It seems like slot machines have always been a part of our lives, setting up home in bars, restaurants, casinos and even in airports. There are over 900,000 slot machines across America, but how did they all get there?
What Is A Slot Machine?
The phrase ‘slot machine’ is short for ‘nickel in a slot machine’ and it originally referred to any kind of coin-operated machine, not just the gambling machines that we are used to. It was around the turn of the 20th century that the term started being used only for gambling machines.
A slot machine is a gambling machine operated by inserting a coin, token or electric card and then waiting for the outcome of a reel spin to see whether the player is a winner or not.
When Were They Invented?
Slot machines were invented in the 1880s by Charles Fey, a mechanic from San Francisco. The first slot machines needed an attendant to make the payout. In 1895 Fey created a slot machine that paid out coins, which became incredibly popular.
He then went on to invent the ‘Liberty Bell’ in 1898, which was the most famous slot machine of the time. It paid out fifty cents when three bells aligned. Although Fey installed his machines all across California, he was unable to patent the design due to the illegality of gambling, which led to many competitors.
The Emergence of Video Slot Machines
Mechanical slot machines became increasingly popular until 1963 when the electronic slot machine was invented, and this, in turn, gave way to slot machines which contained electronic chips, developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The 1990s saw the advent of online gaming and the first online casinos and slot machines.
Now innovative companies such as Unibet have created slot machines which users can access anytime and anywhere, using an app installed on their mobile phone, tablet or laptop. A benefit of online slot machines, as opposed to physical ones, is that providers will often allow you to play your first game for free to see if you like it, which is not something that is possible with a physical machine.
Will There Continue to Be A Demand for Physical Slot Machines?
Although it is now possible for people to play online slot machines using only their mobile phones, physical slot machines aren’t going anywhere. In fact, a recent study predicted that installing 500 slot machines at Chicago’s O’Hare airport would generate $37 million per year. People who are sitting waiting for a connecting flight will still welcome the opportunity to stand up and play a physical game, even though they could do the same thing from their phone, just because it breaks up the monotony of waiting for a place! The slot machines at O’Hare also stand to generate a substantial amount of tax revenue for the city.
Slot machines, both virtual and physical, are likely to continue to entertain players for many more years to come.