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When you hear about someone hitting the big one at the slots, they’re almost certainly talking about a progressive jackpot. These special prizes can reach eight figures; at press time, the record jackpot in Las Vegas is nearly $40 million (won on a Megabucks machine back in 2003), while the biggest online jackpot was won in October 2015 for just over $20 million. Not a bad result for a single spin.


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If you’d like to take a shot at multi-millions, there are a few things you need to know about progressive jackpots first – like how they work, and which machines to play. In fact, there are three different versions of the progressive jackpot, each with its own parameters and payouts.

Progressive Rock
Generally speaking, a progressive jackpot grows over time. You can see the amount increase gradually on the machine with every spin. The casino sets how quickly the jackpot goes up, contributing a certain amount from the proceeds of each play – maybe even 20% for some machines.

The most basic version of this jackpot can be found on the “stand-alone” progressive slots. These machines are much like any other, but instead of a fixed jackpot, they’ll pay out whatever the meter says when the player wins. You usually have to place the maximum bet to qualify for the progressive jackpot, but every bet will make the jackpot bigger.

Open Wide
For even larger jackpots, some casinos will link their progressive slots and pool the revenues. If you win the jackpot on any one of these machines, the meters on all of them will reset to the starting amount. These are called “in-house” progressives, although some operators will extend the network to include all their casino properties.


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The third type of progressive jackpot is the biggest of them all. When the network of slots is expanded to include machines from a number of different casinos, you end up with a “wide-area” progressive jackpot – like the massive Megabucks payout we mentioned earlier. The odds of winning are smaller than they are with stand-alone and in-house progressives, and every slot machine has a house edge built in, so don’t invest the college fund chasing down that eight-figure payday. But if you want the most excitement for your dollar, these are the online slots you’re looking for.