Progressive Jackpot Slots

by James Carter on February 19th, 2015.

Progressive JackpotsProgressive jackpot slots are the most exciting casino games. A chance to win a life-changing sum of money will undoubtedly get everyone's attention (and bankroll). But progressive slot machines are far from a good investment; in most situations, they're the worst possible slots you can play, and they will suck your wallet dry faster than any other casino game.

Jackpots may often seem close but not quite there - this happens because a slot machine's wheels are weighted differently. The first reel is the lightest and the last one is the heaviest - from the first reel to the last one, the odds of getting a jackpot become worse and worse.

Types of Jackpots

Casinos have fixed and progressive jackpot slots. With fixed jackpot slots (or "flat-top slots"), there's usually an incentive to play with maximum coins because the jackpot is bigger relative to the bet than if you made any bets other than with maximum coins. Two examples:

Slot Machine Bets Jackpots
Double Diamond Deluxe $0.25/$0.50/$0.75 800/1,600/2,500
The Phantom of the Opera $0.25/$0.50/$0.75 1,000/2,000/5,000

So a simple yet effective rule is to always bet the maximum when playing flat-top slot machines.

Flat-top slots have a lower house edge than progressive slots and you will win more often (in other words, have a higher hit frequency) since a smaller portion of total payback comes from the jackpot (in flat-tops, this is often around 2% but in a progressive jackpot like Megabucks it's around 10%).

With progressive jackpots slots, a certain percentage of each pot is added to the jackpot and the jackpot increases until someone hits it, after which it re-starts. Because a portion of the bet goes to the jackpot (and not the casino), the house edge is often over 10%, possibly close to 20%.

In fact, in Megabucks 10% of the bet goes to the jackpot, and then the casino must make something on top of that, so the payback is well under 90%.

Progressive jackpots may be high enough to make it worthwhile to play them, however, there's no telling when this is the case since casinos aren't required to share payback information for individual slots.

If you do play them, always bet the maximum amount of coins in order to compete for the jackpot (just like with flat-top slots).

Progressive slot machines can be divided into three categories:

  1. Stand-alone slots:
    Individual progressive slots, not linked to any other machines. Instead of having a fixed jackpot, a percentage of each bet goes to the machine's own jackpot. Obviously the jackpot is smaller than with machines that are linked to each other.
  2. Local slots:
    A group of slot machines linked together in a casino or in properties of the same gaming company. For these machines, the jackpots are already big, but not necessarily in millions of dollars.
  3. Wide-area slots:
    These machines aren't just linked locally but between several casinos in several states; one example being Megabucks, in which the jackpot can become eight figures (as of right now, it's slightly over $11 million.)

There are also multi-level progressive slot machines, in which the player gets to decide which level of jackpot he or she wishes to play for. Obviously, you can win more often by playing lower level progressives and vice versa.

Popular Progressive Slots

You can participate in real money slots with progressive prizepools at casinos like Slotland, Spin Palace and Loco Panda. By the way, I've also written about USA slots, Aussie slots and United Kingdom slots.

Following is a list of popular progressive slot machine - this is not a comprehensive list of progressive jackpot slots, just examples of some of the machines that I know of. There are many more but these are some of the biggest.

More information: