Think of a night at the casino and chances are that in your mind’s eye you’ll see glamorous players gathered around the roulette wheel waiting for their number to come up. Or perhaps you’ll imagine the blackjack table where players pit their wits against the dealer.
But the chances are that your first thoughts will not go to the rows and rows of slots that are a familiar sight in casinos all round the world.
But while they may not have the appealing aura of table games they should never be written off as mere diversions. Not only do they form the biggest single money-maker for the casino, they can also pay out some truly astonishing prizes.
Virtually from the day that the very first slot was invented back in 1887 by a young Californian engineer called Charles Fey it was obvious that he was on to something big. Although it consisted of just three reels and the most exciting thing that happened when you won the 50 cents jackpot was a Liberty Bell that rang Fey was soon able to give up his day job and devote himself to full-time manufacture of the machines.
Mechanical slot machines continued to be popular throughout the 20th century and, in 1964, the Bally Company made the breakthrough of creating the first ever electro-mechanical version. Called the Money Honey it was capable of many more pay out variations thanks to its automatic coin hopper mechanism. The more complex mechanics of the machine also allowed for the introduction of holds and nudges to create a more complex playing experience.
The first ever video slot was developed in 1976 using a modified 19 inch colour screen made by Sony and it was this invention that truly heralded the modern era in which physically spinning reels have been replaced by video simulations and in which more and more is possible with each new generation.
It has also been an easy process for top of the line online slot operators such as winkslots to incorporate a huge selection of slots into the games that they can offer.
As slots have evolved, and certainly in recent years, a great deal of work has gone into making them as immersive and involving as possible and this has taken various forms. For example, when there is a big sporting event taking place such as the Olympics or the football World Cup it’s become commonplace for a great choice of themed slots to be launched to coincide with them.
Similarly, major film franchises are also often supported by slots with Marvel films being a particularly good example.
The actual design of slots has also gradually started to have more and more in common with video games with levels to be reached, games within games and story themes running throughout the action.
Looking to the future many are predicting that virtual reality will be the next leap forward in slots gaming. This will make playing them an even more involving experience and allow players to actually be part of the action – a very far cry from Fey’s original machine with its ringing bell and 50 cents jackpot!