A Short History of Slots Games
The history of slots is not as long as that of other types of gambling games like roulette, blackjack, and such. In fact, poker machines got invented less than 120 years ago, and some might be surprised to learn that they have only been around since the later parts of the 19th century.
Charles Fey, Inventor Extraordinaire
Charles Fey immigrated to the United States of America from Germany, and eventually settled down in San Francisco. He was the owner of a machine shop, but enjoyed inventing things on the side.
In the late 1880s and through to the early 1890s, Fey started designing gambling machines. In 1895 he managed to finish the Liberty Bell machine, the prototype of the pokies online we enjoy today. It made use of three mechanical reels in order to randomise icons.
The Slot Machine is Born
Within a few short years, Fey had marketed the machines to saloons and bars across the San Francisco area, and the locals popularised what they named slot machines, what would eventually be known as pokies in Australia and New Zealand. The games initially paid out small sums of money, but then local and state laws prohibited betting for cash and the machines paid out gums, fruits, and other small items instead.
Slot Machines Head to Las Vegas
Eventually these slots games were banned in California and the rest of the USA, and it wasn’t until 1931 that Nevada legalised casino gambling. The vast desert state had a very sparse population, and leaders were facing a severe revenue shortage. The decision to allow gambling in the hopes of collecting taxes from this activity was intended to help the state remain solvent. The eventual construction of the Hoover Dam saw the area finally beginning to draw the rich and powerful elements from nearby Los Angeles, and the gambling Mecca we know so well today started taking root.
The Post World War II Boom
When the Second World War ended, the USA dove into a time of unparalleled prosperity. The soldiers returning from the front were intent on building families and making fortunes, but they were also interested in finding new, more glamorous ways of relaxing. Thanks to the creation of the interstate highway systems, and jet engines becoming used for aviation purposes, Americans were able to travel in ways they had never managed to before. By the time the 1950s rolled around, Las Vegas had become a gambling destination for not only the wealthiest Americans, but for middle-class vacationers as well.
The Appeal of the Slot Machine
The slot machine in particular appealed to these visitors because the game required no particular level of skill or mastery to play, and win. The 50s and 60s were also a period of history in which mechanical marvels seized the imagination of the common Joe, and so this mechanised entertainment proved a very popular draw card for the Las Vegas casinos.
The Electronic Gaming Machine is Born
In the 1960s the electronic gaming machine’s invention brought along with a veritable wave of innovations that went far beyond the accumulated jackpot. Developers for these games started introducing multiple paylines, bonus games, free spin features and the gamble feature, and the obsession with slots games as we know it today was born. Nowadays you can play slots online and at land based casinos, and even on a smartwatch. The games have changed in so many ways, but in many others they remain just the same.