Slot Machines also known as Fruit Machines, One-Armed Bandits or simply slots, are an extremely popular form of gambling and can often be responsible for over 70% of a casino’s revenue. The lure of the machine is its simplicity and the fact players can win potentially huge prizes for very small stake.
The first-ever slot machine was created by Charles Fey of San Francisco, California back in 1887 and was called Liberty Bell. He designed a machine that had five spinning reels displaying horseshoes, spades, hearts, diamonds and Liberty Bells (hence the name of the machine) that would payout automatically if the reels lined up in a specific way.
The Liberty Bell was an overnight success and many other machines soon copied the design and the slot machine industry was born. The original machine can still be seen in the Liberty Belle Saloon & Restaurant in Reno, Nevada.
Over time, as technology developed, slot machines began to become electronic, which not only looked better for the customers and gave them a wider choice of games, it also allowed casinos to control the payouts of the machines. By law there is a minimum percentage the machines have to pay out over specified sample size, for example, in Las Vegas slot machines have to pay out at least 75% although most better this and pay between 82-98% of their take back to the customers. It is not unusual for some machines, especially those near the entrance of the casino, to pay out in the 100-105% range so the sound of the money being won attracts customers into the casino!
Today’s modern slots allow the customer to play multiple winning lines at once, sometimes up to 50 but 20 is a common number. These multi-line machines can also be linked together so that they create a progressive jackpot that increases each time a customer places a wager. The most common and best-known of these progressive jackpot slots is the MegaBucks machines which operate throughout the state of Nevada and pay out a minimum of $10,000,000!
The largest jackpot won in March of 2003 when a 25-year old man wagered $100 in a progressive jackpot slot at The Excalibur Hotel and Casino and won the $39.7m jackpot, paid out in $1.5m instalments. Online progressive slots regularly pay out in excess of $400,000 though the record at the moment stands close to £2,000,000!