This year has been an interesting year with regard to the gaming industry in both the United States and Canada. However, one thing that has been fairly consistent is the growth of slot machine gaming in both countries’ casinos. Slot machine sales in the United States and Canada grew by 15.7 percent during the second quarter alone. In fact, slot revenues are up despite an overall flat market in many locations in the United States and Canada.
History of Slot Machines
The first slot machine appeared in the late 19th century in San Francisco as a form of entertainment. The earliest slot machines had three reels and people played them by pulling a lever. The lever on the slot machine is the reason it got the nickname “one-armed bandit.” Early slot machines had a payout of 10 nickels—a 50-cent jackpot. The early slot machines cost a nickel to play. Slot machines grew in popularity and people could find them in bars throughout the country. That is, until the crackdown on gambling and booze in the 1920s. This was right before the Great Depression. Slot machines made a return to casinos when they became legalized in Las Vegas in the 1950s.
Some slot machines still adhere to the theory of small deposits – such as penny and quarter slots and small jackpots. But, others have changed a lot. Slot machines can have as many as seven reels and hundreds of pay lines. There are still traditional machines that people play by pulling a lever. But, many slot machines now have a button that a person can push. Slot machines can cost from 1 cent to $100 per spin. Progressive jackpot slots can payout in the millions of dollars. In fact, the largest slot payout in Vegas history was nearly $40 million on a $100 machine. Although slots have some of the longest odds at the casino, they remain the most popular of the casino games.
The Reason for the Increase in Slot Sales
Researchers have said the primary reason for the increase in slot sales is because of casino openings. These have resumed in force now that the U.S. and Canadian economies have begun to revive. Many casinos shut down during the economic recession in the late 2000s. This included casinos in Atlantic City, Louisiana, and the Midwestern states. Casinos along the Mississippi River also closed. In addition, several riverboat casinos had to close down because of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. They have since been rebuilt. The casinos along the Gulf Coast took years to rebuild and some never reopened.
However, casino construction has begun to pick up again. Two casinos opened in Atlantic City this summer. The Ocean Resort and the Hard Rock both opened ahead of the July 4 weekend in New Jersey. Two other casinos opened as well and did excellent business: the MGM Springfield and the MGM National Harbor. In addition to the casinos in the United States, the Caesars Windsor managed to resolve a three-month-long strike. The strike deprived the casino of millions of dollars in revenue during the strategic summer months. This is a very important time for Canadian casinos because many tourists visit Canada during the summer.
What is unclear is how the prevalence of online gaming will affect slot machines and on-site casinos in the future. The prediction is that online casinos will eventually overtake the on-site casinos. Research has shown some people will gamble online because that gives them the convenience of gambling at home. Other gamblers like to pull the lever or push the button on their favorite slot machines.
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