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It does not matter if you are a hardcore gambler or a novice; slots never fail to excite the audience. No casino is complete without slots. Everyone loves to push some coins into the slot, pull the lever, and watch the reels decide your luck!
But who invented the slot machine? And where did the fruit icons on the reels come from? You will find the answers to these enticing questions in this article!
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Before that, did you know how slot machines got their names? Well, it can be owed to the fact that we insert coins in the “slot.” It is a shortened form of ‘nickel-in-the-slot machine,’ which is quite a mouthful.
1. First Slot Machines were toys
Interestingly, the first-ever slot machines created around the 1880s were simple toys. Upon inserting coins or tokens, the toys inside would dance or chase each other. In other places like saloons or bars, the slots were used for wagering between patrons. The winner was rewarded drinks, cigars, or tokens that could be exchanged for drinks.
2. Origin of the Gambling Slot Machines
Charles August Fey was the genius who came with the idea of a coin-operated slot machine in the gambling context. After the first machine’s massive success, he built the first three-reeled machine that paid out cash in 1898. It was called Card Bell as the reels had playing card icons.
Right after Card Bell, Fey brought Liberty Bell into existence. Crafted in 1899, Liberty Bell sported symbols like bells, horseshoes, and playing cards symbols. If you managed to line up three bells, then you will be rewarded the highest payout!
Due to the tragic earthquake that hit San Francisco, only four slot machines survived out of the hundreds Fey had created. However, Fey’s machines had caught the fancy of many saloon patrons, and competitors like the Chicago-based Mills Novelty imitated the product.
3. Slot Machines were banned!
Surprisingly, the slot machines faced more than just earthquakes. The clergy, law enforcement, and the morality forces were against the slot machines. They frequently expressed their opposition, which led to the prohibition of slot machines in 1909. Around that time, there were 3300 active slot machines in San Francisco.
This law had a loophole which the producers were quick to identify. Fey and his contemporaries began producing slot machines without coin slots. The payouts (mostly drinks and cigarettes) and purchases happened over the saloon counters. However, most of the slot machine factories shifted their businesses to Chicago.
4. The Fruit Symbols came into play in 1909
1909 was the year when the Industry Novelty Company first used the fruit symbols. The firm called its slot machines “chewing gum dispenser” to evade the law.
They smartly replaced the playing card icons with fruit symbols that represented the flavours of gums. They even crafted some machines that really gave out gums. Other competing firms imitated this move.
After this, in the 1920s and 1930s, the slot machines continued to operate in resorts. Around the 1950s, the ban on gambling was lifted. Anyhow, the private use of slot machines in clubs and resorts was ignored everywhere.
5. The use of slot machines was legalized post-WWII to generate tax revenue
Post-WWII, the electronic slot machines introduced many new payout schemes owing to the relaxation of the ban on them. The governments lifted many restrictions, keeping in mind the revenue prospects. Furthermore, the laws were even more relaxed in the 20th century to raise revenues across states.
6. Video slot machines in Las Vegas
The video slot machines were introduced in Las Vegas in 1975. These machines had a monitor that resembled the real reels. They did not garner much popularity as the die-hard slot machine fans did not like them much.
Skipping to 1986, a “shared super jackpot” was introduced. Many slot machines across various locations were linked digitally, and a fraction of each inserted coin would build up the super jackpot. An interesting instance would be when Las Vegas rolled out a staggering $40 million payout in 2003.
7. Rise of online slot machines
Towards the early 21st century, online casinos gained abrupt popularity. This posed as a major threat to the real casinos. The online casinos can be operated using computers or even phones.
However, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, 2006, barred US banks and financial institutions from interacting with online casinos. Similarly, the Interactive Gambling Act, 2001 of Australia, prohibits the provision of gambling services to people who are physically in Australia.
As of today, slot machines are still an inseparable part of casinos and gambling. Even mobile casinos have a wide variety of slots with colourful themes. The slots will continue to dominate online and offline gambling for the foreseeable future.
If you’re looking to play online slots Australia, take a look at some of the best online casinos. Aussie Gamblers has a great list of the Best Online Pokies in Australia to help you get started.