What is a Slot?

A slot (narrow notch, groove, or opening) in a thing. Also: (slang, British English) a position in a schedule or plan; a place for someone or something: I can slot you in at 2 p.m.

A device that spins reels to generate combinations of symbols upon initializing, allowing players to win varying prizes when certain combinations line up on the machine’s “paylines”. Charles Fey’s 1887 invention used more than just poker-like symbols but rather diamonds, spades, horseshoes, hearts, and liberty bells, which is why it has since become known as a fruit machine.

Unlike the original Sittman and Pitt invention that was a simple mechanical game, modern slot machines are electronic, which allows them to incorporate a variety of features and bonuses. In addition to different payout structures and a wide array of symbols, they often include a Pay Table area that lists information on jackpot amounts for specific symbol combinations. The Pay Table may be permanently displayed on the machine, or — especially with touchscreen displays — it may be available through an interactive series of images that can be switched between to view all possible winning combinations.

The slot is a tool used at very busy airports to limit the number of flights that can take off and land in a given time period. It’s been in use for over 20 years now, and it’s been shown to save substantial money in terms of flight delays and fuel burn by reducing unnecessary air traffic congestion.