While you can find slot machines in mass quantities in casinos all over the world and online, few people give much thought to how the "one armed bandit" got its start.
Here is a little history on slot machines.
Early Slot History
The precursor to the modern slot machine was a poker machine derived by two entrepreneurs, Sittman and Pitt, in Brooklyn, New York in 1891. In this way, video poker actually predates slot machines, as the machine operated by creating a five-card poker hand when pulling a reel.
While the Sittman and Pitt game was popular, it was inefficient.
In 1895, Charles Fey, a car mechanic from San Francisco, improved the game. Fey simplified the concept to a three-reel machine with five symbols that had to match.
One of the symbols was a liberty bell, and the machine came to be called a Liberty Bell machine.
The limited number of combinations allowed Fey to develop an automatic payout system, a feature not available in the Sittman and Pitt machine.
The Bally Company was the first to develop a fully electromechanical slot machine, which is the basis for the mass-produced slot machines that appear in row after row of casino floors today.
The slot games quickly branched out to include various themes and methods of winning, including multi-line payouts and multiplier machines that pay more per spin the more you put in.
Modern Slot Machines
Today, slot machines are fully computerized. Many no longer take metal money, requiring patrons to put in paper money for multiple spins or to use a pre-paid card.
Online casinos also have no shortage of slot action, with countless variations on slots according to theme, style and payout structure.
Biggest Slots Wins of All Time
There is a feeling of excitement you hear about or even see someone score big in a casino, whether it happens at a high stakes blackjack table, with one spin of a roulette wheel or on a progressive jackpot offered from a stingy slot machine.
Many people have seen their life change, and many wealthy individuals have become even wealthier based on a single play.
Here are some of the biggest casino wins of all time.
Kerry Packer Scores Millions at the MGM Grand
The year was 1997, the scene: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada. The late Australian billionaire and high roller Kerry Packer strutted into the Las Vegas MGM Grand and strutted out over $20,000,000 richer.
Though local lore has pushed the amount to potentially 40 mil, it can be confirmed that the final tab was between the 20 and 40 million dollar mark over the course of a few days. Though this certainly qualifies as one of the biggest casino wins of all time, it doesn't really offer more than the raise of the brow to the regular guy or gal.
After all, Packer is a billionaire. It might be more impressive to know that he lost 28 million in a single, quick stretch only two years later.
Good Things Come to Those Who Wait
At the age of 76, Elmer Sherwin scored on a megabucks jackpot progressive slot scoring a cool 4.6 million. He soon found that his desire to see the world had a nearly unending source of financial backing.
Not to be labeled a one hit wonder, Sherwin hit the same jackpot again 16 years later in the year 2005 at the age of 91 for a whopping 21 million.
Visiting the fabulous Fremont Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, tourist Amy Nishimura, boasting the young age of 71, also saw a huge return on investment after plugging an approximate $100 into a megabucks jackpot slot.
She scored a hit of 8.9 million dollars. After scoring her hit, she claimed to have dreamed of the moment during the nights leading up to the event.
A Single Hit for the Ages
The Excalibur Hotel and Casino boasts a wonderful reputation for great gaming, and during March Madness (NCAA basketball tournament) of 2003, a young man from Los Angeles chose to kill some time between games by plugging a few bucks (around 100) into a slot machine.
No doubt when he plugged his cash in, he hoped for a small return, but instead he became the largest hit in Las Vegas casino history: 39.7 million dollars - taken in 1.5 million dollar annual increments, of course.
Historic Online Casino Wins
Some of the biggest casino wins in gaming history have happened online - usually in online slots - and this branch of the industry has its own unique jackpot statistics. The first multimillion-dollar jackpot was awarded online in 2002.
A progressive online jackpot in the amount of $1.59 million was awarded, and online casinos became more viable in the gaming industry than ever.
A new record was set in 2005, when a woman from Florida hit a $1.96 million progressive jackpot through an online slot game.
In May 2009, this record was shattered when a Microgaming online player scored a €6,374,434 jackpot, around $8.69 million US. This staggering amount went to a business owner from Greece, who could easily create a new business by offering online gambling tips!