Its no secret that Slot/Pokie Machines and their online cousins are the most popular of all the casino games available. Even with all those exciting table games such as Craps, Blackjack, Roulette, Poker (many versions) and others, the Slots are still the go-to games for many while providing the largest source of revenue for casinos.
To best answer why Slots are so popular among the gambling crowd, its best to delve into a bit of the history and where we are in the 21st century.
Full Disclosure: This is NOT scientific and is pure speculation from someone who works in the Casino Industry and has seen trends and games come and go.
The Attraction of the One-Armed Bandito
Up until the mid-19th century, gambling took the form of games which involved two or more players with a certain skill set needed for most of the games. Gambling was not an activity you could undertake yourself and was never based around something mechanical. It probably started out with something crazy like Rock, Paper and Scissors while progressing to something a bit more challenging and complex. Whatever the case, once the Slots/Pokies came into being, their popularity has rocketed through the stratosphere.
The Lone Wolf Experience
Whether you played in a late 19th century saloon or in the garish Venetian Casino in Vegas, the Slot experience was in some sense an isolated experience. Of course, there were other gamblers around you, but the act of playing was one you shared with only yourself. No judgement, no dirty looks, no attitude, and no pressure. You played at your own pace and walked away whenever you wanted.
Compared to the other casino games, the Slots are like an isolation unit where you can spend money and make money. The table games are much slower with your pace of play depending on the speed of the other players and dealer. In some cases, such as Poker, you are playing against the other people at the table instead of the House (Casino). And with Blackjack, your decision on whether to “hit” or “pass” can influence the outcome of the other players’ hand. Make one bad decision and you will most likely get the “evil eye” from your fellow gamblers who needed the card which you “stole”.
Variety and Gaming Options
What makes up for the solitary slot experience is the variety of games which are available at all land-based casinos as well as online. Online slots are available for free play, although that sort of defeats the purpose of playing. The benefit of free play is you get to try a game out before you spend any money, and its always good to see what’s new and hot.
When I refer to the Slot games as offering “variety”, I’m being somewhat conservative. The table games and some other casino games have in most cases remain unchanged over the decades and centuries. Of course, there are different “versions” especially with Poker, but the games still consist of sitting down at a table with strangers and playing at the pace in which you have no control. Online Poker is a bit different, although the pace is restricted with a fixed speed.
Slots are the only casino games that improve as technology gets better. There’s a reason why the mechanical slots of the past are in museums while the video slots at casinos are dominating in both revenue and popularity with automatic multiple spins and easy access with Debit Cards. Whether you’ll be able to use your Credit Card in the future is something which will not occur in the foreseeable future.
Themes, Screens, and Bonuses
Slots online and at casinos are in most cases giant gaming computers. Giant in the sense that they have large screens and input “buttons” although the computer memory to power them is rather small. As large computers they carry the ability to provide numerous functions and graphics as well as tons of ways to win.
The themes of these slots can range from Movies, TV, Holidays, People, Places, and all sorts of other things. Anytime there is something hot in popular culture, it will usually end up as a slot game. Along with the themes are winning options galore such as Bonuses, Free Spins, Wild, Scatters, Multipliers, Huge Progressive Jackpots and much more. Just to give you an idea of how big, in 2015 John Haywood won £13.2 million (Approx. $16.5 million) playing at an online casino on the Mega Moolah slot.
Most people understand that a jackpot this large is out of reach, but they still stick to the slots for the fun and excitement they offer. Because there is no skill involved, slots are in some sense therapeutic and provide a bit of an escape from the rat race. Maybe this is why they are the number one games in terms of revenue and popularity compared to any other type of casino games.