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Online Slots: a journey 100 years in the making

Slot machines have been around for well over 100 years, although these days they are just a little more sophisticated and exciting than the ‘one armed bandits’ of yesteryear. The first slot machine appeared in the USA around 1895. Created by Charles Fey, the ‘Liberty Bell’ slot machine featured a jackpot of $0.50 (around 30p). The symbols of those early slots - Bell, Bar, Cherry etc. still survive to this day. Some of the earliest slot machines offered pieces of chewing gum or sweets as their jackpot prize, something that would be logistically difficult for internet casinos to offer nowadays. Later, slot machines began to appear on beach promenades, casinos and arcades all over the world, becoming an exciting form of entertainment. Different to other classic casino games, in that skill and strategy are not required to win, slot games caught the imagination of the masses as they have always been about the idea of that one lucky spin leading to a fortune.

As we moved through the 20th century, slots became more sophisticated with the 1960s and 70s heralding the arrival of the electronic slot games, and, crucially for most players, an increase in the size of the jackpots. The 1990s saw the first generation of slot games featuring bonus rounds. The true game changer then arrived with the online casino. Increased connectivity meant new possibilities and casino games that were bigger, more lucrative and more exciting than ever before.

Modern casino games leaving their predecessors in their shade

Comparing slots of today to the ones in decades past is a bit like comparing a Formula 1 car to a horse and cart. Some slots, for example, resemble blockbuster movies, featuring stunning graphics and audio as well as big prizes. Indeed, the prizes on modern online slots can be gigantic. Nowadays, the big draw is that of the Progressive Jackpot, which is a shared fund paid into it by small amounts with every wager, so the jackpot fund grows and grows until one lucky player nets a life-changing sum of cash. Progressive Jackpots are awarded randomly so you could be playing from as little as a few pence, and land a jackpot worth millions. The prizes and the rich themes are two of the reasons slots are so popular.

William Hill Vegas: letting you decide how to play

But modern online slots offer so much more than just big jackpots. Take a next-generation slot like Innocence or Temptation, available to play now at William Hill Vegas. In this game you, the player, are in control. The game features a ‘slider’ with 5 different settings, if you move towards the Angel (innocence) your wins become more frequent but less likely to be large, if you move towards the Devil (temptation) wins are less frequent but large wins are more likely. Something like this would be inconceivable to the designers of the original fruit machines so many years ago. Indeed, the idea of choice may just be what is important in the future of slot games, allowing players to regulate the game to suit their tastes. This is evident now in online slots featuring Super Bet functions, allowing extra, or side wagers, to be made in the game, unlocking enhanced features or prizes. William Hill Vegas offers several games with a Super Bet function, including Merlin’s Magic Respin and a Dragon’s Story. In addition, William Hill Vegas is home to many exclusive slots found nowhere else. These include Mayfair Magic, Tiki Tastic, Robin Hood and Giant Gems.

The future of online slots may lie in your pocket

So what is the future of the slot machine? It could be argued that the future is now, with the arrival of online slots and online casinos we see limitless possibilities in terms of player interaction, jackpot sizes and general entertainment. As smartphones and tablets become more popular, the slot machine travels with you as you go about your day. Regardless of how we play slot machines 100 years from now, we can be sure it will be a very different to the humble fruit machines of the past.