It’s well over a century since the very first slot machine was invented. In fact, it was back in 1895 when a California mechanic called Charles Fey came up with the bright idea of the Liberty Bell. This was a simple three-reel machine that paid out a fixed jackpot of 50 cents whenever the three bells lined up. The win was also celebrated by the sounding of an actual bell in the machine.
The game took off straight away, and Fey was able to give up his day job to concentrate on making the machines full time – and it’s testament to his genius that even the most sophisticated of slots games today still include some elements of the original.
Having said this, there are countless differences too, all of which have been essential to maintain and even increase the popularity of these machines, both offline and online. Much of this has been driven by the conversion of the old-style mechanical machines to video versions which are so popular today at online casinos. In fact, it’s been the meteoric rise of the online casino over the last two decades that has probably made the greatest contribution to the development of slots.
In a quest to make games more appealing to a wider range of players, a whole host of different themes feature. These range from slots which have tie-ins to big movie or TV show franchises to others which focus on particular sports or interests. Because the new generation of games are digital rather than physical, they are also able to incorporate everything from animated features to clips of films and music videos, which makes for an altogether more involving experience.
Many also include elements that have been taken from traditional avenues of video gaming to create stages that need to be completed or tasks that need to be achieved in order to win. It’s this inclusion of new features and bonus rounds that has really catapulted slot games into the 21st century.
Naturally, online casinos are determined to capitalise on the increased interest in playing the latest slots, but competition is fierce. This has meant that almost all such platforms offer welcome bonuses to encourage people to sign up to their particular casino. There are many to choose from and you can find here a list of free spins available to UK players. As you’ll see, many sites also offer match-up bonuses as an added incentive for joining up as well as free spins on certain titles. Often, these extend to other types of games on the website, including blackjack and roulette.
Looking to the future, there’s likely to be a trend to introduce variations that also include an element of skill, even more in the style of a video game than the current generation of slots. We’ve seen perhaps a handful such attempts so far, but they haven’t taken off yet. Now that virtual reality seems to also have come of age, this may well be something that we’ll soon be taking for granted in our slots too.
But, whatever the future holds for slots games, we can all thank Charles Fey for his original, brilliant breakthrough.