Slot machines are available in almost every city which offers casino gambling, but they’re most closely associated with the city of Las Vegas. The purpose of this article is to provide an introduction to what slot machines are, who makes them, and which ones are most popular.
An Overview of Vegas & Online Slot Games
A slot machine or online slot is a gambling machine with three or more reels that spin when a coin is inserted. If the symbols on these reels match certain winning combinations, the game pays out a specified dollar amount.
Traditional Slots - Traditional slot machines have three spinning reels and one payline. The reels are the mechanical strips that spin inside the machine. The symbols on them have to line up in order to provide a win—where they line up is called the “payline.” They haven’t changed much since they were invented earlier this century by Charles Fey in San Francisco. The symbols on traditional slot machines usually include fruit and bars.
At one time in the United States, it was illegal for a game of this type to pay out cash, so people who owned establishments with these machines started offering candy or chewing gum as prizes instead of cash. The bars on slots games represent chewing gum; the fruit represented the flavor of the candy you won.
Video Slots - A video slot is a slot machine that uses a monitor, similar to a television screen or a computer monitor, to display animated reels that are driven by a computer. Many video slots are similar to traditional slots in the respect that they have three spinning reels and traditional symbols, but the advantage to this type of technology is that the number of reels, symbols, and paylines all increase dramatically when the mechanical parts are no longer necessary.
Many video slot games have five spinning reels instead of three spinning reels. They’ll often have multiple paylines, too, in combinations that would be impossible to keep up with unless you had computerized assistance. They also often offer bonus games, which are video games that provide an additional payout and are triggered by certain symbol combinations on various paylines.
Online slots also often have wild symbols, which are similar to wild cards in a card game—they take the place of another symbol that would be required in order to win the spin. Video slot machines with lots of reels, paylines, and bonus games are often called “online pokies” as they’re very popular in Australia. In recent years, they’ve become popular everywhere else, too—especially in Las Vegas.
Progressive Slots - Progressive slot machines offer a large jackpot that’s “fed” by multiple slot machines. A tiny percentage of each bet made at one of the slot games in the network is added to the jackpot every time a bet is placed. This is true for casino slots and online slot machines.
Progressive jackpots can become as large as some lottery jackpots. The most popular and best-known progressive jackpot game is called MegaJackpots, and it’s produced by IGT, the most famous slot machine manufacturer in the business.
Slot Machine Manufacturers
Multiple companies design and manufacture slot machine games for casinos.
IGT - The largest and most profitable of these companies is IGT, which stands for International Game Technology. They’ve been in business since 1981, and they specialize in acquiring intellectual property rights for well-known brands and then converting those into slot machines games. Some of the better-known brands they’ve done this with include Monopoly, SATC slots (Sex and the City) Jeopardy, Ghostbusters, the Dark Knight slots, and Wheel of Fortune. IGT also provides slot games to casinos with most of the popular games converted to online slot games and / or mobile apps. While the games are not available in all countries, European players can access IGT’s online slots for real money or play for free.
Aristocrat - Aristocrat is an Australian company that’s best known for making “Aussie slots,” better known as “pokies” which were discussed earlier in this article. In recent years, Aristocrat has started focusing more on the online slot machine market. Some of their most famous games include 50 Lions, Buffalo, Queen of the Nile, and Zorro.
Bally Gaming - Readers of a certain age will remember Bally for their huge variety of pinball games that they manufactured during the 1970s and the 1980s, but they’re now well-known for the wide variety of online slot machine games they produce. Some of their well-known brands include the “Michael Jackson: King of Pop” slots and their NASCAR slots.
Konami Gaming - Konami Gaming makes slot machine games that are found in casinos all over the world, including Las Vegas. They’re well-known for making machines with lots of paylines (up to 30) and high denominations ($0.25 and up). Some of their more popular games include Rocky (based on the movie), Money in the Bank, and Karaoke Revolution.