What Is a Slot?


A narrow notch, groove, or opening, as in a keyway in a piece of machinery, a slit for a coin in a vending machine, etc. Also used figuratively, as in “They slotted into place on the committee.”

An empty position in a group, series, or sequence: The new program fit into the slot reserved for it on the broadcasting schedule.

In casinos, a slot is an area on the machine’s face where players deposit paper cash or coins, and where they activate games by pushing buttons. Until the 1990s, most slot machines were operated by hand (although some still are). In recent decades, however, bill validators and credit meters have replaced traditional coins, and most online casino games use advance deposits rather than cash to trigger spins. Some machines even allow players to play for free.

A reel in a slot machine is lined with symbols, and each symbol has a different chance of stopping on a pay line. Traditionally, physical reels were large metal hoops, but today’s slots are more often electronic and only visible as images on a screen. A random number generator, which is inside the computer, determines the outcome of each spin.

Some states have laws limiting private ownership of slot machines; others permit it, but with restrictions. Many online casinos offer information on their target payback percentages, but keep in mind that these percentages can vary based on the game you’re playing and the rules of your jurisdiction.

In football, the Slot receiver is a versatile wide receiver who lines up slightly in front of the line of scrimmage and can act as a running back on some plays. He is usually quicker and smaller than a traditional outside receiver, so he needs to be able to block nickelbacks, safeties, and strong safetys. He also must be able to chip or block defensive ends on run plays that go to the outside part of the field, such as end-arounds and pitch plays.

A Slot receiver is also required to catch passes from quarterbacks, so he must have good hands and be quick to get his feet in the right position. In addition, because he lines up close to the line of scrimmage, he’s often called into pre-snap motion to block for offensive linemen, particularly on run plays. As a result, his blocking is often more important to the success of running plays than that of other wide receivers. The Slot also blocks for fullbacks on some run plays, such as reverses and end-arounds. This helps seal off the outside of the defense.