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Best of Frank Scoblete

Gaming Guru

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Slot Evolution

29 June 2021

The history of the slot machines, much like the history of anything else, tends to show an evolution of design and complexity. Human beings have gone through such evolutionary changes as well; these brought about by advances caused by mutation and, yes, by human design. It seems that everything evolves, be it animate or inanimate, or it eventually disappears.

Slots began, according to slot mythology, in 1891 with a company named Sittman and Pitt, whose proto-slot machines became the first mechanical devices designed to relieve players of their money in various bars and saloons. For winning poker hands, the player could get a beer or some cigars (the saying “close but no cigar” came from such machines) or whatever prizes the establishment decided such player hands deserved.

These machines, while popular, could be something of a P.I.T.A (pain in the a**) for the owners of the various bars offering them. Then a man, now a legend, named Charles Fey came up with a true slot machine, the Liberty Bell, in 1893 that eventually replaced the Sittman and Pitt machines as it could offer a good house edge for the bar but could also offer cash rewards without the bar’s owner having to get too involved in such payouts.

Now, the intrigue started as Herbert Mills and others “borrowed” the Liberty Bell design and many of these “borrowers” named their machines (wait for this!) the Liberty Bell. There seems to be no honor among “borrowers.”

Then came “fruit” machines that offered gum as a reward for risking one’s hard-earned money. The symbols on the reels represented various fruits. Some machines actually offered various food stuffs instead of just gum as wining rewards. By the way, the gum machines were often called Gumball machines.

So for more than two thirds of a century mechanical machines ruled the slot world and though casino slots were popular with women; the men played the table games, of which the most popular was craps. In the mid-1960s the card counting revolution in blackjack rocketed blackjack to the number one table game based on the research of Edward O. Thorp. While few players can actually count cards, the idea that blackjack could be beaten drove many players to the game. It was number one until 1984. What happened then? I’ll let you know in a little while.

Around the same time as the blackjack revolution (around 1963), slot machines made an giant evolutionary leap in their own right. They went from merely mechanical devices to something new and much more exciting.

Bally created the first truly electromechanical slot machine which it called the Money Honey. Until this time slot machines were indeed merely lunky mechanical devices. After this time electricity gave charge to the mechanisms and the playing of slots became potentially far more rewarding if the players could nail the big payouts that the Money Honey dangled in front of them.

The Money Honey machine could pay out large jackpots and for this reason players flocked to it. The age of the electromechanical machines had dawned and it was only a matter of time before slots began their inexorable climb to the top of the casino gaming ladder. Big money meant more players became interested in trying their luck on the mighty machines – even if the first was called a somewhat staid Money Honey.

In the mid-1970s the casinos saw the arrival of the video slot machines. Now symbols could be far more expressive than they ever had been in the past and they could offer more expensive possible rewards. Video poker started to become popular during this time as well and although video poker does not match slots in terms of the revenue it generates for the casinos, it is still a hefty income producer.

The big year for slot machines was 1984. The two biggest venues for slots at that time were Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Until 1984, table games were the royalty of Dame Fortune’s casinos. But that changed totally. In 1984 slots took over from table games as the leading cash cow of the casino industry. Blackjack and craps and all the other table games combined could not match the revenue now generated by those formerly “nickel in the machine” one-armed bandits.

By the 1990’s all slots and video poker devices were run by computers where the RNG (random number generator) decided everything that was about to happen. That RNG worked continuously even if the machine was not actually being played at the time.

Machines games were fast and they came in an amazing variety of guises. The inventory of the casinos was now overwhelmingly slot machines with some video poker games nestled here and there.

Sometime in the late 1990s and early 2000s we began to see the automatic slot machines arrive; machines that took no coins but only credits once money or credit slips were slipped into the belly of those beasts. You were paid with a credit receipt when you “cashed out.” This allowed players to play faster than ever before; not wasting time waiting for coins to spew from the machine. Adding to that were machines that had multiple lines of play if you wanted to spend more money. The casino revenues skyrocketed.

And now we are about to witness as new age in slot machines. But that’s for another issue.

All the best in and out of the casinos!

Visit Frank’s web site at www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, kindle, e-books and at bookstores.
Frank Scoblete

Frank Scoblete is the #1 best selling gaming author in America. His newest books are Slots Conquest: How to Beat the Slot Machines; Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo and Pai Gow Poker!; Beat Blackjack Now: The Easiest Way to Get the Edge; Casino Craps: Shoot to Win!; Cutting Edge Craps: Advanced Strategies for Serious Players; Casino Conquest: Beat the Casinos at Their Own Games! and The Virgin Kiss.

Frank and Casino City Times columnist Jerry "Stickman" teach private lessons in dice control. Frank's books are available at Amazon.com, in bookstores or by mail order. Call 1-800-944-0406 or write to Frank Scoblete Enterprises, PO Box 446, Malverne, NY 11565. Frank can also be reached by email at fscobe@optonline.net.

Frank Scoblete Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com

Books by Frank Scoblete:

> More Books By Frank Scoblete

Frank Scoblete
Frank Scoblete is the #1 best selling gaming author in America. His newest books are Slots Conquest: How to Beat the Slot Machines; Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo and Pai Gow Poker!; Beat Blackjack Now: The Easiest Way to Get the Edge; Casino Craps: Shoot to Win!; Cutting Edge Craps: Advanced Strategies for Serious Players; Casino Conquest: Beat the Casinos at Their Own Games! and The Virgin Kiss.

Frank and Casino City Times columnist Jerry "Stickman" teach private lessons in dice control. Frank's books are available at Amazon.com, in bookstores or by mail order. Call 1-800-944-0406 or write to Frank Scoblete Enterprises, PO Box 446, Malverne, NY 11565. Frank can also be reached by email at fscobe@optonline.net.

Frank Scoblete Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com

Books by Frank Scoblete:

Golden Touch Dice Control Revolution!

> More Books By Frank Scoblete