What Are Progressive Slots?

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BetMGM May 07, 2020, 7:00 AM

Progressive slots are the type of online casino games you should play if you want to stand a chance of becoming an instant millionaire. The main attraction of these games is the ever-growing jackpots on offer, which increase as more players place their bets. If you’ve not tried them yet, you might be missing out.

How Do Progressive Slots Work?

Progressive jackpot slots work differently from regular online slots in that they offer growing jackpots. Every time a player places a wager, a small portion of the money is contributed to the prize pool, making the jackpot increase in value. Thanks to many players playing over time, these jackpots can eventually become worth millions of dollars. 

Popular slots of this type, such as Aztec Realm, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Irish Riches, and Millionaire Genie, are known to have jackpots that reach seven figures. Some can also be operated over a network, meaning the game studio will host the game across many casinos offering the same prize. 

This means a player from another casino can win the top prize, and these are usually huge jackpots. Once this is won, the prize will disappear, and the game will default back to the minimum value and start building again.

It’s important to note that progressives do not work the same way as jackpot slots, which are games with a fixed, predetermined jackpot waiting for players to hit a winning combination on the reels. Progressive machines build with every successive bet. Players can find hundreds of these online. BetMGM has several titles to enjoy, with amazing prizes up for grabs.

Types of Progressive Slot Machines

Slots 3D element isolated on black background

While the idea for progressive casino slots is the same across the board, each machine has unique features. Some are stand-alone machines, while others are linked to various others. Read on to learn more about the different types of progressive slots available.

Stand-Alone Machines

The stand-alone progressive works similar to other machines in that a portion of the player’s wager is funneled into the overall jackpot. On traditional stand-alone machines, the prize is usually displayed on-screen, so the player can watch it grow as they keep spinning. These games tend to be very popular but don’t offer great payouts when compared to some other kinds of progressives that you’ll find at a casino, be it brick-and-mortar or online.

In-House/Local Slots

In-house machines offer players larger potential winnings compared to stand-alone. Here, you have multiple slots linked with each other, usually 10–100 of them, all compiling more money, and the percentage of all the bets in the prize pools is displayed on the screen. 

Punters have a chance of getting generous payouts compared to non-progressive jackpot games, but this will depend on how many are linked together. In-house slots, as the name may already suggest, are usually found at brick-and-mortar casinos.

Wide Area Network

Wide-area progressive slot machines are by far the most sought-after. A network can link both land-based and online casino slots to various casinos. They provide punters with multimillion-dollar cash prizes and are often operated by third parties, such as software providers linked to the game. Usually, the portion that goes into the jackpots is lower, owing to the costs of linking the machines. Before you get too excited, though, it’s worth remembering that the chances of winning big on these games are very slim — as low as hitting a lottery jackpot.

The Most Popular Progressive Slot Games Online

Below are some of the most frequented progressive jackpot machines online, along with some of their features.

Mega Moolah

 Website of Mega Moolah progressive online jackpot game

Mega Moolah is undoubtedly one of the most popular progressive online slot machines in the world. This top-attraction title by Microgaming has been a fan favorite since its release in 2006 and is still going strong. In 2018 alone, the studio paid out more than $162 million to winners.

What makes Mega Moolah an exciting and rewarding game to play is the wheel-spinning bonus game, which is awarded randomly and leads to the jackpot being won. Once you trigger this special feature, you’ll be tasked with spinning a wheel with multicolored jackpot segments. The compartments display four jackpots in order of size, which is attached to the game — the Mini, Minor, Major, and Mega jackpots, the last of which pays out an incredible $1 million. 

What makes this slot game different is that you don’t need to wager the maximum amount to stand a chance of winning — you can still trigger the bonus game, no matter what stake you put in.

Mega Moolah Isis

A popular sequel to Mega Moolah, this exciting slots game offers several ways to win, depending on how you land the winning symbols on the game’s 5 reels and 25 paylines. Mega Moolah Isis features an Ancient Egyptian theme, and the scatter in the game is the hawk: upon landing, it activates the free spins feature, where you get 30 free spins and a 6x multiplier. 

