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The term slot machine was originally used for automatic vending machines as well as for the gambling devices, but in the 20th century the term became restricted to the latter. The first such gambling devices in the United States were mere novelties that did not return coins but presented gambling opportunites, such as two toy horses that would race after a coin was inserted. Such devices set on a bar in a saloon attracted wagering between patrons. By 1892 machines that paid off in coins were in existence, usually in the form of a circular display with a spinning indicator that came to rest or pointed to a number, colour, or picture. Early in the 20th century the slot machine settled into its three-reel form (occasionally later increased to five) with a window showing coins played into the machine, constituting the jackpot, or highest payoff.
Forces of morality, and then of law, opposed the operation of slot machines. Throughout the 1920s, the machines were popular throughout much of the United States, especially in resort areas, and they continued to be popular into the Great Depression years of the '30s. But belief that the distribution of slot machines was controlled by organized crime led to legislation restricting their sale and transportation as well as their use except in private social clubs. Prohibition outside Nevada, which long had legalized gambling, was virtually total by 1951, although illegal operation, especially in private clubs, was widely ignored.
Later, as other states and countries permitted gambling, moved by the prospect of revenue, the machines came into wide use throughout the world, both in casinos and elsewhere. U.S. manufacturers had a prime segment of the market. For the slot-machine addict, the action of pulling the handle, the sound of the reels falling into line, and most of all the jangle of cascading coins when protruding metal fingers in the machine triggered the coin release, all were part of the attraction. By the late 1970s, electronic machines operated by push buttons and having visual displays were in use, especially for the play of such games as Poker, Keno, and Blackjack.
The slang term one-armed bandit arose from the single handle and the ability of the operators to adjust the rate of payoff, decreasing it in times of high-volume playing and increasing it in slack periods. Some state gaming commissions attempted to assure a minimum rate of payoff. In the late 20th century the record jackpot for a five-reel dollar machine taking one to five U.S. dollars was $1,000,000. These days, online casino slots have jackpots worth multiple millions of dollars, pounds or euros. Casino Games HQ is your source for playing at online casinos to win real money.