Slot machines are, unsurprisingly, everywhere in Las Vegas. According to About.com, there are over 197,000 slots in the city, meaning there are more slots than there are hotel rooms! There is an enormous variety of machines to choose from and every taste is catered for—you can play traditional 3-reel ‘one-arm bandits’, multi payline video slots, or elaborately themed slots that could pass for video games. Throw into the mix the fact that you can play slot machines at over 1700 casinos, and it’s not hard to see why the popularity of Vegas slots shows no signs of abating.
This popularity is partly due to the fact that slots offer something for everyone—you can play for as little as 1¢ a spin or for $100 or more, while a complete novice can play the game with as much chance of winning as a seasoned pro. Unlike most table games, no specialist knowledge, strategy or experience is required to play slots and this is a part of their appeal to the casual gambler or visitor to Vegas.
However, while affordability and accessibility may go some way to explaining the enduring and growing popularity of slots it doesn’t tell the whole story. The lure of truly enormous payouts is what continues to draw people to Vegas in general, and slots in particular.
Slot machine payouts have moved to an entirely new level since the introduction of progressive jackpots. These are created through machines being part of a linked network, with a percentage of each losing spin contributing to a cumulative total pot that can be won by a player hitting the jackpot on any of the machines in that network. The more the game is played, the higher the progressive jackpot becomes.
The size of these networks and therefore the size of the potential jackpots vary. There are smaller, local area networks, where a bank of machines in a single casino may be linked, or a slot may be linked across just one or two casinos. Then there are also wide area networks, where a game is operated by an independent company and linked across a large number of casinos throughout the state, meaning you can find the same slot offering the same progressive jackpot right across Las Vegas and Nevada. With games in a wide area network, the progressive jackpot can increase quickly and can reach truly astronomical amounts (you can find the current jackpots on the most popular slots here).
For instance, Megabucks is a $1 slot which frequently pays out multi-million dollar jackpots—as recently as December 2012 a jackpot of over $17 million was won at the M Resort, with the biggest recorded win being almost $35 million at the Desert Inn in 2000. Wheel of Fortune is a 25¢ progressive slot with a record jackpot of $6.7 million won at Harrah’s, Lake Tahoe in 2008, while in May 2013 there were $289,000 and $500,000 payouts at the Bellagio Hotel and Treasure Island in Las Vegas. Playing Millionaire 777, in March 2013 a player scooped $1.1 million at the Riviera Hotel, while the game’s biggest payout is $3.6 million at the Casino Royale in 2009.
With the success and popularity of progressive slots in Las Vegas, it’s no surprise that they have proved equally as popular in the world of online gaming. Registering at an online casino is quick and straightforward, and in terms of gaming action, the variety of games, and access to progressive jackpots, the experience holds up very well. However, perhaps the one advantage to playing online is that the payout percentages on online progressives tends to be better than in land-based casinos—they can be as high as 95% online, compared with around 85-90% in a bricks and mortar casino.
The largest online gaming software developers, such as Microgaming and Playtech, operate progressive jackpot networks across their different member casinos.
Mega Moolah is a popular Microgaming progressive that has already produced 7 Mega Jackpot winners, with an average payout of $2.89 million, the largest win being almost $8.7 million in December 2012 (see this good review of Mega Moolah). Major Millions another Microgaming progressive has a jackpot which starts at $250,000 and is won around every 7 months. The average jackpot size is about $400,000 – $500,000, although recent Major Million’s jackpot wins have seen payouts of over $1.7 million in February 2012, and one of over $1.8 million in May 2012. The Dark Knight is perhaps Microgaming’ s most ambitious and engaging online progressive to date; launched in June 2012, significant wins have included $920,000 for a Norwegian player in December 2012, while a British player won about $3.25 million in February 2013.
PlayTech casinos feature the Marvel Multi-Level Mystery Progressive Jackpot, which began in June 2010 and has a record payout of $1.36 million in late 2011, with the next highest payout being $885,000 in June 2012. Popular games in this network include The Incredible Hulk and X-Men, as well a range of other comic-themed games. Playtech also feature a number of other progressive online slots, perhaps the most popular of which is Beach Life, which has an average jackpot payout of around $2.4 million, although there have been relatively recent wins as large as $7 million (January 2012) and $5.1 million (November 2011).
So while Las Vegas was the birthplace of progressive jackpot slots, they have been enthusiastically taken up in the online gaming world; this means that whether you are playing in Vegas, or playing online at home, progressive jackpot slots and their enormous payouts are always an easily accessible option.
Information in this article was sourced from www.slot-machines.ca