Progressive Slots UK Guide - Free Casino Jackpot Slots Online
Whenever you hear about the online video slots or online gambling world in the more mainstream news it’s either a shock-horror story, or it involves progressive jackpot slots online.
Casino jackpots are the biggest prizes in the world of online gambling. When you see those world record-breaking headlines it’s almost guaranteed to be a progressive slot.
These games can come in all shapes and sizes, though they tend towards a quite old-fashioned look and style. They all operate in the same way though, with a progressive mechanism building up a prize pot for players.
You can play casino jackpot slots in bricks-and-mortar casinos, but because they rely on linking games they have been given an exponential boost by the almost infinite networking ability of the internet.
As more and more players join in with the online gambling world, the prizes in the progressive jackpot slots online world are only going to get bigger and bigger.
There’s never been a better time to take a chance on a progressive, so enjoy our guide to progressive jackpot slots online.
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How Do Progressive Jackpot Slots Work
Most slots are stand-alone games with prizes that are completely independent of the player’s behaviour.
Games are rated in terms of their return to player (the RTP – usually about 96%), but the first player who ever plays on a game has the same chance of winning the same prize as anyone else.
Progressive slots operate a little bit more like a lottery, where the sale of entries to the draw (in this case slots stakes) make a prize fund from which the very biggest prizes are drawn.
Progressives are the one way in which the online slots community actually works together!
Progressives in casinos and progressives in online video slots sites work in exactly the same way. Each time you – or anyone else – plays the game, a tiny amount of your stake is diverted into a prize pool.
The biggest prizes are played for across a network of machines. The bigger the network, and the more players the games attract, the faster the prize pool will grow, and the bigger the final prize will be.
These games now command huge fandoms. There’s a whole ecosystem of websites devoted to reporting on them. Millions of people play them.
Progressive jackpot slots are the one type of slot where it is possible to have a strategy that improves your chance of winning a big prize. But the difference it makes is infinitesimal, so don’t be too impressed by sites that tell you that they’ve got the secret key to winning.
Progressive Jackpot Slots – the Maths
This unique system powers the prize giving the potential of progressive jackpot slots, but it can also alter the way that they reward players in the base game – the part of the game like a standard slot that precedes a bonus game.
Most progressive jackpot slots don’t simply make the big prize a feature of the game. There’s no way they could limit access to it enough and whittle down the wins to just one player that way.
Instead, they (usually, there are always exceptions), set up a second bonus game.
This two-level game may extend to the whole experience. You might find that you need to stake at a maximum level, for example, to have possible access to a bonus game.
Let’s have a look at an example of a big progressive jackpot slot. In fact, it’s the biggest of them all:
Mega Moolah, a Progressive Jackpot Classic
Most reviews will include a theoretical return to player somewhere in their text. This figure is a long-term measure of how much staked money should go back to players. This measure will be true only over the entire life of the machine and only if players always make the “right” decisions. It is not a measure of a single player chance of winning, which may be much lower or higher.
The current average for online video slots tends to be between 97% and 95%. However, as soon as we look at Mega Moolah we see the 88.12% figure.
Wow! So, one of the most popular and high-profile games on the market offers nearly 10 percentage points worse value to players?
Well, yes. That’s the price of the big prize – and for the company, the reward of offering such a big prize. Some progressive slots will show two RTP measures, a lower one for the game as a whole, which will include the skim into the prize fund and a much higher one for the game including the big prize bonus.
Mega Moolah splits its jackpots into four. Mini jackpots start at £10. Minor jackpots start at £100. Major jackpots start at £10,000. And Mega jackpots open up at £1,000,000. (There’s also a substantial top prize in the base game.)
The game also has a standard bonus game. The actual jackpot game is set off at random when a simple bonus wheel is shown to players with sections for each of the four jackpot types.
Staking at the top amount slightly increases your chances of triggering the bonus game, but that’s about it when it comes to influencing play.
