Slot machines were first introduced in the 19th century and have gone through many changes since with now not only being within traditional casinos and land based but also online which hasincreased the popularity of slot games 100% – click to see more.
The introduction of the slot machine was around 1894 and was invented by Charles Fey in San Francisco, California. The game was a three reel slot and was coin operated. Initially players won drinks or cigars available over the bars of the saloon or it paid out tickets and tokens but not automatically. The Horseshoe Slot Machine was the first machine to have an automatic payout and this came before Charles Fey introduced a more sophisticated version, which paid out coins. As Fey could not patent the machine due to gambling being illegal in California, many people copied his invention.
The world of online slots has come a long way since this time and online gambling has grown hugely over the past decade. At the end of 2020 the industry is on target to hit a worth of USD80bn and the remote industry has seen a 300% increase since the change in legislation in 2014.
The original symbols
When Charles Fey invented the first slot machine in the late 19th century, the game was very simple and in order to win players were to match any of the five symbols and the machine would pay out. The symbols needing to be matched ranged from a horseshoe, a diamond from a deck of playing cards, a spade from a deck of playing cards, a heart from a deck of playing cards and a bell from which the machine took its name, the Liberty Bell. Three bells in a row was the biggest payout and paid out a grand total of fifty cents.
Following on from these symbols came the classic fruit symbols hence slot machines sometimes being referred to as fruit machines. The symbols were designed as pieces of fruit because the machine would pay out in fruit sweets or chewing gum and depending on which fruit the player landed on would determine which flavour sweet or chewing gum would be won. The pay outs were as such due to the restrictions on gambling in certain states across the US. Once the gambling regulations were lifted the fruit symbols still stuck but the machines would pay out hard cash.
Generally the fruits would be cherries, apples, watermelons, lemons and plums. However, over the years almost every kind of fruit has made some form of appearance on a slot machine or fruit machine.
Many people are under the illusion that the first known symbols to appear on slot machines were in fact playing cards. Today there is still a lot of playing cards symbols around usually though just Aces, Kings, Queens and Jacks and some games will throw in the number ten too. However, from this one of the most famous casino symbols arrived, the lucky number seven. Landing three number sevens usually paid out the most lucrative amount.
Today the traditional symbols are still seen across many slot machines especially the playing cards usually from the ten card up to the Ace and incorporating the King, Queen and Jack. However, as the slot machine evolved and became more sophisticated landing a three reel of a piece of fruit or a lucky seven wasn’t exciting enough and therefore the developers of the games changed the slots to include theme specific symbols, for example, a game with an Irish theme may see the symbols being leprechauns, pots of gold and a four leaf clover or a game with a super hero theme, lets use Batman and The Joker Jewels as an example, may see the player landing the winning prize when falling on Batman’s character symbol.
Not only have the symbols become more advanced, now we have wild symbols, scatter symbols, bonus symbols, sticky symbols, multiplier symbols and even stacked symbols. The basic symbol has come a long way!
So just what do all these symbols mean and just what do they do?
The Wild symbol is a special type of bonus symbol and usually will feature in a slot game. The Wild symbol can stand as any symbol in a winning combination and therefore increases the odds of winning hugely.
The Scatter symbol is again a bonus symbol but does not have to be part of the winning combination in order to activate, the scatter symbol can trigger a bonus game in its own right. Scatter symbols are, however, quite rare and one thing to note is that although the Wild can replace any other symbol in the game, it cannot replace the scatter.
Sticky symbols do exactly that, they stick, in other words they hang around on the reels for a number of spins allowing the player to increase their chances of winning. Multiplier symbols again speak for themselves, land on a multiplier symbol and they increase the pay out by a specific multiplier, for example a multiplier of two increases the pay out times two, a multiplier of three increases the pay out times three and so on. The multiplier symbol is very rare though but in some games can be high. Bear in mind that these multiplier symbols are usually only found during a free spin game or via a bonus game.
A bonus symbol is exactly that! Land on it and a bonus is added to the pay out or free spins are awarded or perhaps the game leads the player onto another level altogether.
Stacked symbols, last but most definitely not least, are quite a new feature in the slot machine world. They take up a large space on the reels and increases the odds of them becoming part of the pay line. Find a stacked wild symbol and these increase the odds of hitting a winning combination.
It goes without saying that things change and the world of slot machines is no different. From the 19th century to today the slot machine has become more sophisticated, exciting and creative with its symbols.