On This Page

The History and Evolution of Slot Machines

When you walk into a casino, the first thing you see will probably be the slot machines. If you are in an American casino, you will probably see hundreds or thousands of them.

These flashy, brightly-colored machines dominate casino floors, inviting you to take a chance on one of them. Many players do too – they generate between 65%-80% of the revenue that casinos make.

Slot machines are significant for casinos and gamblers today, but the only reason they are so popular is that they have evolved over time.

The first slot machines did not look anything like the games we play today. While they were popular in their time, the earliest slot machines did not get nearly as much attention as today’s real money slots.

Each modification helped them to become more enticing to gamblers, which is why slots are so well-loved today.

To help you understand how slots have changed, we will examine the history of slot machines.

We will explain how the first slot machines worked, why those famous fruit symbols became associated with slots, and how online casinos are changing them again.

Nickel-in-the-Slot Machines

You might be wondering what year the first slot machine was invented. There is some debate among historians because many similar machines were all popular around the same time.

It is hard to know precisely when the first slot machine came out because it is difficult to define which machine was the first slot machine.

The answer may change depending on your definition, but all of the earliest slot machine variations were invented between 1891 and 1898.

The Predecessors

In the 1880s, “nickel-in-the-slot machines” became popular.

The term “nickel-in-the-slot machine” eventually got shortened to a slot machine, so technically, these games could be considered the first slot machine. 

However, most historians and gamblers do not consider these games to be slot machines because they didn’t involve gambling.

For example, one “nickel-in-the-slot machine” involved two toy horses. When a player inserted a coin, the horses would begin to race.

There was no gambling involved unless patrons decided to wager on which horse would win. Those wagers typically involved one patron buying the other a beer when they lost.

Some machines used a balance scale. If your coin could make the scale tip, it would distribute the coins that had previously been connected. It was similar to the coin pusher games that are still available in arcades today.

These games were often found in saloons and gentleman’s clubs. The saloon environment encouraged wagering, and it was convenient to leave the machines on the bar top without taking up much space.

It did not take long for inventors, toy companies, and other businesses to find ways to incorporate bets and prizes.

Which Came First? Video Poker or Slot Machine?

The first game that involved gambling was actually the predecessor of the modern-day video poker game.

Sittman and Pitt Company used five drums with ten playing cards on each drum. They used a standard deck of cards, but they removed the ten of spades and jack of hearts.

Removing these two cards lowered the possibility of getting a royal flush, which meant that the saloon owner would not have to pay out as many prizes. It was an easy way to increase the house edge.

Their machine would spin the drums and stop each one at random intervals. The player could receive prizes from the bartender based on the poker hand they created. These prizes were typically free beer or cigars.

When you wanted to play on one of Sittman and Pitt’s machines, you would insert your coin and pull a lever. The drums started spinning when you inserted the coin, but the lever was used to activate the stopping mechanism.

The levers inspired the common nickname for slot mahcines – “one-armed bandit.”

Because the levers were used to stop the drums from spinning, the players believed they could pull the lever at a specific time to try to increase their chances of winning.

Many superstitious slot machine players continue to believe that hitting the button or pulling the lever at the right time will help them win. That’s just one of many slot myths, though.

Today’s slot machines are far more advanced than the initial one-armed bandits that Sittman and Pitt created.

They do not use mechanical stopping devices attached to a lever, so there is no way to control the game’s outcome. But the superstitions persist anyway.

These coin-activated poker machines were remarkably similar to some of the ways that we gamble today. So, some historians and gamblers consider these to be the first slot machine. If that is the case, the first slot machine was invented in 1891.

However, some historians are still not convinced that these poker machines should count as the first slot machine because they did not automatically produce payouts.

When you did win, you most likely received free merchandise, but they did not pay out cash. That is where Charles Fey came in.

The Liberty Bell Slot Machine

Sittman and Pitt certainly deserve credit for their poker-based slot machine model. But, they are often overlooked because of a man named Charles Fey.

Charles Fey is often referred to as the Father of slot machines or the Thomas Edison of slot machines, partially because he made several variations.

All of his slot machine variations were popular, but he made specific changes to address cheating and other issues that slots players and proprietors had with the machines.

Thomas Edison famously claimed that he never failed because he found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.

In the same way, Charles Fey never failed with any of his slot machine inventions. He just started with a decent machine and found several ways to make it better.

Who Was Charles Fey?

According to most historians and gamblers, Charles Fey was the inventor of the original slot machine.

His Liberty Bell machine was the first to have an automated payout system and use symbols like the slot machines we use today.

These two factors make it the first cash-based slot machine. So, Charles Fey gets the credit for being the inventor of the modern slot machine.

Most historians aconsider Charles Fey the inventor of the slot machine.

Charles Fey was born as August Fey in 1862 in Bavaria. He later changed his name to Charles because he did not like the nickname, Gus.

As a teenager, Fey got experience with mechanical and engineering skills because he helped manufacture farm equipment. He moved to France, Great Britain, and eventually the U.S.A., working on intercoms, nautical equipment, telephones, and electrical equipment.

All of his manufacturing jobs gave him the skills to engineer his inventions. Eventually, he started his own company with one of his coworkers. They both created their own versions of slot machines and together created the automated payment system.

Between 1887 and 1898, Charles Fey created several different slot machine variations. One of them was called 4-11-44, and it became surprisingly popular. So, he left his business with his old coworker and started his own factory.

After that, he created a game called the Card Bell, which was similar to the poker game from Sittman and Pitt.

However, Fey’s game only had three reels instead of five. More importantly, it was the first three-reel machine with automated cash payouts.

Just one year later, Fey modified his game again. Instead of using a deck of cards, he added symbols to the reels. These symbols included hearts, diamonds, spades, horseshoes, and an image of the Liberty Bell. Gold liberty bell symbols are still used on slot machines today.

Early slot machines used symbols that are still used by many modern machines.

The highest payout you could get was 50 cents for getting three Liberty Bell symbols in a row. So, it makes sense that Charles Fey called his machine the Liberty Bell.

This game became wildly popular, and Fey manufactured more than 3,000 of them.

Unfortunately, Charles Fey never patented his game ideas, so his model for the Liberty Bell was quickly copied.

Other manufacturers started to replicate it, and soon there were Liberty Bell games or other variations in dozens of saloons across the country.

Most historians consider the Liberty Bell game to be the first example of a modern-day slot machine. It incorporated gambling, offered cash payouts, and used the lever system to activate the game.

Liberty Bell Deals with Cheaters

The Liberty Bell attracted a lot of attention because it was the first coin-based game. However, not all of the attention was positive.

Some players found ways to cheat the game by using fake wooden coins instead of actual nickels. This cheating made the games less profitable for both Fey and the saloon owners who offered his games.

Fey went to work to address the issue.

Charles Fey modified the payment processor to include the world’s first detecting pin. The trade check had a small hole in the center of it. When coins were inserted into the machine, the detecting pin would check the center to detect fake coins.

There were several different variations of the Liberty Bell machine that Charles Fey created over several years. Most sources agree that the first Liberty Bell machine came out in 1895.

 However, the machine that included the detecting pin was not created until 1898.

The Transition to Fruit Symbols

Many slot machines still feature Liberty Bell symbols. But, most people think of fruit pictures when they think about slot machines.

So, how did we get from horseshoes and liberty bells to lemons and cherries? You might be surprised that the answer has to do with chewing gum.

Why Fruit Symbols?

When slot machines were first invented, they were popular in saloons, and they often paid out in beer or cigars. Charles Fey introduced cash payouts.

As the prohibition movement spread across the United States in the early 1900s, slot machines were often associated with alcohol.

So, religious and moral leaders discouraged people from playing slot machines, and they also lobbied for laws against gambling.

Slots in San Francisco

Charles Fey lived in San Francisco, and his slot machines were taking over the city. There were more than 3,300 Liberty Bell machines in San Francisco alone.

