A narrow notch, groove, or opening, such as a keyway in machinery or a slit for a coin in a vending machine. Also: a position in a group, series, or sequence, as of events or tasks; a time period set aside for an activity. The word is derived from the Latin for “narrow slit or groove.” The sense of “a slot in a computer” is attested by 1940, and that of “a place on the (semi-circular) copy desk of a newspaper” by 1966. The figurative sense, of a position in a schedule or list, is attested by 1942.
Online casino slot games use random number generators to determine the placement of symbols on a reel, and players win when those symbols line up with a winning payline. The game’s volatility (also known as risk) is determined by the probability of winning vs losing, the frequency of payouts, and the size of the jackpot.
Researchers have found that people who play video slot machines reach debilitating levels of gambling addiction more quickly than those who play traditional casino games. They attribute this to the quick feedback that comes from spins, the fact that wins and losses are accompanied by high-fidelity attention-grabbing music and animation, and the fact that there is no discernible pattern to the occurrence of hits. The 2011 60 Minutes segment “Slot Machines: The Big Gamble” also focused on the potential for slot machines to be addictive. For further information on this topic, see Gambling and Slot Machines.