In the 1890’s Charles Fey, the inventor of slot machines could not have envisioned that his creation would evolve into the most popular form of gaming in casinos today. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that casinos noticed that more players were betting the one arm bandits than were wagering at the tables.
In 1964 Bally Manufacturing invented a unit powered by electricity. Slot machines began to “light up” and produce various sound effects. When multi coin acceptors were introduced, new dollar machines meant larger jackpots for customers.
Legal slots were exclusive to Nevada until Atlantic City legalized gambling in 1978. The machines continued to evolve with better products and higher denominations. When the Random Number Generator was invented top prize amounts could be increased on four and five reel versions. A “spin button” became an alternative to the handle.
IGT launched Megabucks in 1986 and slots were now linked across Nevada by phone lines offering a giant lottery size jackpot that grew with each coin wagered. Players could now become millionaires. The progressive jackpot was born.
Soon after gambling establishments began popping up throughout America. This paved the way for a new invention.
Machines with 25 lines, up to a bet of 10 credits per line, allowed for a ticket in, ticket out (TITO) system. Operators could now lower the denominations to as little as a penny and still turn a profit. The coins and the handles followed the dinosaurs.
In the new century slot makers were quick to promote the themed slot, units based on popular movies, TV shows and entertainers. Players could now spin the Wheel of Fortune, giggle at Curley, Larry, and Moe, take a ride with Captain Kirk, or croon over Ol’ Blue Eyes. All games have bonus features and video clips from favorite shows.
Today the penny themed slots have evolved to 5 video reels with up to 40 lines, and more to come. The chairs are comfortable hi-backs, and some even vibrate when certain bonus features are hit. Touch screens have the latest LCD technology, 3D graphics and Bose sound systems as they continue to evolve. Depending on the game theme, players can wager as little as one credit (penny) per line up to $2, $4,and $8 maximums. Bonus features offer generous payouts, while progressive jackpots sometimes climb to six and seven figures.
Newer games saw the introduction of CSI, Sex and the City, Iron Man, Michael Jackson, David Copperfield, the Walking Dead, Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Flashdance, Grease, and Wonder Woman. Also Ghostbusters, the Munsters, Tarzan, Jurassic Park, and the Walking Dead. Likewise populating the floor are Lord of the Rings, the Godfather, the Wizard of Oz, Let’s Make a Deal, Monopoly, and Ellen, as list continues on and on.
At the annual G2E (Global Gaming Expo) in Vegas a new genre was launched by GameCo: Skill based gambling. The company first sent a questionnaire to identify the potential players for skill based casino gambling. They received 23 million responses from 9 million millennials, 8 million Gen Xers, and 6 million baby boomers! The games include 3 position carousels that feature action, adventure, fighting, racing, and sports. Games are currently up and running at Atlantic City casinos: Bally's, Harrah's, and Caesars. They may soon be available everywhere.
The American Gaming Association reports that there are 832,988 slots machines spread out over 1,151 casinos across 41 states. This begs the question, with more than 50 million visitors to casinos annually, will the slot craze trend continue? You can bet on it!
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