The city finally listened to the religious leaders and banned cash slot machines in 1909. Of course, the slot machines were not limited to the San Francisco area. They spread quickly throughout the country.

When San Francisco banned slot machines, Chicago became the epicenter for manufacturers of cash machines. Chicago had a significant mob presence that got involved with the slot machine business.

This relation to organized crime further convinced politicians that slot machines were bad news. So, anti-gambling legislation spread through the country almost as quickly as the games themselves had.

Several companies around the country were manufacturing slot machines when these bans went into effect. They did not want to lose their profits because of the new laws, so they found a way to get around it.

Industry Novelty Company had the most successful idea. They claimed that their machines were not slot machines but chewing gum dispensers.

Customers would enter a coin, pull the lever, and watch the reels spin, just like slot machines. But, instead of liberty bells and playing cards, the Industry Novelty Company added pictures of fruit.

When all of the reels landed on a particular fruit, the machine would dispense chewing gum with that flavor instead of coins.

Early slot machines dispensed gum instead of money to get around anti-gambling laws.

The chewing gum idea caught on, and the Mills Novelty Company created their own version.

They added the bar symbol that is still used today. If the reels landed on three bar symbols, the machine would offer a whole pack of chewing gum instead of a single piece.

Another feature that the Mills Novelty Company included in their designs was the first jackpot. Some of their machines had a few combinations of symbols that could trigger the machine to empty all of the coins it had collected.

Mills Novelty Company was based in Chicago. They manufactured both cash machines and fruit machines.

The cash jackpot was incorporated in the cash machines in 1916, so they added the bar symbols to be the equivalent for the fruit machines.

Both cash-based slot machines and fruit machines spread throughout the country. Several other cities passed anti-gambling legislation, but slot machines were here to stay by that point.

The Public Perception

This fruit machine concept worked well for the companies trying to find a loophole in the laws that banned gambling.

But, the fruit symbols also had an unintended benefit of changing the public perception.

Fruit symbols are entirely innocent, and so is chewing gum. The cartoonish pictures of fruit often seemed somewhat childish. They evoked a sense of nostalgia for many customers.

Religious leaders could easily argue against gambling for a beer or cash. But it was far more challenging to convince people that fruit machines with childish symbols and chewing gum prizes were evil.

Those simple fruit symbols drastically changed the way the public felt about slot machines. They were no longer seen as gambling machines that were limited to saloons.

Casinos and slot machine manufacturers have used fruit symbols ever since. Even when they started making cash payout machines again, they still used the fruit symbols because of the effect on customers.

Some customers may be hesitant about the harmful effects of problem gambling and not want to get involved in poker or blackjack, but even they can see the appeal of a fun fruit machine game.

Fruit symbols became synonymous with slot machines because they represented fun and innocence. Casinos want their customers to be amused and care-free.

They continue to use fruit symbols to create those feelings, even though slot machines have drastically changed since the first fruit machine was introduced in 1910.

Revolutionizing the Slot Machine

Anti-gambling legislation followed in the wake of prohibition, but it stayed much longer than the alcohol ban.

Fruit machines with chewing gum prizes were available for many years, but they eventually lost their appeal.

Of course, there was one exception: Nevada. The state legalized gambling in 1931, so that was the only place that you could find cash payout slot machines after other states passed their anti-gambling laws.

Between 1931 and the 1970s, organized crime ran rampantly through Las Vegas.

Las Vegas was overrun with organized crime between 1931 and the 1970s.

Crime syndicates from New York, Chicago, and Kansas City all had representatives in Las Vegas.

Each mob operated their own casinos, and they used the legal casinos as a front for money laundering and other crimes.

Chicago’s mob had connections with slot machine manufacturers, so they supplied many Las Vegas casinos with cash payout slot machines.

The Las Vegas that we know today would not have been possible if it weren’t for the mob’s work and funds.

While all of Las Vegas’ casinos included slot machines, they were not nearly as popular as other casino games. The Center for Gaming Research only has data about the number of slot machines dating back to 1963.

