A slot is an opening or groove into which something can be inserted. It can also refer to a position in a group, series or sequence. For example, a student may have many different slots in school, each corresponding to an assignment or project.
A slot in a game machine is a place where you insert your coin or paper ticket with barcode into the machine to play. The machine then takes the coins or tickets and rearranges them to produce a sequence of numbers. It then determines whether you have won or lost based on that sequence of numbers. The machines use random number generators (RNG) to ensure that everyone has the same chance of winning each time they play.
The RNG generates a massive spectrum of numbers, and each spin is assigned a specific number within that spectrum. The computer then translates those numbers into a particular combination of reel stops. It then compares the results to the paytable and awards credits if the combination matches. The payouts vary depending on the theme of the game, and some have progressive jackpots.
The lights, sounds and overall design of a slot machine are the result of years of marketing and psychology (what makes people want to do something). They’re designed to keep you engaged with the game for as long as possible. A high-volatility slot, for instance, doesn’t win often but when it does the payout is big.