The game has paid out up to 12 jackpots a year. It has an average (and this may be out of date now) size of pay-out of about £4million.
When Does Mega Moolah pay-out? Progressive Jackpot Strategies
We don’t have a lot of time for slots strategies. The reality is there aren’t any secret ways to win. There is no way to manage your betting to increase your chances of winning, and the best way to play slots is in a way that maximises your enjoyment and that you can easily afford.
And that’s about it.
However, there is one tiny exception with progressive slots.
Because progressive slots will inevitably pay-out, the likelihood that they are about to pay out gets slightly better the longer they have gone since the last payout.
This sort of strategy used to be a staple of the off-line slots world. Machines were set up to pay-out their jackpots within certain time frames, or after having a certain amount of cash put into them. If you had the time and inclination you could observe a machine and see that it hadn’t paid out for a long time. If you didn’t mind breaking the law you could buy something called a “bandit key” that would let you look inside at the mechanical clock that was counting up the time since the last big pay-out and that reset when jackpots were paid.
The advent of cyber games has removed this measure in most senses. You can’t watch someone else play a particular iteration of a game.
However, you can observe that a progressive jackpot hasn’t paid out for a while. Some sites run “game thermometers” that track these trends and indicate which games haven’t paid out for a while, and may be due to pay out soon.
And all of this is rubbish!
Or, it’s a bit of harmless fun, but please – for the love of everything holy – never pay anyone any money for this sort of information.
These measures are ridiculously inexact. It is likely that there is an element of time and an element of money received somewhere in the algorithms that determine when big jackpots pay out. But such things are well hidden. We do know that games have to obey the law, and that means that have to be random.
Perhaps the best way to think of any strategy around progressive jackpot slots is to compare it to a lottery.
Lottery games also build up big prizes. And, the passage of time makes it very slightly more likely that a jackpot will pay out – if it is inevitable that it will, as it is in the case of a progressive jackpot slot.
However, when very big lottery jackpots build up they attract many more players. And many more players mean it is less likely that you will win the prize yourself as an individual (in games which allow numbers to be duplicated).
So, when a game like Mega Moolah builds up a big figure it goes around all the news sites, including all the sites specifically dedicated to that game. And zillions of new players think, “wow, that’d change my life, I’ll go and play now.”
These jackpots are paid out to one person, so you won’t share a prize if you win, but you’ll be slightly less likely to win it in the first place.
The History of Progressive Jackpot Slots
Let’s go back and take a look at how we got here.
Slots were relatively low-pay-out games for much of their history. In fact, in order to get around restrictive American gambling laws, for many decades they paid out fruit, or gum or drinks rather than cash. And it wasn’t until electronic games were introduced in the 1960s that the machines could hold enough cash to make payouts of any size.
Now slots are virtual and the cash electronic there’s no limit, but the progressive jackpot slot does have its roots in ye olde world of off-line slots.
Although these games are networked, they don’t need to be networked via the internet. A good old fashioned cable link was enough back in the day, and the first progressive slot was introduced in 1986 by IGT – a company still going strong today in the online world, that’s the reward for great new ideas.
IGT came up with the idea of linking slots and pooling a prize fund. (As we’ve said, it’s just the same as a lottery of any other numbers game in some ways).
This allowed slots in big casinos to offer hugely attractive big prizes. As the prizes at big American gambling resorts went over $1 million these games started to attract big – free – publicity. It really was a great win for the gambling industry, which could offer these prizes thanks to the centralised nature of American gambling (stuck in only a couple of states).
These big prizes are a great way to take the mind of your average Vegas slot player off of the appalling low RTP on most of the games they’re playing. Las Vegas doesn’t sell gambling, it sells dreams.
Going Online – the Progressive Jackpot Slots Boom
Going online offered much greater networking to slots companies.
This is not an easy game to break into though. You still need a good game. Players can shop around, and they read reviews, so the low RTP on a progressive jackpot is going to put some players off. And you can’t really open up your offer without a big prize – you need to get those prizes up and running from the off.