But in the 1960s, Nevada only had approximately 22,000 slot machines throughout the state. That number doubled by 1973, and the 1980s saw the number of slot machines in Nevada surpass 100,000.

The addition of thousands of slot machines was directly tied to the gambling revenue for the state. Nevada generated just over $200 million in the 1960s.

By 1980, that number had grown to more than $2.5 billion.

It wasn’t just the number of slot machines that increased the gambling revenue. Slots manufacturers and casinos were eager to offer the best gaming options available. The slot machine was overdue for some modernization, and that was the key to casino success.

The first electromechanical slot machine was introduced in 1963, and the first video slot followed in 1976.

These innovations made slot machines more exciting than ever and helped them become the most popular form of gambling in the casino.

Honey Money: The First Electromechanical Slot Machine

Bally

The most significant update to the slot machine came in 1963 when a manufacturer, Bally, invented the first electromechanical slot machine.

Traditional slot machines used a spring and lever system. When you pulled the lever, a spring would set the reels spinning. Then, a series of gears would clamp down on each reel to make them stop, similar to the brakes on your car.

Those slot machines relied entirely on simple machines to operate. Some companies started experimenting with electrical slot machines in the 1940s, but they still used the levers to operate the machine.

Bally changed all that when they introduced the first entirely electromechanical slot machine. It was called Money Honey. There was still a lever involved, but it was mostly for show.

Customers were used to using the levers to activate slot machines, and many of them believed that they could affect the outcome of the game by pulling the lever in the right way.

So, Money Honey kept the lever, but it did not actually control the game. The reels used electricity to spin.

The Bottomless Hopper

Bally Money Honey slot machine

Another feature that made Money Honey stand out was the fact that it had a bottomless hopper. The hopper allowed it to make payments of up to 500 coins.

Previous machines only had small coin release mechanisms, so they couldn’t offer significant payouts. To give you something to compare it to, the highest payouts on any of Charles Fey’s machines only went up to $5.

The combination of its electromechanical design and the bottomless hopper gave the Money Honey slot machines something that no other slot machine could offer up until that point.

It could offer multipliers based on the number of coins that the player inserted.

Money Honey slots had a 3-coin and 5-coin multiplier that paid customers larger prizes when they played with 3 or 5 coins. These multipliers were the predecessor of modern-day pay lines.

You can increase your chances of winning by playing all of the pay lines on a particular slot machine. The payout is proportional to the number of coins you insert or the number of pay lines you play with.

Bally changed the slot machine significantly when they invented the Money Honey game. Not only was it the first electromechanical machine, but it also offered higher payouts and coin multipliers.

These features made it far more similar to the slot machines that we use today than its predecessors. But, the revolution of the slot machine was just the beginning.

The Beginning of Video Slots

Fortunately, the next innovation in the slot machine industry came quickly. Less than 13 years after the first electromechanical machine, slot machines got a facelift again with the invention of video slot machines.

Fortune Coin Company took one of the most famous inventions of the 1960s, the color television, and incorporated it into their slot machines. They used a 19-inch Sony TV to display the spinning symbols, instead of the physical reels that had been used since 1891.

The Hilton Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip was the first casino to offer Fortune Coin Company’s video slot machines in 1976. It was a four-reel slot machine with three pay lines called Fortune Coin.

Up until that point, slot machines relied on the randomness of the reels stopping to determine the outcome.

Because the video slot machine did not have reels, Fortune Coin Company needed to find a new way to determine the game’s outcome.

They relied on new computer technology to randomly generate the game’s outcome. These logic boards were the first version of the random number generators that slot machines and casino games use today.

At first, customers were skeptical of the video slots. They did not trust the games because they couldn’t see the reels spinning. Logic boards were new technology, so the customers didn’t understand how they worked.

IGT Buys the Fortune Coin Company

Despite their lack of initial success, the Nevada Gaming Commission approved the use of video slots in casinos. International Game Technology, better known as IGT, bought out the Fortune Coin Company in 1978.

