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How to Play Progressive Slots

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How do Progressive Slots Work?

Progressive slots are so named because the jackpots get progressively larger with every bet that is placed. A small percentage of every bet contributes towards the progressive jackpot prize pool. Many progressive slots are part of a network of slot machine games, comprised of many different games.

For example, software providers like Playtech, Microgaming Real Time Gaming, NetEnt, and Yggdrasil offer progressive jackpot slots games on their networks. This ‘pooling effect’ of different games ensures that jackpots can grow to epic proportions, in double-quick time. While progressive jackpots are huge, the odds of winning a progressive slot are slim. It’s like playing the lottery in a slot machine game – but if you don’t spin, you don’t win.

Every progressive slot game is easily identified by a jackpot meter. The meter prominently displays the current size of the jackpot on the slot machine game. You’ll notice the jackpot ticking higher all the time, until the jackpot is hit. That’s the beauty of progressive slots.

Remember, progressive slots are part of a network of jackpot slots with players feeding the machines at a rate of knots. As you now know, the difference between a progressive slot and a standard slot is the progressively increasing jackpot.

Different Types of Progressive Jackpot Slots

With progressive jackpot slots, there is no one size fits all concept. On many slots, the jackpot is fixed, but when you play a progressive slot, the jackpot continually grows until it is hit. There are three broad categories of progressive slot games, including Wide Area Network Progressive Slots, Local Progressive Slots, and Stand-Alone Progressive Slots. Naturally, the broader the network, the bigger the progressive jackpot. Let’s take a look at each of these in turn, to differentiate between them.

Wide Area Network Progressive Slots

Wide area network progressive slots, or wide area progressive jackpot slots, are also known as linked jackpots. These jackpots grow much quicker than other jackpots, since the games are spread across a wide network with many more players. Typically, wide area network progressive jackpots feature at multiple land-based casinos, and online casinos.

It’s always the same software provider with wide area network progressive slots. Recall Microgaming, NetEnt, Playtech, Real Time Gaming, etcetera. Real money players feed these jackpots until a lucky player scoops up a win. Then, the jackpot reseeds at a base value and the process repeats all over again.

Local Progressive Slots

Local progressive slots games jackpots are linked to a single game, or a group of games at an individual casino. The keyword here is local. Naturally, the fact that the jackpot is local means that it is limited to players at a specific casino or online casino. That also restricts the size of the slots jackpot.

Local progressive slots invariably pay out less than wide area network progressive slots for this reason. There is much greater flexibility with online casinos, since the software provider could offer several different slots games, or restrict player options to a single slot machine game.

Stand-Alone Progressive Slots

At first glance, it may appear that a local progressive slot and a stand-alone progressive slot are identical. They are not. A stand-alone progressive jackpot slot game is not linked to any other game. It’s just the one machine, and that’s it.

With regards to stand-alone progressive slots online, an online casino may offer multiple variants of the same slot to players at any one time. These games are unlinked, and only players participating in a stand-alone progressive slot contribute to the jackpot prize pool.

When is a Progressive Jackpot Slot Likely to Pay Out?

That’s the million-dollar question! Nobody quite knows when a progressive jackpot slot is going to pay out. We do know that these slot machine games are programmed with RNGs. These Random Number Generators are algorithmic codes designed to simulate random outcomes.

Slots, like lottery games, scratchcard games, roulette games, and other chance-based attractions can pay at any time. There is absolutely no truth to the fact that a progressive slot will not pay out immediately after it just paid out. Every spin is unique, and independent of every other spin. You stand just as much chance of winning as anyone else.

Of course, several factors may come into play to facilitate the likelihood of a payout, including the following:

  • Bet the maximum amount if you want to win a progressive jackpot slot. Anything less than maximum coin value on maximum paylines will not result in a progressive jackpot prize.
  • From a numbers perspective, there are likely to be many more slots players when the progressive jackpot is huge, compared to when it is small. This doesn’t help your chances, it simply provides a much bigger incentive for players.
  • Your chances of winning a progressive jackpot slot are less than getting struck by lightning. But if you don’t play, you are absolutely assured of not winning a progressive jackpot.
  • The wider the network, the lower your chances of winning a progressive jackpot. If you are looking to win, narrow your scope from a wide area progressive jackpot to a local progressive jackpot, or even a stand-alone progressive jackpot. Be prepared for the smaller paydays as you size down. However, with fewer players, you invariably increase your chances of winning!

Pros and Cons of Playing Progressive Slots

Think of progressive slots as a glass filled halfway with your favourite beverage. It’s either half full or half empty, depending on how you look at it. From a player perspective, it’s exciting chasing down a monster jackpot. If you are going to spend money playing slot machine games, you might as well try to reel in a life-changing payout. These games are lots of fun to play, with bright lights, dizzying action, authentic Vegas-esque appeal, and the possibility of a truly epic payday.

Many progressive jackpot games offer multiple jackpots in each game – think of the Mini, Minor, Major and Grand Jackpots. The smaller jackpots in progressive slots tend to be hit with more frequency than the larger jackpots in progressive slots. Everyone benefits, since casual players get to enjoy frequent payouts, and high rollers get to gamble for life-changing jackpots. Fabulous in-game bonus rounds, animation, free spins, cascading reels, collapsing reels, expanding reels, video overlays, and other elements make progressive slots enticing to play.

On the flipside, progressive slots games are notoriously poor payers. The reason the jackpots get so big is because so many people are feeding these jackpot slots. The real issue is the RTP. Progressive slots like other big-money jackpot games at the casino invariably have much lower RTPs than classic slots, or limited-feature slot machine games. Take a few popular progressive slots games, and consider their RTPs:

  • Mega Moolah – Microgaming – 88.12% RTP
  • Mega Fortune – NetEnt – 96.6% RTP
  • Arabian Nights – NetEnt – 95.6% RTP
  • Mega Fortune Dreams – NetEnt – 95.9% – 96.4% RTP
  • Mega Moolah Isis – Microgaming – 88.12% RTP
  • Aztec Millions – Real Time Gaming – 95% RTP
  • Hall of Gods – NetEnt – 95.5% RTP
  • Major Millions – Microgaming – 89.37% RTP
  • Beach Life – Microgaming – 93% RTP

With progressive slots games, it’s necessary to have all paylines activated if you’re looking to win the big payday. This can get costly for players on a limited bankroll. When you’re trying to land all 5 symbols – Wilds or Scatters – it’s only worthwhile if you’re playing maximum bets. Another downside of progressive slots is the frequency of payouts. While nobody knows when they’re going to pay out, they certainly don’t pay out as frequently as Daily Jackpot Slots which are all the rage among players nowadays.


  • Progressive slots are jackpots fed by a small percentage of every real-money bet placed on games in the progressive network.
  • There are three broad categories of progressive slots, including wide area, local, and stand-alone progressive slots.
  • There is no ‘due’ time for a progressive slot to pay out. They can pay out at any time, to anyone playing for real money. They can even pay after a jackpot has just been hit.
  • There are pros to playing progressive slots games, such as mega-money payouts, many different jackpots, feature-rich gaming, and additional in-game entertainment.
  • There are cons to playing progressive slots games, such as much lower RTPs, uncertainty about when the progressive slot will pay out, and the decreased likelihood of winning.
  • Play progressive slots games with purpose – set a bankroll and stick to it, pick a high RTP progressive slot game, and practice in demo mode before you play for real.

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