Impress your mates the next time you hit the casino with this collection of interesting facts about the most popular game at just about any casino...
- There are about 600,000 online slot machines in North America alone, with Las Vegas being the most densely populated slot capital: there is one slot machine for every eight people living in Vegas.
- Super Big Bertha was the world’s biggest slot machine, measuring a huge two metres across and 2.5 metres high. It was impossible for a human being to pull the lever in order to get the eight massive reels into motion, so it was powered by a five horsepower motor. It took half-dollars and dollars, and offered an impressive million-dollar jackpot – which was made way less impressive by how unlikely winning it was. With twenty symbols on eight reels, odds of hitting the jackpot were 25.6 billion to one.
- A single player held the record for the highest jackpot payout for 27 years: he won $65,093 in 1973 after hitting a one-dollar progressive jackpot. That record was only beaten in 2001 by an Ontario casino patron who hit a $1 million jackpot on a $100-a-pull slot machine.
- The roulette machine has no memory, so the odds of winning are the same at every pull, just like a coin flip. The idea of a hot streak, or the practice of moving to another machine once you win, is all simply superstition.
- There are two types of jackpots: flat-top and progressive. A flat-top machine has a set limit to how large the jackpot payout can be, but progressive jackpots continue to increase until somebody wins them. Progressive jackpots take a percentage of each player’s bet and put it towards the jackpot – so the more people are playing, the faster the jackpot rises.
- The term one-armed bandit didn’t start as a nickname for the slot machines themselves: in fact, in the bordellos of San Francisco where mechanical slots first gained their popularity, they attracted shady characters. These ‘bandits’ learned to manipulate the handles of slots in order to pay themselves out by cheating the machine.
- When slot machines began to be such big business that people were making fortunes hosting them, the American government interfered with this simple, easy form of gambling and eventually made it illegal. Owners got around this slight obstacle by calling the slots ‘vending machines’ – they wouldn’t pay out in coins but rather cigars, sweets or other small items, which the players then exchanged for cash at the counter!