Penny Slots


While slot machines are nothing new, they have gone through a great deal of reincarnations throughout the years. Since their first appearance in the late 19th century, the games have morphed from mechanical, levered boxes to high-tech computers. Wheels have been replaced by digital screens, levers by buttons. Penny slots are one such innovation, having been customized to ensure you stick around and keep the wheel spinning, whether you do it with a lever or a button.

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Slot machines began as simple lever machines that let people win prizes.

As casinos expanded, table-top games became extremely popular with players because, quite simply, that’s where the money was to be made. However, these facilities also added slot machines around the outskirts of the playing floor for those who opted out of such games.

Over the next 100 years, technology evolved and grew, and digital technology ultimately took the place of the old crank levers. Now, all the player had to do was push a button to set the game spinning.

But the loss of the lever was certainly not the only aspect of slot machines that changed as the technology evolved. Instead of featuring three wheels and lines, slots could now feature five wheels and a virtually infinite number of combinations.

This led to the rise of penny slots. Instead of betting a quarter on three lines, gamblers could bet in denominations of one cent. A penny holds such a small monetary value that most people won’t stoop to pick up a dropped one. Casinos have latched on to this fact to get players involved. Learn more about how slots history has evolved from the coin-op nickel machines of old, to the modern digital penny slots of today.

Less is More

As slots gained popularity, casinos began to see their true value. Eventually, physical coins were largely replaced by cards. Nickle slots saw a resurgence when the number of lines that could be played on any given spin increased.

Eventually, as slots offered even more lines to be played per spin, even the nickel slots became too expensive for many casual gamblers. In what may seem like a counter-intuitive measure, casinos lowered the amount that could be bet in any given spin to encourage gamblers to play more.

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Penny slots allow you to bet in small increments, but can have bets as high as $1.

Betting More than a Penny

Sure, the sign above the slot machine reads “1 cent” or “penny slots,” but that may entice players into gambling more than they may initially intend.

The digitalization of the slots mean there are more combinations that can be played – one spin can have 50 or 100 different combinations. The player may only be betting a penny on each line, but at 100 lines, that’s a dollar a spin.

And that’s just a minimum bet. If the player decides to play five cents per line, all of a sudden it’s $5 each round.

Credits, Not Coins

If you’ve sat down at a penny slot machine in the last few years, you may have noticed that there is actually no place to put your pennies any more. In most casinos across the country, machines only accept cash or cards.

Say you put $10 in the machine. On many slot machines, instead of seeing “$10.00” pop up on the screen, you may see “1,000 credits.” If you don’t think of your money as, well, money, it’s easier to separate yourself from it. If you think of it as losing 10,000 points? Cents? instead of $100, it’s a lot easier to deal with.

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Digital slot machines have buttons instead of levers.

Buttons Instead of Levers

Once machines moved from analog to digital, one of the most classic and recognizable aspects of the slot machines – the lever – became obsolete. All players needed to do was push a button to play.

There was something of a backlash against the removal of levers from slot players, so many casinos left them on their digital machines, and they gained the nickname “legacy levers.”

However, even those have fallen out of favor, because hitting a button is just a faster way to play, and casinos are more than happy to encourage more spins per hour. Today, these legacy levers are fairly uncommon.

Winning Even When You Lose

There’s another counterintuitive aspect to penny slots: It’s very likely that you’ll “win” more often than at quarter or dollar slots.

That’s because of all of the lines that you can play – your chances of winning on any one spin are much better if you’re playing 40 or 50 lines than if you’re just playing five or 10, as players are likely to do in higher-priced games.

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Penny slots allow you to set both your bet and the number of lines in play.

If you bet a dollar on a spin and hit on one of the lines, you’ll see lights flash on your machine and hear the music to let you know that you’re a winner. However, if you look closer, you may have only won 60 cents. Sure, you won something, but you’re still down 40 cents.

You’re much more likely to keep playing if you feel like a winner every other spin, even if you’re ultimately running through your money.

Keep an Eye on Your Bet

Penny slots can be a fun way to pass the time at a casino or a bar, but it’s important that you’re not letting the fact that the denominations are only a penny blind you to the fact that you’re betting – and may be losing – real money.

That’s not to say that you’re always going to lose. There are plenty of success stories to go around, and it certainly is possible to win, and win big, on the penny slots. However, you usually have to play big to win big.

When you sit down at a slot machine, make sure you read the details before hitting the “spin” button or “max bet.” Your penny slots may cost you more than you think.