What is a Slot?

A slot is a narrow notch, groove, or opening; as, a keyway in a machine, a slit for a coin in a vending machine, etc. A slot is also a position in a series, sequence, or group, such as a slot in time for an appointment with a doctor or dentist.

The word is also used for a position in a class of things, such as an academic department or graduate program, where students are assigned to particular groups or slots. It is also used as a verb, meaning “to place in,” as in the slot of a typewriter or computer keyboard.

In the old days, slot machines were all-or-nothing affairs. You yanked the lever and either cherries or lucky 7s lined up or you got nothing, and people pretty quickly gave up on them. But better computer technology allowed casinos to set up machines that pay out in many different ways, letting you bet on multiple lines up and down, sideways, and diagonally, each with a chance of winning. And this is where the real money is, as Schull explains. As a result, these multi-line machines are incredibly profitable, pulling in more than half of all gambling profits. And they have an amazing ability to seduce players. In fact, it is hard to find anything in a casino that has been more carefully engineered. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that the slot machine is the most popular form of gambling.