The Slot Machine enjoys a number of popular nicknames: “fruit machine”, “pokies” and “poker machine” to name a few. The most popular nickname by far is the “one-armed bandit”, obviously coined by a disgruntled gambler. The Slot Machine is, by far, the most popular means of wagering at the Casino and typically constitutes in the area of 70% of most casino’s income.
The History Of Slot Machines
The first Slot Machine, Liberty Bell, was conceived by Charles Fey of San Francisco back in 1887. One of the challenges in creating a slot machine was in devising a method for the machine to automatically payout for all of the possible winning combination. In the end, Fey came up with the Liberty Bell slot machine. The Liberty Bell was made up of three reels and a total of five different symbols: Liberty Bell, diamonds, hearts, spades and horseshoes. The Liberty Bell paid off the biggest when three Liberty Bells hit…a staggering $0.50 (10 nickels).
The Liberty Bell slot machine proved to be an absolutely phenomenal success and spawned what has come to be a thriving gaming device industry. Fey found it difficult to keep up with the demand for his new gaming device and a number of copies found their way into the market such as the Operator Bell slot machine, manufactured by Herbert Mills in 1907. By 1908, slot machines could be found in most saloons, cigar stores, bowling allies and barber shops around the US.
In 1891, Sittman and Pitt of Brooklyn developed a machine which would prove to be the mold by which modern slot machines would develop. Their machine was made up of 5 reels of 50 playing cards and was loosely based on poker. Sittman and Pitt’s machine proved a success and soon could be found in most of the bars in New York. Players would insert a nickel and then pull a lever. The reels would spin and if a decent poker hand landed then the player won. Unlike the Liberty Bell slot machine, Sittman and Pitt’s machine did not offer players a direct payout mechanism. If the player won then the establishment would pay them with drinks or cigars, basically, the prizes were set by the particular establishment. Generally speaking, the better the poker hand, the better the prize. In order to increase the odds in the favor of the house, most establishments would often remove the Ten of Spades and the Jack of Hearts.
The Bell-Fruit Gum Company also produced an early machine that had a great deal of influence on modern slot machines. Their paid out winners in fruit flavored chewing gum which is great for the kids and also a commonly used technique in avoiding gambling laws that were in existence at the time in a number of states. The melon and cherry symbols now found in many slot machines today originated in the Bell-Fruit Gum Company’s machine, not to mention that the BAR symbol was, in fact, developed from an early Bell-Fruit Gum Company logo.
The first fully electromechanical slot machine, Money Honey, was developed in 1963 by Bally. Bally had been developing slot machines that began to exhibit the basic characteristics of electromechanical construction since as far back as 1940 with their High Hand poker machine. The technology in Money Honey enabled it to be the first slot machine with a bottomless hopper as well as an automatic payout without the need of an attendant.
How To Play Slots
The action begins on a slot machine with the player making a wager. Players may make their wager either by inserting money or a paper ticket with a barcode in the case of the newer Ticket-In, Ticket-Out machines. The player then activates the machine by pulling a lever, pushing a button or pressing a touchscreen; depending upon the machine being played. Once the slot machine is activated, the reels will spin and will eventually stop revealing a series of symbols. The symbols used by slot machines are typically quite colorful and easily recognizable. The most common symbols found include images of fruit, letters, numbers and shapes such as hearts, bells and diamonds. Many of the newer video slot machines are themed and will often use the images of popular actors or animated characters on their reels.
Most of the slot machines around today will offer a fairly wide variety of different winning combinations of symbols. A slot machine’s winning combinations generally appear prominently on the body of the slot machine itself or can be viewed on the screen by pushing a button. When the player’s symbols match one of the winning combinations then the slot machine will pay out as required.
Multi-line slot machines are different from traditional slot machines in that they offer the player more than one payline, that is to say that symbols do not necessarily have to line up horizontally in order to be considered a winning combination. Mechanical reel slot machines will generally have either 3 or 5 paylines whereas video slot machines may have anywhere from 9 all the way up to 100 different paylines. The vast majority of the video slot machines are themed and feature graphics and audio derived from the TV or movies (for example, Rambo, The Addams Family and The Fantastic Four).
While video slot machines now dominate the landscape, there are still plenty of traditional electromechanical slot machines with 3 to 5 reels to be found. In 2005, hybrid machines were introduced that combine elements of both the traditional electromechanical slot machine and the newer video slot machines.
One of the major differences between video slot machines and traditional electromechanical slot machines, other than the obvious, is in the way that the different machines payout winnings. With electromechanical slot machines the only way to hit the maximum amount for a jackpot is to play using the maximum number of coins. With video slot machines, all fixed payout values are, in turn, multiplied by the amount of coins per each line that is being bet.
Just in the past couple of years we have seen the introduction of multi-denomination slot machines. Multi-denomination slot machines allow the player to select the value of each credit that they wager from a list. Once this is done, the slot machine can automatically arrive at the number of credits that the player will receive for the money that they have inserted into the machine and will display this amount for the player to see. In essence, this allows a player to place a $1.00 bet on a dime slot machine. In this way, a player can play the slot machine that they wish without having the constraint of having to find a slot machine that meets their denominational requirements; rather, they can simply find a machine and set the denomination of the bets that they wish to make.
Another recent development in slot machines is the introduction of “tokenization”. This means that a single token can purchase more than 1 credit. With tokenization, casinos are now able to configure slot machines of all different denominations to accept a single type of token. In other words, a nickel slot machine and a dollar slot machine can now both be configured to accept dollar tokens. This innovation goes a long way in reducing all of the costs incurred by casinos in coin handling and inventory costs.