Online Slots: Where it All Began

By  //  September 22, 2022

Slot games make up for an average of 70% of both land-based and online casinos. But, when it comes to online Slots, in the modern day, there are so many more variations, mechanics and themed games available than you ever could’ve imagined. 

Since the first online casino opened in 1996, games have continued to develop. However, in order for us to take a look back at where online Slots began, we first need to take a look back in time to the origins of the humble slot machine. 

Read on to find out more. 

The Poker machine

Around 1891, the first form of slot machines came about. Created by Sittman and Pitt, this machine had five drums and contained 50 playing cards. To play, you would need to insert a nickel and pull a lever that would stretch the internal springs and set the drums spinning when the lever was released. 

Rather than the credits or coins we’re used to receiving these days, winnings would be paid in the forms of free drinks and cigars at the bar in which the machine was found – all you had to do was successfully line up Poker hands on the reels. To increase the house edge, two cards from the standard deck were removed – the ten of Spades and the Jack of Hearts. 

The first slot machine

In around 1887 to 1895, Charles Augustus Fey created what is credited as the first slot machine. To allow automated payouts, Fey replaced the existing five drums with three reels and changed the playing cards to just five symbols – Hearts, Diamonds, Spades, horseshoes and a liberty bell. 

Due to Fey not applying for a patent for his design, other manufacturers copied this machine. 

When slot machines were banned in 1902, it was the Liberty Bell that continued to be manufactured, paving the way for the Fruit Machine era in which most machines would pay out prizes in form of sweets of the corresponding flavour to the fruit displayed on the reels. 

Slots go electric

In 1964, the first fully electromechanical slot took to the stage. It was called Money Honey and was released by a company called Bally. The reels were no longer spun using a spring, but the lever remained to incorporate a familiar feel to players. 

This was also the first slot machine with a bottomless hopper, meaning that it could make an automatic payout of up to 500 coins. 

As the game increased in popularity, the lever was eventually removed and replaced with a button. 

Video Slots

Between 1976 and 1978, the first video slot was developed by a Las Vegas based company called Fortune Coin. 

The game was created using a modified 19-inch Sony television for the display and was first made available in the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel. 

Shortly after undergoing some cheat-proofing modifications, the machine was given approval by the Nevada State Gaming Commission, in turn becoming hugely popular on the Las Vegas Strip. 

Online Slots

Nothing much changed until 1996 apart from perhaps the odd theme and variation of land-based slot machines. When the first online casino opened its virtual doors in the mid-90s, slot games quickly became available. 

The size of potential payouts increased, and over time different features, icons, bonuses and mechanics have taken slot games to a whole new level. Now, you can play classic Fruit Machine inspired games alongside so many others. So, where will you spin next?