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Slot Machine History

Slot machines are a very simple concept. Insert your coin(s), pull the handle and line up matching symbols. Presto! You either win or lose! The excitement of the game has dated back to the 1800's and general gambling (or a form of) even further back in centuries. Today, the alluring ring of jackpot bells, clanging coins, spinning reels, and flashing lights make slot machines attract crowds of gamblers globally to join in the excitement in hopes of winning the jackpot. With an eternity of variations to themes, payouts, styles, and features, you can just bet that slot machines are going to be around for a long, long time.

Have you ever wondered where the first slot machines came from? In the late 1800's, Charles Fey invented the first slot machine in his San Francisco workshop. The first to be produced was the 'Liberty Belle'. To win, the player had to line up 3 matching symbols. The machine was quite bulky as it was constructed from cast iron and weighed over 100 lbs. The slot machine was a big hit, and Fey cornered the market with his invention. A massive earthquake hit San Francisco in 1906, and the slot machine factories were destroyed. During this time, Mills and Jennings came into the picture and started reproduction of the Liberty Belle. Mills added additional symbols and constructed implemented a less bulky design. Mass production began and Fey no longer cornered the slot machine market. The Liberty Belle (and other early slot machines) can be found at the Liberty Belle Saloon in Reno. The Liberty Belle Saloon is owned and operated by the grandchildren of Charles Fey.

Unable to enforce the ban on booze during prohibition, Feds had to find a new target. As with all industries, in the early 1900's hard times fell on the slot machine industry when the anti-gambling movement emerged. Slot machines were outlawed in San Francisco in 1909 and in 1910, outlawed in Nevada. By 1911, the rest of California had prohibited slot machines in the state. In the early 1930's, a New York Mayor (La Guardia), had posed for the media on a barge filled with slot machines destined for their burial at sea. Amongst these slot machines were several coin op vending machines that were not used nor could they be used for gambling. This act clearly upset innocent vendors of candy and gum as well as the targeted slot machine vendors. These times were probably the hardest times for the slot machine industry.

Although better know as his gangster/mob alias - "Bugsy", Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel should also be accredited for his role in the slot machine industry. In the later 1940's, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel began construction on the first Casino in Las Vegas - The Flamingo Hotel. This casino was a ground breaking into the making of Las Vegas. "Bugsy" brought slot machines to his casino floor mainly as a way to keep the High Roller's wives or partners occupied. Siegel's idea of building the finest casino/hotel in Las Vegas ultimately led to his death. His idea swept throughout Hotel owners in essence assisting the growth of Las Vegas as it is today.

The electronic evolution of slot machines came about in the 1960's. This was a big turning point for the slot machine industry. The old mechanical slots were very vulnerable to player manipulation due to the limitations that they had on when the reels would stop. Electronic slot machines provided more security that the old mechanical slots did not have thus hindering the player from cheating, however, slots were still not cheat proof. The electronic age of slot machines also provided more variation from the operator's standpoint. Operator's had more control on them and could offer larger or more prizes which makes them even more appealing to the players.

Several electronic companies climbed on board to enhance this technology. Bally, Williams, and IGT are just a few big names. These companies each contributed to the growth of the slot machine industry in their own ways. Each made their own enhancements and came up with new innovations to further the advancements of slot machines.

As early as the 1940's, Bally had already been in the gaming industry. The Bally Club Bell Console, which is a three-coin multiplier, had already existed in 1941. Bally further revolutionized this slot machine in 1963 when it converted it, turning it into a casino slot by refining the hopper payout and creating a front opening case. By 1968, Bally's Model 831 was the first multiple coin, three line payout slot machine. These slots are still popular in today's casinos. Bally continued innovations on the slot machines and virtually drove Mills and Jennings out of the slot machine business. Throughout the years, Bally is still a well-known name in casino slot machines.

Williams Electronics was formed in 1974. They achieved great success making their pinball, video arcade and home video games under the Williams and Bally labels then later changed their name to WMS Industries Inc. WMS had demonstrated their successful track record as a company that could make great games, thus their venture into the gambling games world was a natural order of for them to follow. WMS started out in video lottery terminals, manufacturing and placing them throughout North America, in 1991. Successfully, they moved on to Video Poker Games for a few years, after which they unveiled their complete line of technically advanced, upright slot machines. By 1997, WMS premiered their registered 'Reel 'em In' video slot machine. Complete with all the bells and whistles, this slot machine proved appealing to many slot machine players. Further enhanced features were added such as: high-resolution full color screens, many betting options, detailed graphics, and increased hit frequency. These video slot machines captivated many more players and are still popular in casino floors today.

I would say that IGT is one of the most accomplished in the slot machine industry. IGT was born in 1981. Since birth, IGT has advanced in several ways bringing new innovations to slot machines. IGT made history with its first solid state spinning reel machine in 1983, which is their trademarked M Slot. As slot jackpots grew and became increasingly popular, cheating plagued the casinos. Addressing these problems, IGT birthed its trademarked S Slot. The S Slot gave the microprocessor control of the game using a random number generator to secure the outcome of each machine's computer. Further refinements were incorporated which brought a new variety of multi-level progressives, linked configurations and enhanced auditing functions. IGT is also responsible for the birth of the first penny multi progressive slot - The Beverly Hill Billie's, themed from the hit TV series.

In 1994 another groundbreaking event happened. Microgaming had invented the very first working online casino software. This landmark event paved the way for online gambling, as we know it today. Microgaming's original software started a new trend of slot machines and other games. They created their own themes using the traditional 1 - 3 line slots format. This later evolved into more multi-line slots. Today, Microgaming has implemented the new viper software to their gaming platform. This software has reached new heights by offering not only the traditional slot machines, but a vast array of brand new multi-line, multi-coin, and multi-denomination slot machines, free spin features, bonus screen features, win multipliers, auto play, enhanced graphics, and much more. Microgaming slots have become a favorite to online gamblers.

In 1999, Playtech, a new online casino software platform came to the Internet gambling world. With still a lot of homework to be done, Playtech started studying ways to bring a fast downloading, smooth, enjoyable casino software platform to Internet gambling. By 2001, Playtech Casinos started opening on the Internet. Some were newly opened casinos, while others had changed their software platform. Later that year, Playtech launched 6 new games including multi-line and multi-denomination slots, and their own progressive jackpot slots.

Also in 1999, Gone Gambling launched their new Cash Salad Slot Machine that replaced their original slot machine. The Cash Salad Slot is a traditional single line slot machine. It features a total of 6 progressive jackpots. Slotland is a major sponsor of Gone Gambling's Cash Salad Slot Machine. A qualified member that wins one of the progressive jackpots enjoys a $50 - $1000 in their Slotland account! Gone Gambling sponsors the other 2 progressive jackpots available. These jackpot wins consist of GG points which could be used for further play on the Gone Gambling games or a qualified member may convert the points for a bonus deposit with a sponsoring casino.

In 2004, Gone Gambling introduced its latest slot machine - Soup Pot Slot. The features of this slot vary from that of the Gone Gambling Cash Salad Slot Machine. This Soup Pot Slot features 5 reels, 3 pay lines, and a scatter feature, which triggers a bonus heads/tails bonus game (this is similar to the 'gamble' feature that is incorporated into many of the Microgaming video slots). The player can opt to play in this bonus game or just continue playing the slot. This slot is mainly used for tournament events. Members have won bonuses up to $500 with the tournament sponsors. Gone Gambling hosted the most recent tournament during its Anniversary Party. This tournament paid out over 100,000 Gone Gambling points to participating members. Ongoing tournament excitement is expected as the number of Gone Gambling sponsors and membership increases.

Whether you're playing online slots or slots at a land casino, slot machines make up a greater percentage of the gaming platform or house floor. Slot machines are responsible for over 60% of casino revenue. This revenue exceeds $6 Billion dollars per year making them the most dominant casino profit source. The possibilities for the slot machine industry are endless.

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