Introduction: Made in the USA
Slots is as much about the machine as the game. As such, its history is a fascinating technological trip. It’s also one of the few classic games of chance with American origins, as opposed to all those many others with international pedigrees.
Mechanical: The Liberty Bell
It all started in the late 19th Century (1887 or 1895, depending on which accounts you believe) with Charles Fey of San Francisco. His original game was based on poker, but simplified: numbers were eliminated, so it was all about matching certain sequences of symbols. And instead of pitting your hand against others’, slots simply paid out if you got the right matches.
The original machine offered three spinning reels each containing five symbols: horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts and a Liberty Bell (hence the name). A player spins, and specific symbol combinations pay out. When it launched, the biggest payout was ten nickels. But because the payout was not automatic, frequently players just won free drinks, cigarettes or services from the location housing the machine (this was also a way to circumvent laws against gambling).
The famous fruit symbols came later, when Fey partnered with the Bell-Fruit Gum Company to create the Operator Bell Slot Machine. (This didn’t work out so well for vending machine companies: the Operator Bell Slot was designed to work like a vending machine, always paying out gum, but it was still gambling, and authorities became suspicious of any vending machine).
The speakeasy/Prohibition era was the golden age of slots. From 1919 through the 1930s, slots expanded rapidly. The infamous organized crime boss “Bugsy” Siegel is said to have invested in slot machines to entertain the girlfriends and wives of his rich players. Slots were still in their infancy, though, and not even Bugsy took them too seriously.
Electronic: The Money Honey
In 1963, Bally created the first fully electronic version of a slots machine, called the Money Honey. This innovation eliminated the need for a side lever and made automatic payouts possible; in other words, it made slots an easier game for casinos and other places to host. As such, slots grew more popular as a serious game of chance.
Video: It’s All In the Microchip
Over a decade later, in 1976, came the first true video slot machine. These machines represent the height of slot gaming ease for casinos and players alike: no mechanical service or maintenance required, fine-tuned control of payouts, simple play mechanisms, more effective cheat-prevention. Altogether, the advantages of microchip-based slot machines meant that slots has found permanent popularity on the Las Vegas Strip and worldwide.
Today, slots games often account for three-quarters or more of a casino’s revenue. They’re simple, straight-forward, are less intimidating because they require less skill and technical knowledge, and are fun. With the right payout balance, they reward patience with satisfying rewards. They’re just plain entertaining.
Slots at the Riviera
Our casino houses more than 950 slot and video poker machines, including over 200 of the newest machines. Many of them feature your favorite themes and specialty games, like “Sex and the City” and “Lord of the Rings.” Whether you’re a gaming enthusiast or just casually playing games on your visit, slots are pretty much guaranteed to entertain.
Tips for playing slots
Slots is probably the easiest casino game to play, and while there’s no real strategy to slots, here are some recommendations to improve your experience:
- Play the highest denomination machine you can afford, but don’t play more than that (the fastest way to ruin your gaming experience is to get in over your head).
- Specific rules per game vary; if the written rules are confusing, just ask a casino employee or attendant for clarification.
- Remember that patience pays off.
- And dream big: our favorite activity during slots is to imagine what we’ll do with our winnings!