The gambling machine among other milestone inventions

At the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries many projects, more or less significant for civilization’s development, were implemented. As an example- the cinematograph constructed by the Lumière brothers, the radio, created in controversial circumstances or the Orville and Wilbur Wright plane, powered by an internal combustion engine.

However, many of those meaningful innovations seem to be omitted, left in the shadows of other discoveries from the period which contributed more visibly to socio-economic changes around the world.

Along with dynamic development of technology, new possibilities rose up in almost every aspect of life; possibilities that not only allowed the improvements of already existing inventions, but also helped to implement the projects from scratch. Most of the time they were the result of many years of observation and analysis and allowed to take another important step in the process of raising all the standards. For instance, this was the case with compression-ignition engine, patented by Rudolf Diesel, which contributed to the improvement of transport or the cinematographic camera, created by William K. Dickson, which is a crucial invention for the entire entertainment industry.

Those are the inventions that opened the door to a completely different, better dimension for the local industry and economy. They also accelerated the progress of various sectors, like aforementioned entertainment sector, pushing aside other important projects that emerged later on. And even though the world from the beginning of the 20th century underestimated many remarkable concepts, today many of them due to changes over the last hundred years have grown to the rank of breakthrough discoveries of the period.

Ideal example of the aforementioned process is the gambling machine, whos history of origin is quite blurry. Underrated at first, the invention, along with the growing technological possibilities, was dynamically changing in order to adapt to the needs and expectations of its recipients. It completely remodelled gambling, known to the mankind for millennia, and after several decades from the emergence of its first copies it begun to influence the global economy and society. Evolution of the gambling machine continues for centuries.

The end of the 19th century- the beginning of a new gambling era.

In 1891 in New York, Sittman and Pitt introduced the first ever gambling machine, call the Poker Machine, in which the game play was based mostly on the rules of the well-known game of poker. Four years later, on the West Coast of the United States, a Bavarian immigrant Charles Fey finalized his original design of a gambling device called Liberty Bell. It took him a little less than a decade. Over time, the invention morphed into different, more advanced forms and oficially became prototype of a gambling machine as we know today.

For the next years the idea started by Fey gained popularity and the machines could be seen around almost every corner. Gambling machine hype kept growing because of more and more interesting solutions that attracted crowds of players. It wasn’t until the mid-twentieth century that mechanical gambling machines reached a critical point; their potential seemed to be drained out, and new designs didn’t meet the needs of the market. This dead-end was omitted thanks to a technology that allowed to design and produce electromechanical machines – Money Honey by Bally.

Because of this stage of its unusual evolution, the slot machine has become a synonym of gambling and a showcase of the world’s largest casinos.

The machines started appearing on all the continents and when they reached the status of fully electronic devices and took a form of video lotteries, it seemed that nothing could stop their global expansion. Unfortunately, unprofitable payout percentage, toxic environment linked with a growing number of addictions to gambling and expansion of gray areas in many countries resulted in firm responses from the governments. They answered with restrictive regulations; they required certain levels of financial solvency of the machines, their technological compliance with legal regulations and complete transparency of casino operations. Chance, previously considered an essential element of the entertainment, has become a source of many problems.

Law versus technology.

Initially, machines were simple devices. For example design of Operators Bell was based on mechanical structures of cylinders decorated with few symbols; a player was setting them in motion by pulling a lever on the machines side. Every version of gambling machines that followed was improved with some new elements or attributes. After the introduction of a fully electronic gambling machine onto the market, opportunity to create various combinations and bonuses, along with an option to raise the stakes and to introduce progressive Jackpot made the slots incredibly popular. The profits generated by global gambling machine business were approaching the level previously known only in the largest sectors of the global industry.

From the very beginning of their existence, electronic gambling machines based on deterministic algorithms (algorithms which, given a particular input, will always produce the same output). In order to remain randomized they had to depend on a special Pseudo-Random Number Generator (or PRNG) that allows the machine to create unpredictable sequence… in theory. Of course in reality generated combinations only seem random. The solutions currently available on the market are using computers, which are by definition predictable as they operate on pre-determined sequences.

