Slot machines and progressive jackpot

Slot machines and progressive jackpot

Slot machines and progressive jackpot

Ever since 1986, when the International Game Technology (IGT) company introduced its innovative Megabucks concept, slot machine players have chased the elusive progressive jackpot.

When the Megabucks wide area progressive network was launched, it connected IGT machines located in Las Vegas, Reno, and more than a dozen other cities and towns throughout Nevada. Before then, any machine of a particular make and model offered a fixed jackpot – something like 1,000 or 5,000 coins – but Megabucks changed everything with its progressive jackpot system.

The premise of a progressive jackpot network is simple. Beginning with a baseline sum, a tiny percentage of every dollar wagered within the network is diverted to a centralized kitty. As time goes on, the jackpot total gradually grows ever higher, until a lucky player finally lands the right reel combination to trigger the award.

By the time a Reno gambler took home $4.9 million in February of 1987, while playing for just $3.00 per spin, the gambling landscape had been forever altered by the rise of progressive jackpot networks.

Today, the major wide area progressives like Wheel of Fortune, Powerbucks, and Quartermania cover thousands of machines across multiple states, routinely paying out millions of dollars at a time. One recent Megabucks jackpot, for example, dispensed $10.77 million to a player at the Wynn in Las Vegas in August 2016.

The allure of turning a few coins into a life-changing score has sustained the gambling industry for centuries. Progressive slots are merely the latest manifestation of mankind’s enduring desire to get rich quick, which is why they rank among the most popular offerings on any casino floor.

Of course, a good thing never comes cheap, so progressive slot players must sacrifice a certain amount of long-term equity while chasing short-term thrills. Simply put, progressive slots typically offer worse odds, and not just on the jackpot, on the overall game.

Consider the following payout percentages – the metric used to measure a slot machine’s expected return to players (RTP) over the infinite long run – for standard $1 machines in Las Vegas and their $1 Megabucks counterparts:

$1 Standard Machines

  1. Las Vegas – 95.74 percent

Boulder Strip – 95.60 percent

Downtown – 94.78 percent

The Strip – 93.03 percent

$1 Megabucks Machines

Boulder Strip – 88.91 percent

Downtown – 87.55 percent

  1. Las Vegas – 87.53 percent

The Strip – 87.10 percent

As you can see, players face a worse bet, as based on payout percentage, when chasing the Megabucks progressive jackpot. That’s due to the sheer enormity of the odds against winning the top prize. In the Megabucks game, players must land three of the special Megabucks symbols in a row to claim the progressive jackpot.

You’ll have a 1 in 368 chance of finding one of those reel symbols, which means the odds of landing all three consecutively can be expressed as (1/368)3. If you’re not a math whiz, that comes out to a 1 in 49,836,032 shot of winning Megabucks – which explains droughts that can last for more than a year.

Within the world of online casino gambling, the major virtual slot designers have also pushed the power of progressive jackpots.

And while the land-based gambling landscape doesn’t offer much in the way of player-friendly progressives, online casinos are home to a handful of wide area networks that combine better odds with more realistic payouts.