A slot is an opening, usually narrow, used for receiving something, such as a coin or letter. Also:
A position in a group, series, sequence or job; a position in an organization or hierarchy. [OED]
In gaming, a slot is an area on the machine where coins are dropped or, in ticket-in/ticket-out machines, paper tickets with barcodes are inserted. When activated, the slots then spin and reels display symbols that can earn players credits based on the pay tables of the games. The symbols vary by game but classic symbols include fruits, bells and stylized lucky sevens. Paylines are usually shown as coloured tables that indicate where the symbols must land to generate a winning payout.
Many people believe that some slots are “hot” or “cold,” but in reality, winning and losing is entirely random. Research has shown that the rate at which a person pushes the button and how long they wait between spins have no effect on whether or not they will win. In addition, it is illegal for casinos to alter the machine’s payout percentage at certain times of the day. Psychologists have also found that playing video slots can lead to gambling addiction, even in people who have engaged in other forms of gambling without problems. Interestingly, the majority of people who seek treatment for gambling disorder report that slots were their primary problem. For more information, please see our article on gambling addiction.