What Is a Slot?


A slot is a narrow notch or groove, especially in a machine. He slotted the disc into the player. A slot in a schedule or program means a time when an activity can take place. He booked a week’s worth of slots for his vacation.

In casino gambling, a slot machine is a machine with three or more reels that spin when a handle or button is pulled. The spinning reels reveal symbols, including letters and numbers, which pay off according to a paytable when the symbols line up on the machine’s screen. In modern slot machines, a computer controls the outcome of each spin.

The first coin-operated slot machine was invented by Charles Fey, a mechanic in San Francisco, in 1894. His machine, called the Liberty Bell, used three spinning reels and displayed symbols like horseshoes, playing card suit marks, and the eponymous Liberty Bell. The machine paid off in coins, and Fey’s invention led to a great many imitators.

Today’s slot machines have a wide variety of themes, but the basic principles remain the same. They produce the bulk of a casino’s profits, and gaming managers make it their business to keep slot players happy by lowering what’s known as the house edge.

The payouts from a slot game depend on what kind of symbols appear on the reels, how many of them appear and where they are located. In most slots the classic symbols are bars, sevens, and the classical fruit icons (cherries, oranges, watermelons, lemons). Some slots use more exotic or themed symbols that fit the theme of the game.