The entire industry can probably agree that the Pseudo-Random Number Generator played a crucial role in its development- it was a fundamental element that introduced randomness into the computations.

Over the course of several decades, since the introduction of Pseudo-Random Number Generators, there have been many changes in legal regulations concerning machines and their operating parameters. Technological changes were often dependent on those new regulations. Both huge amount of the gambling machines worldwide and (mostly) manipulations of software performed by their producers resulted in numerous government interventions in many countries. Some reforms, for example in Poland or Ukraine, did not bring the expected results. On the contrary, they led to expansion of the gray areas and only increased the scale of the issue. Only amendments or complete transformations of legal regulations resulted in desired outcome, but their side effect was often a drastic limitation of number or complete elimination of smaller arcades.

New direction in development of the gambling machines

The legal changes dramatically reduced demand for new gaming machines. In Poland, after monopolization of the industry and liquidation of hundreds of gaming machine points, many operators abandoned their activities and the market has shrunk to a minimum due to delays on the part of the State. The complete elimination of the gambling machine market development was, and is, not possible because of the activity of the big fish, but the regulations increasingly restricting the freedom of the markets have already contributed to the slowdown of the whole thing.

Even though companies, more or less specialized in creating products for the gambling industry, conducted numerous estimates and delivered models with different characteristics to the markets, the main goal of the projects was far beyond the reach of the producers. Machines containing a chance element, mainly a Pseudo-Random Number Generator, despite their transparence, are still illegal and do not meet proper legal requirements. For example, according to the jurisdiction of the Polish courts all the machines being particularly challenging to the player are classified as games of chance. Thus, the initial attempts to modify the concept of the gambling machine came to naught.

When it seemed that numerous changes in regulations would slow down the evolution of the gambling machine, uninterrupted for over hundred years, a frail light appeared in the tunnel- light that later turned out to be a clear signal to act. At the end of 2017 Futura, the first non-gambling slot machine, created with a view to global gambling, was released. The invention hit European markets first and then, step-by-step, went beyond the area of the Old Continent. And again it was the technology that turned out to be a key element for all recipients of the machines offered by Yumicra Games.

In case of Futura or Futura Eclipse we can even talk about a revolution in the sector, since those inventions completely changed the approach to the subject and the idea of gambling itself and ended a tough period the entire industry had to face.

Non-gambling slot machines are the only machines in the world without a Pseudo-Random Number Generator in their software. This modification emerged as a response to the need of removal of a chance factor from the games. The system used in the machine is based on a finite deterministic sequence, looped in the form of a ready-made cluster of results and repeats itself endlessly. Thus the machine using previously prepared combinations saved in a definite order doesn’t need a generator and the results of the game are not really random. With the ability to calculate any stage of the game, including the first, before the start of the competition, each participant has full control over the game. Machines with such characteristics fit perfectly into any legal regulations on all continents.

What comes next?

Over the course a century since the creation of the first machine, the gambling world has experienced a multitude of dynamic developments. For example, the slot machine itself has come a long way from a minor invention to the most important symbol of modern gambling. Changes in design or transformation into a different, completely electronic device did not overshadow and will probably never cover the idea of its creation. No matter how it is perceived, the slot machine was always supposed to color the gray reality and its purpose was only to entertain. Even though the formal struggle between the owners of the gambling machines and governments in many countries of the world has intensified, it turns out that it is impossible to stop the development of something so important to industry and civilization.

There is one latest, most reasonable and most effective trend- production of slot machines universal for all the markets. That will allow operators from all over the world to continue their activities and will give players a real chance to gain actual winnings. It seems that non-gambling slot machines, player-friendly and lacking the chance element like PRNG, are the next step of the gambling machine development. Until now, solutions that met the needs of markets around the world have remained popular for many, many years. Non-gambling machines, such as Futura or Futura Eclipse, are on the right track to achieve such timeless status.

The article was published in Magazine E-PLAY Africa 3/2020

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