How to Play Slot Machines

A slot machine is a gambling device found in casinos around the world. It is composed of reels with multiple pictures on them, which whirl at the press of a button, and land on a random picture. Lining up certain pictures in the correct order results in a payout.

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History of the Slot Machine

The first slot machines appeared in the late 19th century. Charles Fey invented the first machine, which paid out in coins. However, many other similar machines debuted around this era, and paid out in things such as chewing gum or vouchers for free beer or tobacco. All of these machines were operated by inserting a coin and pulling a lever, which caused the reels to spin.

The first non-mechanical slot machines debuted in the 1960s. Electric slot machines held the benefit of paying out automatically, without the aid of an attendant. The fully electric video slot machines that are popular today were invented in 1976. These machines are now prevalent in casinos throughout the country. Many states have also proposed legislation to place them in bars and restaurants.

Types of Slot Machines

How to Play Slot Machines

How to Play Slot Machines

Slot machines may be divided into 3 categories: mechanical, electromechanical, and fully electric. The early mechanical and electromechanical machines were operated by lever. However, the earliest machines were overseen by attendants to handle payouts and minimize cheating.

Modern electrical slot machines are operated via button or touch screen rather than lever, but in some cases the lever is retained for aesthetics. Payouts are automatic, and vary depending on the parameters of a particular machine. Although slot machines are traditionally coin operated, newer electric and video models tend to accept slips of paper worth a specific amount designated by a printed barcode.

How Does a Slot Machine Work?

A slot machine’s method of operation depends on the kind of machine it is. All machines aside from touch screens employ mechanical reels. These reels are held in place by a notched plate, which is released when the button is pressed or lever is pulled. This plate is held by a cam plate attached to the side of the machine, which allows the reels to rotate freely.

A metal piece called the kicker then comes forward and hits the reels, causing them to spin. After a short period, a spring pulls the notched plate back into position, which allows the rotating reels to be slowed and come to a stop one by one. If the proper symbols are lined up, the bottom drops from the coin reservoir and dispenses the correct winnings.

Electrical machines power their reels via motor, and use magnets to stop the reels from spinning. Touchscreen machines require electricity to run, but are completely powered by microchips, similar to a computer or video game console. Touchscreen models often display five reels instead of three, which allow for both a greater number of winning combinations as well as lower odds for a high payout.

Today, mechanical and electric slot machines are uncommon, with the vast majority of establishments using video machines. These are easier to maintain, and provide better odds for the house. Although the inner workings of a machine are often quite technical, slot machines remain a game of chance, albeit one that is complex in its operations.


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