A machine that allows players to insert cash or, in “ticket-in, ticket-out” machines, paper tickets with barcodes, and then spin reels to rearrange symbols. When the symbols match a winning combination, the player earns credits based on the paytable. Depending on the game, some slots have additional features such as a random wild symbol that substitutes for other symbols, regular multipliers (like 2X or 3X), and progressive multipliers that increase with each consecutive win. Most slots have a theme, and the symbols and bonus features are aligned with that theme.

No one has uncovered the Platonic ideal of a slot machine, but certain principles undergird most games. A vague aesthetic uniformity prevails: colors tend toward primary or pastel, franchise tie-ins are a must, and music is typically in a major key.

In recent years, slot designers have brought some of the visual appeal of video games to casino floors. Video monitors, 3D graphics, and group competition have joined a familiar array of themes to draw in a younger generation of gamblers. In addition, some casinos have experimented with adding features more common to virtual gaming, such as the ability to retrigger free spins or to gain extra credits by catching special symbols.

In computer science, a slot is an opening in a program into which data can be stored. In a broader sense, a slot is also an area of a screen where advertising can be displayed. In sports, a slot refers to the unmarked area in front of the goal between the face-off circles on an ice hockey rink.