If you close your eyes and imagine the glamour and excitement of a Las Vegas casino, what do you see? Is it the suspense of the roulette wheel, everyone holding their breath as they wait for the ball to fall? Or maybe you will picture a sharp-suited card sharp cleaning up while wearing his best poker face.
And while it is true that these games, along with blackjack and craps, account for some of the most popular casino games, it may surprise you to know that one other game beats the rest hands-down when it comes to the number of people playing them. Yes, this honour belongs to the humble slot machine.
Admittedly, I never used to understand the allure of the slot game, but it turns out that even back then the slot machines were one of the best bets to win big-league in a casino. The reason for this is the existence of progressive jackpots, introduced in the 1980’s and since then responsible for some of the biggest gambling wins of all time. When casino operators such as Royal Vegas had the stroke of genius to link up the machines and pool the stakes of all the slot players, the potential payouts became astronomical.
The rise of online casino games has opened up a world of possibilities for those of us who do not have the chance to visit Vegas or even our local casino, except as maybe a novelty treat once in a while. And it might be fun to play some hands of poker or try some roulette, but the online world is where slot games really shine – in fact you could say that slot games and the progressive jackpot only really came into their own when we went virtual.
What is a progressive jackpot?
So, how exactly do progressive jackpot slots work, and why are online gaming sites the perfect place to play them? The first and most important feature is the potentially colossal winnings, which can be bagged with even the lowest of stakes. One story which is almost too incredible to believe (except it actually happened, look it up!) is that of the Finnish player who in 2013 wagered only twenty five cents on Mega Fortune from NetEnt, and walked away with a record-breaking €17.8 million.
How is this possible? Well, as it turns out, quite easily. Online casinos are the perfect platform for progressive jackpots, as all the money from all players’ stakes is pooled into a single jackpot fund. The more players there are, the higher the jackpot can reach, and players have a choice between playing a local or a networked progressive slot. Local progressive slots are when the stakes are pooled from the players of a slot game on one particular online casino, which means lower jackpots (although they can still be life-altering amounts of cash) with higher odds of winning. The biggest money to be had – remember our lucky Finn? – are in the networked progressive jackpot slots. In this case, the stakes are pooled from any one slot game which is played across multiple online casino platforms. The odds may be somewhat less in your favour, but with a possible payout in the millions, who could resist taking a spin?
The biggest names
Of course the other great thing about the move to online platforms is that we have finally seen slot games reach their full potential. Games developers have really gone to town, letting their creative skills and imaginations run wild. The array of themed slots on the market is positively dizzying, and there truly is something for everyone out there, whether you like a classic-look slot game or something more unusual. The graphics in most of these games are also seriously stunning, and with technology improving and rival developers constantly trying to outdo each other, they are improving at swift rate. Recently there has been the new generation of 3D slots, with graphics and sound effects which make for a playing experience more real than a “real” casino. If you are not sure where to start, check out Microgaming’s popular Mega Moolah group of slots, or NetEnt’s Mega Fortune. Both developers also have themed progressive jackpot slots available, from medieval (Microgaming’s King Cashalot) to anime (NetEnt’s Geisha Wonders).
I should of course end with a small disclaimer. My love of the slots came a bit later, but once I saw the range and scale of the online games available, I never looked back. However, in the interest of full disclosure, there are some alternative progressive jackpot games out there, and if online poker is more your thing there are plenty online gaming options available. Still, in my opinion, when it comes to progressive jackpots, nothing beats the wins you can achieve with luck.