Slots and Fruit Machines
Slot machines are the biggest revenue source for casinos. It's is estimated that slot machines and video poker machines make up about 70% to 80% of the gambling profits made by casinos every year. Play online slots for real money if you are ready to get started right away.
That's a reasonable figure when you think about it. A person can bet a lot of money on the slots in one hour and spins are played with machine efficiency. It's no wonder that casino managers place slot machines anywhere they can on their casino floors.
Slot machines have many names. In England, slots are called fruit machines. In Australia, slot machines are called poker machines. In gaming slang, betters often call the slots "one-armed bandits".
The slots were not always the phenomenon they are today. The one-armed bandits are only a century old, and it was decades before they became the lucrative windfall for casinos that they are today. That being said, slot machines have been popular from the very beginning of slot machine history.
The History of Slot Machines
The first slot machine was invented by Charles Fey in 1887. Charles Fey was a German-American immigrant who relocated in San Franciso. After several years working as a mechanic, Fey began to tinker with the concept of a gambling machine. Charles Fey's invention was named The Liberty Bell. These days people play slots online which are a distant relative to the simple game firs invented by Mr. Fey.
Earlier attempts at slot machines failed because the possible combinations devised were too much for the mechanical development of the time. Fey invented the concept of the slots reel, with a smaller number of combinations. He choose five symbols: diamonds, spades, hearts, horseshoes and liberty bells. Charles Fey built his machine with three such reels, making a three-reel slot machine the conventional set-up for most of slot machine history.
The Liberty Bell was a major success, so much so that Charles Fey had difficulty keeping up with demand for his product. Within a few years, the slot machine sensation was so much that California lawmakers banned the Liberty Bell and other such gaming machines.
To get around gambling laws, slot machines gave out prizes like cigars or fruit-flavored gum. On the gum machines, the reels contained different fruit symbols for the flavors which could be won. These fruit symbols became a convention in the slot machine industry.
Eventually, these loopholes were closed by lawmakers. Charles Fey continued to sell slot machines to gambling halls in other states, but the slots entered a phase in the early part of the 20th century where their popularity temporarily waned.
Bally Manufacturing Company
Bally Gaming was founded in 1932 by Raymond Maloney of Chicago. The company originally manufactured pinball machines. The most popular of these was Ballyhoo, which is what gave Bally Manufacturing its name. Within a few short years, Bally was manufacturing the first modern slot machines. These slots designs influenced the entire slot machine industry for decades to come.
Though Bally Manufacturing Company experienced financial difficulties following Ray Moloney's death in 1958, Bally remained the top producer of slot machines. Bally became publicly traded in the 1960's and saw its fortunes turn around. A large part of these good fortunes were the design and marketing of new slot machines.
In 1968, Bally Games manufactured the first electromechanical slot machine. The Money Honey was a sign of things to come, though Bally's legal activities trying to open a casino in Atlantic City overshadowed the electric slot machine in the 1970's.
The Random Number Generator
The most revolutionary innovation in the history of slot machines was the random number generator. The RNG, as it is sometimes called, began to make its presence known in the 1980's. Before the invention of the random number generator, slot machines were confined to the standard 3-reel slots design with a limited number of reel symbols. Anything larger made the machines too bulky for casinos. With this limited reel space, slot machine jackpots were similarly limited.
With the random number generator, a computer was able to perform electronically what reels always had done mechanically. The RNG could simulate the spinning of reels, with more reels and more reel symbols than the mechanical machines ever could. The RNG led to the invention of the 5-reel slot machine and eventually to the progressive jackpot.
Progressive jackpots are a relatively new invention. Before the RNG, jackpots were limited to a few thousand dollars at most. Once the number of reel possibilities became effectively limitless, the possibility of huge jackpots became realistic.
Slot machines with progressive jackpots began to appear in the late 1980's. By the early 1990's, progressives had grown into the hundreds of thousands. Gamblers who had stayed away from slots row before began to give the one-armed bandits a try. Big progressive jackpots made slot machines the only game in the casino with a life-changing jackpot.
