A reel assembly for a gaming machine includes a reel structure adapted for rotation about a motor output shaft. A drive lever is adapted for connecting the output shaft to the reel structure at a point radially spaced from the output shaft to provide a resilient, radially extending coupling between the output shaft and the reel structure. The drive lever is of sufficient length to allow flexing thereof and is capable of storing energy at the start of rotation to cause the reel structure to be suddenly rotated by the restored energy. The drive lever has a terminal end mounted to said reel structure in a manner that prevents tangential movement of said terminal end relative to said reel structure. Thus, the drive lever flexes when the output shaft starts to rotate until the inertia of the reel structure is overcome, whereupon the drive lever returns to its initial shape and causes rotation of the reel structure, thereby reducing the start-up torque and power required to overcome the inertia of the reel structure.