One of the most iconic sights at every casino in the world is the much-loved slot machine. The history of these one-armed bandits is fascinating and dates back longer than you would expect. The advent of the internet has led to a massive online casino industry but in many famous casino-strips the long tradition of slot machines continues, and there are some very well-known one still in operation even today.
The History of the Slot Machine
The first one-armed bandit can be tracked right back to 1891, so a lot earlier than you may expect. It hailed from Brooklyn, New York, and was made by Sittman and Pitt. It was actually based on the game of poker rather than the reels we know and love today, and punters would pay a nickel to form a poker hand. There was no standardization when it came to payouts, so the winning potential was quite varied. In 1985 history shows us that Charley Fey was able to create a machine based on five symbols and three drums which gave an easier way to standardise how much paid out for each winning combination. The next leap forward in technology came in 1963 with the advent of the electronic slot, but it took a few more years before these became video-based. In 1976 Sony logic boards combined with a colour screen that was 19 inches and became the first incarnation of a slot machine that was cheaper to manufacture and had a lower fraud risk.
1. Super Big Bertha
So, when it comes to the biggest slot machines in history, we begin our count, unsurprisingly, in Las Vegas. ‘She’ can be found in Bally’s casino and was crowned the biggest slot machine in the world in 1950. This monster machine has eight reels, and there are 20 symbols on each. This means that the odds of winning can be calculated using a whopping 25.6 billion possible combinations. The jackpot is $1 million, but the odds really are not in your favor, but it can be done. In 2001 a player from Ontario, Canada managed to scoop the jackpot despite odds saying a win that big would require 15 billion spins to achieve (we are guessing she wasn’t responsible for all of them!).
2. Big Bertha
Big Bertha was actually created before her supersized sister and again hails from Bally’s Casino in Las Vegas. It was not designed to be taken very seriously as a slot machine but seen as more of a novelty. That said it is in full working order and one spin of these giant reels will cost you $100. It takes twenty-inch-wide chain wheels and five horsepower electric motors to work the magic here.
Do not be fooled by the name here! This one-armed bandit is actually over nine-foot-high and held the coveted title of the world’s tallest slot machine towards the end of the ’90s. This machine was built with an iconic Window’s 95 operating system, and there was space for nine punters to play at the same time. The downside of this enormous offering is the fact this is a genuine novelty item as it does not pay out any cash at all – which might be a little disappointing. It too can be found in Las Vegas this time in Wynn Casino.
4. The Queen’s Machine
Another giant of the slot machine world, this humongous offering is nine-foot wide and ten foot tall. It also lives in Las Vegas and can be found in the Four Queens Casino. The jackpot value is $50,000, and up to six of you can play at the same time. A word of caution though, there are reports of people getting injured while pulling the lever because it is so big – so please take care if you get to play.
5. Big Irish Luck
Our final offering can also be found in Las Vegas in Barney’s Casino and offers players the luck of the Irish. It features five of the most oversized reels ever seen complete with four-leaf clovers and shamrocks. It is an excellent example of a giant slot machine.
Whether we will ever see anything like these again is unknown. Slots are the most popular online casino game, and everything seems to have become internet-based. They are packed with the latest technology and in terms of pay-outs offer larger sums of money than we have ever seen. The next big thing for the one-armed bandit is set to be augmented, and virtual reality with a little artificial intelligence thrown in, and they are set to grow ever more across the online casino industry. The death of the physical machine seems inevitable, but the benefits of the random number generator online version are far-reaching, so the concept will remain very much alive.