The History and Evolution of Real Money Slot Machines: From the Liberty Bell to Modern-Day Video Slots

A slot machine is the first game that pops into everyone’s mind when it’s about casinos. Reeling the machine to win a payout is a fun and rewarding moment for players. This famous casino game also has an equally interesting history that every slot fan must know.

From its origin to futuristic virtual machines, let’s explore all about slots.

The Early Days of Slot Machines

Charles Augustus Fey created the first slot machine in the late 19th Century. Presumably, he invented the reeling machine between 1887 to 1895. Also popularly known as the fruit machine, this slot game had an automated payout system.

This machine had 3 reels with 5 symbols that were typical playing card icons, i.e., the club, heart, spade, and diamond. Since three bell symbols provided the highest payout in the game, it got the name Liberty Bell.

Fey didn’t get a patent for his unique design. Hence, several manufacturers introduced slot machines in the market. Gambling enthusiasts could easily wager on slot machines at barbershops, bars, cigar shops, saloons, and many other locations.

 Fun Fact: Players also call it “one-armed bandits” due to the manual controlling of the lever and spring during the game.

The Rise of Electronic Slot Machines

The popularity of slot games shifted from a manual to a fully-electromechanical machine in 1964. Bally invented the reeling machine called Money Honey with a bottomless hopper. Hence, it automatically paid out rewards of nearly 500 coins.

Initially, it had a lever system to start the game. The new machine with no lever existed after gamblers got the hang of the electronic gameplay.

Further, one more discovery reshaped the slot machine experience for players. 1976 marked the advent of video slot games, which featured the modified 19-inch Sony TV screen. Developed by Fortune Coin, this slot game was available to play at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel. After approval from Nevada State Gaming Commission, this video slot machine became a trend in the Las Vegas Strip.

Modern-Day Video Slots

Another landmark in the history of slot machines was in 1996 by WMS Industries Inc. The company released the first game with a bonus round and additional payout on the second screen called “Reel ‘Em.” After activating the bonus round, gamblers could play a jackpot game on a new screen.

It was the era of modern slot games in the brick-and-mortar casino market. That said, 70% of a casino’s revenue was from slot gambling during this period.

However, slot games once again took a significant turn in the 90s era with the launch of online casinos. The digital gambling world introduced branded slot games. These licensed slot machines focus on universally popular subjects based on blockbuster movies, TV shows, fairytales, music, and books.

Microgaming released the first virtual, branded slot title called Cash Splash. Initially, branded slots also had the same symbols and reels as the traditional versions. However, developers soon started designing advanced gameplays using different programming languages. These online slot machines had more exciting themes, graphics, symbols, layouts, bonus rounds, and payouts.

For instance, gambling sites these days offer five reels slot games. Besides, you’ll find the best slot on quick hit slots, bonus, and progressive jackpot slots in an online casino.

Today, these virtual slots have a market edge. NetEnt, PlayTech, Play’n GO, IGT, and Big Time Gaming are the other key players in the industry.

Best Branded Slot Games

  • Lara Croft – Microgaming
  • Guns N’ Roses – NetEnt
  • Mega Moolah – Microgaming
  • Cleopatra – IGT
  • Wheel of Fortune – IGT
  • Gladiator – Playtech
  • Guns N’ Roses – NetEnt
  • The Race Megaways – Play ‘n GO

Impact on Online Slots on Land-based Casinos

The rise of virtual slot titles will have a detrimental effect on slot machines found in brick-and-mortar casinos. The younger generation looks for convenient ways to indulge in gaming. The accessibility of slots via desktop and mobile will allow them to play their favorite games whenever they want.

Future of Real Money Slot Machines

The slot gambling market is booming after digitalization. However, nothing impresses gamblers more than innovation in gaming. Hence, casino operators and game developers are ready to embrace emerging technologies.

There will be a new wave of gamification to improve player engagement. Online slot games will include features of traditional slot machines to add value for gamblers. Besides, the stigma around the industry will fade with decreased restrictions throughout the world.

Some of the possible upcoming trends in slot gambling include:

Improved Graphics & Animation:

Future online casino slots will have sophisticated graphics and animations with immersive storylines. These intuitive games will be more user-friendly and captivating to play.

Virtual Reality:

Virtual Reality (VR) will play an integral role in shaping the future of online slot machines. Gamblers can enjoy an immersive experience in a simulated casino with VR-based online slots. So get ready for a realistic gaming experience like land-based casinos.

Data Mining:

Casino sites can use data mining techniques to monitor the gambling patterns of users. It will help operators offer personalized bonuses and slot gaming suggestions to players. Hence, slot lovers will return for a more engaging gaming experience.

Smartwatch Games:

Now, you can play real-money slot games from your smartwatch, such as The Walking Dead. With an ever-increasing number of smartwatch users, this slot gaming market also has the potential to grow.

Social Media Integration:

Online slots lack the social element players get in land-based casinos. However, integrating gambling sites with social media handles will add a social aspect to the virtual world. Gamblers can participate in online tournaments, share wins, connect with fellow players, and share experiences with friends via social media accounts.

Advanced Security Sytems:

Technological advancements also make sensitive user data susceptible to cyber threats while playing slots online. Thus, more stringent gambling regulations and security systems are the need for an hour.

 Final Words

Undoubtedly, slot machines have been the cornerstones of the gambling industry right from their inception. From the dawn of slot machines to online takeover, this casino game evolved rapidly with time. The history of slots is proof that humans adapt to new trends.

Legalization, intuitive gameplay mechanics, and cutting-edge security software will attract more slot gamers in the future.


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