What Is A Progressive Slot Machine?


Slot machines aren’t always considered the most high risk high reward games in the history of gambling, but progressive slot machines change all that. Place a bet on one of these machines and, if you’re lucky, you stand to win big, like… really BIG!

What Is A Progressive Slot Machine?

Piqued your interest? I’m not surprised. The hefty jackpots make these slot machines an enticing prospect, one that’s hard not to get involved with at least a little when you hit the casino or play online.

But, before you cross your fingers and place your first bet, let’s discuss what exactly progressive slot machines are and how they work.

Progressive Slot Machines

A slot machine is given the progressive label if the jackpot grows incrementally with each lost bet. For instance, let’s say that you place a bet on a machine with a $50 jackpot and you lose.

The jackpot will then increase, encouraging further bets. This process continues until someone finally wins the stacked jackpot.

What Happens When Somebody Wins The Jackpot On A Progressive Slot Machine?

If someone lands the jackpot of a progressive slot machine, after they receive the funds, the advertised jackpot returns to a predetermined baseline figure.

In other words, the prize money goes back to what it was before the very first bet was made and lost. But as a particularly attractive form of gambling, it won’t be long before that jackpot stacks up again.

How Do You Know What The Jackpot Is On A Progressive Slot Machine?

Progressive slot machines all feature an integrated display that informs prospective players of the current jackpot. As more bets are lost, the figure on the display will rise, and if the jackpot is claimed, the display will show the baseline jackpot.

How Much Can You Win On A Progressive Slot Machine?

How much you can win on a progressive slot machine differs from machine to machine. While most impose a limit of some kind, there is no hard fast rule that dictates what this limit should be. It might be $1000, but it could just as well be $100,000.

It’s rare, but some might not impose a cap at all. In fact, Megabucks, the very first progress slot machine had no limit. The jackpot grew and grew until it was finally won by one exceedingly lucky individual — They walked away with $4,988,842.17 that day.

Megabucks is still going strong in Nevada, having become a state-wide game that has by and large replaced traditional lotteries in the area.

How Much Does The Jackpot Of A Progressive Slot Machine Rise With Each Lost Bet?

Generally speaking, the amount that the jackpot of a progressive slot machine increases by scales with the size of the bet laid down. The smaller the bet, the smaller the incremental increase in jackpot. The larger the bet, the larger the incremental increase in jackpot.

Usually, these machines take a set percentage from each bet regardless of bet size, but there will always be a bet maximum set. For instance, Megabucks caps bets at $3.

Individual Vs. Pooled Progressive Slot Machines

There are two main types of progressive slot machines (see also “What Is A Progressive Keno Machine?“). One is known as an individual slot because it stands as a discrete betting ecosystem. The jackpot of an individual slot machine will only rise against bets made on that specific machine.

What Is A Progressive Slot Machine?

Pooled progressive slot machines, on the other hand, are a collection of different slot machines that share a jackpot. With more slot machines, more bets are placed, and the jackpot rises incredibly quickly (see also “What Was The First Slot Machine In Las Vegas?“).

Pooled progressive slot machines don’t necessarily have to be in the same place. Referring back to the most famous progressive slot machine, Megabucks is a fantastic example of how expansive a pooled progressive system can be.

Currently, there are over 750 separate slot machines scattered throughout the casinos of Nevada that contribute to the Megabucks jackpot (see also “Do Casinos Tighten Slots On Weekends?“).

What Are The Chances Of Winning The Jackpot On A Progressive Slot Machine?

Much like any form of gambling, the more money you stand to win on a progressive slot machine, the lower the chances of you doing so.

It’s calculated that the chances of winning the Megabucks jackpot is something along the lines of 50 million to 1 (similar to the odds of winning the actual lottery).

As the jackpot is always going to be much lower on individual progressive slot machines, the chances of you winning are much higher than those associated with a pooled progressive slot machine.

But even then, although those lofty accumulative jackpots are incredibly enticing, statistically speaking, standard slots are a far more economical option for players, so don’t allow yourself to be completely seduced by those big figures.

Progressive Slot Machines And Advantage Player Teams

For the uninitiated, advantage players are those who only bet when they feel they have an edge over “the house”, and players can establish an edge over local-area pooled progressive slot machines by forming a team that takes over the machines once the jackpot is high.

These players bet together until one of them wins the jackpot, at which point, the money is split between all participating members.

Some casinos permit advantage players to swarm the progressive slots, as either way, the house is still making a profit. In others, slot teams are forbidden.

The Dangers Of Progressive Slot Machines

Progressive slot machines encompass all that can be problematic about gambling.

Each time you lose, the rising jackpot encourages you to place another bet, and this process can go on ad infinitum, but being that the chances of winning are so slim, you stand to lose a ridiculous sum of money if you allow yourself to get sucked in.

Final Thoughts

There you have it — Progressive slot machines are defined by their fluid jackpots that rise with each losing bet. They pay out big when they do, but the operative word there is “when”.

The chances of landing a win on a progressive slot machine, even if it’s a discrete unit with a localized jackpot, are far lower than those on a flat slot machine (see also “What Are The Biggest Slot Machine Wins?“).

By all means, get in on the action, but don’t count on being the one who wins the stacked jackpot.

Richie Thames

Hi, my name is Richie Thames and I have been a software developer for 12 years. I have worked on some of the most popular online slot machine games, including ones you still see in online casinos today. While there is no simple trick to win the jackpot, there is power in learning about your game before playing. With several decades of experience under my belt, I created this website in the hopes of helping newbies on their journey. Please, enjoy my website, and I hope you learn something valuable about the art of gambling. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next jackpot winner?

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