Slot machines are a firm favourite amongst gamblers. First hitting the market in the 19th century, the ‘Liberty Bell’ machines paved the way for the modern slot games. However, the machines didn’t always give out cash prizes; before winning cash was legalised, the slots gave away prizes including sweets, free drinks, and cigars, instead. Chewing gum was another common prize, with the flavour of the gum repre-sented by the iconic fruit symbols.
Although the basic idea of the slot machine hasn’t changed much, the design of the game definitely has. Reel-based games were replaced with state-of-the-art video slots, and a variety of bonus features were added to make the gameplay even better. When cash-prizes were first legalised, the machines only paid out in coins. As you can imagine, collecting the change from a big win was less than easy. Gradually, slot machines started to give out tickets with a code to claim your money, instead of spitting out a bucket of change. In the 21st century, slot machines started to be given themes. Today, you can play games based on your favourite film, book, or TV show.
So we know slot machines have come a long way over the years, but where do we go from here? In this article, we explore what slot machines will look like in 50 years.
Today, slot machines are the most profitable game of the casino. Unlike table games, they don’t need to be managed by a member of staff. This allows the casino to pocket most of the money paid into it, in-stead of having to pay the dealers wages. Casinos also have a variety of ways to pay for the games; they can either buy the machine outright or pay a daily fee to use the machine on a rented basis. Although buying the slot is often cheaper long-term, renting the machine allows the casino to update to the latest model as soon as it’s released. Research suggests that casinos pocket at least 20% of every pound that gets inserted. With table games, on the other hand, the figure can be as low as 1/2%. These are just a few of the reasons that many casinos have little to no table games, and choose to fill the gambling floor with slot machines, instead.
Many gamblers believe that slot machines have peaked. Over the years, they have come on in leaps and bounds, but where have they got to go now? However, other players disagree with this. In recent years, 3D casinos have hit the shelves. Also known as Virtual Reality (VR) casinos, they are played using a head-set for a fully 3D experience. Shortly after putting on the headset, everything will go dark and a new screen will appear. Players can then use their hands or a controller to explore their new surroundings. VR casinos already offer high-quality gameplay, but this is expected to further improve in the near future. Gamblers will soon be able to interact with other players to enjoy the competitive atmosphere of a land-based casino.
In addition to VR casinos, physical and online slot machines are expected to improve in the next 50 years. Traditionally, using a slot machine was an individual experience. With a single screen, most slot machines were played by just 1 player at a time. Although some players enjoy keeping to themselves, others crave the social atmosphere provided by table games. Thankfully, the social aspect of slot machines should be much better in 50 years. The slot industry is starting to implement networked and linked gaming. This will allow players to communicate with other gamblers when playing online and will also mean that the results of one slot machine can impact another. We can expect to see groups of slots that play toward a shared goal or bonus. As soon as one of the linked machines hits a bonus round, all the other machines can enjoy the level, too.
One of the biggest selling points for video games is the chance to compete with others. Defeating your opponent in a heated game of Call of Duty gives you a sense of accomplishment that you can rarely achieve in the real world. In 50 years, slot machines are expected to introduce competitive games to draw in new players. Currently, slot machines are run by a random number generator to ensure the results are completely random. Although this makes the game fair, there is nothing you can do to influence the out-come. However, this may all change soon. Recently, Nevada has passed legislation that could allow skill-based slot machines in casinos.
Although the themes and design of the slot machine have changed, the end result hasn’t. Much like you did 100 years ago, to use a slot machine you insert money, push a button, and hope for the best. Many machines don’t even offer a choice of games, so players are stuck playing a single game until another ma-chine becomes free.
In 50 years, we could see an introduction of server-based gaming. Currently, casino staff can view the machines remotely, but if they want to make any changes they have to open up the machine physically. If server-based gaming was introduced, staff would be able to control the machines remotely. This means that they could change up the gameplay of each machine to ensure the player doesn’t get bored. Server-based gaming would also improve slots by allowing players to choose from a selection of games. This means that if they don’t like one game, they can switch to another to use the rest of their money.
Although slot machines have come a long way over the years, we still believe there is more to come. With VR and server-based machines just starting out, we can expect to see further development in the next 50 years.