Like many other gambling concepts, slot machines, and penny slots have their own fascinating history that will leave both avid gamblers and those still waiting to take their first steps into a casino with their jaws wide open. Penny slots pretty much do what they say on the tin. They’re slot machines that can be played with as little as one cent in America or the smallest of monies in other countries. While the majority of casinos have introduced slot machines with more than one payline and multiple reels, there are still tons of modern casinos that offer penny slots to punters.

This article will explore the gripping history of slot machines and penny slots around the world. If, after the article, you can’t wait to try your hand at these machines, there are several great penny slots available online. When it comes to choosing just one, here’s what the experts at BonusFinder recommend for those who are new to this gripping gambling game.

When Were Penny Slots First Invented?

To delve into the fascinating history of penny slots, we first have to go back to the invention of the first slot machine. In 1891, Sittman and Pitt from New York created a rudimentary gambling machine based on poker. While this marked a big step towards slot machines becoming the most popular game in American online casinos today, the excessive number of possible wins – and subsequent difficulty with automated payout – made this game popular but complicated for operators. Then came Charles Fey.

For the majority of avid gamblers and slot enthusiasts, this Bavarian-born American inventor was the genius behind the slot machine concept that we know and love today – despite Fey not setting out to create such a device with his work. In 1898, Fey built the Card Bell. This has since been known as the first slot machine with three reels and automatic payments; the device had a handle responsible for setting these reels in motion when pushed down and playing cards that lined up to create poker hands. Fey used the familiar symbols of diamonds, hearts and spades in his machines, and in 1899, he designed another device with two extra symbols: horseshoes and a Liberty Bell. This marked the beginning of the landmark Liberty Bell slot machine.

There’s no denying that Fey was the pioneer behind the world’s love of slots, and over the next few years, inventors would make their own tweaks to his successful design, including adding extra paylines – and, of course, creating a game that could, be played with just one singular penny. These so-called penny slots offered more casual gamblers the chance to join in the fun with a limited budget. In time, these penny slots became an extremely popular way of enjoying the slot experience in a low-stakes way. 

Below are some other notable slot designs in the mesmerizing history of slots:

The Operator Bell

Invented by the Mills Novelty Company in 1907, this machine was the first to replace symbols from playing cards with fruit symbols instead. It was also the first machine that included an automatic payout.

The Mills High-Top

In 1928, the Mills High-Top became the first slot device to have a payout of up to 500 coins. The machine also boasted a built-in bell, which would ring when players won the jackpot!

The Bally Alpha Pro

The first electromechanical slot machine was called the Bally Alpha Pro in 1971. This remarkable device was designed with a large display to show payouts – as well as a big button that tempted new players to spin the reels. 

The WMS Industries Double Diamond

In 1991, a new slot machine was created with a progressive jackpot: the WMS Industries Double Diamond. This was also the first design to have a large display with the purpose of showing players just how much they had already won during gameplay. 

‘Reel ‘Em In’

After the digital revolution in the mid-1990s, game makers quickly sought to leverage new technologies to bring slot machines into the virtual world. The first online casino was developed in the middle of the decade by Microgaming, shortly followed by the first second-screen video slot game: ‘Reel ‘Em In’.

Tips for Winning on Penny Slots

You’ll likely find penny slot machines in high-traffic areas like airports – the perfect location for people looking to kill time before their flight while hopefully getting themselves a little bit of extra holiday money without investing too much. While playing on penny slots might seem reasonably simple, there are still some tips worth keeping in mind if you do get a chance to test your luck on these machines:

Look at RTP and Volatility 

Every slot game will come with a different volatility (variance) level and RTP. Put simply, the volatility of a game determines how often you’re likely to receive a payout of winnings, and the RTP lets players know the total amount of money that goes back to the players from all the wagers in the machine. A winning combination is high RTP and low volatility – you’re more likely to enjoy frequent smaller winnings without wasting too much time in front of the machine.

Take it Back to Basics

While it might be hard to look away from the penny slots with colorful themes and eye-catching visual designs, these machines tend to have low winning odds; it’s no coincidence the longer players stay glued to the screen, the more likely they are to lose their entire bankroll! Instead, we recommend keeping things simple and sticking with classic three-reel games with fewer features but higher payout odds.

Take Advantage of Bonuses

The majority of good online casinos will offer exclusive promotions and bonuses for those who want to play penny slots. These bonuses typically offer players several free spins or bonus rounds, so gamblers have an increased chance of winning big without investing too much. It’s important to always read the terms and conditions behind these promotions to see if they’re worth taking advantage of. 

Employ a Simple Bankroll Management Strategy

Since penny slots don’t offer much room for a complex bankroll strategy, we recommend going with something much simpler: stop playing the game after you’ve spent everything you set aside for penny slots – and know just when to cut your losses. Following this strategy will give you peace of mind and provide stability when knowing just how much you’re spending on penny slots.