The right time to play on a progressive slot machine

Slot machines have been around since the late eighteenth century. Charles Fey built the first slot machine, the Liberty Bell, in his workshop. Progressive slots came about 100 years later in 1986 when IGT (International Gaming Technologies) released the game Megabucks.
This was the first progressive slot game.

Until Megabucks, all slots paid a fixed maximum jackpot price. With the progressive technology developed by IGT, jackpots could be slowly increased. Progressive jackpots have become increasingly popular worldwide over the years. Players love the huge jackpot amounts that can be won, but are they really worth playing on?

Progressive jackpots

Many players can spend hours playing on a progressive jackpot slot machine. Others report that after 15 minutes they mostly missed the fun of playing. Regular play on a progressive jackpot just pays the normal smaller prizes.

Progressive slots can pay big or small prizes, just like non-progressive slots. The idea is that the progressive prize puts a small percentage of each bet into the game’s mega jackpot. In this article, you’ll read more about progressive jackpots and whether they’re worth playing on.

Megabucks JackpotThe first progressive gambling game, Megabucks, was released by IGT (International Gaming Technologies)

Who pays for progressive jackpots?

Whether it’s a slot machine or another type of gambling game, a progressive jackpot is paid out in the same way as a traditional prize. The money comes from players’ wagers. The only time a casino risks its own money on a game is when the game is first introduced.

The very first player can win a prize and the casino has to cough it up. Industry experts say it only takes a few weeks for a casino to earn a cash reserve for each game that covers all future payouts. That means all those progressive jackpots are covered by players’ bets.

To cover these large jackpots, the payouts and win rates of the games must be adjusted so that the casinos can still make a profit. There is too much discussion and disagreement about how much the casinos earn from progressive games. The important thing to know is that a progressive jackpot is rarely paid out of the casino’s net worth.

How progressive games work

The idea behind the progressive jackpot is simple. It starts at a minimum starting level. As more bets are made, the jackpot grows. This is because a small percentage of each bet is added to the jackpot. The jackpot falls when an extremely rare combination of factors occurs.

In gambling games, this is a combination of winning symbols. In other games, it is a combination of cards or dice, depending on the game. Most progressive games require you to make a maximum bet to win the progressive jackpot. So if you make a little less than the maximum bet and the winning symbols appear, you will only get a fixed prize.

Some people believe that progressive jackpot games are designed to pay only after certain intervals. However, this is not conclusively established. After all, it is more common for the same progressive jackpot to fall in a few days or even within a few hours. When a random number generator determines the outcome, anything can happen. It may even mean that the casino loses money on the game for a while.

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Progressive games with higher jackpots?

Players wait to play until the jackpot of a progressive slot is very high. Their expectation is based on the classic Gambler’s Fallacy. Every game has the same chance of having the jackpot paid out, regardless of how high the jackpot is.

It has happened more than once that slots pay out the progressive jackpot twice in one hour. Often this happens on slot machines that are linked together. The more machines that are linked together, the less money is needed per slot machine to fill the jackpot.

Of course, if the casino wants to offer a really big jackpot, they need to get more money out of the bets. They can do this by offering progressive slots only on machines with higher stakes. You risk more money to win the higher progressive jackpots, than if you play for the smaller ones.

Progressive jackpot

If a slot machine offers a fixed top prize of €10,000, why wouldn’t you be satisfied with that? The odds of winning a €10,000 jackpot are much higher than the odds of winning a €1,000,000 progressive jackpot.

The percentages for these two games may differ. You might have a higher RTP with a €25 bet on a progressive slot. While the RTP is again lower on a slot with a €1 bet on a non-progressive slot. You could also have a larger variation on the non-progressive game where the big prizes are paid out less frequently. However, those jackpots are then again higher than prizes on the progressive game.

A rule of thumb is; “the bigger the jackpot, the less likely you are to win the prize”. It doesn’t matter what game it is.

Non-progressive slot machines

The frequency of payouts should have nothing to do with the progressive jackpot. That jackpot is covered by a percentage of each bet, just like the other prizes. But what does matter is whether you enjoy the game and whether you make small wins often. Everyone enjoys winning, so how often that seems to happen is an important indicator.

Of course, the results that others have on a slot machine do not guarantee that you will win as much. Some games pay partial winnings. These are called lost prizes. If you bet €5 and the game pays €4, you have lost that round. You have not made a profit, but simply have not lost your entire stake either. It is best to avoid slots with these types of losing wins.


Playing a progressive jackpot game is a personal decision. In any case, always play the game if you also enjoy it. At least with a slot machine, you have a clear choice. You can choose to play on non-progressive slots or progressive slots.

So as long as you are not forced to pay extra for the prize, you can just play progressive jackpot slots. As long as it’s fun and doesn’t cost anything extra, you then keep the chance of winning those often astronomical amounts.