Slot in Focus – the 5 Most Creative and Innovative Variations from the Last Century

| March 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

Since the first slot machines in the 1890s, the game has undergone many innovative steps. Online gambling is so popular that in recent years, the industry in the United States has made about $30 billion per year. The staggering increase in the number of sites and games, combined with the fact that even complete casinos can now be found online really testifies to the progress in innovative developments in the gambling industry..


What’s In a Name

Slot machines were first called “nickel-in-the-slot machines” because of the coin that had to be used. “Cigar store klondikes”, a variation of the same machine, began appearing in tobacco shops all over San Francisco. Eventually, the name we know today stuck when it became possible to play with other coins and notes.

Today, we’ve decided to drill down and focus on three major innovations with slot machines in the 20th century – the basic design, the electronic device, and the rise of digital slot machines as found at and other reputable sites.

Lib machine

The Basic Design

The well-known shape of the slot machine is an innovation in itself and is known as the “Liberty Bell” unit. The shape of the slot machine was brought in by a German immigrant saloon owner called Charles August Fey. His device is what electronic and digital machines are based on today – three mechanical reels with the highly recognizable symbols: horseshoes, stars, card suits, and bells. Every slot machine ever made owes its design to this shape. Even in online casinos and online slots sites, this classic design can still be seen as the basis for many games.


The Electronic Age

During the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, electrical models began replacing the mechanical machines found in casinos. Advances in electronic technology added more lights, sounds, bells, whistles, and other creative features that made the experience much more exciting for the player. In the 1970s, Bally Manufacturing saw a meteoric rise to prominence with its flagship “Dollar Slots” model, which featured a dollar-sized hopper that had a large tray where silver dollars would make loud noises when they fell. Bally Technologies is currently making a comeback in the industry after being on hiatus since the early ’90s, and you can see examples of this on Crunchbase.


The Rise of Digital Slot Machines

When software-driven slot machines began appearing in the ’80s, many different variations and styles of games became possible. Programmers had the ability to add limitless symbols to the spinning reels to create a unique slot experience and varying odds at winning. A user now has access to virtually endless novelty when they play, and this unending creativity is clear when you check out some of the newer sites out there.

As in any industry, a company needs to attract customers, and the most successful online gambling sites have learned that an innovative approach is the best way to distinguish themselves from the competition. One recent example of this is bgo hiring Verne Troyer, known to many as ‘Mini-Me’ from the Austin Power films, to be the new face of the company in 2014. Nevertheless, while celebrity endorsements are indeed a powerful marketing tool, in the end it’s still the variety and quality of the games available that matters most. After all, players are more likely to visit websites where there are not only sports bets are on offer, but also slots and other gambling devices commonly found in brick-and-mortar casinos. Most online gambling sites, including bgo, have recognized this and put substantial effort into providing players with a wide variety of games to play. This trend, combined with the hassle-free nature of online gambling, has contributed significantly to the rise of digital slot machines.

Perhaps the most significant innovation that has arisen from the increasing popularity of software-based slot machines, however, is player activity tracking. This allows operators to run opt-in programs that reward frequent users. Players registered at bgo, for example, can play slots while earning free meals, reduced air fares, accommodation, car rental, or other perks. These bonuses add a new dimension to the games and serve as an effective means of incentivizing regular visitors.



Frank Legato, editor of Casino Connections and Global Gambling Business Magazine discusses the history of slot machines in an article (PDF 500kb).

Further information about the advances in slot machine programs can be found in an article by Kathleen P. Brewer, an academic who writes about digital gaming at the University of Nevada.


Photo credits: Liberty Bell Slot Machine and Old Fruit Machines from the UK

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Category: Entertainment

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