The first slot machine was designed by the American Charles Fey, who started inventing and manufacturing them from his workshop in San Francisco in 1894. His ‘Liberty Bell’ machine continues to be used in gaming devices today – but the three old-style reels holding 20 symbols have now evolved into more sophisticated devices with up to five spinning reels holding hundreds of symbols.
It wasn’t however until the 1930s that slot machines gained popularity in America, with their introduction to the Flamingo Hilton hotel in Las Vegas. It was originally intended that the slot machines be there for the entertainment of the wives and girlfriends of high rollers, but they quickly gained popularity, and now account for over two-thirds of casino revenue in the USA.
The symbols on each reel are programmed into a computer in order to make the jackpot rare enough that the machine will generate enough money to pay out for the jackpot whilst also making a profit for the casino – most machines are set to pay out anywhere from 83 to 98 percent of the coins that are played in the course of a pay cycle. Since the origin of the game there has been regulation, but in the UK in the1960s it was decided that there must be an element of skill involved in order for the game to be legal.
The first Fruit Machines (as opposed to Slot Machines) did not pay out any cash, but had prizes such as cigarettes and alcohol! They are now a huge presence in the UK in pubs, amusement arcades, and motorway services, but they are not found in casinos, which have slot machines like every other casino in the world!
Fruit Machines are now found online and their popularity is escalating rapidly! Here’s a quick guide to some of the features of the Fruit Machine:
Hold: Every fruit machine, in order to qualify as a fruit machine must have a Hold button, plus a Nudge, Gamble Feature, Cash Ladder and Bonus Trail. The Hold Feature allows the player to put a hold on one or more reels in order to have a better chance of winning.
Nudge: allows the player to nudge one or more reels on the next spin, and show up on the payline (win line), giving you the chance to better the outcome that is showing on the reels.
Gamble Feature: usually activated after every win and offers a higher or lower bet allowing the player to gamble their win to either double it or lose it all.
Cash Ladder: flashs up and down and the player has to hit stop when it is as near to the top as possible to win the biggest possible prize amount.
Bonus Trail: small squares that have prizes or features on them and when you hit spin, you randomly select a number that causes the trail squares to light up as you move along the trail. Each square on a bonus trail makes something happen – your winnings could be doubled, tripled or even multiplied by 10, you could be sent over to the cash ladder or even win a set amount.