You can also choose to double your winnings with the gamble feature: in it, you have to guess the color of a face-down card correctly, or you can even quadruple your cash by guessing the card’s correct suit. However, if you don’t manage to guess correctly, you forfeit all your winnings (in either case.) Mega Moolah Isis also features four great jackpots, with the largest one offering a whopping $1 million — instant millionaire, any (lucky) one?

MegaJackpots Cleopatra

One of IGT’s most popular high-variance online slots offers a massive real money win in the bonus game. In MegaJackpots Cleopatra, once you’ve triggered the bonus game, you’ll get a set of free spins that can retrigger and result in a MegaJackpot. The winnings for this online progressive slot are paid off in annual installments, the same way that brick-and-mortar establishments pay their winners.


This progressive slot is easily spotted by a large dinosaur and an ever-growing jackpot at the casino lobby. Megasaur, by Realtime Gaming, is speckled with bonus features. 

The game features 5 reels and 25 paylines. If you manage to land five volcano symbols, you’ll win the full jackpot when spinning in the free-games mode. But you’ll need to trigger the free spins first. If you’re betting less than the maximum bet and manage to land four or five volcano icons, the game pays a percentage of the jackpot, depending on the level you’re on.

Gladiator Jackpot

Players can win hundreds of thousands of dollars on Gladiator Jackpot, based on the film of the same name. The game features 5 reels and 25 paylines. It awards free spins that come with loads of added bonuses, including the huge progressive jackpot. Players can wager as much or as little as they want as they try to win the massive cash prizes in Gladiator Jackpot. 

The Colosseum in the game is the scatter, which can award up to 100x your total bet. If you manage to land three or more of them, you’ll be taken to a screen showing four levels, where you get to reveal a mysterious prize. Among these prizes are free games, extra scatters, and wilds, as well as multipliers, to give you a large boost.

New Progressive Slot Machine Titles On the Block

Naturally, in a genre of games as exciting and fluid as this, you can imagine how a whole bunch of titles keep popping up. Here are a few of the most popular progressive slot games you can play online now.

Oracle of the Dead

If you’re enchanted by fortune-telling and seeing the future, Oracle of the Dead will keep you entertained. This 5-reel progressive jackpot slot game from Ivy Games has 10 paylines, and its main features include free spins and a “Gamble.”

Look out for the book scatter symbols across the reels because if you land three of these, you’ll be taken to a feature screen. Here, the Oracle will choose a symbol that will then expand across the reels, and you’ll get eight free spins. 

Apart from playing and taking your chances of winning the top progressive prize, you also have the chance to retrigger free spins and double your wins with the Gamble feature.

Vegas Night Life

If you’re a fan of the Las Vegas Strip, there’s no better way to bring the nightlife of Vegas to the screen than with a thrilling game like Vegas Night Life. This NetEnt slot is a 5-reel, 3-row game and includes Instant Wins, Free Spins, and Cash Stacker features. There are also many jackpots to be won, such as the Mini, Midi, and, of course, the progressive Mega Jackpot. 

They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas… unless, of course, you happen to land Cash Stacker symbols all along reel number 3, in which case you’ll likely tell everyone you know about it, as the progressive Mega Jackpot would be yours.

MegaJackpots Golden Goddess

Golden Goddess is a popular IGT game that brings all of the lofty beauty of a Greek goddess to the screen. If you’re a fan of Ancient Egypt-themed slots, you’ll enjoy spinning the reels of this game, which is a popular title in its own right. With the addition of the MegaJackpots feature, MegaJackpots Golden Goddess is even more exciting. 

With Athena, the goddess of heroism, and a “Greek hero” as two of the highest-paying symbols, you can spin the reels on this game with the hope of landing them, both of which will pay out a decent amount. Of course, if you happen to land MegaJackpot symbols across the reels, the progressive jackpot will be yours.

