Progressive Jackpots Overview

You may have noticed that most online casinos differentiate between classic and jackpot slots. But since all slots have a “jackpot prize,” what's the difference?

The answer is a progressive jackpot. A progressive jackpot is a prize that increases every time somebody plays a slot game. It will keep on rising until a lucky player wins it.

In progressive slot games, a small percentage of every qualifying bet goes toward the jackpot. It can be won at random or by navigating a special bonus game. And the prizes that can be won easily rival those found in your state lottery.

How Do Progressive Jackpot Games Work?

What is a progressive jackpot? It’s a special slots payout that can be won at random after any spin. And the longer the jackpot goes unclaimed, the bigger it gets.

Progressive jackpot slots usually take a proportion of each bet wagered and add it to the jackpot. This sum is sometimes called the “meter,” and it is normally taken from multiple slots at the same time.

For example, if several people are playing NetEnt’s Divine Fortune at the same time, they will all be contributing to and playing for the same jackpot. Many progressive jackpots are linked across multiple casinos. When more than one casino offers the same game, the jackpots can get really big.

Best of all, when a progressive jackpot is claimed, it will “seed,” or reset, to a set value. The greatest progressive slots may reseed their jackpots to £/€/$ 1 million.

Progressive Jackpot Win Mechanics

So, what is a progressive slot machine and how does it work? After a spin, a set of random numbers is chosen. If the right algorithm is picked, the jackpot will be triggered.

But there is a range of ways you can win a progressive jackpot:

Play the Maximum Stake

  • Some online progressive slots will only let you win a jackpot if you bet the top stakes possible. However, lots of progressives offer a few levels of jackpot that cater for lower-stakes players.
  • High-stakes progressive slots work by awarding you with a ticket when you spin the reels. The more you bet, the more “tickets” you earn. And if one of your tickets matches the algorithm after a spin, you win the big jackpot.

Winning a Jackpot at Random

  • These jackpots are awarded after any spin. You won’t have to play a special bonus game or hit certain symbols. However, you may have to bet the maximum possible wager in order to qualify.

Hitting Symbol Combinations

  • To hit this progressive jackpot, you must line up certain symbols on a designated payline. For example, the jackpot may trigger if you line up five special symbols on the 15th payline. Get the winning combination and collect the biggest jackpot.

Playing a Bonus Game

  • Many online progressive slots feature a special bonus round that can be triggered during the base game. You may have to spin a prize wheel to determine your jackpot size, or pick cards from a selection available on the screen. Match three or four cards to win the corresponding jackpot prize.

Random Number Generators

  • It’s important to understand random number generators (RNGs) when you play a progressive jackpot slot. All video slots are governed by RNGs that ensure fair slot play every time.
  • Progressive slots also work on RNGs. They determine when a jackpot or bonus game is going to be triggered. So, even if a jackpot has gone unclaimed for weeks, there’s no reason it will be suddenly ready to drop.

Must-Drop Jackpots

  • Many online progressive slots feature must-drop jackpots. These are programmed to trigger by a strict deadline. Therefore, they usually attract more money as the deadline approaches.

How Big Can Progressive Jackpots Get?

Progressive jackpots can reach eye-watering levels if a top prize goes unclaimed. And the more accessible a slot is, the bigger the potential for large jackpots.

Often, a progressive jackpot that hasn’t been won in a long time will attract the attention of lots of players. It’s not uncommon for jackpots to increase faster the longer they go unclaimed.

The biggest progressive jackpot was won by an anonymous Android mobile device player, who staked 75 cents on Mega Moolah and less than 50 spins later had landed the jackpot of £22.3 million in September 2018.

Mega Moolah had been responsible for the previous record too, landed by UK-based soldier Jon Heywood, who in October 2015 turned 33 cents into £21.1 million, earning the progressive jackpot game a Guinness World Record title for “Largest jackpot payout in an online slot machine game.”

Previously the record payout was owned by an anonymous Finn, who netted an astonishing £20.5 million on Mega Fortune.

But online progressive jackpot payouts still fall way below those seen in land-based casinos. In 2003, a young software engineer won a staggering £39.7 million playing IGT’s Megabucks slot at the Excalibur in Las Vegas.

Incredibly, the game’s jackpot seeds at £10 million. Even more astounding, however, was that the lucky slots player only spent £3 on his spin.

Finding Progressive Jackpots

Most online casinos organise their slots by type. For example, a casino might feature a separate “Jackpot Slots” tab where you'll find all progressive jackpot slots in one place.

Virtually all casinos will display the current jackpot meter for eligible games in their lobby. It’s easy to view what games have the biggest jackpots at any time. You can also view a list of big winners on the casino that day.

You will find more information on progressive slots with our exclusive guide. You’ll discover reviews and information on the best casinos offering jackpot slots. We’ll even show you some of the best promo codes so you can make a deposit and claim a bonus when you sign up.

Types of Progressive Jackpots

In a casino, you will usually find three types of progressive jackpots. The jackpot sizes can vary depending on how many players contribute, and how many different machines are linked up.

Standalone Jackpots

A standalone progressive jackpot is reserved to just one machine in the casino. It’s not linked to other slot machines and doesn’t form part of a wider network.

Local Jackpots

Local jackpots, or “in-house” jackpots, are grouped together between multiple machines in one land based casino setting. The machines might be connected together in one bank or they may be spread across the casino floor. At an online casino, a local jackpot might be linked across four or five different games.

Some local jackpots are also spread across multiple machines in casinos that are owned by the same operator.

Network Progressive Slots

Network progressives offer the largest jackpots. They are also known as “wide-area” progressives and are linked across multiple casinos. In fact, the same wide-area jackpot may be offered across different brands of slot. However, qualifying bets all feed into the same big jackpot. The chances of winning a network jackpot are small, but the prizes can be huge.


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Chances of Winning a Progressive Jackpot

First, the good news: With a progressive jackpot slot you have the chance of turning a small stake into a five- or six-figure prize.

But here’s the bad news: The odds of winning the top jackpot can be in the millions to one. For example, the chances of winning the Mega Moolah slot by Microgaming is nearly 50 million to 1. That is a lot higher than the game’s best ever jackpot payout of £22.3 million.

However, some Vegas progressive jackpot slots have even worse odds. Some games offer odds of 1 in 150 million to 1 in 300 million.

Just like the lottery, players will always try to defy the odds and take down a huge progressive jackpot. Is your name on that next multi-million dollar payout?

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