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Dana WilsonSlot machines have been with us for a while, now – since 1891, when Sittman and Pitt invented the first gambling machine as a novelty attraction for the bar scene in New York. It was a ‘drop-card machine’ that mechanically provided poker hands for the patrons that inserted the initial nickel to begin playing. It could not pay out mechanically; bartenders had to provide the winnings, usually a cigar, or a beverage.

Charles Augustus Fey, an immigrant from Bavaria was the father of the modern slot machine, and in his time was known as “the Thomas Edison of slots”. He built his first slot machine in 1894. In 1899, Fey revolutionized the industry with the famous Liberty Bell slot machine: a three-reel, countertop machine with a lever on its right side. The Liberty Bell had 10 symbols on each reel and 10 stops, which allowed for 1,000 different combinations. As well as stars and bells, the reels featured horseshoes, spades, diamonds, and hearts, and that lever on the side gave it that enduring nickname, “the one-armed bandit.” The Liberty Bell was a huge success – so much so that Stephen Mills, “the Henry Ford of slot machines”, of the Mills Novelty Company used production line techniques to churn out the Mills Liberty Bell slot machine (identical on the inside to the Charles Fey machine) helping make possible a massive proliferation of popular machines.

That very proliferation led to the first bans against slot machines around the turn of the century, and owners of the machines circumvented the ban by changing coin slot machines to offer candy, or gum, or even tokens leading to the wheels of the machines to be decorated with pictures of gum, bars, fruits, etc. – do some of the various tokens on modern machines start to make more sense, now? The machines, in their various incarnations remained hugely popular throughout their various bans, Prohibition, the Great Depression, and remain hugely popular today.

So popular there are over three million physical slot machines in the world today, and countless electronic ones. That is a truly amazing number of reels, bells, whistles, fruits, bars, and numerous other symbols whirling around at every given moment of every given day.

Many of those whirling symbols take place in casinos and homes in Asia. Apparently, Australia, with Singapore a close second, bet the most per capita in the world, followed by North America, and then Europe. However which way you slice the world gambling pie, it pays huge dividends to its hosts throughout the world in terms of employment, tax dollars, and infrastructure built for its maintenance. Slot lovers in Asia who wish to entertain themselves from the comfort of their own home might want to check out a multi-slot site.

You would think that America, inventor of the slot machine, home of Las Vegas the famed gambling Mecca of film, book, and life would lead gamers throughout the world, but that is not the case – possibly because gambling, though enshrined in Nevada, is banned in many states. Fortunately, U.S. gamers can access on-line slots at a multi-slot site, as well.

Europe, though home to some famous physical gambling establishments made famous by that quintessential fictional gambler Her Majesty’s Secret Service’d James Bond, gambles less than Asians, or North Americans. The UK, home of that most famous fictional gambler, are not averse to gaming themselves; it is estimated that some 35 percent of the adult population gambles on a weekly basis. The best online multi-slot site for UK players can be found at Mvideoslots, best slot sites for UK players.

The slot machine, the venerable “one-armed bandit” has even more incarnations on line, and in these days of pandemics and violence in the streets, it is definitely safer and more comfortable to gamble from the comfort of your own home. And, answering that age-old question, “Are on line slots as good as brick-and-mortar slots?” the answer is a resounding yes. You have just as much, if not more variety. You can win just as much money. And, you don’t have to deal with drunks, crowds, travel, or having to wait for your favourite slot machine to become available.

Dana Wilson is a freelance writer based in Edmonton, AB.

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