Slot Machine Myths Slot machines blow ‘hot’ and ‘cold’

No, they don’t. The outcome of each spin of the reels is determined by a random number generator – or, at least, a pseudo-random number generator – and is an independent event, completely unaffected by previous events. The odds of winning are determined by the number of reels, the number of symbols on each reel and the ‘weighting’ of each symbol. Weighting information is usually known only to the casino, but the point is that the odds of winning, say, the jackpot, are exactly the same whether the slot last paid out the jackpot on the previous spin or six months ago.

The longer I play the better my chances of winning

Not so. Each outcome is completely random and independent, so the odds of winning are the same however long you play. In fact, the longer you play, the closer you’ll come to the percentage return-to-player (% RTP) figure for the slot in question. % RTP typically ranges between 85% for offline casinos and 96%, or more, for online casinos, but the inherent house edge actually means that the longer you play the worse your chances of winning.

A percentage return-to-player figure of 92% means I’ll only lose £8 of every £100 I stake

No, it doesn’t. The percentage return-to-player (% RTP) is an average, calculated over infinity – or, in practical terms, the lifetime of the slot – and, as such, does not apply to a single gaming session. In the short term, you could win the jackpot, win a little, lose a little or lose £100 for every £100 you stake, so don’t rely on % RTP as an accurate guide to returns.

Casino staff can ‘loosen’ or ‘tighten’ slot machines

No, they can’t. Whether lower than average, high than average or just plain average, the payout ratio of any slot machine is determined by a microprocessor, pre-programmed at the factory. Casino staff can do nothing to change it, one way or the other.

Slot Machine Graphics The first video slot machine – that is, the first slot machine with virtual, or simulated, reels displayed on a video monitor, rather than physical, mechanical reels – was invented by Walt Fraley in 1975. The so-called ‘Fortune Coin’ was a rudimentary, three-reel video slot machine, with primitive graphics by modern standards, but nonetheless marked the start of the era of video slot machines.

Fast forward four decades or so and it’s fair to say that video has revolutionised the slot machine industry, both on and offline. The first online slot, dubbed ‘Fantastic Sevens’, appeared in 1995 and although, like Fortune Coin, it was based on a classic, three-reel design, it represented another step forward in the evolution of slot machine graphics. Subsequent demand for online slots went hand-in-hand with the availability of increasingly powerful, mobile devices, which allowed game designers to push creative boundaries.

Landmark releases in the history of slot machine graphics include Gonzo’s Quest (2011), which features reels that drop, or tumble, into place, rather than spinning, and Jack and the Beanstalk (2013), which features smooth, three-dimensional animations throughout but, in particular, a sophisticated, cutscene introduction, which was once the preserve of video game releases. Indeed, the modern online slot is, effectively, a video game, with attractive, state-of-the-art graphics designed to enhance the interactive elements of game play.

Of course, advancements in slot machine graphics do not stand still. The power of augmented, or virtual, reality has yet to be fully harnessed by game designers but, in the meantime, lavish visual effects are the order of the day. Inevitably, what is aesthetically pleasing, and what is not, in terms of slot machine graphics boils down to personal taste. However, in recent years, releases such as ‘1429 Uncharted Seas’, ‘Arctic Valor’, ‘Raging Rex’, ‘Ted’ and ‘Warlords: Crystals of Power’, to name but a handful, have all significantly raised the bar for the creativity, impact and standard of slot machine graphics in the future.

Oldest Slot Machines The term ‘slot machine’ is actually a contraction of ‘nickel-in-the-slot machine’ and was originally used to describe any coin-operated machine, including vending machines. However, the invention of the first modern slot machine – in the sense of a coin-operated gambling device, which also paid out in coins – is credited to Bavarian-born American inventor Charles Fey in 1895. His so-called ‘Liberty Bell’ machine featured three mechanical reels activated by pulling a lever and offered a ‘jackpot’ of fifty cents, which was paid out into a trough at the bottom of the machine.

Fast forward nearly seven decades and the next step in the evolution of the modern slot machine came in 1963, with the appearance of the first fully electro-mechanical slot machine, known as ‘Money Honey’. Manufactured by Bally Technologies, Money Honey was still, essentially, a mechanical device, but an electrically-operated coin hopper made for larger, more spectacular payouts, while flashing electronic lights added to the allure of playing.

The first video slot machine – that is, the first to employ a microprocessor, random number generator and video screen, rather than physical, mechanical reels – was made available to casinos in 1975. However, the so-called ‘Fortune Coin’ machine, invented by Walt Fraley, was not well received by sceptical gamblers and the following year Fraley sold out to International Game Technology, who used the machine as the basis for several new games.

Last, but by no means least, in the evolution of the slot machine came the online slot, which was made possible by the invention of the World Wide Web, by British computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee, in 1989. The first online casino, ‘Gaming Club’ by Microgaming, launched in 1995 and included a rudimentary, three-reel online slot called ‘Fantastic Sevens’. Three years later, Microgaming also launched the first wide area progressive jackpot online slot, known as ‘Cash Splash’.