Progressive Jackpot Slots

Progressive slots are one of the major draws on any casino floor. These highly entertaining and potentially lucrative games are even more in demand online, since there are more options available.

Like their land-based counterparts, progressive online slots can produce incredible payouts, with potential prizes of $1 million and more. Aside from million-dollar progressives, there are a few other types that offer smaller payouts but strike more frequently.

Either way, the biggest hook of progressive slots is that they offer the possibility of winning big without staking much money. The odds of landing that life-changing prize are slim to none, but that’s also true for the lottery, and yet, someone hits the Powerball jackpot every week.

If you need help deciding whether jackpot slots are for you, stay tuned. This guide covers the information to help you make an informed decision — from how online progressive slots work to odds, best titles to play and more. We’ll also debunk some misconceptions.

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Best progressive slots you can play online

Slots with progressive jackpots are usually located in a dedicated section online, just like other core categories — table games, slots (all) and live dealer games. Most sites show the prizes in real time on a jackpot meter at the bottom of the game icon.

Below are our top five picks for the best progressive slots available in US online casinos, along with the key technical specifications:

Melon Madness

Melon Madness is a five-reel, medium volatility progressive with 30 adjustable paylines. You can find it exclusively at EntainMGM brands like BetMGM Casino and Bwin/PartyCasino. This juicy-themed slot features a return-to-player rate of 95.04% and straightforward gameplay. It’s packed with wilds, scatters, free spins and five randomly awarded jackpot prizes. For a chance at the jackpot, you need to play at the maximum bet. When we checked, the jackpot was about $2 million and growing.

Road to Riches Gold Pots

Developed by software provider Barcrest, Road to Riches Gold Pots is an Irish-themed progressive slot and one of the most exciting installments in SG’s flagship Rainbow Riches series. Just like other games in the iconic franchise, Road to Riches Gold Pots is hooked to the mega drop jackpot system and offers three must-hit-by jackpots — minor, major and epic, all of which hit randomly.

Unlike in Melon Madness, the jackpot prizes won’t reach the multimillion-dollar range, but they drop fairly regularly. Players can also benefit from two bonus features, one of which is the Pots of Gold Super Bonus, which offers a payout potential of up to 5,000x your stake.

The RTP clocks in at 96.4%, which is impressive for a jackpot slot. You’ll find Road to Riches Gold Pots at DraftKings Casino, Gold Nugget Casino, Hard Rock Casino NJ and Mohegan Sun Casino.

Mercy of the Gods

High RTP doesn’t usually go hand in hand with progressive jackpots, but NetEnt has bucked the trend with Mercy of the Gods. The game came out in 2019 as the follow-up to Divine Fortune, one of the provider’s biggest hits.

Mercy of the Gods offers two fixed jackpots and a progressive jackpot that can reach six figures. To qualify for the minor, major and mega jackpot, you need to fill out one, two or three rows of bonus coins, respectively. This can only happen during the free spins round, which requires three Golden Heart symbols appearing on the reels.

You can find Mercy of the Gods on the majority of legal US casino sites, including Caesars Casino and BetRivers Casino.

Cleopatra Mega Jackpots

Cleopatra Mega Jackpots from games developer IGT is a sequel to one of the most popular slots of all time. This Egyptian-themed blockbuster houses five reels across 20 paylines and is linked to the MegaJackpot network, alongside Siberian Storm and Isle O’Plenty.

The game is feature-heavy and offers the potential to win up to 180 free spins with 6x multipliers. To hit the six-digit progressive, you have to land five MegaJackpot symbols across the reels.

Book of Myth

Both demo and real money versions of Book of Myth are available at BetMGM Casino. The title is from Spadegaming, which is a software provider based in Asia. It plays out on a 5×3 grid with 10 fixed paylines. Like other games from this series, it features a free spins bonus round with a randomly selected symbol acting as an expanding wild throughout the sequence. The top non-progressive prize is 5,000x, but it pales in comparison to the progressive jackpot, which could hit randomly after any given spin. The progressive prizes are usually in the $1 million to $2 million ballpark.

Progressive jackpots only available at retail casinos

From the Las Vegas Strip to Atlantic City, a slew of casinos give visitors a chance to take home massive jackpots on progressive slots. Some games are available exclusively at retail venues since they haven’t been developed for online play yet. Here are the top three:

  • Wizard of Oz: Over the Rainbow: This popular five-reel and 30-payline slot machine from SG Gaming is available at MGM Grand properties. The game features two bonus rounds and a balloon mystery feature, which triggers the single-area progressive jackpot.
  • Megabucks slot machine: Megabucks is legendary in gambling circles across the US, mainly due to its massive jackpot potential. It has been making waves since 1986, when IGT first introduced it, and it has delivered some of the biggest jackpots in Las Vegas history. To qualify for the progressive jackpot, you need to bet at least $3 (one per coin). After someone hits the jackpot, the pot resets to $10 million.
  • Mystical Unicorn: This is another vintage classic slot from WMS and one of the provider’s most popular G+ Deluxe games. It uses a five-by-four grid featuring a free spins bonus game and two must-hit-by progressives.

