Gambling machines have gone through distinct moments of evolution – starting with the original mechanical poker machine in 1891, created by Sittman and Pitt. Following this, in 1895, Charles Augustus Fey created the first machine with an automatic payout mechanism. For the next few decades, developments were made in the logos used, moving from poker cards to fruit and adding the BAR symbol in 1907.
In 1964, after electricity became a mainstream comfort for the planet, the first electromechanical slot machine was created and the tactile feel of pulling a lever to activate the reels was slowly removed. But just eight years on, the world’s first video slot was introduced to the world.
Manufactured specifically for the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, this was the first step towards the graphical user interfaces that have become critical to both hardware-based slots and (eventually) the online slots of today. Over the following years, extra cheat-proofing and modifications were made to expand the playability of each game and add extra rounds for those feeling lucky, who are willing to gamble a little bit extra.
And as the Internet boomed into people’s lives in the mid-to-late 90s, the first online casinos were created to make this same gameplay available immediately in the comfort of your our homes, becoming early adopters of the internet, together with a handful of other sectors. Because of this convenience, they were quick to overtake the physical casinos in profits, engagement and payouts.
It should come as no surprise that an online slot game at William Hill, with a vast library of games and beautiful graphical presentation, is much more entertaining than heading down to the local pub and using the fruit machine. So naturally, the majority of slot machine activity moved to the internet.
However, the convenience did not stop there… Quickly, computers reduced in size to laptops and eventually to the size of that very phone you may be reading this story on (or maybe in your pocket). Online slots became a mobile activity, available wherever and whenever you wanted to pick up and play – not just at your computer desk.
So now, we have a vast online empire of slot machines, available with ultimate convenience in mind. Where does the industry go from here?
Well, much like the industry has closely followed technology industry updates, all we have to do is look at upcoming trends. And there are two big areas that online casinos will benefit big from – 5G networking and virtual reality.
As 10 GB/s internet speeds become a reality over the next few years and VR headsets become cheaper and more widely available to the masses, completely immersive gambling experiences will be a possibility. That one machine you picked up on your phone will now be part of a vast, expansive and beautifully digitally recreated casino. Mixed reality is also likely to find an application in online slots soon, since this industry has proven itself to be eager to adopt new tech.
The future is bright, and the world is willing to take a spin on it.