Imagine sitting down at a penny slot machine inside an Arkansas casino and winning a million dollars.
That’s the opportunity gamblers have at the Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff. The upscale property announced this week that it debuted Wheel of Fortune, a progressive slots game that’s linked to slots in Las Vegas and other cities.
“The biggest jackpot paid in Arkansas reported history is $93,000. That was here,” Saracen Casino Chief Marketing Officer Carlton Saffa told local media. “The machine behind me, right now, it’s a penny machine and the jackpot is $2.7 million.”
Wheel of Fortune’s creator is International Gaming Technology, a company well-known for its popular slot machines.
Arkansas casino just one of several offering jackpot
Progressive slots provide players with the opportunity to win a huge jackpot. The casino links the machines to other machines that contribute to a jackpot that increases every time a gambler plays a turn without winning the jackpot.
So, over time, the jackpot continues to build, and typically reaches a size that goes beyond what a machine would pay out on its own.
This past month, Saracen announced it would link some of its machines to others in multiple states:
- New Jersey
- South Dakota
So, rather than limit the progressive jackpots to machines within the casino, players more than a thousand miles away at other US casinos are helping boost the prize pool.
For example, the Plaza Hotel and Casino has a nearly 3,000-square-foot slots zone dedicated to 40 Wheel of Fortune machines. Areas like this help pump up the jackpot.
Chance at big jackpots could boost Saracen’s slots traffic
Slots gaming is a big deal in Arkansas. The state’s three casinos have nearly 6,000 machines:
- Southland Casino: 2,400
- Saracen: Nearly 2,000
- Oaklawn Racing Casino Restor: More than 1,500
Saracen doesn’t have the most slots in the state but it now has the advantage of offering the biggest jackpots. With Saracen and Oaklawn roughly the same distance from Arkansas’ biggest city, Little Rock, it’s possible that gamblers may pick Saracen over Oaklawn to chase the big win.
Progressive jackpots made possible by new regulations
In September, the Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC) approved Saracen’s progressive slots plan. The approval allowed IGT to make its MegaJackpots progressive system available to Saracen machines.
The approval is based on 2019 rules that allow progressive systems that include other states. So far, Saracen is the only Arkansas casino that offers multi-state progressive slots.
The ARC’s decision is a win all around. IGT gets a new contract, Saracen gets huge jackpots, and the state gets more tax revenue via big wins.
According to the latest tax collections report from the Department of Finance and Administration, casino gaming taxes are the third-biggest tax revenue source behind the cigarette tax and income tax.