A Brief History of the Slot Machine

History of Slot Machines

Slot machines came about long before they went digital at the modern online casino. The history of slot machines dates all the way back to the late 1800s. They began their one-armed banditry innocently enough. Originally, slot machines were fun distractions. They gave out small toys or cigarettes- nothing of major value.

These early machines would be placed on a bar counter or in a brothel. Once the machine landed on a roll favorable to the player the proprietor of the establishment- generally a bartender- would hand the player some sort of prize. These original pizes included things like drink tickets for the bar, cigarettes or cigars, and later on, metal tokens.

After a while, the owners of the slot machines decided to cut out the middleman and went directly to paying cash winnings in the slot machine itself. Bar patrons and others soon became enamored with these machines. People seemed to be able to keep putting coins in to chase that big jackpot.

Over time, the machines and the players became more sophisticated. As the machines began bringing in money for gambling establishment proprietors and others the machines became ubiquitous in areas where gambling was legal or tolerated. After the machines started paying out in gold coins in 1888 the floodgates were opened and the machines could be found nearly everywhere in the West.

After the flood of slot machines came the backlash. Many western states ended up banning them as gambling in the decades after they were invented. However, they remained legal on Indian Land, in Nevada, and in various counties, states, and cities across the country.

We first see the modern iteration of the slot machine in the 1960s. After World War 2 there was a massive upsurge in spending on vacations, luxuries, cars, and yes- gambling. Slot machines had a tough reputation in those days for a number of reasons.

One was that shady makers of slot machines and proprietors of gaming dens had given the machines a bad reputation. Some were cheating, others just did not take care of the machines which led to problems. This all changed in the early 50s when large amusement manufacturers like Bally’s and others got involved in the slot machine business.

Slot machines went from being regionally manufactured by specialist builders to being mass produced using exacting scientific standard by incredibly large conglomerates. Large gaming organizations in Las Vegas demanded that the machines work, they be provably fair, and most importantly: that they would make money for the casino. This amount is regulated by the government and slots manufacturers follow the law religiously.

The introduction of serious mechanical engineers led to the development of what we know as modern slot machines. These machines were able to read coins, choose reels, and pay out with mathematical precision. These kept customers happy because the payouts were fair, and they kept casinos happy because they still made them massive amounts of money. The next revolution came from the microprocessor and LCD screens. Once these were introduced slots became louder, more complex, and much more of a draw for generations that were raised with digital screens.