With gambling more popular and profitable than ever thanks to both online and in-person casino options a plenty, there has been one constant and steady factor in gambling’s evolution; the slot machine.
Whether it is the old-fashioned pull down or the more modern touch-screen model, slot machines have been the proverbial bread and butter in casinos worldwide for more than 100 years, and will continue to do so.
First developed in 1894 by Bavarian/Hungarian immigrant and car mechanic Charles Fey, the name “slot machine” was derived from the term “nickel-in-a-slot” would become the first-ever coin-operated machine—the one-eyed bandit. What would commonly become known as the slot machine would continue to evolve as Fey would create the 4-11-44 model in 1895 and the Card Bell, the first-ever three-reel slot machine that would generate automatic cash payouts.
In what was perhaps his greatest invention, Fey created “The Liberty Bell” which would become famous for cash payouts, if three Liberty bells lined up in a row in 1899. This model had the famous three spinning heels and five symbols.
Unfortunately, due to the ban on gambling in Nevada in 1910, slot machines were banned and with Prohibition enacted during the Great Depression in 1919, the slot machines there were once so popular had to circumvent the anti-gambling laws by becoming what is known as “fruit machines” such as the “Operator Bell” machines introduced by the Mills Novelty Company in 1910 that replaced the popular icons such as spades, diamonds, horseshoes, with those of fruit such as cherries and lemons that you still see today.
Fast forward to today and post-Prohibition, and slot machines of today have evolved into a new entity entirely thanks to touch-screen tablets, smartphones and online gambling that makes playing the slots just as fun and exciting as it was at the turn of the 20th century. While it may be one of the oldest forms of gambling today, clearly, the slot machine has never gone out of style, nor will ever be outdated for many years to come.