IGT was able to modify the video slot machines to attract more customers and to benefit the casinos. They added visual effects to make it look like the reels were spinning.

The computer software that the machines used made it impossible for customers to cheat and gave the casino’s more control over the payout percentages.

They also made the slot machines smaller, with individual chairs so that the casinos could fit more of them on their gaming floor.

Casinos were far more interested in these new slot machines because they were less expensive for them to operate, and they could offer more of them.

Fortunate Coin Company gets the credit for creating the first video slots. But it was their merger with IGT that made these slot machines profitable.

Thanks to IGT’s modifications, Las Vegas significantly increased the number of slot machines that they offered.

Atlantic City legalized casinos around the same time, so IGT had a whole new market of casinos to work with.

Video slots transformed the casino industry, and casinos everywhere began offering thousands of these machines.

Slot Machines Replace Coins with Tickets

One of the most surprising facts about slot machines’ history is that they were coin-operated for nearly a century.

Manufacturers updated the graphics and the internal mechanisms, but no one considered moving away from pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters.

Gamblers carried quart-size buckets of coins around with them. When they won, the machine would spill out a certain number of coins, filling the casino with the clinking sound of coins falling into the metal hopper.

However, slot machines never held enough coins to payout enough for some of the more significant jackpots.

So, if you won more than the threshold amount, which was usually 500 coins, you had to wait for a casino manager to come to your machine.

The casino manager would come to check your machine, verify your win, and fill out paperwork. Once all of the paperwork was complete, they would carry more coins to you, accompanied by a security guard.

In many cases, the process of collecting your winnings could take an hour or more, depending on how busy the casino was. It almost always took at least half an hour.

Earlier Jackpots were Anticlimatic

Waiting that long for your prize money was anticlimactic for many gamblers. You may have just won a massive jackpot, but now you have to stand around waiting and filling out paperwork.

Waiting that long takes away the excitement of the moment.

Fortunately, MGM Corporation changed all that. In the early 1990s, MGM was constructing the MGM Grand Casino. They had an idea to make the new casino completely cashless.

MGM gathered several manufacturers to work together to create a solution that would allow slot machines to operate without coins.

Some of the inventions that were key to the success of the project included barcode scanners, bill validators, ticket printers, and game developers.

They bought gaming technology from Five Star Solutions, a barcode printer from John Yarbrough, and a bill validator from Pat Greene.

These combined technologies created a universal interface board protocol that could be used on almost any slot machine.

After developing the Universal Interface Board (UIB), MGM invited IGT, Bally Gaming, Sigma Games, and several other manufacturers to try out the UIB. They had trailers in the Desert Inn parking lot where the manufacturers could test their games with the new software.

MGM helped create the Universal Interface Board to replace the coin hopper system.

All of these manufacturers worked together to create the first Ticket In Ticket Out (TITO) slot machines.

However, IGT bought the patents for TITO machines from MGM later, so IGT is often credited as the first company to offer TITO software.

TITO machines accepted dollar bills instead of coins. When the player was ready to cash out, the machine would print a barcoded ticket. The player could take that ticket to the casino’s cashier or to another machine to continue playing.

Gamblers Have Mixed Feelings About TITO

Some slot machine players felt that the game’s excitement came from the experience of watching coins fall into the hopper.

That is why slot machine developers eventually added coin-clinking sound effects to most of their machines.

Other players appreciated the TITO machines because they didn’t have to carry around massive plastic tubs filled with coins.

The ticket system also cut down on the spread of germs because the players did not have to touch the coins that had been handled by dozens of other players.

Political leaders initially resisted the TITO machines because they felt like they were just a step away from credit card readers at slot machines. Gambling on credit is a sign of problem gambling, so they did not want to make that available.

However, the TITO system’s trial went so well that the political leaders began to rethink their position. The system required cash to get started, so it could not be used for credit-based games.

Once they saw them in action, the Nevada Gaming Commission approved the use of TITO slot machines.

