Slots have come a long way from when it cost a nickel to take a chance on winning 50 cents. New technology incorporates sophisticated designs with 3-D images, video, and animation. Sound effects add to the gaming experience by introducing exciting audio elements to excite players. Advanced software allows gamers to play slots on the go via mobile, tablet, and other media devices. The number of games has increased immensely with thousands of varieties to choose from at online and land-based casinos. Now, network interfaces allow casinos to easily track, collect, and analyze data trends from slot machines connected to the network.

Today’s technology is a far cry from the 20th century when the word slots began to refer solely to casino gambling machines. Prior to that time, any vending machine could be called a slot.

In 1895, a car mechanic named Charles Fey invented the first mechanical slot machine for gambling in San Francisco, California. He called it Liberty Bell. If a player spins three consecutive images of the iconic bell, he won ten nickels or fifty cents. Fey equipped each machine with technology that could decipher between fake and real nickels. He placed the slot machines in bars and he gave 50 percent of the profits to the saloon owners.

Manufacturers wanted a part of the profits from the invention, but Fey refused to sell other the rights to produce the slot machine. In response to skyrocketing demand, a Chicago arcade manufacturer by the name of Herbert Mills began to produce his own version of the popular machines. Mills placed plums, cherries, and lemons on the slots and named his machine Operator Bell.

The original slot machines have three hoops, called reels. When a player pulls the lever, the reels spin around, stopping at one of the ten symbols affixed to the hoop. If the gamer hits three identical symbols on each reel, he’s won the jackpot and the machine releases coins. After anti-gambling legislation restricted monetary payouts in gambling, Mills’ rigged his machines to dispense fruit-flavored gum that matched the fruit that showed up on the slot machine hoops.

During prohibition, the popularity of slot machines began to increase in underground clubs. The manufacturers silenced the bells that usually rang when a player won the game. These silent machines stayed in production throughout prohibition.

In 1934, a manufacturer introduced the first electronic gaming machine, a horse race called PACES RACES. Thirty years later, Nevada Electronic released “21,” an electronic gambling machine. Technological advances of the 60s became a part of slot machine production when manufacturers began to add sound effects, electronic motors, and brighter symbols.

Later, Bally Technology invented video slot machines and random number technology. Advanced graphics, bonuses, and music continue to draw players to the popular game. Some casinos are pioneering new ways to track slots and gamers with networking technology.

Cannery Casino and Hotel in North Las Vegas has installed an end-to-end Cisco system. The casino is a trailblazer, the first to implement technology design systems that puts all the casino’s slot machines on a network by using the Cisco virtual switcher or VSS. VSS allows for 5.6 million flows. This is an huge amount of data that the system reviews and analyzes.

NetFlow, a protocol Cisco developed, collects and monitors network traffic. The Cisco system can create a picture of the flow data by analyzing the network information at large. This is an ideal setup for large casinos that want to keep track of which games are most popular and how much money is won and lost. The system develops a picture that summarizes network traffic volume and characteristics. By incorporating this technology into a casino, the operators collect all the data about the games, security, money, and other information as it flows through the network.

The Cisco network integrates communications platforms and the technology infrastructure. It supports the servers and the gaming structure of the slots. The technology incorporates security, communications, and wireless technology for large-scale surveillance and user-friendly gaming capabilities.

Stiff competition for the billions in worldwide gambling revenue has casinos creating more advanced games for slot enthusiasts. However, the focus has shifted to include integrating ways to track of the data that each slot machine produces.