There’s something about the ringing sounds of slot machines, lined up across casino floors. For many people they provide quintessential Sin City entertainment, and for those new to gambling they can seem less intimidating than more complicated games with rules, etiquette and more. But how do these machines actually work, and what does it mean when a particular machine has a higher or lower payout percentage?

A slot is a narrow notch or groove, as in a keyway in a piece of machinery or a slit for a coin in a vending machine. The word is also used as a metaphor for a position in a group, sequence, or hierarchy.

When a person slots something into another item, it means that the first item fits perfectly in the space left for it by the second item. He dropped the coin into the slot on the machine. When he clicked the button to play, the coin dropped into the slot.

In hockey, the slot is a term for the area in front of the goaltender and between the face-off circles. The high slot is the prime area for a defenseman to take a shot from, and a well-placed one-timer from the high slot can be difficult to stop. The low slot is the prime area for a winger or center to get open for a pass, and some of the best offensive players in the world can make magic happen when they are in the slot.