Odds of Hitting a Progressive Jackpot

To win a progressive jackpot, you’ll need multiple winning symbols to line up (details would depend on the game.) You can calculate the odds of winning by looking at the number of reels together with the number of symbols in the game. It’s important to consider how the payout in the jackpot is triggered and by which symbols. For instance, if you’re playing a simple 3-reel slot with 10 winning symbols, then it’s 10x10x10, which gives you winning odds of +100,000.

RTP and Probability

You can also measure the probability of winning something on a slot game by looking at its RTP (return to player) percentage. Loosely translated, this is a statistical average — officially provided by the game developer — of payouts of each bet that the player is supposed to get back in the long run.

Usually, the RTP of a slot machine will be around 95%–99% (so for every $100 wagered on average, you’d get back $95–$99.) This is how the casino makes a profit, but if you look at the percentage, players get to make a lot of money, too, if they manage to hit a winning combination. The RTP is a great way of assessing slot payouts and probabilities, which is why it’s important to look at this when choosing online slot machines. Basically, you’re likely to lose money faster when playing a slot with a relatively lower RTP. 

How To Win Jackpots on Slot Machines: Best Strategies and Tips

Progressive jackpot slots are for players hoping to win huge sums of money. Unfortunately, just as with the lottery and other massive prizes, the probability of winning is pretty small. However, there is always a chance. These are games, after all. Below are some tips and tricks to boost your odds when playing slots that you may find helpful. Although they’re not guaranteed, anecdotal reports show that they can be quite helpful in your gameplay.

Budget Your Time and Money

Slots are exciting and very fast-paced. As such, it’s recommended that you budget your time and money strictly. Decide how much money you want to spend on slots and the amount you are going to spend on a given game.

Learn How To Play Progressive Slots

If you’re interested in winning the top prize on progressives, it is important to familiarize yourself with how the games work, their RTPs, and the different features of the titles you choose to play. You can do this by reading slot reviews as well as viewing the game information on the machine.

Read the T&Cs

Another important factor is fully understanding the terms and conditions of the casino you choose to play at. For example, you may find that some bonuses don’t qualify you to play jackpots. Meanwhile, many casino sites have a maximum withdrawal limit, meaning that it could take you a very long time before you can cash out your entire win. This rule, however, does not apply to all casinos. This is why it is vital to make yourself aware of the rules first before you start playing.

Choose High-RTP Slots

The higher the RTP, the higher the probability of getting a return on your deposits.

Mix Small and High Jackpots

While larger jackpots give you a chance to win as much money as possible, they are very difficult to win. Hence, they grow bigger and bigger, although this is sometimes a result of the games having more players and syndicates. However, lower jackpots are also great for boosting your bank balance — if you’re lucky enough to land them. 

Maximize Your Stake

A progressive slot game’s rules will often stipulate that players need to wager the maximum bet if they want to win the top prize of the progressive jackpot. Please note: it’s essential that you gamble responsibly, so it’s recommended that you spend some time doing research on these jackpot conditions before committing and spending your bankroll.

Biggest Progressive Jackpot Wins

Shining retro Jackpot banner illuminated by spotlights with confetti

Here are the biggest progressive slot wins of all time at both land-based and online casino sites:

  • $39.7 million on Megabucks at MGM’s Excalibur in Las Vegas (the largest win in Las Vegas history.)
  • $34.9 million on Megabucks.
  • $27.5 million on Megabucks.
  • $15.12 million on Mega Moolah.
  • $10.3 million on Megabucks at MGM Grand.
  • $6.07 on Mega Moolah.
  • $5.52 million on Mars Attack.
  • $4.6 million on Megabucks.
  • $3.65 million on Mega Fortune.
  • $2.4 million on Lion’s Share at MGM Grand.

Progressive Slots vs. Regular Slots: Which Should You Choose?

