It has many different names around the world, but the slot machine game is one of the linchpins of most casino operations. Whether you call them slot machines, fruit machines, poker machines, or pachinko, this has traditionally been a game that uses spinning reels (triggered by the player) that produce a random result that could result in a cash-prize pay-out.
But slot machines are changing. In this article we take a look at the history of the slot machine and also a look ahead to what the future might hold for this iconic game.
The beginnings of the slot machine
The first slot machine was developed in New York in the late 1800s. It was based on poker – the five wheels displayed card faces – and was operated by inserting a coin and pulling a lever to try and produce a good poker hand. The game quickly gamed popularity and was soon available in bars across the city.
The emergence of skill-based slot machine games
Traditional slot machines have been pure games of chance, the spinning wheels or drums producing a random result that determined whether the player won or lost. However the new trend in slot machine development is to create games where the player’s performance can materially influence the outcome of the game. We are beginning to see arcade-style gambling machines with video game controllers attached to them; casino games that play like arcade classics such as Pac-Man; and first-person shooter games.
The changing regulation
The changing nature of slot machine games has required changes to gambling regulation. The state of Nevada (the home of Las Vegas in the United States) has been at the forefront of adapting its regulations to cope with the evolving landscape of gambling and casino games. Nevada’s regulators are supporting casino operators to instal skill-based slot machines, games that emphasise the skills and players, requiring interaction at a level that hasn’t been seen before in traditional slot machines.
You may not see skill-based games on the casino floor
We are all familiar with the traditional layout of a casino with massive banks of slot machines. However the emergence skill-based slot machines is causing a rethink in how casinos are laid out. Casino operators are exploring more arcade like environments for their games – often looking to their hotel and resort properties as a way of creating interesting, engaging spaces that will appeal to a younger generation of gamblers.
Millennials are the demographic shaping gambling of the future
It’s a bit of a marketing buzzword, but it is the Millennials that casino operators are trying to reach. Market research is demonstrating that traditional gamblers are an ageing population, younger people are coming to gambling destinations such as Las Vegas but they’re coming for the entertainment options, not the gambling. By enhancing their hotels and resorts with skill-based, interactive games, casino operators are hoping to attract and retain the younger generation of gamblers that they are currently missing out on.