Ticket In Ticket Out machines spread rapidly throughout Las Vegas and other gambling destinations. They offered many benefits for both the players and the casinos.

  • Lower personnel costs for casinos
  • No need for hopper refills when the machines run out of coins
  • Customers don’t have to wait for payments
  • Casinos have fewer accounting procedures because they are not handling cash as much
  • Gave casino the option of distributing ticket vouchers as bonuses or coupons
  • It is easier for customers to handle their tickets without carrying buckets of coins
  • Fewer germs spread throughout the casino because of cashless interactions

One of TITO slot machines’ most significant benefits is that the casinos could now offer multi-denomination games.

Before TITO, casinos had to have a separate machine for pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. TITO software lets them accept multiple denominations on one machine, which means they can also expand their games collection.

Modern Slot Machine Games

The invention of video slots transformed slot machines. They are easier to manufacture and easier to modify.

Now that almost all slot machines are video slots, manufacturers keep adding new features, better graphics, and different game themes.

While manufacturers continue to find new ways to add excitement to their slot machines, the fundamental machine is similar to those that emerged in the 1970s.

Many things have remained the same, but there are a couple of new features that are worth noting.

Progressive Jackpots

One of the most significant upgrades for slot machines came in 1986. IGT was again the company with the cutting edge.

They introduced the world’s first progressive jackpot on their Megabucks machine. It uses an electronic system to connect several slot machines to each other. They collected a portion of each bet that was made on each of the linked machines to create a super jackpot.

These super jackpots significantly increased the potential payout for customers. Bigger payouts attract more customers, so the casinos also benefitted.

Here are some of the most impressive jackpot wins ever. You’ll notice that almost all of these wins came from the Megabucks game.

Megabucks was the first progressive slot machine, and it is still responsible for almost all of the highest record-breaking jackpot wins in casino history.

Initial Bet Amount Jackpot Amount Game Player Date Won
$100 $39,710,826.36 Excalibur Megabucks Anonymous 03/21/2003
$27 $34,955,489.56 Desert Inn Megabucks Cynthia Jay-Brennan 01/26/2000
$300 $27,580,879.60 Palace Station Megabucks Anonymous 11/15/1998
$100 $22,882,808.32 Bellagio Money Vault Millionaires Alexander Degenhardt 02/19/2012
$170 $22,618,156.67 Bally’s Megabucks Johanna Huendl 03/27/2002

Second-Screen Bonus Features

Williams Interactive (WMS)

Another significant change for modern slot machines came in 1996, from a software development company called Williams Interactive, or WMS.

WMS released a game called Reel ‘Em In that was special because it was the first slot machine game in America to offer a bonus round on a second screen.

Reel ‘Em In was a fly-fishing-themed game with fifteen pay lines. It features several different fish symbols for the highest payouts and fishing equipment like tackleboxes, fishing poles, and bobbers for the smaller prizes.

Some of the symbols may have fishing lures on them. If you get three lures on any of the reels, you can trigger the bonus round. They do not have to be on a pay line.

When you enter the bonus round, you get to pick your fisherman, who will cast two to four times. The fisherman will cast the line, and the screen will show you an underwater scene with several fish. He will catch one fish for each cast, and each fish has a different prize attached.

Depending on the outcome of your bonus round, you can earn multipliers and bonus credits. You can even trigger a fishing competition where you compete against the computer.

Reel ‘Em In significantly influenced the slot machine industry because it was the first time slot games ventured outside the traditional reel-based structure.

The addition of the second-screen bonus round added a lot of variety to games that previously had nothing other than spinning reels.

It also came at a time when computer games and video games were becoming increasingly popular. Younger gamblers are far less interested in slot machines because they are far too repetitive.

Second-screen games like those in Reel ‘Em In add a little variety to the game and make them more appealing to younger players.

Cleopatra and Expanded Themes

The computerized software that operates video slots makes it easier for game developers to incorporate different graphics and features.

These graphics are an excellent way to incorporate themes and design elements that make the games more appealing to players.

