How Do Progressive Jackpots Work at Online Casinos?

State lotteries are not the only mega-million-dollar betting events for punters.

Progressive jackpot slots have joined their ranks, bringing the fun of regular slot games but with high payouts. Mega Moolah paid a lucky player $20 million in 2015, making it the largest payout from a progressive jackpot slot.

You don’t need any special skills to play progressive jackpot slots. Your knowledge of online pokies is enough to get you through the rounds as you vie for the coveted prise. Also, the jackpot sizes increase each time a new player bets without winning.

Many progressive slots cut across several online casinos, resulting in higher prize money. This guide will explain progressive jackpots, how they work, and how you can win. You’ll also learn about the best progressive jackpot slots to get you started on these mega-paying casino games.

What is a progressive jackpot?

A progressive jackpot refers to the payout for winning the underlying game. It applies to select slot games, hence the name “jackpot slots.” However, other genres, like table games, can have progressive jackpots.

Caribbean Stud Poker is a prominent game where casinos can attach a progressive jackpot to their side bet. Nevertheless, progressive jackpot slots are more common in online gambling.

The progressive nature of these jackpots means that the prise increases as new players join and place real-money bets. A portion of the bet will go into servicing the payout. That is how progressive jackpots have payouts that run into millions of dollars.

Unlike regular slot machines, an online casino site has a 100% payback percentage of the jackpot amount minus the reset value; we’ll explain the reset value later. Also, playing these games like regular slots makes them more exciting.

How does it work?

Divine Fortune might have $3 million in its payout today. However, that big jackpot did not start that way. It began at a fixed level (the subsequent reset value) and increased as players placed real-money bets.

At their initial runs, a portion of a player’s wager contributes to the progressive jackpot and the reset value. For example, 1% of your bet may contribute to the reset value, while 9% goes to the progressive jackpot. The reset value is the amount left after paying the winner (called seed money).

For the next jackpot and subsequent runs, a portion of your bets will go entirely to the progressive jackpot. It could be 10%, 20%, or any other percentage set out by the game provider and online gaming sites. Once a lucky player wins the jackpot, the amount is paid while removing the reset value.

Progressive slots have simple gameplay. The mega prise could be in the base game or a bonus round.

Like online slots, progressive jackpots are triggered by landing the winning combination on the pay lines. A random number generator governs the gameplay, changing the winning combination randomly. Some progressive jackpot slots may use a different approach.

You may have to trigger a bonus feature or mini-game to get to the jackpot amount. Nonetheless, random number generators still control the bonus rounds or mini-games.

The ways progressive jackpots are won in a mini-game or bonus feature include the following:

  • Picking matching cards

  • Spinning a wheel 

Must-drop progressive slot machines are programmed to trigger on a specific date. Hence, you can expect many players to join that day, hoping to win massive prizes. The odds of winning remain steep.

How to play progressive jackpots

You play progressive jackpot games the same way you play slots. These games have regular prizes you can win in the base game. That involves landing matching symbols on the payline.

Here are the steps to playing progressive slots:

  • Register with a legitimate and licenced online casino

  • Verify your account and fund it

  • Open the progressive slot game and place your bet

  • You can play on your mobile device or use your PC

  • You can set the maximum wager or split it for more playing time

  • Spin the reels to start playing

  • Continue playing until you trigger the bonus game

Some online gaming sites offer deposit bonus free spins on progressive slots. Others can have no-deposit free spins to start the slot game.

How to win a progressive jackpot

The odds of landing a progressive jackpot slot win remain the same, regardless of how large the prize pool gets. To win, you must obtain the matching combination, spin a wheel, or match several cards.

Some jackpots are awarded randomly. That means you can hit the jackpot prize on any spin, whether it is a matching combination or not.

The chances of winning a progressive slot machine can be millions to one. Nevertheless, you still have the opportunity to turn a small bet into a massive payout.

Here are some tips on how to win a progressive slot machine:

  • Choose random progressive slots. These games offer their jackpots randomly on any spin.

