The Forgotten Machines: Gambling Devices Created by Sega over the Years

Sega is one of the best-known gaming giants on the planet and played a key role in the rise of console gaming in the 1990s with the Sega Master System and Mega Drive. The Japanese company, which is based in Tokyo, has also created some of the most iconic characters ever, including Sonic the Hedgehog. Most Sega fans will be well aware of the developer’s contribution to the console gaming industry. But some people may not be as knowledgeable about the other games created by Sega over the years. Indeed, since the 1950s Sega has been producing a wide range of gambling games.

Sega Created Land-Based Slots in Its Early Days

Long before Sega became the global gaming superpower that it was in the 1990s, it began as Standard Games. This small company was founded in Hawaii in 1940 by Martin Bromley, Irving Bromberg, and James Humpert, and its aim was to provide slot machines to military bases throughout the war. The three American businessmen sold their initial venture in 1945 and, in 1946, started a new business called Service Games. This name was later abbreviated to become Sega, with the first known appearance of this name on the Diamond Star slot machine in 1954.

The Sega Diamond 3 Star Slot Machine. 

These early slot machines were worlds away from the devices which would make Sega famous a few decades on. The Diamond Star slot machines were rudimentary coin-operated offerings which had more in common with Charles Fey’s Liberty Bell than the hi-tech online games found today. They were clunky, analogue machines with levers on the side, which players had to pull in order to spin the reels.

The fact that Sega was involved with slot machines and then later arcade-style gaming units shows how the company has always tried to be at the forefront of gaming innovations. As soon as it seemed that consoles would be the next big thing in the early 1980s, Sega got into this market and made a name for itself as one of the biggest players over the next twenty years.

Because Sega found such success with consoles and console games, a lot of players may not have been aware of the company’s connection to slots and gambling games. However, the tech giant has continued its involvement with this type of gaming at the same time as developing consoles. Some of the more recent offerings include Bingo Party, which is an arcade-style adaptation of 75-ball bingo released in 1993. Another popular machine was the Bingo Drop Medal Game in which players had to drop bingo balls into holes. Both of these games capitalised on the popularity of bingo throughout the 1990s.

A Wide Range of Slots and Gambling Games

If you look back through the archives of all the retro games that Sega has produced over the last seventy years, you will see that there is quite a wide range on offer. The coin-operated slot machines of the 1950s were just the start, and this led on to a vast number of other gambling machines. In that time period up until the mid-1960s, Sega released a number of “one-armed bandits” which included the Sega Bell, the Multibell 35, the Sega Bonus Star, and the Sega Paybak Star.

Later, the gambling machines on offer became much more advanced. The bingo theme touched on above was a particularly popular area for the company, and the success of Bingo Party led to a host of other games. These included Bingo Galaxy, Bingo Fantasy, Bingo Party Multicard, Bingo Party Phoenix, and Bingo Party Pirates. The sheer number of machines, along with the variety available, is truly astounding. A lot of these forgotten gems could be restored and would most certainly go down well with modern Sega nerds.

Sega Was Among the First to Connect Slots and Bingo

It is interesting that Sega was one of the first companies to spot the link between slots and bingo. The Japanese developer was involved with the creation of slot games and offerings with a bingo twist because it realised that this was a lucrative sector to be in and that fans of one game would most likely be attracted to the other. Now, nearly thirty years after Sega made the connection between the two games, online bingo sites are doing the same thing.

When bingo moved to an online setting, operators realised that they needed to do more than simply digitalise the game for internet audiences. As well as offer games of 75-ball and 90-ball bingo, sites like 888 Ladies have started to provide players with slots and other instant win games. This has served as a useful way to attract players from the thriving online casino industry. Some of the games on offer include slots like Fruit Blast and Bounty Raid, along with Slingo, which is a slots and bingo hybrid.

Another outstanding feature of Sega’s gambling machines like Bingo Party was the fact that they encouraged socialising between players. Part of the enjoyment was to stand around the game with friends, seeing who could get the highest score or be the most successful. Modern bingo sites have also tried to capture this social aspect, with chat and community features.After losing the console war to Microsoft and Sony, a good move for Sega could be to rekindle its interest in slots and bingo by making some state-of-the-art games for modern audiences. There could be a big audience for a re-emergence of the retro-style games like the Diamond 3 Star or Bingo Party, spruced up using the latest technology. Alternatively, much-loved characters like Sonic and Knuckles could easily be adapted into modern slot games. After being one of the first technology companies to tap into the gambling industry, it seems a shame that Sega isn’t reaping more of the rewards.

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