Slot History

Scroll down to find out more about one of the most popular casino games

History of Slots

Slot machines have been played worldwide since the late 1800s, although there's some debate over who was the creator. But wherever they began, the simplicity of these games makes them easy to understand. And that’s why they’ve become so popular in the casino and online. Although simple, the gameplay can be thrilling and the rewards astronomical. In fact, here at Betway we hold the world record for the largest jackpot payout on an online slot machine at £13.2 million. 

If you’re interested in getting to know where it all began or where slot machines fit into society now, carry on reading.

Who Invented Slots?

There are two main ideas about where the modern slot machine originated. The first begins in 1891 with Sittman and Pitt of Brooklyn. Their gambling machine contained five drums holding a total of 50 card faces. The drums would spin and when they came to a stop, the five cards displayed at the front would form a poker hand. A winning hand would pay out. The machine became increasingly popular at bars throughout the city but there was no direct payment mechanism, so patrons were rewarded in free beer or cigars, depending on their cards.

Another contender for the first slot machine is that of Charles August Fey. Sometime between 1887 and 1899, Fey developed three slot machines. The most famous of these is the Liberty Bell, which was made up of three spinning reels, each containing a total of five symbols – horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts, and a Liberty Bell.

One of the main differences between the Sittman and Pitt slot machine and Fey's Liberty Bell is that Fey was able to automate the payout mechanism. Lining up three Liberty Bells along the payline of Fey's machine would reward players with the biggest payout of ten nickels.

The video slot machine as we know it today was first introduced in 1976 in Las Vegas. Instead of actual spinning reels or drums, this machine used a colour video display. It’s not hard see how the land-based slot machines of the 1970s evolved into the colourful and feature-packed slots you can find online slots here at Betway.

Slots in Popular Culture

Popular culture has long had a strong influence over slot machines. And slot machines have influenced pop culture, too.

From the creation of the video slot, casinos and games developers have been able to create increasingly innovative designs for their slots. Many of these designs have featured celebrities, films, pop music and much more. Some of the most popular land-based video slots include a Michael Jackson slot, a Marilyn Monroe slot and a Sex and the City slot.

Similarly online, you can find slots that feature the latest hit movies and TV shows – right here at Betway you can enjoy our Jurassic Park™, Bridesmaids™ and Game of Thrones™ slots, to name a few.

And vice versa, slots have in turn influenced popular culture. Since the early 2000s the mainstream music scene has seen an array of music videos set on the Las Vegas strip. Artists including Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Ellie Goulding and The Flaming Lips have feature slots and many glamorous casino interiors in their work.

The vibrant imagery, flashing lights and iconic sound of a pay-out can make a powerful visual – Katy Perry even incorporates it into her song “Waking up in Vegas”.

Movies That Reference Slots

Hollywood just loves Las Vegas, or so it seems. Sin City is a popular location for many films and the slots and casino games often play a part in the plot.

Because slots are so recognisable – the iconic lights and sound effects – they make a backdrop for any movie set in Vegas. In fact the mere sight (or sound) of slot machines and viewers will almost instantly know they're looking at Las Vegas. Slot machines can be heard and seen in the background of movies including Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Rounders, 21, The Hangover and Rain Man.

Although games such as blackjack and roulette have often played a more central role in casino movies, slots do feature too. In Ocean’s Eleven, several characters can be seen playing slots, including Brad Pitt's character Rusty Ryan.

Getting Started at Betway Casino

Enjoyed reading about the history of slots? Then get stuck into the real thing over at Betway Casino.

Playing slots at Betway Casino couldn't be easier. In fact, the only difficulty you'll have will be deciding which of over 400 games you want to play first.

If you're new to Betway you'll need to register, but this only takes a few minutes. You'll be gaming in next to no time.

Already a Betway customer? Great – simply log in and make a deposit to play. Or if you like, you can check out our slots in free-play mode before you start playing for money.