A Complete Guide to Progressive Jackpot Slots

How progressive jackpots work at online casinos.

How progressive jackpots workThere are many different type of slot machines. Everyone wants to hit a big win on the slots, but how much you can win depends greatly on the machine you play. There’s no question that progressive jackpot slots have the highest possible payouts, but are they really worth playing?

We all know that they do pay out. Every few weeks, we read about some extraordinarily lucky player who hit ‘the big one‘. All progressives will eventually pay out their jackpots. It’s more a matter of knowing what it takes to make it happen, and how often such unlikely wins occur.

How Progressive Jackpots Work

The term “progressive” refers to the way the jackpot grows. A small percentage of every bet placed contributes to the jackpot, so it gets progressively larger until it’s struck.

Once a jackpot is released, it is seeded at a certain starting amount, such as $10,000, $100,000, $250,000, or even $1,000,000. This is done to keep players interested. You wouldn’t find a progressive slot machine very attractive if its jackpot prize was just reset to $0.

How to Strike a Progressive Slots Jackpot

Due to the lucrative nature of progressives, it takes a very precise and rare combination to hit them. Sometimes, it takes hitting that specific combination, and then some. Lots of progressive games now present players with a wheel of prizes, or even a multi-tiered wheel.

When the right combination strikes, it activates that wheel. It has to land on just the right spot to release the jackpot. For multi-tier wheels, it has to spin to a stop in the right position to move to the second wheel, and again to get to the third. Then the third wheel will have a progressive jackpot prize on it.

The odds of hitting the jackpot will vary dramatically from one progressive slot to the next. It could be anywhere from one in a million, to one in twenty million! Either way, the more people that play it, the faster it’s going to release its jackpot.

For instance, the Mega Moolah progressive by Microgaming, which seeds at $1,000,000, is so popular that it strikes, on average, about every 10 weeks. The jackpot grows so fast that, when it does strike, it pays, on average, more than $5 million.

Are Progressive Slot Machines Worth Playing?

Clearly, the option to win a life-altering amount of money is very attractive. As a jackpot grows higher and higher, the odds of it paying out do marginally increase. But there is one problem, and it’s something every slots player should be aware of.

Progressive slot machines always come with a lower RTP, or return to player. That means the house edge—the casino’s advantage—is higher. Where a standard online slot might have a 96-97% RTP, a progressive game is more likely to carry a 92-93% RTP. And that’s just at online casinos – the land-based variety are much worse.

The golden rule of any gambling strategy is to lower the house edge to the absolute minimum. Obviously, a 3-4% house edge is much better than a 7-8% house edge. So strategically speaking, no, progressives aren’t a great option.

In terms of entertainment value, however—and why gamble if not for entertainment?—progressive jackpots can be awfully exciting!

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