The History of Slot Games

Without slot games, casinos just wouldn’t have the same ambiance. The clinging and ringing of slot games are sounds that can be found in almost every casino in the world, and add to the excitement and give an atmosphere of expectation.

But the humble slot machine actually has a rather interesting history. The name “slot machine” was originally used for every automatic vending machine, as well as those used for gambling and this was true until the 20th century when it finally became solely used for gambling. Nicknames include a ‘fruit machine’ or ‘one-armed bandit’ in Britain, ‘puggy’ in Scotland, and ‘pokies’ in Australia and New Zealand.

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The first slot machine was actually meant to be a mechanical gambling machine based on poker. Five drums held 50 cards and players inserted a nickel, pulled a lever and if they got a good match they would be paid out by the establishment (not the machine itself). The Jack of Hearts and Ten of Spades were usually removed from the deck to increase the odds for the house.

The problem was creating a machine which would automatically pay out once the player won- regardless of the combination. Eventually, Charles Fey (known as the Father of the Slot Machine) developed what we consider to be the modern day machine. In 1887 he created the Liberty Bell- slightly smaller than the machines you see today but basically the same in terms of content.

The Liberty Bell was enormously popular, and he soon had trouble keeping up with demand. Along with being a talented creator, Fey was also a very smart entrepreneur and he rented machines out to gambling venues at a 50% commission rate. Although he was continually approached by gambling manufacturers he refused to sell the distribution and manufacturing rights.

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Fey teamed up with the Mills Novelty Company in 1907 and they produced the Mills Liberty Bell which was set in iron and also had iron feet and toes. It also included a bell that would ring if the player managed to hit a winning combination. In 1910 the machine was streamlined and made lighter and renamed Operator Bell. 30,000 were produced in a short amount of time, but Mills decided to look for a solution to the expense and heavy weight of the machines in 1915. Wood machines were introduced and these were far easier to assemble and less expensive than the cast iron machines.

Many changes were made to the machines in the 1930’s, making them quieter, more attractive and more colourful. Themes were introduced, and by the 1940’s they had an incredible reputation.

Today the slot machine and slot games are a staple for any casino. With the many online casinos available, slot games continue to enjoy their popularity and in 1998 we saw the first ever online slot game called Cash Splash. For some of the best slot games and other online games, be sure to check out Netbet and take a moment to appreciate how far the humble slot machine has come.


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