Ever wondered how much revenue slots generate? Well, you might want to sit down for this one.
In 2021 the global online gambling market size was valued at $57.54 billion and it’s expected to grow at around 11.7% annually from 2022 to 2030. That, my dear friends, is a lot of money.
And, because slots generate up to 80% of most online casinos’ income, I’m sure you’ll agree that this invention deserves some credit.
The First Card Machines
For some reason, it is widely believed that The Liberty Bell was the first slot machine but the truth is that the first slot was developed by Sittman and Pitt in 1891. Dubbed The Card Machine, it had five drums holding a total of 50 face cards and took inspiration from poker.
Players had to insert a coin, pull the lever and the drums would spin. And, because it didn’t have any mechanical payout mechanism, the prizes depended on the establishment where The Card Machine was housed.
I suppose winning hands would get a free beer while a good win, like a royal flush, would get the player a highball or a cigar, or something like that.
And, even back in those days, the odds were tipped towards the house (or establishment) by removing two cards from the deck – the jack of hearts and the ten of spades, which would then double the odds against spinning a royal flush.
As the Card Machines gained popularity, the need for a mechanical payout mechanism increased and this is when a Bavarian Motor Mechanic would forever change the face of slot machines.
The late 1800s in San Fransisco was a wild time with saloons, honky tonks, cigar shops, and of course gambling. And, because the Card Machines were doing extremely well, Charles Fey decided to build his own machines in his small apartment in Berkley.
His first slot machine was The Horseshoe, then came the 4-11-44 but it was the Card Bell Slot that gave him his first taste of success. This machine had a staggered stop with three reels and an automatic payout mechanism, which is a design that dominated the industry until the birth of electronic slot machines.
The Card Bell initially had playing cards as symbols but he later changed this to stars and bells and renamed it the Liberty Bell. And, if you were lucky enough to land three bells in one row, you would hit the jackpot earning yourself the biggest payoff of 50 cents.
Nowadays, the biggest jackpot ever won on a slot machine stands at $39.7 Million. It was won by a young software engineer in Las Vegas on the slot Megabucks. Interestingly, his odds when he played with only $100 was 1 in 16,700,000 so luck was obviously on his side on that life-changing day.
And, the biggest ever online slot win of all time is $23.6 Million on Microgaming’s Absolootly Mad Mega Moolah in April of 2021 which just shows you how far slots have come since the inception of The Liberty Bell.
Electric and Video Slots
It was only in the 1960s that the first electronic slot machine was made by a manufacturer called Bally eliminating the original spring and lever mechanics that have made these machines so popular all the decades prior.
Funny enough, the slot – Money Honey – still had a lever but in truth, it was mostly for show because the reels used electricity to spin. The manufacturer decided to keep this edition because many players believed that they could affect the outcome of the spin by pulling the lever manually.
It also had a feature called the bottomless hopper that allowed the slot to make payouts of up to $500 which was quite a significant increase from the highest payout since then, which was only $5.
And, last but not least, it was the first slot machine to have multipliers based on the number of coins inserted by the player which I suppose is the modern-day version of a payline.
After a trial period in Las Vegas, the popularity of Money Honey grew with the speed of light, which of course led to the invention of more and more slot machines.
In 1986 the first progressive slot machine called Megabucks (rings a bell right!) was manufactured by IGT and the rest was history!
And then, after the slot machine celebrated its 100th birthday, the internet arrived and it was yet again transformed, moving from land-based casinos across the globe to a new, more accessible space, known as cyberspace, or online is you like!
After the Free Trade & Processing Act was passed by the Government of the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, licenses could now be granted to operators wanting to provide online gambling services over the internet.
While this was happening, a small software company, Microgaming, was formed on the Isle of Man, not knowing at the time how they would change the world of online gaming. They joined forces with another small company, Cryptologic, to enable players to make online transactions, and soon after this, the first official online casino was launched – The Gaming Club.
Or was it Cryptologic’s InterCasino that hit the online gambling scene first? One would never know because there are two versions of this groundbreaking story but it doesn’t really matter because when these casinos were launched, they hit the ground running.
After Slots, Online Sportsbook made its arrival followed by Poker and Live Casinos. From there on the Online Casino scene exploded and just as we thought, it couldn’t get any better, cryptocurrencies showed up to join in the fun which led to the emergence of crypto slots, and provably fair games, which again, turned the industry upside down.
Ever since slot machines became a big deal, gambling, in general, faced many hurdles, like governmental interference due to apparent grey areas, licensing issues, or geographical restrictions.
But then crypto came to save the day!
No one knows for sure which crypto casino came first but if it was established in 2013, you can pretty much count them as founding members.
Today still slots are by far the most popular game played at online crypto casinos but because it is now more accessible than ever thanks to, its popularity is rising at the speed of light.