What is a Slot?

A thin opening or groove in something, such as the hole in a door or the slot where letters and postcards go at the post office. In casinos, a slot is the space where you insert your money and then spin the reels to see whether you’ve won or lost.

A notch in the primaries of some birds, during flight, that helps maintain a uniform flow of air over the wings. In aviation, the term also refers to an allocated time and place for an aircraft to take off or land at an airport, as authorized by an airline and an air-traffic authority. Airlines compete for slots at extremely busy airports, and governments use them to manage air traffic at these hubs, so that there are no repeated delays from too many flights attempting to take off or land at the same time.

In football, a receiver that lines up in the middle of the field, between the wide receiver and the running back. Slot receivers must be physically quick, and teams tend to emphasize speed over size in selecting these players. They are often responsible for running complex routes that require a great deal of elusion and evasion, and they can help to confuse the defense and create big plays on both passing and running plays.

A slot is a number, sequence, or set of numbers that is determined randomly by a computer program. Early electromechanical slot machines would have “tilt switches” that could make or break a circuit when tampered with, and they would display different pay tables depending on what kind of tilt was detected. Modern games are more complicated, and the pay tables appear on a giant HD monitor instead of on paper, but they still serve the same purpose.