I remember it like it was yesterday, it was back in the late 1990’s. My wife and I were walking through the Atlantic City Hilton (has changed name since) and I spotted something interesting. We usually played video poker or I played blackjack. For me, nothing was more boring than sitting in front of a slot machine and trying to line up three bars or three cherries, but the game I saw was different. It looked more like a video game. It was called “Reel Em’In.”
Needless to say we sat down to play having no idea what this game was all about, but it sure looked fun. On our 4th spin all of a sudden the machine started blinking and we were sent to a new screen (which we now know is a bonus screen) where we had to pick a fisherman. We chose the goofy looking guy and he caught a BOTTLE! We were mad; surely the bottle wasn’t worth anything. We’ll he opened the bottle and there was some type of map that moved us to another screen. Long story short we won $800 and I was hooked on Video Slot machines.
Reel Em’In and other similar games such as Little Green Men, Cleopatra, and Jackpot Party, all would change the casino industry forever. Regular three-reel slot machines were popular at the time, but the primary customer base for those machines were older women. Not anymore. As these new machines started to appear you also noticed the demographics of slot players change as well. Men and women of all ages were now enjoying playing video slot machines.
For a guy, it wasn’t the same as playing the old fashioned “one-armed bandits,” these were more like the video games we grew up with and you get to win money. How great is that? Yes, you were still just hitting a button but the visual stimulation and the bonus rounds changed everything. Add in the fact that you now had many different pay lines and you could bet extra on each pay line to multiply your wins, these games were no longer just for women.
Something else was going on around this same period of time. The internet was beginning to explode and with it so was internet gaming. Gambling online was becoming big business and what would be better than having video slot machines. If they were stuck with the older version of slots they wouldn’t really be that appealing to the online crowd, but these new video game style slots were perfect.
It has been a perfect marriage ever since. Video slots continue to be the most popular games in land-based and online casinos. The graphics and audio continue to improve. There are new features released all the time, the future for video slots is limitless.
I guarantee that slot machines would not be nearly as popular as they are today without the advancement of the video slot. It opened an entirely new customer base that at one time would not be caught dead at a slot machine.
Casinos could not be happier. They would much rather someone plays video slots than play blackjack because they know their advantage is much greater on the slots. In other words, they make a whole lot more money from someone who consistently plays slots than someone who is a knowledgeable player who only plays table games. Casinos know this so they reward the slot players at the highest levels. If you are a slot player, you will get the best bonuses, promotions, comps, etc.
It’s kind of ironic that casinos today bend over backwards for slot players because at one time slots where viewed as just a way to keep women busy while the men bet the “real” money at the table games. Things have changed and as long as new exciting video slots keep coming out, I don’t see them losing popularity anytime soon.