JUNE 2024

Casino Slots - History of the One Armed Bandit Slot Machine

History and of slot machines. Videos, information and details to enhance your gameplay.

From One Armed Bandits to Las Vegas Slot Machines

History and of slot machines. Videos, information and details to enhance your gameplay.

Written by: Jasmin Williams | The review was last updated: 17 October 2022 | Fact-check by: Kim Birch

Jasmin Williams, Chief Content Officer at BETO Slots™, has worked in the English casino industry for over a decade and is regarded as a casino and slots game expert. About Jasmin Williams

One game that has been indispensable for casinos since the very start is the slot machine, or as it is popularly known, the classic one-armed bandit. It does the work of keeping everyone happy, and almost every gambler likes to give it some spins when they go gambling.

The thing which makes the one-armed bandits so popular is that they are very easy to use and require no special skills. You simply need to pull a lever on the side of the machine, and the reels start magically spinning. If you are lucky, you can become rich by just pulling a lever. Both young and old betting enthusiasts enjoy them, and they have been receiving love in casinos for several decades.

A one-armed bandit is both a vintage casino game, as well as something that excites players these days as well. Put a slot machine in a room, and it will add the classic Las Vegas glamour to it. It is undoubtedly the most popular single-player casino machine.


What is One Armed Bandit Slot Machines

The origin of the one-armed bandit dates back over a century, and they were invented in San Francisco in 1898. However, they took almost a hundred years to cross the Atlantic sea and reach Europe. These games were authorised in French game houses at the end of the 1980s.

When they entered the casinos, they became famous with the nickname "one-armed bandit", it was so because of their single hand lever on them. Now, these classic pieces of gambling history are going through a digital revolution, and the era of online slot machines has started. With the power of the internet and connections, the winning potential of these games has increased, and their jackpots can get really high and rewarding.

With the increasing popularity of online slots, the one-armed bandits are getting out of the spotlight. From now on, a simple tablet can be used as their interface while keeping the excitement fresh and amusing.


Who Invented the Casino Slots (One-Armed Bandit)

The one-armed bandit was the pride and shine of the American Wild West, and the first mechanical one-armed bandit was built at the end of the 19th century. When it was invented, gambling was considered a luxury of the upper class, and such games were available only in private clubs.

Charles Frey was a German-born mechanic who was amused by other gambling games, and he invented the classic one-armed bandit with his pioneering spirit. Frey invented the new game with the idea coming from the 36-number roulette, a popular gambling game at that time. The arm spun the reels independently, and the player won a prize if the 3 liberty bells aligned with each other.

Following the classic American dream, Frey set up his company called the Slot Machine Factory. His success and popularity were a bit slowed due to bannings, but he never stopped. With time, Frey transformed his machine into a kind of a sweet dispenser, which paid out tokens that could be exchanged for sweets or drinks. All the initial symbols were replaced, but the liberty bell survived.

After the inter-war period, the one-armed bandits emerged in a town in America right in the middle of the desert, Las Vegas. Then, the one-armed bandit was allowed in casinos with other gambling games, and its popularity just rose and rose.


How do You Play One Armed Bandits Casino Games?

Play One-Armed Bandit Slots in Las Vegas and Online.

Play One-Armed Bandit Slots in Las Vegas and Online.

One-armed bandit is a nickname of a classic slot machine, the same kind which you see in casinos and gaming arcades all around the world. This nickname is actually very appropriate for slot machines. The one-arm comes from the fact that these machines had a lever, usually on the side, which was used to spin the reels. They were called bandits because they used to steal the money and time from the players when they used to gamble on them.

Once these magical machines entered the casinos, there was no stoppage to their popularity, and they became immensely appreciated and loved. Different manufacturers made their own machines, and you'll find various kinds of one-armed bandits when you enter an arcade.

Now, you get a lot of choices when it comes to slots. Many models have completely replaced the lever with spin buttons, and they come in attractive designs with music systems and bright colours.


One-Armed Bandits are Evolving Online

The main reason why the one-armed bandits are so much famous is that they are super easy to play. You play them with the aim of aligning symbols together on the screen. Once you align them together, you win payouts. Just like it is in the popular candy crush mobile game, align 3 similar symbols together and win.

So, all you have to do through your betting session on a classic one-armed bandit is to pull the lever and literally nothing else. If you get lucky, you'll get a prize, otherwise try again. Just grab a pouch of change, find your favourite machine to bet on, pull down the bandit's arm, and wait for the result. It is the magic of this beautiful gambling marvel.

The founder of Games Room Company, Reginald Waldersmith, had a passion for collecting antique casino equipment, and he had a deep knowledge of them. He always used to be on a hunt for the most amazing and the most exciting classic mechanical one-armed bandits.

