Many jackpots are limited to a certain amount, and if you land the five jackpot symbols you know how much you stand to win. That will sound very familiar to seasoned players, and one of the reasons we play slots is in the hope of hitting it big and winning a large amount of money.

Progressive jackpots take this concept one stage further, with jackpots that progressively increase in value as the game is played. Each time you spin the reels a small percentage of the bet is added to the total, and they can continue growing for a long period of time, in some cases several years.

Lots of players are drawn to progressives as they really do offer the chance to win massive life-changing amounts of money. Jackpots can grow to several million euros or dollars, with the Megabucks slot from IGT, for example, having been known to hit $39 million before one lucky punter scooped the lot.

The History of Progressive Slots

Progressive slots were initially based on a single machine, with the jackpot increasing with each bet, but that soon progressed to a network of machines in land-based casinos. With the advent of software-powered games, a casino could link two or more machines together to form a pooled jackpot.

This means that whenever someone plays on any linked machine, a percentage of their betting goes to the main jackpot. Any player on any one of the linked machines could hit the jackpot and scoop the combined total that has been accrued from all the machines. This created a situation where the totals could grow substantially larger as several machines contribute to a central pot.

The next step was to develop wide area network progressivs, which could link machines from several establishments across one state or territory, to create an even larger pot.

Online gaming has taken this yet another stage further, by creating progressives that are specific to a particular game, but which pool money from the bets that any player wagers on that particular game. So punters from all over the world can be contributing to a central jackpot, and if you are the lucky winner, we’re talking about lottery-style winnings.

Jackpot Meters

All progressives feature a jackpot meter which will tell you how much the jackpot is worth at any one time. This meter is never hidden away as the casino wants you to be tempted by the possibility of winning, so the jackpot meter is usually above the game screen in brightly lit colours where it is clearly visible to everyone.

This is great, because you can watch the jackpot swell as more and more people bet on the linked machines. Online progressive slots also feature jackpot meters and these are prominently displayed when you play online, and are also used in marketing and promotional activities to attract players to a certain casino or slot machine.

Playing Online Progressives

There are more than enough online jackpots out there to keep anyone entertained, with some of the most famous including Mega Moolah, Hall of Gods, and Mega Fortune. You can try all these and more for free or real money.

There are, however, a few things to know before you play progressive jackpots. Most progressives only make you eligible to receive the jackpot if you are playing all lines to maximum bets on the machine. This can quickly eat through your bankroll, but it is simply not worth playing a progressive slot if you are not prepared to play to max bets. Just try to imagine how you would feel landing the jackpot symbols on the reels, but not being eligible for a multi-million Euro prize because you didn’t play to max bets.

The other thing to point out is that progressive jackpot slots tend to have a lower Return to Player percentage than most other slots. This is not because they happen to be poor value, but to build up such huge jackpots more of the wagered money has to be diverted to the pot, and therefore less is returned to the player. As we all know only too well, casinos are not in the habit of losing money, and even these machines with such huge jackpots will earn the casino a profit over the course of time.

People who play progressive jackpots aren’t usually expecting to win much, if anything at all, from a single game session, but they are playing to be in with a chance of hitting the big time. This is something to think about before you go ahead and steam into a progressive jackpot slot. The large jackpot will always seem very appealing, but if you are the kind of player that likes regular action and lots of wins during a session, progressives are probably not for you.

These can be considered the highest of high volatility slots, where you could be playing for years without returning a profit, but if/when you do win it more than outweighs any losses. Read our guide to find out more about RTP percentages and volatility, and if you’re ready to go chasing one of those progressive jackpots, check out our selection of the best progressive slots online.