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The History of Slots in the UK: From One-Armed Bandits to Crypto

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Slot machines have changed drastically over the years. In the early days, people played slots to win cigars and beers. The machines were mostly available in bars and nightclubs.

These days, you can play a slot machine on your smartphone. All you need is to join a mobile-friendly casino. Select a Bitcoin casino if you love crypto. Ensure it features crypto slots. They attract huge bonuses. They're also provably fair and secure.

With that said, stick around to learn the history of slot machines in the UK. Discover how the games have changed since their invention in the late 1800s America.

The age of poker machines (1880s)

Before Charles Fey created the first slot in 1894, someone else had invented a game of chance centered on poker cards. The game involved lining up five drums and placing fifty cards inside them.

The drums featured a lever you would pull to spin the reels and a feature to hold random poker cards. Betting started at a nickel. But if you lined up a true poker hand, say a pair, you didn't win actual money.

Winning earned you a round of free drinks or food. Poker slots had impressively high payout rates. As such, turning them into automatic slots would have led to massive losses for bar owners. As mentioned, Fey created a solution in the same decade.

One-arm bandits (1894)

Charles Fey invented the world's first true slot machine in 1894. It was a three-reel game with a lever and mechanical features to spin reels. Although Fey's first couple of slots received a positive reception.

It was his third game - the Liberty Bell - that made people fall in love with one-arm bandits. The game featured three reels and had five symbols: a liberty bell, horseshoes, spades, diamonds and hearts.

By using five symbols and three reels, winning was much more difficult in this slot compared to poker machines. In turn, this complexity meant that bars could pay winners using money and not drinks.

Three bells were the equivalent of winning a jackpot. The pot prize was 50 nickels. Although Liberty Bell didn't payout a lot of money, it was widely popular in Fey's hometown of California. Fey created a few more machines. And within a decade, the games had spread throughout the US and the UK.

In the UK, slots took a while to become popular. But by the 1950s, there was a slot machine in nearly every high street. For Clarity, slots maintained the same one-arm design popularized by Fey for more than a century.

Fruity slots in the UK (1960)

While Americans loved to call classic slots one-arm bandits, most British casino players call these games fruity slots. The explanation is that slots got to the UK at a time most of them had fruits as symbols.

The first electronic fruity slot could payout a maximum of 500 coins. It may sound like a small amount of money. But it was a big deal back then. In the 1970s, slots migrated from small bars and restaurants to casinos.

These games had giant 18-inch screens, five reels and all sorts of fruits on their symbols. You could play a game with plums, cherries, apples and pineapples as symbols. And since the games had high payouts, gamblers loved them.

Bonus slots (1996)

Bonus slots came right before developers created online slots. The first bonus slot was launched in 1996. It was called Reel 'Em and would partition the screen into two to reveal a bonus round after you triggered certain symbols.

Bonus slots attracted many gamblers because of their extra rewards. For example, you could now receive free spins if you lined up three fruit symbols. Or, you could activate a small jackpot that paid out 1000 or more coins.

Classic slots (1994)

Microgaming created the world's first online slot in 1994. Within five years, at least five software providers and over a dozen casinos were offering these games. Because technology was simple back then, online slots in the 1990s looked bland.

They had dated graphics, repetitive soundtracks and low payouts. Despite this, people loved to play online slots in the 90s and early 00s. Online casinos provided a convenient way to play slots at home.

Video slots (2003)

In the 2000s, technology advanced at a tremendous pace. Unsurprisingly, developers embraced this technology to improve slot machines. They updated the graphics and mechanics.

They also invented more features like wilds, scatters, multipliers and cascading reels. Another crucial addition to these games was dynamic themes. Video slots moved away from fruity-themed.

Instead, they adopted themes inspired by pop culture, sports, TV shows, ancient Egypt, politics and celebrities. More importantly, software providers created games with higher payouts.

Today, video slots are the best types of slots online. Some of them have payouts of between 95% and 99%. Most other slots have lower payouts. Then there are the features we mentioned above - they improve your iGaming experience.

Mobile slots

Microgaming is also credited for creating the world's first mobile slot in 2003. It was a simple game available on Blackberry devices. The game didn't become popular.

But after Apple released the iPhone in 2007, mobile slots became a big thing. Google launched Android a year later. And in the next decade, almost every casino software developer raced to create mobile slots.

Truth be told, mobile slots are similar to their desktop counterparts. As such, if you like your smartphone more than your laptop, use it to play online slots.

Crypto slots

Crypto slots are the latest trend in the world of online casino gaming. These games are created using the decentralized digital ledger known as the blockchain. For the uninitiated, the blockchain is the technology behind Bitcoin and most cryptocurrencies.

It's decentralized, meaning no particular person controls it. Additionally, it stores data transparently but permanently. This means any slots created on the blockchain can be audited for fairness. That's why crypto slots are becoming so popular - they're provably fair. Crypto slots also attract larger bonuses from casinos.

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