Originated in 1881, the term "jackpot" was initially used to describe a growing betting prize in poker games. It later found it's way into the gambling world and it is now mostly associated with big wins.

Nowadays, Jackpots are influenced by factors such as number of reels, minimum and maximum stakes, and the use of random number generators (RNG) for fairness. Players aiming for jackpots should consider the game's return to player (RTP) percentage and choose games wisely.

The two main types of jackpots are fixed and progressive. Fixed jackpots, as the name suggests offer a set prize, while progressive jackpots grow until eventually won. Progressives can be local (limited to one casino) or global (linked across multiple casinos), with various subtypes like mystery jackpots and daily jackpots.

Popular jackpot games include progressive slot machines, lotteries, and strategic casino poker games. Jackpots add excitement to the gaming experience, with progressive jackpots offering the chance for substantial wins as they continue to grow until a lucky player claims the prize.

Table of Contents

What are Jackpots & How do they Work?

A jackpot is the largest possible prize you can win from playing casino games. There are different types of jackpots, including progressive jackpots, daily jackpots, and fixed jackpots. Each offers players the chance to win a large prize by playing a slot, lottery, or table game. The three jackpot types all provide different financial levels of winning.

The root of the term ‘jackpot’ can be traced back to 1881. The word was used to convey a situation in gambling for a large amount of winnings in poker. A few years later, the term was used to convey that a ‘big prize’ was up for grabs when playing slot machines. By the 1980s, the term took off with the growth of the casino industry. Since then, it has been used more and more to describe a big win or a large prize. The proliferation of online casinos and slot games has led to the term ‘jackpot’ being used more than ever before.

In every online casino, you will find different jackpots available to win. These jackpots could deliver life-changing sums of money. Not all will provide a life-changing experience, but they offer the chance to win a big prize.

The Evolution of Jackpots: A Historical Perspective

Poker players initially used the term ‘jackpot’. It was used for poker games with the jacks or better rule. The rule stated that if no players had a pair of jacks or better, another round of betting would take place.

This would continue until a player had a pair of jacks or better. The betting prize would grow large, with several rounds of betting occurring. By the time a player won the prize, the amount of money was significant.

Jackpot was used for several decades in poker games but disappeared from the lingo. It was later adopted by organised crime groups in early 1900 and used to describe the trouble groups got into. The word then disappeared from the underworld and soon entered the gambling sector as a word to describe big wins.

Early Slots and Jackpots

The first slot machine was built in 1895 by Charles Fey. It had three reels and five different symbols. The original slot machine created by Fey had a jackpot of 50 cents and players could win the prize by hitting three Liberty Bell symbols.

In 1976, the first electronic gaming machines debuted. Before the advent of electronic slots, games were mechanical and players had to pull a lever to spin the reels. The introduction of electronic gaming machines improved the playing experience and also led to larger jackpot payouts. Casinos now had a variety of electronic games for players to enjoy.

Jackpots carried over into the Internet Age and the advent of online casinos where players now have a range of games to play featuring jackpots of all sizes.

How do Jackpots work?

There are several factors that influence jackpots. The number of reels will influence a player’s potential of hitting a jackpot. More reels make it more difficult to win a large prize. You can improve your chances of winning a jackpot by playing jackpot slots with a lower number of reels.

Secondly, the minimum and maximum stake can affect the jackpot. The higher the minimum and maximum stake, the more it will pay out if you hit the jackpot. Moreover, playing the maximum number of paylines also improves your chances of winning. The downside to this is the cost. It is more expensive to play the maximum number of paylines. Some machines have more than 100!

Random Number Generation in Slots

Modern jackpots are dictated by random number generators (RNG). RNGs are computerised programs with complex algorithms that ensure randomness. As there are no more mechanical reels, everything is now digital and the backend is run by RNG. When a player hits the spin button, the RNGs start working.

The reels do not actually have anything to do with the outcome of a spin - they are merely for show. The RNG instantly generates winning numbers which translate to the symbols you see on the screen.

Old mechanical slots did not rely on RNG. Instead, the probability of a player winning was created by dividing winning symbols by the number of symbols on the reels. For example, if a slot had one winning symbol and there were 20 symbols, the probability of winning was 5%.

The return to player (RTP) on a slot game is less than 100%. You should select slot machine games with high RTPs. These will pay out more frequently. The best slots have an RTP above 97%. Of course, you will never get a game that offers a 100% RTP, because the casinos would lose every time.

Understanding Jackpots: Definition and Types

There are a few factors that influence a jackpot amount. One factor is the type of jackpot offered by the slot game. Some will offer fixed or flat jackpots. These are jackpots with a set prize. Fixed jackpots are very different from progressive jackpots, which may provide winners with a life-changing amount of money.

A progressive jackpot continues to grow until one lucky player hits it. The jackpot could grow to five, six, or seven-figure sums. Sometimes the prize can grow even larger. Progressive jackpots are the most sought-after by players at land-based and online casinos. The chance to win a life-changing sum of money attracts all types of players.

Unfortunately, progressive jackpots are much more difficult to win than fixed jackpots. Since progressive jackpots are large, casinos make them more difficult to win. There may also be more reels, more paylines, and higher stakes involved with playing progressive jackpots.

