Progressive jackpots slot machines and casino games feature a jackpot prize that increases after each game round until a lucky player wins it. Many progressive games have multiple jackpots, each growing at a different rate, but there is always the main prize which reaches the highest values.
In progressive jackpot games, a small percentage of each qualifying bet goes towards the jackpot or set of jackpots. Jackpots grow thanks to this until somebody wins them. Once a jackpot is paid out, it resets to a default value or a certain percentage of the won jackpot and starts growing again.
Note: Jackpots can get really big in some games, often reaching millions. The highest recorded progressive jackpot was won on Mega Moolah from Microgaming and reached a value of £13,209,300. A very close second place is held by a win on Mega Fortune from NetEnt worth €17,861,800.
The way the jackpot is won differs from game to game, but three approaches are most common:
One of the worst things to do when playing progressive jackpot casino games is playing them without a chance to win the jackpot. Not only is the jackpot the main "attraction" of the game, but it is generally also included in its mathematics. Part of each bet goes towards the jackpot, so playing without a chance to win it means you could effectively be playing with a lower RTP.
The thing is, not all bets on a jackpot casino game make you eligible to win the jackpot. It is quite a common practice that only bets above a certain threshold qualify. For example, a €0.5 bet may not qualify and a €1 does. Make sure to check out the rules of the game you are playing to be certain and stay away from games in which qualifying bets are out of your budget.
Note: In progressive jackpot slot machines and casino games, your chance to win the jackpot is often (but not always) proportional to the size of your bet.
Slot machines and casino games with a progressive jackpot can be categorized into three groups based on the size of the network that shares the same jackpots:
Another noteworthy type of jackpots are so-called 'must-hit-by' or 'must-drop' jackpots, which are programmed to be triggered by a certain deadline. These tend to be lower than most jackpots without this time restriction, but they are attractive for players, as their attractiveness increases as the deadline approaches.
We have already mentioned that the jackpot grows over time and that a small percentage of each bet goes towards making it bigger. This also means that playing games with an unusually large progressive jackpot can actually be profitable in the long-run.
The RTP of progressive games is calculated with an average jackpot value. If the current jackpot exceeds the average jackpot value by a sufficient amount, the RTP of playing at that exact time can grow over 100%, giving players a mathematical advantage. The point at which playing progressive games becomes profitable is known as the 'break-even point'.
Note: This is a very rare phenomenon in the online casino world, as it's built on the premise that the casino has an edge, which allows it to run a profitable business. If you are interested to learn more about this, read our article about the mathematics of casino games.
Our database of free casino games contains many slot machines and video poker games with a progressive jackpot feature. Play them to experiment with progressive games but remember that you are playing for free and you cannot win real money here. Real-money progressive jackpot games can only be played at real-money online casinos. But remember to stay safe and gamble responsibly.
Note: In many free slots and casino games, you cannot win the jackpot even in the form of play money. The jackpot feature can be turned off completely, what means that free games like these are not a good tool to experiment with how progressive jackpots work.