What Is a Slot?

In the context of airport coordination, a slot is an authorization to take off or land at a specific airport during a specified time period. It is a critical tool for managing air traffic at extremely busy airports and avoiding repeated delays caused by too many flights attempting to take off or land simultaneously.

In a casino slot machine, a player inserts cash or, in “ticket-in, ticket-out” machines, a paper ticket with a barcode into a designated slot on the machine and then activates it by pressing a button (physical or virtual) or lever. The reels spin and stop to rearrange symbols in combinations that earn credits based on the machine’s paytable. Most slot games have a theme and associated symbols. The frequency with which particular symbols appear on the reels, as shown to the player by a display screen, is determined by the machine’s programming.

In ice hockey, the slot is an area right in front of the opponent’s goal that affords an advantage to the offense because it allows wingers and centers to shoot the puck without being deflected by opposing players. A slot is also a term in poker that refers to a large pot of money earned by someone who wins the game. The word originated in 19th-century poker when a winning hand was declared when nobody could lay claim to a better one, so the winner won “the pot.” Today, the word is often used to describe jackpots from slot machines or lottery games.