You can still find fruit symbols on many slot machines, but modern slots tend to have specific themes. Today, you can find slot machines based on pop culture references, animals, space, knights, and fairy tales.

Ancient mythology from China, Egypt, and Greece are all surprisingly popular themes. That might be because one of the most popular themed slot machines ever was Cleopatra.

IGT's Cleopatra is one the most popular themed slots.

IGT released their Cleopatra video slot machine in 2005. It has five reels and twenty pay lines. It also gave players the chance to win fifteen free spins and offered a 3x multiplier.

These features attracted experienced players, but they also made it easy for beginner slot machine players.

Cleopatra is still one of the most popular slot machine games today, and it has inspired several other variations.

Slot machine themes allow players to feel like they can have a different experience, even though the game itself is fundamentally the same.

Online Slot Machine Games

Modern slot machines like Cleopatra and Reel Em ‘In spread through both commercial and tribal casinos. But all of those land-based casinos had a new competitor to deal with: online casinos.

In 1994, Antigua and Barbuda passed the Free Trade and Processing Act, which offered companies a license to operate gambling businesses on the internet.

Microgaming and Cryptologic became some of the first companies to operate casinos. Both of these companies claim that they were the first, and so do several others, but they all began around the same time.

Microgaming and Cryptologic both claim that they were first to launch online casinos.

No matter which company was first, they all worked hard to transfer the casino experience to a web-based format.

These companies were instrumental in creating the technology to operate casino games online and to process financial transactions. Microgaming even helped to create the Interactive Gaming Council to regulate other online casinos.

Those first online casinos were limited compared to the online casinos we use today. They had several slot machine games available, but not the hundreds or thousnads you’ll find online nowadays.

But, they got the technology started. Once these companies figured out how to transfer the casino experience to an online format, other game developers got to work expanding the games available.

Now there are thousands of slot games that you can play online. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of online slots games.

Advantages of Online Slots

Online slot machines work the same as today’s video slots. They use random number generators to determine the outcome, offer progressive jackpots, and incorporate second-screen bonuses.

The most significant benefit to playing slots online is the fact that you can play any time and anywhere you want to. As long as you can connect to the internet, you can play your favorite online slots games.

Another benefit when you play online is that online casinos offer significantly more variety than land-based casinos.

Brick-and-mortar casinos are limited by the amount of physical space that they have, so they typically only offer a few hundred varieties with five to ten machines for each one.

Online casinos do not have those limitations. They can offer thousands of game varieties if they want to.

Each site uses different software developers, so you can enjoy different slot games on different sites without ever having to leave your computer.

More importantly, they can have more than one person playing the game at one time.

If someone else is playing the machine that you want to play in a land-based casino, you have to either choose a different game or wait until they are finished.

Online slots games can accommodate an infinite number of players.

You may find that there are so many game options that you get overwhelmed.

But, when you play online, you do not need to wander around the casino until you find the machine you are looking for. Online casinos have search features and categorized lists that help you find specific games.

The technology for online slots games has advanced far quicker than the technology for land-based machines. It took a century for traditional slot machines to offer cashless transactions and second-screen bonus features.

Online Slots Land-based Slots
There is no limit to the number of people who can play on a particular slot machine. If someone is on the machine you want to play, you have to wait your turn.
You can choose from many different slot themes. Land-based slots have many slot themes too.
Online casinos have hundreds of slots to choose from. B&M casinos can only have as many slot machines as they have room for.
Use online casino filters to quickly find a slot machine. You have to walk the floor to find the machines you want to play.

Online slots have already revolutionized the gaming options within the past two to three decades. They have more bonus features and more ways to win than their land-based counterparts.

One good example of this advanced technology is the pay lines. Land-based slot machines are typically limited to around 25 pay lines. They have to be preprogrammed to identify the specific winning combinations.

When you play online slots, you can find some games with 100 or even 1,000 different ways to win.

The web-based technology can identify winning combinations much faster than the games in land-based casinos, and it can accommodate more combinations without taking up hardware space.

Software developers continue to find innovative ways to incorporate cutting-edge technology.