We are trying to keep this passion for one-armed bandits alive and do our best to keep this tradition alive. Many of the classic one-armed bandits have been transformed into digital formats, and you find all of them here on the website at The level of detailing and designs of these titles are just unbelievable, and you should definitely give them some spins for free.


New One Armed Bandits Can be Played Online

Wild Fruit Super Wheel (Pariplay)

Wild Fruit Super Wheel is a new online slot inspired by the old school one armed bandits .
Play now

Free game

Wild Fruit Super Wheel is a new online slot inspired by the old school one armed bandits .

Wild Fruit Super Wheel is a modern online slot based around the fruit theme. It is developed by Pariplay and works in a 5x3 format, which gives you 243 different paylines to bet on.

You get an RTP of 94.23%, which is a bit below the average. You get a bunch of special features like wilds, multipliers, and the bonus wheel.

It is the digital version of the classic one-armed bandits, and this particular game is based majorly on the old school mechanic of classic slots. It is the digital version of the classic one-armed bandits, and this particular game is based majorly on the old school mechanic of retro slots.

You can try this slot here at, where we have a demo version of it. Just click this picture, and you will launch the game.

There are also some exclusive one-armed bandit bonuses that you can use to win real money, don't forget about them.


The Evolution of One Armed Bandit Slots

Thanks to the exciting gameplay, and almost no rules, one-armed bandits have become superbly popular in gaming arcades and online casinos, and you are most likely to spot one whenever you visit a new place to bet.

With time, the one-armed bandits also got their fair share of change and modifications. Currently, they are not the classic mechanical slots that first entered the gambling world and have become digital and completely modernised. However, one thing that has remained exactly the same is the insane amount of excitement these machines possess. You just can't stop spinning the reels once you start it as it's so fun.

We are living in an era that is dominated by huge gambling systems and online casinos that offer a ton of betting options, including card games, live games, and bingo options. We are living in an era that is dominated by huge gambling systems and online casinos that offer a ton of betting options, including card games, live games, and bingo guide options.

Now let's read how these classic bandits have digitally evolved into online slot machines.


One Armed Bandits Video Slots and Poker

One-armed bandits got inspired by poker.

One-armed bandits got inspired by poker.

The first one-armed bandits were mechanical machines that were introduced around 1880, and they worked when a coin was inserted in them. They looked like a standard poker game with 5 reels and 50 playing cards. They worked when their lever was pulled after inserting a coin into them.

In the case of a win on the machine, wins were not exactly clearly defined. If one landed a winning combo, the gambler could ask the barman or the owner for a pint of beer or a cigar. Like this, the one-armed bandits became popularly known as slot machines, the liberty bell model being one of the most popular ones.

In 1980, two more reels were added to the classic machine, and these newer versions had an arm instead of a lever. They weren't liked by players as anybody could claim the prize by pulling that arm. This resulted in the famous inscription "Please do not pull the handle" next to the machine. Although, gamblers didn't pay much attention to it.


Liberty Bell Changed Slots Gaming

Liberty bell changed the slot machines forever.

Liberty bell changed the slot machines forever.

Fey introduced a machine in 1898 that had an automatic payment system, and it was called "Liberty Bell".

It gave a payout of 10 five-cent coins when a gambler landed 3 liberty bell symbols in a row.

This resulted in a powerful boost to the popularity of slot machines. Even though they were officially banned, Fey manufactured hundreds of such slots.


Fruity Slots Became the Standard

Fruit Party (Pragmatic Play) (Pragmatic Play)

fruit party by pragmatic play are inspired by the old fruit bandits!
Play now

Free game

fruit party by pragmatic play are inspired by the old fruit bandits!

After the introduction of the automatic payment system, the next big change and evolution of the classic slots came with the introduction of fruit-themed machines. In these slots, the standard card symbols were replaced by charming and appealing fruit-inspired symbols like apples, peaches, cherries, and oranges.

When they were introduced, their payouts were compensated by giving fruit-flavoured gums, which matched the overall theme. It was also introduced to adhere to the anti-gambling laws and legal regulations.

These fruit-themed machines became insanely popular. Even today, you'll find that most popular iGaming developers have many fruit-themed slot machines in their game collections.


Electromechanic and Сontemporary Slots

In 1964, the first electromechanical slot device was invented, and its name was Money Honey. Thanks to the updated mechanism and the advanced system, its machinery was able to payout and intake around 500 coins automatically, without any need for external technical support. Then, in 1996, appeared the first video slot that had a special bonus game called Reel'Em, which was on a second screen.

Now, the online gambling universe is a true paradise for gamblers, and you have a wide variety of online slot machines to choose from. You can choose either a modern fast action slot or a classically themed slow-paced title. There are different gaming grid configurations. Some come with 3 reels, some with 5 reels, and some with even wider variations. Special features like Special promos like free spins, progressive jackpots, and wild symbols also add exciting twists to these modern one-armed bandits.


