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Playing slots has long been one of the most exciting ways to win big and have fun, but that wasn’t always the case. Historically, slots are relatively new.

So where and when did slot machines first originate? How did they become so popular in the first place?

The earliest slot machines

According to legend, the first slot machine was invented in 1894 in San Francisco. Pioneered by Charles Fey, his device, known as the Liberty Bell, features the familiar design that we've all come to know and love. The Liberty Bell included three spinning reels, a single pay line, and a fully automated payout system. Over the years slots have advanced with more ways to win. Today, you’ll typically find a five-reel game with 40 ways to win!

Despite the initial popularity of Fey's invention, slot machines have undergone many transformations over the years. For example, fruit symbols were added to the slot machine's reels in 1907. Prior to this, card symbols and suits were used.

Mills Novelty Co. created a feature in the 1920s called “Skill Stop”, where a player could push a button to stop the reels and attempt to influence a win. A feature still popular on games today across the Illinois VGT market.

A company well-known in the Illinois VGT world, Bally, unveiled the original electromechanical slot machine, known as Money Honey, in 1963.

As ingenious as Money Honey was, it still required the user to pull on a mechanical lever in order to put the spinning reels into motion. It's because of this lever, which appeared on earlier machines, too, that gave slot machines the nickname of "The One-Armed Bandit." In later years, a button was added to modern machines in lieu of the infamous mechanical lever.

The year 1976 saw the invention of the original video slot machine, the precursor to Illinois VGT games, and 1994 saw the introduction of the first online casino to host video slot machines. These video slot machines were later refined to feature much better graphics, including HD and 3D imagery, and these models are the precursor to the Video Gaming Terminals offered by Prairie State Gaming.

An interesting development in slot machine technology is what is known as a Class II “Bingo Slot Machine”. Many Tribal casinos are limited to Class II gaming which is defined as “the game of chance commonly known as bingo”. So, in order for a Class II property to operate slot machines a technology was invented for slot machines to essentially participate in a bingo game but display the outcome on a slot reel. This impressive technology delivered slot machines to many Tribal casinos who otherwise could only offer bingo.

Progressive Jackpots
The invention of progressive jackpots was undoubtedly the most exciting slot machine creation since Charles Fey created the Liberty Bell in his San Francisco workshop. IGT unveiled Megabucks in 1986 as the first progressive jackpot and soon after a flurry of progressives were introduced into the market.

How do they work? Progressive jackpots gradually increase their jackpot over time. Typically, growing with lost wagers that go towards the jackpot prize. The longer it takes to hit the bigger the jackpot will be!

Are there many types? Many manufacturers have their own products, but there are also different ways to grow the jackpot:

  • Standalone
  • Casino Specific
    • Many slot machines in a particular casino can be linked together to more quickly grow the progressive jackpot.
  • Wide Area Progressives
    • These are manufacturer based and typically span an entire jurisdiction. For example, Wheel of Fortune across all of Nevada may be the same progressive payout.
    • These are the most exciting, biggest jackpots growing well into the millions, and are the hardest to hit.

What is the most famous progressive? The single most famous game is certainly “Lion’s Share” at the MGM Grand. This infamous game took over 20 years to hit and finally did in 2014 for the sum of $2.4 million!

Can I have one at my bar in Illinois? Yes!!! Prairie State Gaming expects to offer progressive jackpot games with wins up to $10,000 in 2021. Call us at 630-870-3400 today to get in line!!!

The Illinois Favorite
Most importantly, we have Video Gaming Terminals (Illinois VGTs). VGTs in Illinois are identical cabinets that you would find in a traditional casino property on the Vegas Strip. We utilize the same technology (random number generator), themes, and pay tables (usually more favorable on an Illinois VGT) but deliver the product to hard working bar and restaurant owners for enjoyment by patrons across Illinois. If you’re interested in adding the Best in Town VGTs to your establishment reach out to Prairie State Gaming today! If you’re a patron looking to enjoy the hottest slots with the best promotional app in Illinois text RCR to 43506 to download Red Carpet Rewards and find a location near you!

Slot machine regulations

Modern slot machines are subject to a number of regulations that tend to vary from country to country and even between different states. In fact, the United States outright banned them in 1902. To circumvent these laws, the machines paid out treats like chewing gum and various candies instead of cash.

Nevada even banned all forms of gambling in 1910, but they legalized open gambling just three years later. Then in 1931, commercial gambling was made legal once and for all in the state of Nevada, and other states slowly began to legalize it, too.

In 2009 Illinois passed the Illinois Video Gaming Act and on September 8th, 2012 the games you know and love from Prairie State Gaming went live!

To find out more information about the Best in Town video VGTs and how they can bring success to your business, contact Prairie State Gaming today.