Danny McKeown, Guest Author at BestCasinoSites.net

A Brief History of Casino Slots

The history of slots is a long and storied one which starts all the way back in 1891 in New York City, New York when Sittman and Pitt designed a machine that would revolutionise casino gambling landscape forever.

Their machine consisted of five drums holding a total of 50 cards and the game was very much based on poker, a popular card game at the time. The aim was to get the best “hand” by spinning the drums.

Because of its size and complexity, it was practically impossible to set the machine up in a way that would award an automatic pay out. Being mainly played in bars, prizes tended to include free drinks in lieu of cash.

Spotting an opportunity, Charles Fey of San Francisco, California created a much simpler machine that contained an automatic mechanism that spun three reels. Instead of cards, the reels had five symbols; horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts and a Liberty Bell.

It was the final symbol that lent its name to the machine and, by creating a more simplistic mechanism, it was possible for Fey to create an automatic payout on winning spins. This truly was the birth of slots as we know them today.

Traditional casino slots

Despite gambling being banned in California, Fey could not keep up the demand for his newly popular gambling machine and others took advantage by creating near identical copies. By the early 20th century, there wasn’t a casino in the US that didn’t have a Liberty Bell machine.

By this point, other symbols had been introduced into the designs such as fruit symbols and what would eventually become the BAR symbol. The machines also had a mechanical lever at the side that players would pull to spin the reels.

It was these developments that gave the machines their more modern nickname of ‘fruit machines’. However, the more commonly used nickname for some time was ‘one-armed bandits’ due to the lever, or ‘arm’, that needed to be pulled.

The one-armed bandits ruled casinos all over the world for decades, until they began being replaced by more modern, electronic-based slot machines that could payout easier and accept different forms of payment like banknotes.

These days, you’ll still see hundreds of traditional slots and some even feature the nostalgic ‘arm’ on the side. However, they will also be completely electronic in their mechanisms and the vast majority will be video slots.

The fact that these machines are still massively prevalent in modern day casinos is a testament to the thrill that they provide players. Clearly there is still a place for them moving forward, even just to appeal to nostalgia.

The online slots revolution

The 21st century saw the beginning of the online slots revolution. Online gambling was becoming more and more prevalent and casinos had to adapt with the times.

Now, you’ll find the best online slot sites offer a whole host of slots games to choose from. They even come in categories because there are that many!

Online slots gaming also received a massive boost in the 2010s, as owning a smartphone became the new norm. Now, everyone had access to the internet at their fingertips and this presented a golden opportunity for casinos.

With the development of apps and optimised mobile websites, online casinos were able to capitalise on this new technology. This resulted in gaming developers investing more into their games too and the choice of games increased exponentially.

All of this helped to create a shift in how players gamble. Those who used to visit their local casino to play slots now simply load up their favourite games online from the comfort of their own home.

Online slots vs offline slots

It’s an argument that is likely to rage on for some time, as offline slots still very much have a place in this modern, technological era. But are their days numbered?

The answer could be found by taking a closer look at modern society as a whole. Convenience is valued above all else these days and the inconvenience of having to physically go to a casino is off putting.

However, when it comes to online slots v real slots, both provide their own very unique thrill and this is arguably why traditional slot machines are still in existence. How long that lasts is anyone’s guess.

Online slots pros and cons

When it comes to online slots there are, of course, plenty of pros and also some cons. These can affect the kind of experience players have and whether or not they will return to the relevant online casino in future.

We already know that, according to the UK Gambling Commission, there has been a steady trend of online gamblers going up and retail/casino gamblers going down. But what could be causing that?

Firstly, let’s look at some of the pros:

  • Convenience playing slot games online provides an enhanced level of convenience for players who can simply load up a game on their smartphone device.
  • Choice when you play online slots you have the benefit of much more choice. There are hundreds, and sometimes even thousands, of games to choose from at the top online casinos.
  • Bonuses and promotions bonuses and promotions are far more accessible at online slots v real slots. There are more to choose from and more opportunities to use them.
  • Privacy playing slots online also provides players with more privacy. This is a benefit to those who don’t necessarily want to be seen gambling at a casino.

You can’t have the good without the bad though. There are many reasons that people do not enjoy the online slots experience. Here are some of the cons of playing slot games online:

  • Transaction times online transactions, especially withdrawals, can take days and sometimes even weeks to fully process.
  • No social interaction playing online means that there is no need to leave your home. This reduces the amount of social interactions that you would ordinarily have in a bricks and mortar casino.
  • Vulnerable to problem gambling the ease of access for online slots gambling makes players susceptible to problem gambling.
  • Untrustworthy casinos most casinos are regulated, but the online world always has people trying to take advantage. This leaves people potentially open to scams and losing money to unregistered, unregulated casinos.

Traditional slots pros and cons

Bricks and mortar casinos, which tend to offer players the chance to play a variety of slot machines at a physical location, are still going strong. Some places, like Las Vegas, benefit massively from the traditional casino experience.

But when it comes to online slots v offline slots, you must also look at the pros and cons of a physical slot machine. This allows you to better understand the experience for players.

The pros of traditional slots include:

  • Instant payouts playing at an offline slot means that you get access to your winning instantly. No waiting around for online payments to process to your bank account.
  • Social interaction playing at a physical casino also provides the chance to interact and socialise with other casino goers. This is an experience that cannot be matched online.
  • Elevated sensory experience while online slots try to recreate the real casino experience, it’s just not the same. Nothing beats the lights and sounds of the surrounding machines and players in a bricks and mortar casino.
  • Real life customer support no being left on hold on the phone or talking to a chatbot online when playing real slots. If you have an issue, you can speak to a real person, instantly.

Some of the cons include:

  • Fewer bonuses and promotions slot machines can’t offer the same level of bonuses and promotions that online slots can. This is one of their main disadvantages in the eyes of punters.
  • Fewer choices of slot games there can only be a finite number of machines in a physical casino and this unfortunately limits choice. Over a long period, players could become bored of the same games.
  • Can be more expensive traditional slots tend to have a higher minimum bet value, which is a big disadvantage in an online slots vs slot machines comparison. This could mean losing more money over time.

Online slots vs real slots conclusion

Having taken a look at the history of slots and their deserved place in the worlds of both physical and online casinos and the pros and cons of each, it seems the “best experience” is very much subjective.

It’s true that online slots provide players with slightly more benefits than traditional slots. However, the risks and downsides are also a bit more severe, so really it’s down to the individual player’s preference.

It can be said without doubt that, when looking at online slots v slot machines more closely, that both provide entertainment in their own right. However the needs of modern day players are different to 20 years ago.

Players place much more value on the bonuses and promotions element of playing slots these days. This is something that online slots excel at, while traditional slots struggle to match up and provide what’s expected.

The social aspect of real slots is one that is still attractive to players. However, the live casino products are getting closer and closer to matching that experience, especially with recent developments in virtual and augmented reality.

This is why we’ve concluded that, while both offer benefits and their own unique experience, it’s online slots that will prosper long term.

About the author

Name Danny McKeown
Job Freelance Writer Specialising in iGaming

Danny McKeown is a professional content writer who specialises in slots and poker. He expanded his expertise and worked for renowned companies in the iGaming industry.

Versatility, knowledge and passsion are the three factors that make a good content writer.

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