The Untold History of Slot Machines and How they Actually Work

Let’s be honest, gambling is not always a fun prospect and this is certainly true when the chips are down. However, the slot machine is arguably the most fun and rewarding feature in any casino.

It’s true, in spite of all the glittery promises of fortune, many casino games are short-lived and only enjoyable when you happen to win. Sound familiar? Right!

On the other hand, slot machines are fun and cheerful, while the games seem to go on forever. What’s more, there are many variations of slot machine games and symbols from which to choose.

Anyway, let’s take a closer look at the inner workings and rising popularity of slot machines .

How Do Slot Machines Actually Work?

As a rule, you drop coins into a slot machine and either pull a handle or push a button which will activate one or more reels. Each reel is usually lined up in horizontal fashion and contains a series of varying symbols. When you win on a slot machine, coins are dropped into a trough at the bottom of the machine, and the amount of coins will depend on the pattern or number of symbols that line up.

In other words, when you are super-lucky, you can win the entire contents of the machine.

But back to the machine.

Symbols will most often consist of stars, cards, bars or numbers. However, there are usually fruits including cherries, lemons and plums along with the words “bar” and “jackpot”. As already mentioned, each machine will have certain rules that will determine the amount you might win.

And that’s just part of the story…

The Untold History of the Slot Machine

“Slot Machine” was initially used to describe any type of vending machine and the very first gambling machine appeared in the 1880s in the United States. During that time, the games were much different and were typically found in a saloon.

For instance, some gambling machines consisted of two plastic horses that would race each other after the coins were inserted. Users would choose a horse and depending on the outcome, win or lose their coins. However, it was usually the proprietor that would take care of the pay out.

Automation and the First Gambling Machines

Within just a few years, this aspect of many gambling machines was automated. As an example, there were games in which the person might drop a coin/s onto an internal balance shelf and then possibly cause other coins to tip over and spill from the machine. Alternatively, you might drop a coin/s into a circular display and then hope that a spinning indicator would stop turning on a specific payout or prize.

If you think of modern circuses or carnivals, you will still find these type of machines in existence!

But what about the actual slot machine?

Charles August Fey: The Inventor of the Slot Machine

An American inventor named Charles Fey is not only responsible for building the very first coin-operated gambling machine but also the first slot machine. Back in 1894, Fey was a mechanic and installed the very first 4-11-44 in a saloon in San Francisco.

Just a few years later, the inventor built the infamous “Card Bell” which was a fully automated three-reel slot machine. As part of the process, each reel consisted of playing card-symbols and users pulled a handle which activated these reels.

As if that wasn’t enough, Charles August Fey created another instant hit called the Liberty Bell which featured horseshoes and bells instead of playing card symbols. When all three symbols lined up, the maximum amount was paid out to the player and this slot machine was incredibly popular.

Interestingly, only four Liberty Bell Machines managed to survive the immense earthquake in 1906 and many companies began creating similar models to compete with Fey in the years that followed.

1909 – Slot Machines are Outlawed and Laws are Circumvented

San Francisco brought in laws to ban slot machines in 1909 but Fey went about circumventing these laws by removing the slots. Instead, saloon owners reverted to giving payouts over the counter or in the form of cigars and drinks. Many companies followed suit such as the Mills Novelty Company that invented the “Jackpot” machine in 1916.

Slot machines were incredibly popular in the United States, even throughout the Great Depression (1930s). However, organized crime was benefiting from these machines which led to further legislation and restrictions for slot machines and any other gambling machine.

In case you might be asking yourself, Nevada – the home of Las Vegas – re-legalized gambling machines in 1931. Further, many governments around the world sought to benefit from these machines through the implementation of certain taxes.

Las Vegas and Video Slot Machines

Video slot machines were introduced in fabulous Las Vegas in 1975. Using an electronics monitors, these machines were without a handle and users seemed to miss the make-up of the original machines. That being said, most users adapted and were able to benefit from electronic systems that linked up these machines and provided some truly immense payouts.

But you might wonder how much?

Well, a Las Vegas slot machine paid out $40 million back in 2003!

Slot Machines in the Modern World

Modern machines consist of electronic reels and a certain number of payouts. As a rule, the house average is between one and fifty percent, and these machines account for over 30% of the total revenue in most casinos. That’s right – slot machines make more money than any number of tables!

Online Slot Machines and the Rise of Online Casinos

But not everyone has time or even the will to visit a casino and online gambling has really taken off in the past two decades. In fact, most casinos feared that the rise of online slot machines might take away the allure of their machines but certain laws ensure this is unlikely to every happen.

As for what all of this might mean for you?

Well, now you know the history of slot machines, you might want to try one. More specifically, you might not have time to go to the casino so you may want to visit a reputable site like Online Casino Gems where you can take advantage of some excellent promotions and see what all the fuss is about!

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About the author

Jimmy Rustling

Born at an early age, Jimmy Rustling has found solace and comfort knowing that his humble actions have made this multiverse a better place for every man, woman and child ever known to exist. Dr. Jimmy Rustling has won many awards for excellence in writing including fourteen Peabody awards and a handful of Pulitzer Prizes. When Jimmies are not being Rustled the kind Dr. enjoys being an amazing husband to his beautiful, soulmate; Anastasia, a Russian mail order bride of almost 2 months. Dr. Rustling also spends 12-15 hours each day teaching their adopted 8-year-old Syrian refugee daughter how to read and write.