  • Pick progressive slots with fewer paylines to maximise your bet

  • Play progressive slots with decent payouts in the base game

  • Play progressive slots with bonus spins and rounds to extend your gameplay

Types of progressive jackpot slots

The following are the types of progressive slots at online gaming sites:

Exclusive types

Some casinos have standalone progressive slot games exclusive to players on their sites. You can still win millions from them, depending on the casino’s ability to pay the win.

These standalone progressives gain their jackpot prize from players on the casino site. They can also come in a must-drop format.

You can have an exclusive progressive jackpot game on one slot machine in a land casino. Players must play the same game on the slot machine to get a chance at winning.

Many online casinos with exclusive jackpots can link multiple machines to create local progressives. This means it is available in multiple games.

Network types

The biggest jackpots are often network types. These payouts are linked across several online casinos featuring the base slot machines. All players betting on these progressive games contribute to the jackpot amount.

Mega Moolah is a popular jackpot slot in this category. You can find the game at several New Zealand casinos offering progressive slots.

Popular progressive jackpots

Some progressive slots have distinguished themselves with exciting gameplay and mega prizes. Hitting the top jackpot on these slot machines can make you a millionaire overnight.

The following are popular games with progressive jackpots:

  • Mega Moolah: This slot machine has four progressive jackpots (Mini, Minor, Major, and  Mega) in the bonus game. The latter is triggered randomly on any spin. Most casinos with jackpot slot machines will have it, but you must bet the maximum amount to maximise your chances.

  • Mega Fortune: This game joins Mega Moolah among the top-ranking progressive slot machines. It features three jackpots with free spin rounds and multipliers like regular slots. The slot play requires three bonus wheel symbols to activate the bonus game for the jackpots.

  • Jackpot Giant: This game from Playtech has payouts that can go over $1 million. It has 50 paylines, 3D graphics, low volatility, and fixed jackpots. Like most progressive slots, you’ll need the maximum bet to trigger the bonus payout round.

  • Arabian Nights: This game from NetEnt might show its age among newer online slots, but the jackpot is still worth a shot. It takes on the Middle Eastern tale with free spins and multipliers. Then, you’ll need five wilds on a payline to win the jackpot.

Finding casinos that offer progressive jackpots

There are a few things to consider when looking for casinos to play progressives. Many sites will feature different games, but not all are ideal for real-money games.

Consider the following when picking casinos to play progressives:

  • The licencing information on the platform

  • Endorsements from independent testing agencies for fair gaming, e.g. eCOGRA

  • Player reviews, especially regarding payouts

  • The types of games available

  • The bonus deals, from the welcome bonus to weekly promotions

  • The jackpot lobby

  • The customer support

  • The user interface and experience on mobile devices and PCs

Use the free games to explore and test the casino’s responsiveness on your device. Message the support team to see how fast and efficiently they respond.


Progressive jackpots might not have visual excitement like other games, but massive amounts can be won playing them. These games are mostly slot machines, with a few falling into the poker and table game categories. Notwithstanding, their prizes increase as players join with their bets.

You can play progressives like regular online slots, waiting to trigger the bonus feature or game with the jackpot. Some have bonus wheels, while others use matching cards or instant but random triggers. The odds of winning get steeper as the prizes increase.

Mega Moolah, Divine Fortune, the Age of the Gods series, Major Millions, etc., are popular progressive jackpot slots. Play responsibly, and do not exceed your budget. Register with a licenced online gaming site and enjoy these high-paying games.

Frequently asked questions 

What is the optimal strategy for winning a progressive slot?

Most progressives require placing the maximum bet to qualify for the bonus trigger. Notwithstanding, the trigger occurs randomly, including the wins.

How do progressive slots work?

Progressive slots grow their payouts from the players’ bets. The winner takes home the jackpot while the game resets to a seed value for another round. 

What is a positive expectation bet for progressive jackpots?

A positive expectation wager has a higher chance of winning than the specific odds in the game. It is used to assess the profitability of a bet in the long run. Still, the results in the game remain random.

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