A reel mechanism for use in a gaming machine including an integrally formed stepping motor/encoder assembly operatively coupled to a rotatable reel having an annular row of various symbols which are to be sequentially displayed in a visual field. The stepping motor/encoder assembly includes an integrally formed encoder wheel and sensing means. A processor/controller is operatively coupled to the stepping motor/encoder assembly for controlling the stepping motor drive signals, reading signals from the sensing means and storing in an associated memory a plurality of encoded reel stop positions which are a representation of physical stop positions on the reel. The processor/controller signals the stepping motor to spin the reel and while the reel is spinning, a random number generator means associated with the processor/controller determines a reel stop which corresponds to a specific position of a the reel. Simultaneously, the processor/controller cooperates with the integrally formed encoder means to provide a precise and fast response time in determining reel spin direction and absolute reel position to precisely control the stepping motor drive signals to stop the reel such that a portion of the annular row of various symbols which is associated with the reel stop determined by the random number generator means properly appears in the visible field.