How progressive slots work

On most standard real money slot machines, the top prize is when the maximum number of the highest-paying symbols appear on a payline, as specified by the paytable. This fixed jackpot prize may range from 500x to 50,000x your stake, depending on the game and provider in question.

A progressive slot is a special type of slot that includes both a fixed and a variable jackpot. Here, a small percentage of a player’s wager goes to the progressive pool. As soon as someone wins the jackpot, it resets to its base value and starts accumulating all over again.

While jackpots will be random in most games, some depend on specific events happening, such as landing a certain combination of symbols on the reels.

Progressives usually have a jackpot meter somewhere on the interface, showing how fast the prize is increasing.

To compensate for the monster prizes they offer, progressive slots tend to have a higher house edge, so it’s not uncommon to see a progressive slot machine with an RTP of around 93%.

In most games, you must make a max bet to be eligible for the grand prize. Some progressives are available at any bet, but are more likely to appear during the higher ones.

What are the odds of winning a progressive jackpot?

The odds of winning a progressive jackpot are roughly one in 50 to 60 million, although this figure varies based on a number of factors — the RTP, volatility, trigger mechanism and the number of reels/symbols the slot has, for instance.

The odds of winning sometimes depend on the bet size and the type of progressive jackpot in question. In “must win by” progressives, the odds of hitting the jackpot increase as the pot approaches a specific target.

Your chances of winning a progressive jackpot also depend on its size. The smaller the jackpot, the more frequently it pays, and vice versa.

Jackpot chances aren’t stake-dependent in most progressives. The jackpot odds primarily improve with higher bets in older games at retail casinos. RTP, however, increases with larger bets. By extension, this also increases your jackpot chances (the more playtime you have, the greater the chances of winning a jackpot).

Can you ever have an advantage playing a progressive slot?

With non-capped progressive slots, it’s almost impossible to calculate a positive EV point, mainly because software providers never divulge the odds of winning each jackpot. In must-hit-by slots that have mystery jackpots, it’s mathematically possible to calculate the positive EV since the game must pay the jackpot by a specific value.

Types of progressive jackpot slots

Slot machines with progressive jackpots fall into three main types, depending on whether the jackpot is connected to a single machine or multiple.

  • Standalone — As the name suggests, this is the type of jackpot that’s for a single slot. These prizes increase only when people bet on a specific game; therefore, they are the smallest among the three progressive categories. However, they pay out more frequently.
  • Local — Generally referred to as proprietary progressives, these are networked with other games on the casino floor and pay into a metered top jackpot. Online casinos can limit local progressives to a specific title or a group of slots from the same software provider.
  • Network — These have the biggest prize potential. The pot is shared among multiple slots in various casinos. With jackpots reaching massive amounts, it’s no wonder this is the most popular type of progressive slot.

Biggest jackpots

SlotCasinoJackpot Amount
MegabucksExcalibur Casino$39 million
MegabucksDesert Inn Casino$34.9 million
MegabucksPalace Station Casino$27.5 million
MegabucksCaesar’s Palace$21.3 million
MegabucksCannery Hotel Casino$21.1 million

How are jackpots paid?

Casinos have several ways of handling jackpot payments. Up to $25,000 in jackpot winnings are usually available as a lump sum by check or cash. For players who have hit a bigger jackpot, some casinos provide the option of collecting payouts in installments over several months.

Online casinos pay jackpots in full all at once. There’s a chance that you’ll need to have more verification checks before you can withdraw the winnings.

The income from progressive slots is taxable federally, and in some cases it’s also subject to tax at the state level. When you file your next tax return to the IRS, make sure to pay attention to the local regulations concerning gambling winnings. Most casinos will withhold 25% of your jackpot winnings on the spot if they exceed $5,000.

Tips for playing progressive slot machines

With progressive slot machines, there is nothing you can do to improve the jackpot frequency and your chances of winning. However, you can do a few things to put yourself in the best possible position to win the grand prize:

  • Bet the max: To qualify for the jackpot on some progressive slots, you must bet the maximum amount or at least use the maximum coin value. Doing so is not going to increase your odds of winning the jackpot — it will only make you eligible for it.
  • Choose a high RTP game: Although RTP is calculated over many spins and isn’t always indicative of how much the game will pay out, it makes sense to target progressives with higher RTPs. This is especially true if the difference between the payout rates of the two games you’re considering is several percentage points.
  • Play the slot in demo mode: This will give you a better understanding of what the game is about — how often it pays regular wins, how big the payouts are, etc.

Are progressive slots due to hit?

One of the most persistent fallacies among casino players is the “hot and cold” theory. There is no guarantee that a jackpot will hit just because it hasn’t in a while. Modern slots use random number generators, so it is impossible to predict when a jackpot will happen. There is no connection between the previous spin and the one to come. However, must-hit progressives are one exception to this rule, as they cannot exceed a certain threshold.

Can you play on a phone?

Most contemporary progressive jackpot slots online use HTML5 and are compatible with a wide range of iPhones, iPads and Android smartphones and tablets. The experience is the same as on a computer browser, and so are the jackpot prizes.

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