Progressive slots offer the tantalizing possibility of hitting life-changing jackpots, but are they the right choice for you? Explore the differences between progressive and regular slots to help you decide which game suits your style and preferences.

Progressive Slots: The Jackpot Dream

Progressive slots are all about chasing the big dream — those jaw-dropping, life-altering jackpots that can turn your life around in an instant. The allure of watching the jackpot grow with every bet placed by players across multiple casinos is undeniably exciting. The potential for massive payouts, like the multi-million-dollar prizes in games such as Mega Moolah and Mega Fortune, is what draws many players to these slots.

However, it’s crucial to remember that the odds of hitting such a colossal jackpot are exceptionally slim, just like winning a lottery jackpot. 

Regular Slots: Steady Entertainment

On the other hand, regular slots offer a more predictable gaming experience. These slots feature fixed jackpots or smaller progressive prizes, making it easier to secure wins during your gaming session. While the payouts might not reach the astronomical heights of progressive slots, they can still be quite substantial, depending on which game you’re playing.

Regular slots are best for the players who prefer steady entertainment and more frequent rewards. They offer a more relaxed gaming experience without the intense pressure and slim probabilities of chasing a huge jackpot.

The Decision Is Yours

Ultimately, the choice between progressive and regular slots depends on your gaming style, risk tolerance, and what you’re looking to get out of your casino experience. If you’re after that once-in-a-lifetime chance at a mega jackpot and don’t mind the long odds, maybe you should try your luck with progressive slots. However, if you prefer consistent wins and extended gameplay, regular slots offer a more balanced and less nerve-wracking option.

In the end, it’s all about what thrills you the most and aligns with your preferences. So, whether you’re aiming for the stars with progressive slots or seeking steadier waters with regular slots, online casinos like BetMGM have something to offer for every type of player.


FAQ Frequently Asked Questions Slot Machine Wheels 3D Illustration

What Is a Progressive Slot Game?

A progressive slot game is a slot machine with a jackpot that grows each time a successive bet is made. Each time the top prize is won, the jackpot defaults to the minimum value and starts building again.

How Often Do Progressive Slots Payout?

The moment they are won (kidding.) The RTP percentage determines the odds and probabilities of a jackpot. It really could happen to anyone, though — and who knows when that will be.

How Are Progressive Jackpots Paid?

Usually, they’re paid in cash or cheque at a land-based casino. Winnings from online casino games can be cashed out using various withdrawal methods, from credit and debit cards to e-wallets and even wire transfers. This is why it’s vital for players to check what payment options are available and the casino’s withdrawal limits.

Is It Better To Play Progressive Slots?

If you want to stand a chance of winning a massive jackpot, then yes, but just remember, there are no guarantees. 

What Are the Odds of Winning Progressive Slots?

The odds of winning are 1 in 3,200,000 on a slot machine with 3 reels and 20 paylines — but this is a very simplistic answer. Every game has so many different features and symbol combinations required for wins that you can imagine how probabilities can change from one to the next. The main thing to grasp is the amount of risk you’re taking and how it’s vital to set a limit on how much you want to bet.

What Are Some of the Best Progressive Slot Machines To Play?

If you’re looking to try your hand at these kinds of jackpot slots, why not try some of these?

*Slot machines exclusive to BetMGM.

Should I Bet Max on Jackpots Slot?

Yes. In order to win the full jackpot amount on a progressive, you will need to bet the maximum amount.

Play at BetMGM’s Progressive Slots App

BetMGM offers a wide range of feature-packed slots to enjoy, some with massive progressive jackpots. Whether you’re looking for mystical, historical, sport, seasonal, film, or retro-themed slots, you’re bound to find something that caters to your taste. Of course, you can also play video poker, blackjack, roulette, and baccarat, among other casino games readily available. BetMGM also has classic table games with live dealers if you’re looking for some live action in your online gaming. To find out more, register with BetMGM.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.