What Is a Slot Machine?


A slot is an opening in a computer that allows you to insert a printed circuit board. It is not to be confused with a bay, which is a site within the computer where you can install disk drives.

Slots, a word coined in the 1930s by the casino industry, are the most common form of gambling. In the United States, they account for more than 85 percent of the profits in the casino industry, says Rexie Schull, a senior policy adviser for the American Gaming Association.

Traditionally, all slot machines used revolving mechanical reels to display and determine results. Eventually, manufacturers added electronics to their products and programmed them to weight symbols so that winning combinations were more likely than losing ones.

In addition to the physical reels, most modern slot machines have at least one payline. Symbols that appear on more than one payline are considered to be a “winning combination” and are awarded the payout corresponding to the number of coins wagered for each payline.

A slot machine also has a credit meter, which displays the amount of credits in play. These meters can also be adapted to display a variety of other information, such as the number of credits remaining in a bank or the maximum amount that a player may win.

There is a lot of controversy about the effects of slot machines on gambling addiction. But according to the American Gaming Association, the incidence of “problem” gambling has risen only about 1 percent in recent years — and the amount gambled per person has stayed about the same.