What Is a Slot Machine?


A narrow opening, groove, hole or slit. The slot in a door is wide enough to insert a key. He dropped the coin into the slot and dialled. (informal) A place, time or position in a group, series or sequence, such as a booking for an activity at a hotel or airport. Visitors can book a time slot a week or more in advance.

In a slot machine, players insert cash or, in “ticket-in, ticket-out” machines, paper tickets with barcodes, into a slot to activate the machine. Then they spin the reels to arrange symbols in winning combinations and earn credits based on the paytable. Depending on the theme of the machine, symbols may include classic objects such as fruits, bells and sevens, or characters from popular movies or television shows.

When a slot machine pays out, the player hears celebratory sounds and sees animated graphics. The larger the win, the more extensive the feedback is. Consequently, researchers believe that slot machines are more addictive than other forms of gambling.

In one study, a team of researchers found that people play video slots for longer than they do other types of gambling. These gamblers also reach a debilitating level of involvement with gambling three times faster than those who play other types of games. Psychologists Robert Breen and Marc Zimmerman have linked this increased vulnerability to the use of video slots. Psychologists are currently experimenting with ways to improve these studies, including by using more sophisticated measurement tools.