About this Element

A slot is a type of electronic gaming machine. In most machines, the player inserts cash or paper tickets (in “ticket-in, ticket-out” machines) into a special slot on the machine. The machine then activates reels that spin and stop to rearrange symbols, and pays out any winning combination based on the pay table.

Slots are most often played in bars, restaurants, taverns and casinos. Some states restrict the sale of slots for public use, but most allow them in private establishments.

The most popular are three-reel traditional slots, though multi-line video slot machines have become increasingly common in recent years. These are designed to encourage the player to play multiple lines, as each line has an equal chance of winning, and the more lines the player plays, the more likely he is to win.

Historically, slot machines were easy to cheat; counterfeit coins called “slugs” and a magnetic device used by scam artists to make the reels float freely on the spin were common. Manufacturers improved coin-acceptance devices to prevent this and to combat other forms of cheating.

Another problem with slot machines was the possibility of “tilt switches”. These made or broke circuits when a machine was tilted, and they were used to halt the spin and reset the reels.

Today, the most commonly seen form of cheating is by using a computer to program a slot machine to accept a specific number of coins in a certain order. This can be done by a software engineer for the casino.