Real-money slot machines on our classic trains

Slot machines have many names today. They’re informally called fruit machines due to the images of various fruits like bananas, strawberries and lemons, as symbols on the spinning reels. They also have different names in different countries, from simply slots, in USA and Canada, to pokies in Australia and New Zealand. In the past, slot machines were referred to as one-armed bandits, one-armed because of the traditional levers the machines used to have on the side (most of today’s modern machines have the lever only as a decoration), and bandits because slot machines, both in the past and today, can literally steal the gambler’s money and leave him or her broke.

In order to win money from a slot machine, you need to get a winning combination of symbols or numbers. Traditionally, once you insert money into the slot, you spin the lever and watch the reels spin. In modern times, the slot machine is equipped with a video screen and the spinning of the reels is simulated, but the gameplay has not changed beyond that. You can win anything from money to free spins, depending on the winning combination. It’s important to note that you do not need a particular skill to gamble – you need to be lucky in order to get a winning combination out of the randomized spinning reels. It’s a very addictive past time, and playing slot machines is one of the most popular forms of gambling today.


The History of Slot Machines

Slot machines were developed over many years, and the first slot machines were based on poker. The first gambling machine that had a lever on the side was developed in Brooklyn, New York, by Sittman and Pitt in 1891. The machine had five drums that held 50 card faces. It was a grand success, and soon, the machine appeared in many bars and saloons. Due to the fact that the machine did not have an automatic payment system, a good poker hand could win the gambler a free spin, beer, or whatever else the establishment could offer.

The slot machines we know of today were developed sometime in the 19th century, between 1887 and 1895, in San Francisco, California, by Charles Fey. The new machine had three reels that contained five different symbols – a spade, horseshoe, a diamond, a heart and a bell. Unlike the poker slot machine, the three reels and five symbols ensured that there wouldn’t be as many winning combinations as in the poker slot machine, and automatic payout for a winning combination became possible. The biggest possible payout at the time was ten nickels, equivalent to fifty cents, and could be won by getting three bells on the reels. The machine became extremely popular, and due to the bell symbols winning combination, the machine was dubbed “the bell machine.” By the early 20th century, almost every saloon, bowling alley, brothel and other types of establishments had a bell machine.



Gambling During the Wild West Era

It is not surprising that many of the games played in modern gambling were developed, designed and invented during the Wild West Era. In the early 19th century, new towns sprouted along the American West, and in those towns, recreational establishments were among the first buildings to be built. Male domination ensured that those establishments were places for womanizing, drinking and, most of all, wagering and gambling. It was during this time that saloons, brothels and gambling houses became popular – even if the establishment was nothing more than a dirt-strewn tent lit by lanterns.

wild wild west gambling

Most of the people who left the East, which was at the time a place of comfort, deciding to seek their fortunes in the West were natural born gamblers, so it comes as no surprise that they were the ones who dwelled in these establishments, turning gambling from a past time into a profession, and some of the most famous gamblers, like Charles Cora and Jimmy Fitzgerald, took the practice and turned it into an art form. They would play a game of bluffing that we know today as poker, and in those halls blackjack was developed, among many other games of today, including, as mentioned above, the original, three reel slot machine.

Gambling in the Wild Wild West got to an end with the rise of antisaloon movements, together with the woman suffrage reform movements which took over the country in the early 20th century. Gambling was banned, aided by the Prohibition of the 20s, and it was only in the latter half of the 20th century that gambling returned, in Las Vegas and Indian Reservations. However, the glory and legendary gambling and gamblers from the Wild West era have become mostly forgotten.


Gambling In the Modern World

Gambling today is very different from gambling in the Wild West Era. Technology has allowed gambling in ways that probably couldn’t even have been imagined in that era. While there was a certain amount of social stigma following gambling in the 20th century, today, gambling is simply another form of entertainment. It has led to casinos being legalized all over the world, and to the development of online casinos and betting stores. There are many websites, like Blodyavenger, where they review some of the best casino game providers of 2016. Online casinos offer gambling from home, but that is not the only benefit. Not only you can gamble with real money, and that means winning money from home without going to land based casinos, virtual reality casinos offer an incredible number of games, from blackjack to poker, to virtual slot machines, and other games.


Get a Taste of History with ARHS

The Australian Railway Historical Society in Australia, as a trustee of the Canberra Railway Museum Trust focuses on studying, preservation and operation of significant trains and other items of NSW railway history. Today, they offer authentic trains from the late 19th and early 20th century, restored over the years, for hire. Additionally, many functions, weddings, birthday celebrations and conferences can be catered. You can also enjoy some old fashioned, real money gambling on their slot machines. The ARHS offer a variety of carriages, which can be stationary, or engines, depending on what you need.


They also operate short trips, from various cities around Australia, as well as long distance trips specially equipped for long term travel. The Society has taken a good care of the authentic items NSW historical railways, and they have preserved many items, which are available to see as museum exhibits.


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