Slots have come a long way since American Charles Fey invented the Liberty Bell in 1894. Fey’s three-wheel slot machine is widely regarded as the first slot machine in the world.
However, it’d be remiss not to acknowledge the automated card machine invented by Sitman and Pitt. Their machine consisted of five drums, each holding fifty playing cards that would spin after being fed a coin.
The winning hands were based on those used in poker, but it didn’t pay out. Instead, the prize was at the discretion of the saloon or bar.
With Fey’s machine, players had the chance to win 50 cents if they hit the jackpot, big money in those days. Fey quite literary couldn’t make his machines fast enough but refused to sell the manufacturing rights to speed up operations.
Instead, Fey loaned his machine to bars and took fifty per cent of the profits it made, but in 1907 he faced some stiff competition from one Herbert Mills. Mills had copied Fey’s invention and with the necessary backing began producing his machine, Operator Bell, in larger quantities.
The Operator Bell didn’t feature the card symbols typically found on the Liberty Bell, but fruit, lemons, plums and cherries. Nor was it loaned to businesses, these were sold and the slot machine as we know it was here to stay.
Modern Slot Machines
It was 70 years before anyone even saw fit to replace these early mechanical slot machines with electronics. Nevada Electronic’s ‘21 Machine’ paved the way for a plethora of similar devices, and soon these machines began to dominate casinos.
By the 1980s most slot machines had video screens, but slot machine technology had barely gotten into its stride. And to maximise interest slot machines soon became connected to one another, meaning that pay-outs were a combination of many, rather than one, machine.
Everything changed in 1996 when WMS launched ‘Reel’ Em In’ a first second-screen video slot game that pre-empted the quasi-legendary Cash Splash. But it wasn’t until the first generation of Nokia’s boasting wireless applications that the online slot became truly mobile.
After that things began to move fast. When iOS and Android started to gain traction in 2007 gamers were able to play games like Starburst Slot on their phones for real money.
And by real money, here are the seven of the biggest online slot wins.
- 2013. A Finnish man won $24 million playing $24 Million Mega Fortune.
- 2021. A Belgian player won $23.6 Million playing Absolutely Mad Mega Moolah.
- 2022. A person known as ‘Trainwreck’ won $22.5 Million playing Might of Ra.
- 2011. A Norwegian won $17.3 playing Arabian Knights.
- 2011. Another Norwegian punter won $13.47 million playing the Mega Moolah.
- 2016. A Scottish player in the U.K. won $5.8 million playing Gala Bingo.
- 2016. A player known as D.P. won $11.6 Million playing Mega Moolah.
However, the above is somewhat dwarfed by seven of the biggest wins in a brick-and-mortar casino.
- 2003. A 25-year-old software engineer from Los Angeles hit the biggest jackpot to date of $39.7 million minutes into playing Megabucks at the Excalibur Hotel and Casino.
- 1999. A 49-year-old business consultant won $34.9 Million playing Megabucks at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.
- 1998. A 67-year-old retired female flight attendant playing the Megabuck won $27.5 Million at the Palace Station Hotel and Casino.
- 2005. A grandmother from Illinois won $22.6 million playing Megabuck at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino.
- 2005. Elmer Sherwin won $21.1 million while playing Megabuck at the Cannery Casino & Hotel, Las Vegas.
- 1988. A 47-year-old flight attendant won $17.3 million playing Megabucks at the Desert Inn.
- 1999. A business consultant who spent $10 on Megabuck slots and walked away with $21.3 Million from Caesars Palace.
We shouldn’t be surprised at the sheer size of the figures cited above. The slot machine is an ingenious device which promises to turn the fortunes around for anyone at the push of a button.
It requires no skill to play, just a small fee with the potential of enormous returns. But, of course, none of these massive wins are donated out of the kindness of the casino’s hearts.
Slots generate as much as 80% of a casino’s profits, and that’s just the brick-and-mortar variety. For example, Las Vegas has about 39,680 machines that generate over $3 billion every year.
But that’s still way off when compared to revenue generated by online slots, we’ll leave you with three bullets that tell their own story:
- In 2022 the global slot machines market size was worth around USD 9.5 billion
- This is predicted to grow to around USD 13.4 billion by 2030
- That equates to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of roughly 4.35% in just 8 years.