4 Fascinating Facts About Slot Machines

4 June 2014
 Categories: , Articles


When you go to Las Vegas, or any other gambling-friendly location, you'll be greeted with the sights and sounds of the slot machines before anything else. Although the slots aren't the only popular diversion for gamblers, they're certainly high on the list. But did you know that slot machines used to give out items other than money, or that using them may help you relax? Here are a few of the most interesting facts that you never knew about slot machines.

The Fruit and Bar Symbols Were for Chewing Gum

Did you ever wonder why so many slot machines use the spinning depictions of bananas, cherries, oranges, and plums? And what does that bar symbol mean, anyway?

As it turns out, the bar symbol was the logo for a particular brand of chewing gum, manufactured by the Bell Fruit Chewing Gum Company. When these machines were first introduced, in the early 1900s, the law in many areas prevented gambling for money, so machines that dispensed chewing gum were one way to get around that law. Other machines dispensed items like candy, mints, and cigarettes. However, the "fruit machines", as they are still called today, were among the most popular. Any visitor to Vegas can see that they remain popular to this day.

Slot Machines Used Were Once a Lot Larger

Have you ever heard of Big Bertha? How about Super Big Bertha? Today they're in museums, but they were once the latest and greatest in slot machines.

The advent of larger and larger slot machines was spurred by a desire to produce larger and larger jackpots. Since the winning combinations in older slot machines were generated by numbers and symbols attached to reels, the only way to include more combinations and higher odds, and therefore, bigger jackpots, was to add more reels and more symbols to each reel, and that meant making the machines bigger and bigger.

The Big Bertha slot machine started out with five reels at its debut, and eventually worked its way up to eight reels with 20 symbols apiece in the Super Big Bertha machines. These machines required so much power that a five horsepower engine was needed. However, the introduction of the computerized random number generators quickly eliminated the need for such large machines.

Slot Machines are a Huge Part of a Casino's Revenue

If you're not too familiar with casino culture, you might think that slots are just a handy distraction for less-serious gamblers, and a way of adding some noise and flash to the casino. However, this isn't quite the case.

While there will always be gamblers that prefer dice or card games over the slots, one look at the slots players in any busy casino will tell you that they're serious about their game of choice. There are all sorts of strategies for winning at slots, even though the number and symbol combinations are all random.

However, slots are even more serious businesses for the casinos themselves, some of which make up to 70% of their revenue on slot machines. A majority of casino customers prefer slots and video poker to other common casino games. That makes the slots vitally important to the success of any casino.

Playing Slots can Help You Meditate

True, some behaviors that sometimes go along with slot-playing, such as smoking or drinking alcohol, are not very healthy for you. However, at least one expert suggests that playing slots might be your ticket to a healthy behavior instead: meditation.

Prominent gaming author Frank Scoblete discusses the possible health benefits of playing the slots. He notes that slots players often seem relaxed and almost entranced while playing, and hypothesizes that in this state, players could achieve actual short periods of meditation while gambling. This way, you can experience the fun of gambling and the health benefits of meditation at the same time.

Slot machines have a colorful past and an interesting present as well. The next time that you have a chance to visit a casino such as Fort McDowell Casino, check out the slots and see where the future of gambling is headed.