Posts Tagged ‘Liberty Bell’

The Early Days of the Slot Machine

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Few people who play slots today know about the early history of the slot machine. Originally, slots were essentially automated poker machines. Then they became advanced.

The Early Days of Slot Machines

Today, one can play slots all over the place. There are slot machines that dominate every land-based casino around the world. Even more popular is the world of the

optical illusion of the daze from slots machine playing

The daze of the slot machine

online slot machines, with people logging in to play some pokies at all times of the day and night. These slots have come a long way from the original slot machines. One would hardly recognize those early machines as slots. But the slot machine had to start somewhere, and it did in San Francisco in the shop of Mr. Charles Fey in 1885.

Charles Fey’s Miracle Machine

Charles Fey did not set out to build the world’s first slot machine. His goal was to make the original pokies easier and more fun to use. While there were no slot machines before Fey, they were a few pokies. This is where the term pokies comes from. The original pokies were machines with which one could play a hand of poker. The playing cards were all strapped to five wooden drums. When a player deposited a coin, he was allowed to pull a lever that set the drums in motion. His hand would be whatever cards were showing when the drums stopped turning. It was a way of playing poker without a dealer to distribute the cards. However, there was a problem with these pokies. Since the players were not competing against each other, the way to win was simply to have a winning poker hand like a flush, straight, or full house. But with so many possibilities, there was no way that these crude slots could handle different payoff amounts. It was absolutely necessary to have different pay off amounts. Otherwise, a pair of three would pay the same as a Royal Straight. That just didn’t make sense. So Charles Fey came along and found a way to solve the problem of these original slot machines.

The Liberty Bell Machine

What Fey did was simplify the slot machines. Instead of using a whole deck of cards, he just used the four suits plus a picture of a liberty bell. You won the jackpot if all

Steampunk of the liberty bell slots

Steampunk replication of Liberty Bell Slots Machine

five drums showed a liberty bell card. While the game worked, it was no longer really a poker game. It was now a true slot machine. It was named after the slot where one would put coins to place a bet. These slots would store up the coins until someone hit a jackpot and they would all be released. These slot machines proved to be irresistible and soon you could play a slot machine is every major city. They were not all Liberty Bell machines though. Once everyone saw how popular the slots were, people started copying Fey’s idea. They would name the new slot machines OperaSlots and tor Bell and Freedom Bell machines. In Australia, people were used to calling them pokies so they kept on doing so although the games were no longer based on poker. Soon, every bar, saloon, and house of prostitution was sporting a slot machine. And that’s where the problems started.


The slots were by no means the target of the Prohibition movement. Drinking and prostitution were. However, since slots seemed to be connected with both institutions, they got a bad reputation from Prohibition’s proponents. In many states, laws were passed that attempted to ban these early slot machines. The problem for those who were against slots was how to define a slot machine. They ended up banning games that produced a cash reward. The way the owners of the slots got around this was by simply having their slot machines pay out in goods and prizes rather than cash. A popular winning item was a cigar. If the winner wanted, he could exchange this cigar for actual cash. As long as the machine did not directly pay out a cash reward, it was considered legal. If someone was playing the pokies and came very close to winning the big jackpot yet failed, people would say that he was “close, but no cigar.” To this very day, many people use the expression without having any idea that it came from the early days of the slot machine. Yet another reason why slot machine history can be helpful.

The Worldwide Spread of Slot Machines

In the days after the First World War, slot machines started popping up all around the world. It seemed to be an idea escape from the horrors of the war. With so many people out of work and out of money, slots seemed to be one option where a single coin and some good luck could reverse someone’s fortune. In Europe, Asia, South America, and parts of Africa, you could find a casino which hosted dozens and even more of the slot machines. Meanwhile, in the United States, Las Vegas and Atlantic City were becoming the global capital of the slot machine. Although gambling was still not legal in Atlantic City, the law was largely ignored and people came from all over to play the slots. Since it was close to both New York City and Philadelphia, it drew large crowds from those two cities of people who had heard about the new pokies and wanted to try their luck. When Ballys in Las Vegas started building electric slot machines, the whole experience changed. The ability of the slot machine to reward huge jackpots was enhanced and the slots game playing experience became faster and more exciting as the lever was replaced in many cases by an electric spin button that would turn the reels of the slots. The age of the slot machine had begun, and soon few people remembered the original Charles Fey Liberty Bell machines or the cigar rewarding slots of the Prohibition era. But that is indeed where slots began and where the early history of the slot machine begins. Think about that next time you are playing online slots on your smart phone.

slot reels in steam punk

Steampunk Slot Reels Spinning MAchine


A bit more on the topic of online casinos

At the online casino apart from the rich list of online slots and other online gambling games, players are also looking for support and service. One of the most important aspects of the support and service when playing real money games is the banking section. This involves how to deposit money in order to play the endless real money games and also how to receive winnings i.e. withdraw money. In the banking section of the online casino, players can learn about the different banking options offered and which currencies they accept together with the time it takes for each deposit to clear. With today’s technology most if not all of the deposit options for gambling offer instant access to money. In order to protect personal and financial information, many players choose a third party banking option where they can store their money before passing to the casino and their personal and financial information is kept safe. Other deposit options include credit cards and debit cards and electronic cash deposit options.

Today many of the casino games offered at an online casino can be played instantly. Instant play is also known as flash play and it offers players the chance to play directly from the web browser of the online casino without having to download the casino or games. All of the services of the casino are also available in this way and the range of games is excellent. For new players this is also a great way to try out the games before committing to them with no need to download them either. The range of games offered is very good and because there is no heavy download the graphics, sound and color of the games is outstanding together with the actual gaming activities. Together with the flash or instant casinos, many online casinos are now also offering mobile casino games that can be played directly via the web browser of the casino through the Smartphone.