Every year, dozens, if not hundreds, of new video slot machines hit casino floors around the world, including in Las Vegas.
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The challenge of creating unique, compelling names for all these machines is one rarely spoken about publicly, but that’s about to change.
Vital Vegas was contacted by an industry insider who has revealed sensitive information about recent changes in the way slot machines are named (“branded”), and the truth is nothing short of shocking.
Our source, who asked to remain anonymous, leaked a two-page document distributed in strict confidence by the CEO of one of the largest slot machine manufacturers in the world. Certain information has been concealed to protect the identity of our source.
Is this what it’s come to?
This leaked letter is already sending shock waves through the slot machine industry and the casino business at-large, but the real bombshell is the “name generator” now being used to create slot machine names.
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Here’s the unaltered second page of the document, provided at great personal and professional peril by our source.
Are we apprehensive about possible repercussions from the slot machine industry? Yes, but we felt it was important to share this disturbing revelation.
While we understand the slot machine industry is a competitive one, we were dismayed to learn automation and cost-saving measures appear to have, once again, won out over human creativity and time-honored gaming industry practices.
Evidence of this “idea outsourcing” is already apparent in the marketplace.
The bottom line: We’ll never look at slot machines quite the same way again.
Most experts believe that the first slot machine was developed by the Sittman and Pitt Company in Brooklyn in 1891, although some credit the invention of slot machines to Bavarian immigrant, Charles Fey. The dispute is due to the fact that Sittman and Pitt’s machine was very different from anything resembling a modern slot machine.
Sittman and Pitt’s machine was made of cast iron and used standard playing cards. A random five card sequence would be generated after players inserted their coins. Then, using the same rules as poker, players with better hands would be allowed to keep playing and eventually cash out.
Drawbacks of the Sittman and Pitt Machine
Initially, Sittman and Pitt’s slot machine was developed to improve efficiency in saloons. The idea was well conceived, but it had two significant limitations:
The machine lacked a feature for dispensing money, which created serious debates over what rewards winning players should receive. And since saloons were on the hook to offer free drinks, cigars and other rewards – and because the rules varied between saloons – players couldn’t always be certain what they’d receive for winning hands.
The machine only had 50 cards, rather a standard 52 card deck, limiting players’ opportunities to be dealt winning hands.
A few years later, Fey developed his own version of the machine – known as the Liberty Bell slot machine – which sought to improve on this model.
The Liberty Bell Slot Machine
Charles Fey’s Liberty Bell slot machine departed from Sittman and Pitt’s machine in two substantial ways:
Unlike Sittman and Pitt’s machines, the Liberty Bell used reels with different symbols instead of cards. These reels had diamonds, spades, hearts, clubs, bells, stars and horseshoes as symbols – the same symbols still used by some slot machines today.
The Liberty Bell machines could actually dispense coins to winning players. Players would receive between two and twenty coins, depending on the combination on their reels.
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This machine was very well received in saloons throughout the United States, causing many other companies to start producing them. The introduction of the Liberty Bell slot machine line is seen as the beginning of mechanical gambling.
Other Companies Improve on Fey’s Design
While the Liberty Bell closely resembles modern slot machines, the machines it inspired incorporated several new features that today’s gamblers will recognize. For instance, about a decade after the first Liberty Bell machine was produced, Mills Novelty Co. produced the Operator Bell slot machine, which was the first slot machine to have fruit for slots.
Debates Over Regulation Transpire Across the World
As slot machines became more widely produced, jurisdictions across the world debated the need for regulation. Politicians in the United States had a rather puritanical outlook during the 1920s, so they sought to strongly restrict – or even outright ban – slot machines.
As slot machine manufacturers struggled to grow their market share in the United States, they expanded their marketing efforts abroad. The European markets, in particular, grew rapidly during the 1970s, thanks to more lenient regulation. Contrasting regulatory philosophies between the United States and Europe still exist, which has allowed online gambling to become a stronger industry in Europe.
Electronic Generation of Slot Machines
Slot machines continued to evolve over the years, driven in large part by our increasing reliance on electronics and technology. Bally Manufacturing, for example, released Money Honey, the first entirely electronic slot machine in 1963. Bally’s machine retained the lever that was used in more primitive slot machines, though other manufacturers would go on to get rid of it altogether.
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The initial benefit of electronic slot machines was that they were more reliable and convenient to use. However, future generations of electronic slots became even more sophisticated. In 1996, WMS Industries, Inc. developed a series of slot machines called Reel ‘Em In that came with a second screen, allowing players to earn special bonuses that weren’t available with prior slot machines.
Wider Array of Choices
While slot machines continued to evolve over the years, gamblers still had limited options at their disposal, until manufacturers began to introduce different types of slot-style games. Here are just a few of the options that are currently available to casino patrons:
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5-reel video slots
Patrons can still find many of these electronic slot machines in casinos around the world. They were also important in laying the groundwork for what would eventually become the slots-style games offered on online gambling sites.
Online slots haven’t made the slot machines in casinos obsolete, but they’ve certainly changed the course of the gaming industry since the launch of the first online gambling software and online gambling in 1994.
Since then, the online gambling industry has grown faster than anybody would have ever predicted. There were only 15 online gaming sites in 1996, but that figured increased to 200 by the following year. Many different forms of online gambling have been made available over the years, but slot machines remain one of the most popular.
Mobile gambling, in particular, is on the rise, and it’s likely that demand for mobile slots will increase in the future as well. The existing digital gaming industry is currently estimated to be worth about $3 billion, but value could rise as mobile gaming becomes more popular.
What’s Next in the Ever-Evolving Future of Slot Machines?
Although slot machines have been a popular form of gambling for more than a century, they continue to evolve. As new technology and features become available in the near future, it’s likely we’ll see even more growth and engagement with this fun digital gaming option.
What do you think will be the future of the slot machine? Share your predictions by leaving a comment below: