Get Ready to Hit the Jackpot!

One word epitomizes the high-octane energy of the casino – Jackpot! The mere mention of the word is enough to get your pulse racing in anticipation of a major payday. Land-based casinos and online casinos alike are filled with a rich assortment of exciting jackpot games, most of them are jackpot slots, but there are plenty of other games with jackpot elements too. In this behind-the-scenes expose, we’re going to take you into the thick of it, to answer all your jackpot questions. There's not a moment to lose, let's begin!

What is a Jackpot?

In its simplest form, a jackpot is a mega-money payout on a gambling game. At online casinos, jackpots are typically found in slot machine games. Jackpots typically pay out a specific number of coins on basic jackpot games, such as 500 coins, 1,000 coins, 2,500 coins, or 5,000 coins. The coin value is determined by the specific slot machine game, or the player’s bet level on the slot machine game.

While semantics may differ on the precise definition of a jackpot, the essence remains: A jackpot is a large prize pool that awaits a lucky player. These cash prizes are instantly awarded when Lady Luck strikes. Not every jackpot is cut from the same cloth so to speak. Some jackpots are available on specific slot machines at a local online casino. Many of these local jackpot games are available at several casinos, but local jackpots are always going to be smaller than what is known as a pooled jackpot. 

So, what are pooled jackpots? These are bigger jackpots available on games that can be played at multiple online casinos, across a broad network. Online casino software providers such as NetEnt, Microgaming, Playtech, Evolution Gaming, Yggdrasil and scores of others usually provide their jackpot games to a large number of online casino operators. When these games are played en masse, plenty of players contribute to the jackpot prize pool. Naturally, the payouts on pooled jackpots tend to be significantly larger, because a percentage of every bet goes towards the jackpot.

Should you play local jackpot games or pooled jackpot games?

local jackpot games or pooled jackpot games

Local jackpot games are great options for players who prefer less competition and smaller jackpots. This begs the question: Are your chances of winning a local jackpot better than they are at winning a pooled jackpot? The answer is opaque. Generally, smaller jackpots with less players competing for the prize money are associated with better odds of winning. Bigger jackpots with lots of players competing for the prize money are associated with poorer odds of winning.

  • Consider Jackpot A with 1,000 players and a prize pool of $10,000.

If you are competing for a $10,000 jackpot, your theoretical chances of winning are 1/1000, or 0.1%. Not too bad considering it's a jackpot game.

  • Consider Jackpot B with 10,000 players and a price pool of $100,000.

If you're competing for a $100,000 jackpot, your theoretical chances of winning are 1/10,000, or 0.01%. In this instance, your chances of winning the jackpot are significantly diminished.

Most gambling experts agree that players stand the best chance of winning a jackpot when they bet the maximum on the jackpot game. For example, in jackpot video poker games you will not win the top prize unless you bet 5 coins on each play. This is evident in the payouts when you're betting 1 coin, 2 coins, 3 coins, 4 coins, and 5 coins. 

Jackpot Slot Machine Game RTPs

Back in the old days with mechanical slots reels, the probabilities of winning were calculated by dividing the winning symbol by the total number of symbols on the reels. If there is 1 winning symbol from a total of 20 symbols, the probability of hitting a winning symbol is 1/20, or 5%. To calculate the odds of hitting 3 winning symbols across 3 reels, you multiply the odds per symbol 3 times. For example, 1/20 X 1/20 X 1/20 = 1/8,000, or 0.0125%. Naturally, players would summarily reject games that didn't pay anything unless they hit 3 or 5 winning symbols in a row – that's why smaller payouts are offered for different combinations of winning symbols.

Nowadays, slot machines are governed by complex computerized programs known as RNGs. These Random Number Generators do not require mechanical reels – everything is digitally created. The RNGs kick into action the moment the spin button is depressed. It’s an illusion that the outcomes are being determined as the first reel stops, the second reel stops, and the third reel stops, this is merely done for entertainment purposes. Truth be told, the RNG instantly generates a result as soon as the player hits the spin button. Casino software developers today can easily create slot machine games with 256+ symbols on the virtual reels, with effortless ease.

RTPs on jackpot slot machine games are always less than 100%. The best jackpot slot machine game RTPs to play are the ones that approach, but never quite reach 100%. In mathematics, you would be looking for [Z→A] indicating that the house edge for the casino (A)is always going to be greater than the return to player (Z) percentage. Another way to look at it would be [X<Y], where X is the return to player percentage and Y is the house edge for the casino.  If the RTP was 100%, the casino would not offer the game to players because it would lose money on every play. The best jackpot slot machine games have RTPs between 97% - 99%.

Fun Facts on Jackpot Slots RTPs 

*According to Casino Listings, the Return to Player percentage for online slots is rarely above 98.6%. It's even less for jackpot slots and progressive jackpot slots which tend to have a much higher house edge than traditional classic slots, or video slots. Since these games are the bread and butter of online casinos and land-based casinos, their payback percentages are always going to be lower than other games like blackjack, baccarat, and craps.

What Are Progressive Jackpot Games?

It wasn't until the IGT released Megabucks slot machine games that the world became familiar with progressive jackpot games. Up until this point, all jackpots had fixed maximums. What's unique about progressive jackpot games, is that a small percentage of every bet goes towards the progressive jackpot prize pool. Casinos hardly ever take any risks when it comes to making jackpot payouts – since they have already generated the funds necessary to cover the jackpot. The progressive jackpot minimum automatically reseeds (resets) as soon the jackpot has been hit.

One thing that should be remembered with progressive jackpot games is the following: If you place less than the maximum bet, you won't win the progressive jackpot when the winning symbols form on the reels. It's impossible to predict when a progressive jackpot slot will pay out – it could be within the hour, the week, the month, the year, or not at all. Everything is governed by chance - the random number generators (RNGs) determine which spins win. Even with a progressive jackpot game, it's possible to win smaller prizes. These payouts keep players motivated to play the game. 

There are ways for online casinos to ramp up the value of progressive jackpot games. One of them is to take a larger percentage of every bet on these games. Another is to increase the minimum betting stakes on the progressive jackpot games, thereby increasing the amount of money flowing into the progressive jackpot games. The fact of the matter is that progressive jackpot slots are notoriously poor in terms of RTPs, compared to non-progressive jackpot games, classic slots, and video slots games. The RTPs tend to be more player friendly, the higher the minimum bet per spin, regardless of whether it's a progressive or non-progressive jackpot game.

Examples of popular progressive jackpot games available at online casinos today include:
Rise of the Pharaohs, Oktoberfest Spins, Santa’s Super Slot, Mermaid’s Millions, Aztec Realm, and Saved by the Bells.

Fun Facts on Jackpot RTPs

Jackpot RTP Facts

* Non-progressive jackpot games can have higher RTPs than progressive jackpot games, but the payouts – if they hit – on progressive jackpot games are typically substantially larger than on non-progressive jackpot games. The RTPs tend to reflect this with low RTPs on low probability outcomes and higher RTPs on higher probability outcomes. Players across-the-board – at online casinos and land-based casinos – tend to agree that the bigger the prize, the more difficult it is to win it.

Still not convinced? Think of the Mega Millions, and the Powerball. We can all agree that it's much easier to win prizes in regular pooled, scratch card games.

Introducing Daily Jackpot Games

With all the hype around progressive jackpots, it's easy to forget one of the most glaring shortfalls of these games – nobody knows when the jackpots are going to drop! In a way, it's exciting because it could happen at any time. The flipside of the coin is that you could be waiting a really long time for a progressive jackpot to drop. This means you could be ploughing buckets of cash into your favorite progressive jackpot slot machine game, to no avail. It’s against this backdrop that Daily Jackpot games are introduced into the equation. As its namesake suggests, Daily Jackpot games guarantee jackpots every single day. A few points are worthy of mention here:

  • Top Daily Jackpot games include popular options like: Double Reels, Ray of Light, Sizzling Hot Jokers, and Once Upon a Dime.
  • Players can follow the countdown timer until the jackpot drops in the network.
  • Since the jackpots drop every single day, they're not nearly as big as progressive jackpots from leading software providers like Microgaming, Playtech, NetEnt and the like. 
  • You know exactly how much the jackpot total is, because it's posted alongside the progressive jackpot game.

The Daily Jackpot timer indicates exactly how much must be paid out before the timer runs out. This is an ironclad guarantee for players that the jackpots will be paid before the clock strikes midnight.