What is a progressive jackpot slot and how does it work?

All slots players are well aware that Mega Moolah, as well as other classic games from Microgaming such as Major Millions, Treasure Nile and King Cashalot, are all good examples of online progressive jackpot slots.

However, do people really understand the term 'progressive jackpot slot' and what it means? What are the main differences between different types of progressive jackpot slot games and how their jackpots are awarded? What makes a progressive different to a standard slot and lastly, what happens if you are one of the lucky few and manages to land a huge progressive jackpot win?

Let's take a closer look at each of these issues and explore some of the answers.

What is a progressive jackpot slot?

In the broadest sense, a progressive jackpot slot is a slot game which offers standard cash prizes as all other slot games offer, but in addition to this it also offers a special jackpot prize which increases in size with each real money spin made on the slot. The jackpot progresses from a small seed amount, to any amount of money, the only limit being when the progressive jackpot prize is triggered.

To facilitate the provision of a progressive jackpot, it is necessary for the game designers to use the money you wager in a slightly different way to a standard slot. On a standard game, the money you stake each spin will be used most likely to contribute towards winnings on the slot, with a small percentage going to the casino as their profit on the game. This percentage figure is known as the Return to Player (RTP) percentage.

On a progressive jackpot slot however, the majority of your cash goes on standard wins, with a small percentage again for the casino, but in addition to this a small percentage of each wager made also is added to the progressive jackpot prize fund.

So, for example, a standard slot may have a RTP of 95%, which means 95% of the money the slot brings in gets paid out in prizes, with 5% retained for the casino. These are average measures over the lifetime of the slot and not indicative of how the slot pays out every day or for every user.

But for a progressive slot game, you would find that the RTP may be 92%, the casino cut may be 5% and 3% of your wager will go towards the progressive jackpot fund.

What is the seed amount?

The seed amount is the minimum amount of money guaranteed by the slot developer and casino that a player will be playing for on a progressive jackpot slot game. When a jackpot is won in the default currency of the slot (and for Microgaming slots, this is the British Pound), the full amount of money in the progressive balance is paid to the player.

Obviously, this leaves the progressive fund at £0, and this is not an attractive proposition for players to play the game. So, to ensure players still play the game, Microgaming will then place a stated minimum amount of money into the progressive fund to start things off, essentially seeding the fund, hence "seed amount".

The good news for Mega Moolah fans is that the seed amount for this game is one million British Pounds, which means you will never have less than this amount of money available to be won on any spin, even the very next spin after someone triggers the progressive jackpot prize.

Are all progressive jackpot slots the same?

No, some slot games, such as Treasure Nile or King Cashalot have a single progressive jackpot prize that can be won. However other games, such as Mega Moolah don't have just one progressive jackpot prize four.

Mega Moolah's jackpots are called the Mini, Minor, Major and the Mega. The Mini and Minor jackpots are won multiple times on a daily basis, the Major is won on average every few days and the Mega is won far less frequently - see the 2018 hit frequency here. All payments for these wins come from four different progressive jackpot funds, all of which are generated from the wagers bet on each spin of the game.

On other games that may have two or three progressive jackpot funds, the process is the same with the progressive percentage of the wager used to top up each of the progressive funds for that game.

Another way progressive jackpot slots differ is in how they award their jackpots. Some slots require players to wager a minimum amount per spin and the maximum number of lines (on Major Millions for example, this is 3.00 per spin) before they become eligible to win the jackpot prize. On other games, such as Mega Moolah, the jackpot can be won on any spin regardless of how much you pay.

That seems unfair initially, but on slots like Mega Moolah, the size of your wager will determine the chance you have of triggering the Jackpot Bonus Game (which is the mechanism to win any of the four Mega Moolah progressives). The more you wager, the more chance you have on each spin of triggering the random bonus.

Therein lies another difference. Some games award their progressive jackpot prizes as part of the game itself (such as the top winning line on the first or final pay line of a slot, as on Major Millions or Treasure Nile), whereas on other games, there are varying degrees of randomness that decide who wins the jackpot. This means you can't win the jackpot from landing a line on Mega Moolah, you have to get lucky and trigger the random Jackpot Bonus Game on a spin to stand a chance.

This is one of the key differences between several popular progressive jackpot games and standard slots, where you can win the top prize available by landing the right combination of symbols on the reels.

What are my chances of winning a progressive jackpot slot?

There's no denying the obvious, your chances are very small, however that is true for almost any type of slot or game where you want to win a massive amount of money, such as the National Lottery for example.

However, you should remember that millions of other players play these games around the globe and out of the millions of spins every year, some players will be the lucky ones. Provided you budget sensibly and gamble only what you can afford to lose, then you stand as much chance as the next person of winning the progressive jackpot prize.

Is it true that progressive jackpot games only pay out when they take in so much money?

One of the biggest misunderstandings about progressive jackpot slots regards whether a slot is "cold" meaning it is not likely to pay out, or is "hot" meaning that a pay-out is imminent. The casino lobby has indicators to show which slots are likely to pay out soon.

This does not mean however that a slot will definitely pay out or will not pay out. It is simply an indicator of what the average (mean) is of that slot.

Progressive slot games can pay out on any spin, at any time, with any amount of money in the progressive jackpot fund. That is the nature of randomness. This was perfectly illustrated in April 2018 when the Mega Jackpot was triggered for the first time since Mid-March on the 19th April and then 22 hours later, on the 20th April, it was triggered again, for a smaller amount.

A progressive slot is not a machine that is instructed to pay out when a certain amount of money has been wagered, nor will it only pay out a certain amount of time after it has last been triggered. Wins can be hours, days, weeks, months or even years apart depending on the game in question.

What happens if I trigger a massive progressive jackpot win?

If you are one of the lucky ones that plays a game such as Mega Moolah and lands a massive progressive jackpot prize, then your first reaction will likely be of disbelief. You may well think that there has been an error on the machine, or that you are dreaming, and it isn't real. Don't worry! Those are perfectly understandable reactions.

Once a big jackpot such as the Mega Moolah's Mega Jackpot is won, then the casino where you were playing the game will likely give you a ring (so make sure you register with the casino with your real contact details and telephone/mobile number) and they will then confirm the win and give you further instructions as to what will happen from then on.

From here on, the casino will guide you as to whether you want to go public with your win or remain anonymous and will outline how the transfer of cash (which, incidentally, is tax-free in most countries) will take place.

The only thing you then need to do, is crack open the champagne and decide how you are going to invest your winnings!

Byline: This article was published by Mega Moolah expert Henry. Media and other enquiries.

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