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Land Based Video Slots

By: Rick Balding, Thursday December 9th 2010
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The first slot machine was invented towards the end of the 19th century. For over 80 years land based slot machines operated with the reels actually rotating. First the wheels rotated based on mechanical movement of the arm and then through electrical inputs. The first video slot machine came into being only in 1975.

Computer software using random number generators and electronic screens that displayed graphics were the basic inputs for video slots. No physically moving parts were required. The first video slot machine was invented by Walt Fraley and was called Fortune Coin. International Game Technology (IGT) saw a bright future in video slots and bought over Fortune Coin in 1976. IGT used the technology to bring out other land based video slots as well. However things did not go as IGT had planned. Land casino players were wary of the software technology and did not trust the virtual reels. They found greater comfort in the physically spinning reels.

It was video poker that came to the rescue of video slots. In 1979 random number generator based video poker machines were introduced in land casinos by IGT. These became popular because the games involved a level of skill as well as luck. Players became comfortable with the virtual technology and also took to playing video slots. Thereafter there was no stopping the development of land based video slot machines. New and exciting features were regularly introduced. Two features that have contributed to the interest in video slot machines are the bonus game on the second screen and progressive jackpots. The linking of jackpots in state and country wide networks enabled the progressive jackpots to grow fast and hit frequently. Progressive jackpots upwards of $18 million have been paid out for a single hit.

In 1995 online casinos first came into being. Today there is perhaps little difference between land based video slots and online video slots, but in the mid 1990s the online video slots were definitely of inferior quality. Land based slot machines were single game machines. The entire processing capacity was designed to service just the one game and was matched with the requirements involved. Online casino slots had to be designed keeping in mind the processing capacity of personal computers owned by individuals, which was very limited and rudimentary in those days. Also online casino players downloaded the entire online casinos, which consisted of a multitude of games. Hence the first online video slots had to be very simple in structure and graphical content.

Today IGT dominates the land based video slot machine landscape. IGT was a small private company when it acquired the Fortune Coin slot machine. 1981 it went public. Its growth thereafter was based on a series of acquisitions. Today, though it continues to be head quartered in Nevada, it has offices around the world. The latest destination was Beijing in 2009. IGT has a number of pioneering products in its range that include Megabucks the first wide area progressive slot machine network, the Wheel of Fortune progressive slot and the Reel Edge series in which players can stop the reels at will. In November 2010 IGT launched its two millionth land based video slot machine Siberian Storm. Many of the most popular IGT titles have been converted to online versions through its online gaming wing WagerWorks.

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