NetEnt is a European company that has already introduced VR slot machines called Jack and the Beanstalk. As technology continues to change, slot machines will undoubtedly follow the latest trends.

If you are just interested in playing slots for a bit of entertainment, you might enjoy the atmosphere of a land-based casino better than an online slot. But, for players that are serious about winning as often as possible, online slots are actually a better choice.

When online slots were first introduced, many customers were hesitant about giving their financial information to an online company. But, as long as you choose a safe online casino, you have nothing to worry about.

Online Casinos Have Higher Slot RTPs

Another benefit to playing online slots is that they have higher RTPs compared to land based slots.

Here are a few examples of payback percentages at land-based casinos in Las Vegas versus some of the most popular online software providers.

Las Vegas Slot Payouts
Area Average Payback Percentage
The Strip 93.03%
Downtown 94.78%
Boulder Strip 95.60%
N. Las Vegas 95.74%
Ainsworth Slot Payouts
Game Average Payback Percentage
Big Red 97.04%
Let’s Go Fish’n 97.00%
Pelican Pete 94.97%
Queen of the Nile 2 95.86%
Red Baron 95.70%
More Chilli 95.69%
More Hearts 95.69%
Big Ben 95.55%
Zorro 95.50%
Pompeii 95.50%
Average 95.64%
Playtech Slot Payouts
Game Average Payback Percentage
Ocean Princess 99.07%
Ugga Bugga 99.07%
Tropic Reels 99.07%
Golden Tour 97.70%
Football Rules 97.10%
A Night Out 97.06%
Desert Treasure 97.05%
The Mummy 96.80%
Average 97.69%

There are two main reasons that online casinos offer better payback percentages than land-based casinos.

  • They have fewer operational expenses because they do not have to pay cashiers, slot attendants, cleaning crews, and other employees.
  • Land-based casinos also have massive expenses for their facilities, including the building itself, gaming supplies, electricity, and air conditioning in the buildings. Online casinos don’t have to worry about any of that.

The thing that online casinos do need to worry about is competition.

Outside of Las Vegas, many land-based casinos are the only casinos in their area. Players can visit online casinos from anywhere, so they have their choice of literally hundreds of online slots operators.

One of the best ways that online casinos can compete is by offering better odds and higher payouts.

Speaking of higher payouts, online slot machines offer much higher progressive jackpot opportunities. They have a much broader network of players worldwide that all contribute to the prize pool.

Land-based jackpots are typically only linked to the slot machines in that particular casino.

Cash Splash was the first online progressive jackpot game. Microgaming created it in 1998, followed by Mega Moolah in 2012. Both of these games offer seven-figure payouts regularly.

Mega Moolah is responsible for the highest online jackpot payout. Jon Heywood won more than £17 million or $20 million on October 6th, 2015. Microgaming was officially entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest jackpot payout in an online slot machine game.

There are several advantages to playing slot machines online, but the game’s basis remains the same. Whether you enjoy playing online or in-person, slot machines remain one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the gambling industry.

How Far Slots Have Come

Slot machines are the most popular games in the casino for the majority of gamblers. Casinos spend thousands of dollars to make their slot machines as attractive and comfortable as possible.

But that investment always pays off because casinos make such a significant portion of their revenue from slots.

The only reason they continue to be so popular is that they have evolved over time. If casinos were still offering the Liberty Bell machines with the highest possible payout of 50 cents, no one would bother with them anymore.

Gamblers owe Charles Fey credit for creating the first cash-based slot machines. But, we can also be grateful for the inventions of new slot machine variations and features.

Video slots from Fortune Coin Company, second-screen bonuses from WMS, and ticket in ticket out software from MGM and their partners all revolutionized slot machines in their own way.

And progressive jackpots from IGT and the incorporation of online slots from dozens of software developers continue to offer players the best slot machine experience possible.

We have come a long way from the slot machines that were first invented in the 1890s. We can’t wait to see how new technology continues to transform online slots and other gambling options in the future.