Slot machines like The Wheel of Fortune Slots began to dominate the market. The Wheel of Fortune Slot Machines, a product of International Game Technology or IGT, combined large progressive jackpots with a television brand name. The Wheel of Fortune became the most popular slot machine in the world, and remains so to this day.
With the success of Wheel of Fortune, IGT and its competitors began to manufacture slot machine with American pop culture themes. These days, virtually every classic television sitcom or game show has its own slot machine. Many of these offer progressives of their own.
Networked Slot Machines
In the last ten years, slot machine designers have found way to increase slots jackpots even more. Slots networks are slot machines that are linked together, each with the same linked progressive jackpot. When a gambler plays one of the slot machines in the linked network and doesn't win the jackpot, the jackpot on all the machine in the network increases.
Obviously, the networked slot machine wasn't viable until the invention of the internet. Once networked slots began to make it onto casino floors, though, the size of the progressive jackpots went from tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars into the millions of dollars. Today, you can find progressive jackpots worth up to $5 million or even upwards of $10 million.
As technology advances, slot machines also will advance. Jackpots will continue to increase, while the slot machine will become even more entertaining than ever before. Slot machine designers at IGT, Bally and other companies already work to make video slots that entertain as well as challenge players.
Video slots are slot machines which contain CD-Rom technology. Gamblers no longer simply watch mechanical or video reels spinning around. There are cut scenes and bonus video games quite similar to video games on the XBox. Video slots not only have graphics and sound quality never before seen in the one-armed bandits, but they often come with a self-contained storyline based on the game's theme.
Those video slots based on a popular television or movie franchise will have clips from your favorite shows of the past. If you play the I Dream Of Jeannie Slot Machine, you'll hear clips of Barbara Eden. If you play The Beverly Hillbillies Slots, you'll see clips of Jed Clampett and the family. And if you play the Alien Vs. Predator Slot Machine, you'll be able to play bonus games based on the action of the movie.
Slots Pay Tables
If you want to play the slots often, you probably need to learn to read the pay tables on slot machines. Most slot machines have different pay tables from one game to the next, so you will want to know which machines pay out more than others. For the most part, machines with high jackpot put most of their payback percentage into these jackpots, so you're going to lose money a greater percentage of the time than you would on a flap top, or non-progressive, jackpot. Machines with lower jackpot amounts can afford to pay out on more small wins, so this machine will have more "action".
The payback percentage is the percentage of the money you wager that you will win back. This is an average amount, so you might win or lose a whole lot more on any given slot machine session. Most payback percentages are found in the low 80% to the high 90%. Obviously, the higher the payback percentage, the better it is for the player.
Indian casinos are notorious for having low payback percentages on their slot machines. This is mainly because Native American casinos are in outlying areas, where there isn't as much competition for gamblers. In Las Vegas, a casino with low payouts will lose customers to the casinos down the streets. A tribal gaming casino is likely to be the only game in town.
Classes of Slot Machines
Certain jurisdictions do not allow traditional slot machines. In these regions, a different class of machine might be used. A Class III slot machine is the traditional machine with which you are probably familiar. These machines are prevelant in Las Vegas and Atlantic City and the surroundings areas.
Class II Slot Machines
Class II machines are linked to another and have a game mechanic similar to a scratch-off lottery. There are only a certain number of prizes, so you are in effect competing against other gamblers in the slots network. If a player wins a prize, it affects your chances of winning a prize. This is not the case with Class III slot machines.
Class II machines are sometimes called bingo machines. Because bingo is legal in most jurisdictions, a slot machine based on a bingo game mechanic makes the game legal. To the cursory glance, a Class II slot machine will look like a traditional slots game. But when you look a little closer, you will see a bingo card in the corner or at the top of the slot machine.
The bingo card is filled in by randomly generated numbers, which in turn decide if you win the game. This is translated into the slot machine video reels, which simulate turning on your screen. The Class II slot machine will feel like the Class III slot machine, though you will know that it really isn't the same game.
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