the modern day slot machine. Fey created the first machine which was named Liberty Bell from his workshop in San Francisco in 1887. In size, Liberty Bell was slightly smaller than today’s slot machines, but the content was basically the same – 3 reels and 20 symbols which worked in the same manner as the current version.

In 1907 Fey finally decided to team up with the Mills Novelty Company and they produced their own version of the original Liberty Bell known as the Mills Liberty Bell.

1930s and 1940s – Popularity Breeds Change

In the 1930s, Mills Novelty Company made a number of changes to its slot machine ensemble and it is said that these changes revolutionised the industry and pushed slot machines into the forefront of the gambling world. Mills first decided to make the machines into much quieter creatures. The bell was removed from the slot machines and machines from this era are often referred to as Silent Bells.

Mills also introduced the double jackpot which was a method developed to give the players an opportunity of winning a jackpot twice in a row, in quick succession.

During the 1930s, the potential ‘fame’ of slot machines was being realised and by the early 1940s their incredible reputation was unquestionable. Top notch gambling institutions were scrambling to add slot machines into their casino games selection after Bugsy Siegel placed the machines in his famous Las Vegas Flamingo Hilton.

The slot machines were originally placed to entertain the women – wives and girlfriends – while the men got involved in the ‘heavy’ gambling (Blackjack, Roulette, Poker etc). However, much to the surprise of most, revenue from slot machines soon topped those of regular table games in the casino.


Electro-Mechanical Era

Until the 1950s, most slot machines were mechanical, but the end of this decade saw the development of electro-mechanical machines. This period was the peak of slot machines popularity with the introduction of machines such as Big Bertha. Big Bertha, and later the Super Big Bertha, were super large machines that cost over $150,000 to produce but were powered by a five horse powered motor. This machine had eight reels with 20 symbols per reel and only offered 80% payback to players. The odds of hitting the jackpot on a Big Bertha machine were only one in 25 billion!

The use of electricity also allowed the player to experience exciting noises and flashing lights during play and especially following a win. The electro-mechanical machines also meant multiple coin play and higher jackpots.

Computerised Era

The start of the 1980s saw the birth of the computerised era of slot machines. Sircoma, a new company in the field, produced a video poker slot machine which caused a sensation in the industry. At first many players were wary of the video aspect of the machine, as they felt that they could not fully trust the fact that they could not see the reels spinning. These apprehensions soon disappeared when the success of the machine became apparent.

The computerised era also meant that players were presented with a wider range of choices and options. Machines now accepted bills so players no longer needed small change in order to play. Ultimately this meant that players could spend longer at the machine and less time in queues waiting to change money.

Other machines were developed which allowed a player to choose from a selection of games from the same machine. These slot machines were becoming an all-inclusive gambling destination and which meant that players need not walk around the casino floor looking for different games. Bonus features were also added which enabled the player the opportunity to win more money, besides the already staggering jackpot prizes that most of the slot machines offered.

Slot Machines Today

Today, slot machines make up about 30% of an average casino’s profits. Slot machines have moved back into the noisy era that was discarded in the 1930s in order to create a quasi-hysteria when a player wins big. Slot machines generally include very flashy lights and attractive casings in order to make them even more alluring. The machines that generally provide more frequent wins are strategically placed in highly visible spots on the casino floor in order to further attract the crowds.


Online Slots

As popular as slots are in the land casino world, they are even more popular in the wonderful world of online casinos. Since online casinos took the world by storm a little over a decade ago, the gambling world has not been the same. Games that were previously limited to gambling institutions, bars and casinos suddenly became available to anyone and everyone who was legally and technologically able to access them online.

What better way to become an instant millionaire than by logging onto an online slot casino, having a few spins of the slots reels and winning the jackpot?

So, now you should be an expert on everything there is to know about slot machines. Feeling smarter? You should! But, what next? Why not check out the huge selection of slots available at Lucky Nuggets Casino today?