Fixed jackpots can be easier to win. These jackpots are available on slot games with fewer reels. A slot with fewer reels provides you with more chances of hitting the correct symbols. There are also daily jackpots, which are prizes available each day at a specific time. The different types of jackpots heavily influence the amount of money you can win.

Types of Progressive Jackpots

Along with multiple types of jackpots, there are two different types of progressive jackpots. You will find local jackpots and global progressive jackpots available in online casinos. A local progressive jackpot is centralised to one casino. The jackpot grows over time when players play a specific slot game. A local jackpot can grow quickly or slowly. The size of the jackpot will depend on the frequency with which the slot game it’s linked to is played.

A global progressive jackpot is often more popular with players. Global jackpots are linked to a slot game that is available to play in multiple casinos. For example, multiple Starburst slot games from different casinos may be connected to offer one global jackpot. So, when players play the game at different casinos, the jackpot grows as the money is pooled together.

A global jackpot can grow rapidly because players from different casinos are playing the same game at the same time. These jackpots can be the most lucrative to win however, it can be very difficult to win the jackpot payout.

Mystery jackpots are another type of jackpot available from online casinos. The prize will be determined by the amount of money wagered on a particular slot game. A mystery jackpot works similarly to progressive jackpots with the big difference being that when a mystery jackpot game is played, you won’t know the exact amount of prize money up for grabs. A progressive jackpot and a fixed jackpot will inform you of the prize amount before playing.

It is commonly misunderstood that progressive slot machines are made up of a group of games with a shared jackpot; however, it’s actually common for a single slot machine to have a progressive jackpot of its own. It has a network of just one slot machine.

Progressive slot machines can also be grouped together and their prizes can vary wildly. The network can include:

  • Stand-alone: One slot game that grows a progressive jackpot. It isn’t networked to other slot games. It may have the lowest jackpot amount available.
  • In-House: A group of slot games having the same theme within the same casino. These can have a substantial maximum jackpot prize. For example, LeoJackpot.
  • In-Chain: Slot games typically with the same theme within gaming venues/websites owned by the same company.
  • Wide-Area: Slot games that are owned independently from the casino and have a maximum jackpot prize which is life-changing.
  • Network or pooled jackpots: Network or pooled jackpots offer the biggest prizes of all. Each bet made on a specific pooled jackpot game, across multiple casinos, contributes to the top prize

Progressive Jackpots Can Change Lives

Perhaps the main reason players enjoy progressive slot machines is due to the potential of winning life-changing amounts of money. The appeal of winning large sums of money like this is what drives players to progressive jackpots.

Slots are not the only games that have jackpots. Lotteries are a type of jackpot and many offer progressive jackpots to players. With every jackpot that goes unclaimed, the money in the pot increases thanks to players buying tickets. Lotteries also have an allure, and many players only buy a ticket when jackpots increase to astronomical sizes.

Progressive jackpot slots and lotteries are the most popular casino games with jackpots, but they are not the only ones. Strategic casino poker games allow players to make progressive bets which add to a jackpot. Live dealer blackjack games sometimes also have jackpots available to win. Casino players can find jackpots available from multiple games if they look hard enough.

Jackpots FAQ

What is the biggest jackpot ever won?

The biggest jackpot ever won in the US was a Powerball jackpot of $2.04 billion, which was won on November 7, 2022, by a single ticket holder in California.

Are the odds of winning a jackpot the same across different games?

Winning a jackpot differs depending on the game. Each game will have its own RTP, which determines the frequency with which a player wins.

Can I increase my chances of winning a jackpot?

One of the best ways to improve your chances of winning a jackpot is to play a slot game with an RTP of 97% or greater. You should also play classic slot machines with three to seven reels. Classic slot machines with fixed jackpots are easier to win than progressive slots. Progressive slots may have high stake requirements compared to classic slots.

How do progressive jackpots grow so large?

Progressive slots grow due to the number of people who play them, as a predetermined amount from each wager is added to the prize pool on every spin. Some progressive slots are networked. This means that the same slots in a casino will pool the money together to create a large jackpot. Moreover, some progressive slots are linked to multiple online casinos. These slots also pool money together to create a massive prize.

Can jackpots be won online or through mobile apps?

Jackpots can be won online or via mobile. However, it is always best practice to read the rules of a game before playing.

What are the most famous jackpot games worldwide?

The most famous jackpot slot games are Mega Moolah, Age of the Gods MEGAWAYS, Mega Fortune, and Aztec Millions.

Are there any strategies for winning a jackpot?

There are some ways to improve your chances of winning the jackpot. Firstly, you should play free versions of the game to practise before playing for real money. While practising, study the pay table to learn the different symbols. Then, create a budget and stick to it. Finally, aim for smaller jackpots. These will hit more often than larger jackpots. You can tally multiple small jackpots and create larger prizes over time.

Can you win a jackpot more than once?

You can win a jackpot more than once, but due to the games using RNG, achieving multiple wins may be difficult.

Are jackpot winners required to remain anonymous?

Depending on the casino and the location, jackpot winners may remain anonymous. Remaining anonymous prevents people from learning about a player's big win. Many people do not want to advertise their jackpot wins. Casinos will often announce a player has won the jackpot as a way to advertise the casino brand and attract players.

Guide to Fixed Jackpots

Online pokies are fun and interactive and allow players to win big. If you want to cash in big, look for slot games with a fixed jackpot.

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