If you were to add up all the cash wagered on Web-based poker, slots, table games, and sports betting for a given year, you’d have a number in the billions of dollars. With all that money up for grabs, no wonder online casinos use as many gimmicks as they can think of to attract customers.
Progressive jackpots, top prizes that grow as more money is played into the game, are another one of the many gimmicks dreamed up by both land-based and Web-based gaming venues to entice players to deposit their cash. These ever-increasing prizes are as common at online casinos as VIP programs and rollover requirements.
Though the most popular platform for progressives is obviously slots, some software designers are producing so-called jackpot versions of other casino classics. I would not think it out of the ordinary if I found a progressive Pai Gow or other casino poker title.
How Progressive Jackpots Work
On the player’s end, progressives work something like this: the player places a wager on a game and hopes to trigger the release of the jackpot during a round of betting action.
Generally speaking, progressives aren’t the focus of the game, but a kind of mega side wager. Some games require a literal side wager to play for a progressive prize – this is most common on table game jackpot versions. Others require a specific combination of actions or outcomes. Still others are triggered completely at random and without the need for a side bet. The market is pretty varied.
When a progressive prizes is won, the value of the prize at the instant the player won it is rewarded as a jackpot payout. Where does the money come from? Almost all progressives make the pool of prize money from a linked network of other games, either in the same casino, between casinos, or even between different websites powered by the same software.
A new wrinkle added to the world of progressives in the past few years – the inclusion of “tiered” jackpot prizes. An example is Mega Moolah by Microgaming, which has three different progressives ticking up at all times, each with different values and likelihoods of paying out. Let’s look at that game and two other current examples of titles with one or more progressive prize.
Progressive Jackpot Examples
• Mega Moolah by Microgaming – This one is kind of a classic. No, Microgaming isn’t my favorite game designer, but they get some of their slots just right. In the case of progressives, this title set the standard for years. Though newer titles (with new features in their progressive lineup) have come along since, Mega Moolah still holds a special place in the hearts of slot players who’ve chased its multiple top prizes for nearly a decade now. The top of the game’s three progressives pays a minimum of $1 million.
• Treasure Room by BetSoft – BetSoft is one of the top slot game designers in the industry today, and one of my favorite overall game designers. It’s unfortunate that more sites don’t license their awesome slot games. The main reason I include Treasure Room here is because the game is a ton of fun to play. The theme is simple – treasure, in all its green, gold, and jewel-toned glory. Though some players accuse this game of being too volatile, the progressive is always going to be attractive to a certain segment of the slot market. The current value of this jackpot (at the time of this writing) is nearly $120,000, but it tends to pay out over the seven-figure mark, so it must have just recently reset.
• Hall of Gods by NetEnt – NetEnt is one of my favorite slot game designers, and in my opinion one of the more innovative of the big-name casino game designers working right now. I wanted to include their awesome Hall of Gods game because of the sheer size of its progressively-increasing top prize. The current value of this jackpot (at the time of this writing) is a massive $5.5 million. That kind of prize is a huge draw, regardless of whether the game is Web-based or in a traditional brick-and-mortar casino.
• Bet365 Casino – With twenty-eight games listed in their “Jackpot” section, Bet365 has one of the longest lists of progressively-increasing prizes in the industry. Yes, the vast majority of them (all but one game, actually) are slots, but that’s the nature of the beast when it comes to this type of prize. The top prizes available at my last visit to Bet365 were worth just over $1 million, on titles like Iron Man 2 and Spamalot.
• Mr. Green – This casino may not be as well-known as others on this list, but it has an impressive list of 20 progressive-jackpot titles produced by a variety of different game designers, including my favorites NetEnt and BetSoft. The quality of the jackpot games here is a little better than Bet365 – now if only they’d add a dozen more, this casino would be my number one recommendation for players hunting progressives.
• Royal Vegas – Another site with a decent number of jackpot-based titles with those ever-popular progressives, Royal Vegas earns top reviews for its overall game library, especially from slots players. Progressive prizes available at the site at my last visit hovered in the neighborhood of $1 million, and though the site only has a dozen titles currently listed with progressive top prizes, the games themselves are attractive, and built on a somewhat rare software platform.
Progressives are a fun diversion for some gamblers; still others are totally obsessed. This is one gimmick that’s potentially very lucrative. Unlike bonus-chasing, which requires a lot of patience for a small payday, progressives are often a part of regular gambling action and don’t require anything special on the part of the player, and the payday is anywhere from the thousands to the millions of dollars for a single bet. That’s hard to ignore.