How Do The Casino Slot Machines Work?

Today's slot machines are far different than the mechanical machines of the 1900s. To answer how do the casino slot machines work, you should start with the original machines. Here's a look at slot machines over time.

How Mechanical Slot Machines Work

Slot machines came to life in the late-1800s when a pair from New York created a machine that used playing cards to create hands. Players deposited a coin, pulled the lever, and watched the cards fall into five drums. If a poker hand formed, players won prizes like a free drink. With that machine growing in popularity, the first true mechanical slot was created. Instead of dropping five cards, the machine would spin three reels and have them stop to reveal random symbols.

With an old-fashioned mechanical slot machine, a coin had to be deposited in the coin slot. This triggered mechanisms within the machine to unlock the reels. The lever on the side connected to the reel plates and caused them to spin when the lever or arm was pulled.

Those reels had decals or paintings of different symbols. Symbols were typically bells, cherries and other fruit, and stars. To win, you needed matching symbols to appear on the reels in the open window on the slot machine. Certain symbols paid more than others. If a winning combination appeared, the reels triggered the mechanism to release the coins. Due to gambling laws, some establishments continued to offer food and beverage prizes instead of cash.

The machines grew popular and were placed in barber shops, saloons, entertainment venues, and certain stores. Eventually, electronics came into play. The mechanisms that connected to springs and pulleys were replaced with electric motors that spun and stopped the reels. The first official electromechanical slot came out in 1963, and this would lead to the slots we're familiar with today.

A Quick Look at How Video Slot Machines Work

Fortune Coin Company developed the first video slot machine in the late-1970s. The machines made their way to the Vegas Strip. Machines still required that coin, and that would change over time. Today, a slot machine may take coins or paper money, but they're often set up to take casino tickets or cards that resemble debit cards and deduct the bet from the money you deposit with a casino cashier or ticketing machine.

Video slot machines are quite similar to computers. You have the monitor where the reels, paytable, and rules appear. There is another screen with the buttons you use to spin, make your bet, or access the paytable and rules. Every video slot is written and uploaded to a cabinet that holds the screen and other components like the ticket slot and speakers. That program is what makes the game come to life on the screen.

Video slots had a little more control over being able to predict the results of a spin. Part of a video game program is a random number generator. This part of the code assigns random numbers to the various patterns the symbols can form. A number is generated in advance of a spin and determines how the reels will stop. As it is completely random, you could win two jackpots in a row and not see another for weeks or win jackpots week after week. There's no predicting what symbols will appear on the reels because the randomly generated numbers are chosen in advance of a spin and change constantly.

In an online casino, it's easier. The games are uploaded to the website where they can be played online, downloaded using free casino software, or played on a mobile device.

You may find the rare mechanical slot machine in an older casino, but most casinos have switched to modern video slots. If you play online, you'll have a wide range of video slots at your fingertips. Play slots for real money or play for fun. The choice is yours.