Online Slots Beating up the One Armed Bandits!

Book of Dead (Play'n GO)

one of the world most popular one armed bandits online is Book of Dead.
Play now

Free game

one of the world most popular one armed bandits online is Book of Dead.

The online slot games we are familiar with today came into existence in 1994, when the state of Barbuda and Antigua signed a Free trade Agreement for the Caribbean region's commercial activities.

This agreement allowed all the companies around the world to operate online casinos legally. The first online casino started its operations in 1995. When this online casino started running, many gamblers faced issues, and a Kahnawake Gaming Commission was also set up in 1996 in Canada.

This resulted in a surge in the number of online gamblers. However, in the same year, online gambling was banned in the USA with the ratification of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

Europe didn't follow the same road as the USA and chose to regulate online gambling instead of banning it altogether. So, Europeans could still enjoy the one-armed bandits in their modern and power loaded forms.


Play Online Bandits Online For Free here at BETO!

Online slot games are full of fun, and you should definitely give them a go if you haven't till now. They offer very high winning potentials and come with loaded jackpots offering payouts with values that soar high in the skies.

The classic one-armed bandits were different from the modern video slots that are the pride of online casinos these days. These titles offer you such amazing rewards that you can tick off your whole bucket list if you land a super lucky combo with a good-sized bet.

These online one-armed bandits began getting popular at the end of the 90s, and their craze has only increased since then. The first video slot was created by the popular developer Microgaming, and it still develops many online gambling titles that are loved by its players worldwide.

A lot of changes have been introduced to the one-armed bandits, and now they come with modern features to add a strong punch and excitement to your gameplay. You get unique bonuses that are special for different titles, along with the general, special features like themes, jackpots, wild symbols, free spins rounds, and multipliers.

Every day, more and more betters are becoming fans of online slot machines, and it is pretty clear from the number of people registering at online casinos every day. Manufacturers create video slots titles with such diverse and immersive themes that it becomes just impossible to not get attracted to them.

You get themes based on superheroes, fruits, different cultures, fantasy elements, wild animals, and many others. With such a diverse selection of slot games available to you players, it might get a little confusing as to which game to try. iGaming developers understand this, and they let you try their games out for free, where you spin the reels without betting any money.

You can find these demo versions available here at BETO, where we have curated a nice selection with thousands of online slot machines. Try both new and old digitalised one-armed bandits, and enjoy!


Frequently Asked Questions related to one-armed bandits

One-armed bandits are the slot machines that are of the earliest forms, which were mechanised and worked with the classic lever. This is BETO's selection of most commonly asked questions and answers on the classic one-armed bandits.

What is the reason behind slot machines getting their nickname one-armed bandits? Arrow Arrow

Slot machines became commonly known as one-armed bandits as they had a classic lever on them that was used to spin the reels. They were known as bandits as they used to steal your money and time, being gambling machines.

When and who invented the one-armed bandits? Arrow Arrow

In 1895, the first known one-armed bandit was invented by a German-born mechanic Charles August Fey. The first machine worked on a basic mechanical system and was automated to generate winnings on its own.

In what manner did the first mechanical slots work? Arrow Arrow

The first one-armed bandits worked on a fairly basic mechanism. When you pulled their handle, it twisted a cam bar against a powerful spring and pulled a hook that the spring-loaded in the starting. The cam then withdrew the reel stoppers, and at the end of the stroke, the hook fell off another cam. It caught the toothed plates that spun the reels, stopping the spin.

Is there a possibility of online one-armed bandits being rigged? Arrow Arrow

No, there are no ways in which you can cheat on an online slot machine these days. Developers create their products with advanced Random Number Generators, making it impossible for you to predict or influence a slot's result. You can only look at the RTP and perceived volatility rating of slots before betting on them.

What is the name of a slot machine's "arm"? Arrow Arrow

A slot machine's arm is known as Bandit. This name comes from the lever that used to be on the side of the first mechanical slot machine, which was used to start the game. It was a functioning arm of the machine and was used to operate it. Eventually, the whole machine ended up being called a one-armed bandit.

What is the BAR symbol in one-armed bandits? Arrow Arrow

You must have seen the bar symbol in many online slots and mechanical slots. It is actually a stylized picture of chewing gum and also a company's logo. According to some old sources, it is possible that the company of that logo might have been the Bell-Gum Fruit Company. One thing which is sure is that the BER symbol is an indispensable part of the classic fruit theme in slot machines,

What are the names of the different parts of one-armed bandits? Arrow Arrow

Generally, a one-armed bandit has parts that are similar in most cases and can be found in almost every slot machine, like the paytable, the reels, the spin button or lever, and the symbols.