Where We Were
The slot machine was invented by Charles Fey in the 1890’s. He likely didn’t know that his invention, the “Liberty Bell”, would become the most popular form today of casino gambling.
However, the slot evolution was not without its challenges. Many Americans viewed gambling as a social ill and in 1910, all legal gambling activities were stopped. Horse racing was left as America’s only legal entity.
The public’s desire for gambling was equal to that of alcohol during prohibition. There were many “Speak Easy’s,” which were controlled by Organized Crime, that had slot machines and alcohol. Underground casinos were still active after the end of prohibition.
States started to crackdown on illegal casinos, and began to seize gambling equipment, including the slot machines. Mayor LaGuardia, New York City, called them “mechanical pick pocket” and destroyed them with a stick hammer before dumping them in Long Island Sound. You can see the entire action on YouTube.
In 1931 Nevada legalized gambling. The state’s casinos had slot machines, but they were only there to entertain the mistresses and wives who were playing with their pennies and nickles. While the men gambled at the tables, the slots machines filled the floors. This is illustrated in “The Las Vegas Story”, a 1952 film starring Jane Russel, Victor Mature and Vincent Price. Slots were considered a “ladies’ game until 1978 when Atlantic City legalized gambling.
Bally Manufacturing created a unit that could be powered by electricity. The machines began to light up and produce different sound effects. Multi-coin acceptance was introduced and new dollar machines offered larger jackpots. The Random number generator was invented so that top prizes could be increased for versions with four or five reels. An alternative to the handle was the spin button.
In the 1980’s, the Indian Gaming Act was approved. This allowed casinos to be built on reservations and new dockside riverboat gambling. It attracted new players while racetracks introduced the one-arm bandits.
IGT launched megabucks in 1986. Slots were linked across Nevada via phone lines, offering a huge lottery-sized jackpot that grew with every coin wagered. Players could become millionaires by playing Progressive Jackpot. The em>Progressive Jackpot was born and players could now become millionaires.
Where Are We
New inventions were possible thanks to the proliferation of slot machines. An video slot that had 25 lines and a maximum bet of 10 credits per row allowed for a ticket-in, ticket-out (TITO) system. The dinosaurs were followed by the coins and handles. Operators were able to lower denominations as low as one penny while still making a profit.
The themed slot was promoted by slot developers in the 21st century.units were based on movies, TV shows, and entertainers. Players can now spin the Wheel of Fortune and giggle at Curley Larry, Moe, and Moe. They can also ride along with Captain Kirk or sing over Ol’Blue eyes. You can also find clips from your favorite TV shows in all the games.
The video reels now have 5 video reels and up to 40 lines. The chairs have high backs and vibrate for certain bonus features. As technology continues to improve, touch screens feature the most recent LCD technology, 3D graphics, and Bose sound systems. Players can wager as little at one penny (credit) per line, up to maximums of $2, $3 and $4 depending on the game theme. Progressive jackpots can reach six to seven figures, while bonus features provide generous payouts.
The introduction of CSI and Sex and the City, Iron man and Michael Jackson, David Copperfield and The Walking Dead, Back to the Future and Jurassic Park were some of the newer games.
Where are We Going
No doubt, the popularity of themed slots will continue to increase. But there is a large segment of casino patrons who are looking for something new. These are the Millennials.Born between the 1980’s and the late 1990’s, they grew up playing videogames. This generation was not interested in sitting in front of a machine to win. They want to get involved in making it happen. This was the catalyst for the launch of G ames and Skill at the 2016 Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.
The expo saw the introduction of two companies, GameCo, and Gamblit Gaming. It looks very promising, according to all accounts. To attract Gen Y’s, Konami as well as Scientific Games have created their own versions. Soon, other companies will follow.
A few players can use their skills to get the cards they need. Another game requires players to find rare treasures in Pharaoh’s Secret Temple before the time runs out.
Although it is too early to predict if the skill component will succeed, some games have been running in Vegas and Atlantic City. Only time will tell.
According to the American Gaming Association, there are currently 832,988 slots machines in 1151 casinos in 44 states. There is more. The question is: With more than 50,000,000 people visiting casinos each year, will this slot craze persist?