History of slot machines

The first mechanical video slots were developed in the USA at the end of the 19th century. Based on poker games, these mechanical slots first appeared in New York City in 1891, then not in casinos but in bars. At that time, these machines did not pay out any cash prizes. Instead, a winning combination was shown to the bartender, who gave the player a free beer or cigar in return. The first versions of these mechanical slot machines were more of a novelty designed to entertain pubs than part of a real gambling industry.

Around the same time, someone invented a Charles Fey from San Francisco, California started a simple five-symbol machine when he realized that slot machines had the potential to be a profitable business. This is still known today. With horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts and a bell, Fey’s machine, the Liberty Bell, was an instant hit and laid the foundation for an entire mechanical gaming machine industry. Although Fey’s home state of California banned gaming shortly after its invention, mechanical slot machines were now popping up across the United States. One reason for the rapid spread of mechanical gaming machines was the fact that Charles Fey had not received a patent on his device, so it was possible for others to copy his design and thus promote the proliferation of mechanical gaming machines in the United States.

At the beginning of the 20th century, many states panicked at the rapid proliferation of mechanical slot machines and passed strict laws against gambling. To circumvent this law, early machines began giving away groceries and sweets to avoid legal problems. Post World War II liberalization legalized and regulated gambling in a handful of US states. Post-war machines therefore now also issue coins or tokens that can be exchanged for rainbow riches pick and mix free play.

In 1963 the first electromechanical slot machine was introduced. This machine controlled the movement of the mechanical coils with the help of electronic actuators. Despite the use of mechanical reels, this device was a further development of slot machine technology and brought out the side lever as a novelty. The first fully electronic slot machine was developed with a Sony television in the mid-1970s. These fully electronic machines were immediately successful and very popular with the public. There was a further development step in 1996 with the advent of second screen games, namely bonus functions that led players away from the main playing field in order to be able to use these additional features.

The first online casinos came onto the market in the mid-1990s. Online gambling was introduced in most countries between 1996 and 2008. As this industry grew, governments put out laws and regulations to regulate it to ensure fair operations and safe transactions. In 1998, worldwide sales of online games were less than 1 billion euros. 25 years later, the latest estimates of online gambling growth assume that the market will reach a volume of over 65 billion euros by 2023.

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