Some networked games don’t take off.
And some do. With two giant companies – this is a game where size matters – leading the progressive game.
Microgaming’s Mega Moolah and NetEnt’s Mega Fortune are the current progressive champions. And that’s because they’ve had big headline-grabbing wins.
Mega Moolah shelled out more than $5 million in 2008. Mega Fortune paid more than $4million in 2009.
Local Networks and International Networks
The progressive jackpot slot online is built on mass participation. The networks that provide this mass participation come in two orders of magnitude.
Networks can exist within sites or within company-defined networks. Or they can much broader.
So if you play a locally networked slot you may be looking at a progressive jackpot worth hundreds or thousands of pounds. For the really big prizes, you need many millions of potential players. And to offer this, companies need to have lots of places to put their games. You can see how massive companies like Microgaming and NetEnt have the edge here when they have their own sites and provide games and backroom software to dozens or even hundreds of other online casino sites.
Locally networked games are particularly popular in the bingo world, where many sites are run by a few companies, and slots are a popular diversion from the main attraction.
Surveying the Market: the giants of the Progressive Jackpots Slots World
So to build a really successful progressive game you need to have a wide reach for your game. Many players mean big prizes, and bigger prizes mean more players. It’s one of the few areas of genuine democracy and competition in the online slots world.
So, the giant slots companies dominate the market.
NetEnt, Microgaming, Playtech, and relative newcomer Yggdrasil have the biggest games on the market at the moment.
NetEnt’s offering is led by Mega Fortune, but that game has its own family of titles, including the Mega Fortune Dreams title, and the company also makes Cosmic Fortune, Hall of Gods and Arabian Nights on its books.
Mega Moolah leads the way for Microgaming, who also offer a family of games around that title alongside their Major Millions, King Cashalot, and Tunazamunni games.
Playtech are another industry giant and with them, you can play: Jackpot Giant, Beach Life, Gold Rally, Age of the Gods, Gladiator and Funky Fruits for big linked prizes.
Yggdrasil are relatively new on the international scene, but they also have Holmes and the Stolen Stones, Empire Fortunes, and Joker Millions in their portfolio.
- NetEnt has paid out these wins: €7,820,888 on Hall of Gods in 2015; €8,835,872 on Arabian Nights in 2012, Mega Fortune has paid out: €8,577,104 in 2015, €11,735,446 in 2011 and €17,860,868 in 2013.
- Microgaming’s biggest wins are from Mega Moolah. It has paid out €18,915,721 in September 2018, which is still the world record. The game has also notched up £13,212,882 and $10,423,223 pay-outs in 2015 and 2016.
- Playtech has paid out the most money through Beach Life. In February 2012 they awarded $5,219,723, and have also paid out £3,780,736 in July 2015 and $4,248,570 in December 2009. Jackpot Giant paid out £3,917,927 in January 2016 while Gold Rally has paid £3,917,927 in 2013.
- Yggdrasil has also notched up some very big wins for players. Joker Millions has already paid out €5,196,319, €3,475,894, €3,201,285, and €2,881,257 – all in 2016 and 2017.
How to Play Casino Jackpot Slots for Fun and Profit
To tell you a little secret: we’re not enormous fans of casino jackpot slots. In our view, a lot of them are unsophisticated by today’s standards. Big prizes stand in for the best design quality.
And the reduced RTP means that for the vast majority of players the games are going to offer less good value to them over the long term.
But they could change your life on a single spin!
And that’s the dilemma.
So how to make the best out of progressive jackpot slots?
Well, always play safely and within your financial safety zone. If there’s any sort of title that’s going to inspire the player to chase losses or risk money they can’t afford in order to meet shortfalls in their budget then it’s the progressive slot.
Remember, winning the big prize is hugely unlikely, and money is not a solution to all problems. Play for fun and not for profit.
So play the progressive jackpot slots that you enjoy the most and play them sparingly is our best advice. And keep your fingers crossed, because it’s all about luck – and nothing more!