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Progressive Jackpots

Usually found on slots games, every time a wager is placed on a progressive jackpot, a small portion of the bet is put aside into a 'pot' which grows until a specific combination of symbols triggers the prize payout.

The history of progressive jackpots

Introduction

While playing at any casino game, either online or at a land based site, can bring big rewards, the quickest way to a potential fortune is to play a progressive jackpot game.

Progressive slot machines have only been around since the technology has been available to link machines together. Individual machines that featured a prize pot had been around for a while, but they could never accumulate enough players to really pay out significant sums, but by the mid-1980's it had become possible to connect machines from different locations.

International Gaming Technology (IGT), were the first to introduce a linked progressive jackpot in 1986, and by the time online casinos began to appear in the late 1990's, the concept was well established, and progressive titles were featured almost from the start.

What is progressive jackpot?

With hundreds of online casinos, each with thousands of players, progressive jackpot machines have become some of the biggest attractions, and as well as slots games, you can now find progressive Poker, Blackjack, Video Poker and more, although slots remain the most widespread titles.

With a small portion of every bet, across so many casinos, the value of the prize pot can grow very quickly, with the current amount usually prominently displayed on the games' screen. Each casino that features a game will contribute towards the jackpot, which is retained by the game developer until paid out to a winner.

The value of the prize is the same across all of those casinos, so it doesn't matter if the player is at a small site or one of the major operators, the jackpot win will be the same amount.

There are many variations on how to win progressive jackpots but with most games, special Jackpot symbols will line up across a payline, or a bonus round

will be triggered during which the player must complete a certain combination to claim the win. As soon as the jackpot is won, it is re­set to a minimum level, which can still be $100,000's, and begins to grow again from there.

To qualify for the progressive jackpot, players will normally have to place a 'maximum bet' on all paylines although this also makes the jackpot amount rise even quicker. In Blackjack, and some other progressive games, players need to make a side bet to qualify for the win, while Video Poker will typically pay out on a Royal Flush combination.

Progressive payouts

When the jackpot is struck, the lucky player is actually paid by the game developer, not the casino, although the funds will be credited to their casino account. This avoids the possibility of a small casino having to pay out $millions, most of which will have been accumulated at other sites. It's normal practice for the prize to be paid out in one go, although in some cases it is paid out in instalments, and depending on where the winner lives, there may be taxes to pay on the prize.

The best progressive jackpot games

Art best jackpots
Which progressive jackpot to play is largely a matter of personal preference. You could play one where the prize is awarded instantly, at random, or choose a game where a bonus game can lead to the big payout. There is of course, the option to play either online or at a land based casino and gambling centres as Las Vegas, Monaco and Monte Carlo also have some massive progressive prizes that can be won by holiday-makers looking to return home with a fortune.

The biggest progressive jackpot ever paid out, some $39.7 million, wasat the Excalibur in Las Vegas, on the Megabucks game.

Other notable progressives that can be found at actual casinos include Money Madness, which pays around $2million and Wheel of Fortune, where the top prize is often at the $1.5million mark. In Monaco and Monte Carlo, there are lots progressive jackpot games, including the huge Star Wars slots. Other big-name titles like Harley Davidson, Elvira and Cash Fever can be found at the various casinos dotted around the principality. Notable Monaco progressive jackpots can be played at the Cafe de Paris, Sun Casino and the famous Casino de Monte Carlo. However it's online where these games have become hugely popular.

The selection of progressive jackpots online is staggering, but certain ones deserve particular attention, either for the sheer size of their main prizes, their popularity, or both.

The biggest online progressive prize ever won was €17.8 million paid out to a Norwegian player on the Mega Fortune slot, from the Net Ent company.

This game also holds the record for the second biggest prize, and has deservedly become a major attraction at the many online casinos where it is featured.

Mega Moolah, from the Microgaming developer, is another big success and has been released in several different versions to keep players coming back for more. This game frequently pays out multi-million Dollar prizes, including $3.7million in June 2014. Other big Microgaming progressive jackpots include Major Millions and The Dark Knight Rises. Novomatic have Golden Sevens, the Ancient Giants and Joker Jackpot titles in their range, and the biggest Playtech progressive jackpots include Beach Life, the Marvel collection, Monty Pythons Holy Grail and Gladiator Jackpot. Golden Sevens, available at StarGames Casino, has risen above the $5million mark, while Beach Life range will often pay out in excess of $3million.

Progressive jackpot software providers

Microgaming, Net Ent, Novomatic and Playtech are all examples of software developers who devise and supply the games that are then licensed for use by the various online casinos. Generally speaking, a casino will carry games exclusively from one or two suppliers, although some of the bigger operators will divide their casinos into different sections, with a unique supplier for each.
Art connected circles Each supplier will have their own licensing arrangements, which can affect which casinos can use their software, as many countries, notably the USA, severely restrict online gambling and only a few developers can legally allow US residents to play their games. There are still a number of progressive jackpot slots like Aztecs' Millions from Real Time Gaming that are available to American players, but in Europe and much of Asia, including Australia, most countries allow their citizens to play games from the majority of suppliers.

Some of the biggest online casinos use their own, bespoke software, but as they have so many players, they can afford to run their own progressive games without the need to link up across many different sites. At 888 Casino, there are 12 progressive games including Millionaire Genie, with a $2million jackpot and Ultimate Grill Thrills, with a top prize of around $1million. Party Casino features Loot'EnKhamun, and Melon Madness, both with a $3million+ jackpot.

Progressive jackpot strategies

The main strategy to follow when aiming for a progressive jackpot win is to 'Bet Max', i.e., the maximum number of coins per payline. This is often a pre-requisite for claiming the jackpot, so check before playing, as it will be very frustrating to hit the jackpot winning combination but only get a fraction of the prize as you have not staked enough per spin.

You could also check out the expected Return To Player amount when choosing a game. This is the percentage of every £/$/€ that a player can expect to get back, and is typically 95 - 97%, but can vary a little from this. The higher the 'RTP', the longer you can play a game with a set bankroll, and to check the RTP for a game, you usually just have to view the paytable that each slot or game will feature.

It's also worth considering the bonuses and promotions offered by the casino, as a welcome bonus can be used to play the game effectively for free, and a cashback deal of just a few percent can make a big difference to how many spins you can have within your budget.

Some facts and myths about progressives.

Facts:

Art thick The more players use a game, the bigger the jackpot will be. This is generally true, although the percentage of each wager that goes to the jackpot can vary, so if only 1% goes into the pot, the prize will grow more slowly than a game with a similar number of players who are each contributing 3% per bet to the jackpot.
Art thick Playing all lines will improve your winning chances. You will usually find that all lines will need to be played to win a jackpot, but even if this is not the case, you will win on average twice as often playing 20 lines, for example, than you would when playing 10.

Myths:

Art empty Progressive jackpots are always hit at the newest online casinos. In truth, it is completely random, and the prize could be at the oldest site, or one that opened yesterday, but the more customer a casino has, the greater the odds of the jackpot being claimed by one of their players.
Art empty You can hit a progressive jackpot using a gambling system. There are many betting systems offered to unwary players, most of which are variations on old themes, like doubling the size of the bet after each loss. No system will work long-term at a casino, and trying to win a progressive this way is not recommended.