What are progressive jackpot slots

What are progressive jackpot slots?

Sep 2, 2020
Written by Philippe

Progressive jackpot slots are not dissimilar to the more traditional form of slot machines.

These kinds of games allow you to increase your potential jackpot as you go along – and as a result, are a very popular choice with gamers of all kinds.

Mega Moolah by Microgaming
Most played Progressive Jackpot Slot : Mega Moolah

Progressive slots work differently on video, either through live or online slots. For example:

  • Video slots often offer duplicate progressive jackpots
  • You don’t always have to bet the maximum amount to be eligible for the jackpot wins
  • With video slots, it’s not just about lining up symbols on payline to get the big wins

In this blog, we’ll discuss all the different types of progressive jackpot best slots, take a look at what to watch out for as a player and how betting different amounts can ensure you can still access a decent amount of winnings.

How Multi-Tiered Progressive Jackpot Slots Work

Progressive jackpots are casino celebrities, offering life-changing wins. The secret? A tiny slice of every bet gets added to a central pot, growing with each spin across linked machines. Imagine a giant pot fed by countless players – that’s the magic! The more people play, the faster the jackpot climbs, potentially reaching insane heights. Play a progressive slot, and you’re not just spinning for a win – you’re contributing to a potential life-altering prize pool. Every spin is a chance to win big, making progressive jackpots a thrilling adventure!

Different types of progressives jackpot slots

Progressive jackpot slots are the main attraction for casino fans. The types of progressives available on video slots is fairly similar to those on mechanical reels, mostly:

  • Standalone progressives, in which the winnings increase in accordance with every bet that is added to the prize pot.
  • Linked progressives, where portions of each bet are added to the jackpots across a set of linked machines
  • Wide-area progressives, portions of each bet are added to the jackpot across various casinos, usually within a similar area or branch

You can access these kinds of games via live play as well as video play. Casinos online have continued with the experience of progressive in real-life casinos, but these kinds of games are less of a feature on websites that offer slots..

However, manufacturers of online slot games have managed to use the existence of progressive slots to add to the excitement of their games. With video progressives, you can have multiple jackpots in comparison to most real-life slot machines that just have the one jackpot.

The beauty of technology!

StandaloneJackpot prize pool grows with bets on a single machine.Cash Express
LinkedJackpot prize pool grows with bets on a network of linked machines within a casino.Many progressive slot networks within a casino
Wide-AreaJackpot prize pool grows with bets on a network of linked machines across multiple casinos.Mega Moolah

The idea is that the jackpots are not as large as others, but they are usually simpler to win. This means that players are seen to be winning in a small area of a casino often. These tiered jackpots can range from between four and 12 but it’s generally up to the casino or manufacturer on how far this can be taken.

Having multi-tiered jackpots is now so popular that it’s moved onto some real-life casino games as well, using video as its base.

Jackpot levels are decided by the manufactures (or gamemakers) and some are labelled by colour (Bronze, Silver, Gold) and others are simply numbered in terms of how lucrative they are.

The Rise of Progressive Jackpot Slots

The beginnings of multi-tiered games occurred courtesy of Aristocrat Technologies via their Hyperlink series.

This was a popular group of progressive slot games that tied in with each other in terms of style, themes and so on.

US casinos introduced the Hyperlink series with Cash Express, which proved to be immensely popular. This game was based on the following principles:

  • A total of 4 levels, known as Mini, Minor, Major and Grand – and which have varying values from $10 to $1,000
  • A jackpot part of the game which is centred around a railroad
  • The bonus round could be activated by getting rail symbols over the paylines
  • The game was made more exciting due to the impressive graphics featuring a moving train that popped up when the bonus round was activated.
  • There are varying bonus credits, and lots of different ways to pick them up during the game.
  • Gathering points by playing the bonus round can allow you to win a progressive jackpot if you reach sufficient numbers.

Cash Express is a classic slot and its popularity helped to move other gamemakers to design their own multi-tiered jackpots.

Cash Express

There are now new Cash Express versions including Cash Express Gold Class which has a fifth progressive.

How to win on video progressive slot

Winning a video slot online is very similar to the experience of playing the games in casinos themselves. It’s simply a matter of waiting till your symbols reach a winning combination.

Multi-tiered jackpots are a little more complex than their more basic counterparts..

There’s a difference between jackpots won by matching symbols and mystery jackpots. The mystery jackpots are related to the mystery bonuses and can happen without any warning. Many argue this adds to the excitement of the slots as it is more random.

It is often the case that you need to do more than just line up the reels. For example, spinning a bonus reel or joining the action on some other kind of bonus round. You may need to complete these activities before you can access the jackpot.

The Jackpot Party Progressive Deluxe features stars to highlight each of the five tiers that make up the game: $5 is the blue star, green for $15, silver for $50, gold for $200 and red for $10,000.

If you grab a bonus on the first or third reel plus a gift box icon on the fifth, you launch a bonus event that revolves around free spins. During the free spins you’re able to win ‘trips’ to the Jackpot party on a grid with animated hands used to point towards a box. When you open the box you’’ either reveal a credit award or a start. Find the star and you go up one progressive level.

The idea with these extra bonus games is that it adds to the fun, enjoyment and the excitement that keeps players hooked to the games and also helps to keep them entertaining.

It doesn’t matter if the progressive slot is symbol-driven or a mystery jackpot, you normally won’t have to bet the maximum coins to make yourself available to win the jackpot, unlike you do in real casinos.

Minimum bettors can play for maximum jackpots

One of the main challenges that has come about with the new technology for progressive slots is the format in which maximum coins are required to make a player eligible for the big jackpot win.

This idea doesn’t really work on video slots for a number of reasons.

  • Video slots have a larger number of payline than the standard three-reel slot
  • You can wager many coins per line on video slots, even 20 coins is a common maximum bet
  • Most players cover all the paylines but only bet a coin or two on each

A progressive slot with 20 paylines that accepts bets of 20 coins per line has a 400-coin max bet and most players will not want to bet this much.

This leaves a couple of important questions.

  • How do you offer a progressive to players who don’t bet the max amount?
  • How do you make players who bet 20 coins or 200 coins eligible for the same jackpot win?

The solutions to these can be found in the following:

  • Increased bets on progressive games
  • Jackpots referred to as ‘mystery’

Extra wagers

The best and simplest way to make sure the players who are betting the highest and lowest possible amounts are fighting for the same jackpot is to make the progressives an extra wager.

Rather than parts of the bets going towards the progressive pots, these progressives are added to through a separate bet. This ‘side bet’ is different for different slots and different gamemakers too. Most slots require you to cover all the paylines if you want to also make the side bet too.

For example, on a 20-line game the different buttons you use could be marked as ‘bet one line’, ‘bet five lines’ etc, all the pay up to ‘bet 20 lines plus feature’.

You’d find the usual buttons below these , such as betting more credits per line, but these allow you to make the choice of playing for the progressive or not.

As an example, if you are playing a 20-line game with a 10-cent bet for the jackpot but only want to play with one coin per line (and also make the progressive bet) then you would:

  • Play the ‘20 lines plus feature’ button
  • Choose to play one coin per line
  • Your total wager would be 30 cents – 20 cents on the base game and then an extra 10 cents on the progressive jackpot itself

This way of playing means that different players can play in different ways with different wagers but all still be playing for the same progressive jackpot.

It also encourage players of different types of wagers to still be excited about playing progressive slot games.

Mystery jackpots

As we mentioned earlier, mystery jackpots are made available in a different way. For mystery bonuses, you don’t need to line up symbols on a payline to win. Mystery jackpots can occur due to several random possibilities:

  • a set time being reached;
  • a set amount of money in betting being reached;
  • or the prize pool amounting to a set jackpot.

With progressive jackpot, the last point is particularly important.

If level three of a four-level jackpot begins at $100 then one cent of each dollar bet increases the prize pool. On top of this, we can imagine the game is designed to pay the jackpot before it ever reaches $200.

If this is the case, a random number generator selects a total somewhere between $100 and $200 for a player to win from. Whoever is playing when this random number is selected is the one who wins the jackpot. Again, as an example, we’ll say you’re betting $3 for each spin and I’m betting 30 cents.

If the number has been selected to randomly pay out at $142.34, as we are both playing we can see the jackpot is at $142.31. We aren’t aware that it’s coming close to paying out, but it is. Every time you make your $3 bet, you add 3 cents to the jackpot, but it takes 10 of my 30 cents bets to do the exact same.

As you’re betting $3, it would only take a single bet to push the jackpot from $142.31 up to $142.34 whereas I would have to make a total of 10 more bets.
This means that your bet would be 10x larger. However, due to making the side bet, you would also be increasing the jackpot by ten times more. The result of this would be that you would have ten times more opportunities to pick up the jackpot.

In cases like the one described, both parties are aiming to hit the jackpot – but your bet is more likely to be a winning one due to the size of your bets.

The same principle applies to mystery bonus events and progressives, where you can earn free spins as well as cash prizes.

Like the above, it’s possible for a mystery bonus event to be triggered if a player arrives at a certain wagering total.

As an example, we can say that a mystery bonus feature is reached when total bets between the linked slots are at a total somewhere between $250 and $500.

Going through this example fully:

  • The game automatically selects a number at random, choosing $383.17 as the amount to be reached
  • Whichever player pushes the total bets up to $383.17 is the one who plays the bonus
  • One party bets $3 for a spin, the other wagers 30 cents
  • For each bet, the first party gets $3 closer to the amount to be reached, while the other party gets just 30 cents closer.
  • All this makes you 10 times more likely to trigger the bonus even than I am

The game is still as random as it was and the odds per bet size are also still the same for each individual player too. However, players betting more will more often get to play the bonus events and therefore win the jackpot than those who bet less.

This is how players betting different amount get to play for the same jackpot.


Progressive jackpots offer a unique blend of risk and reward in the world of slots. The chance to win life-changing sums of money keeps these games a major draw for many players. While traditional jackpots might require specific symbol combinations, video slots have opened the door to a wider range of winning possibilities. From random “mystery jackpots” to participation through smaller side bets, these advancements make progressive jackpots more accessible to a wider audience.
Whether you’re a seasoned gambler or just looking for a shot at a life-altering win, progressive jackpots offer a thrilling element of chance that can turn any spin into an unforgettable moment.

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  1. […] you’re seeking the biggest jackpots, chances are you’re going to play nothing but progressive slot games for mobile at LadyLucks. These games involve a jackpot that gets consistently bigger every time it isn’t […]

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Common questions about What are progressive jackpot slots?
What are Progressive Jackpots?
Progressive jackpots are slot machine prizes that grow larger with every bet placed on a particular machine (standalone) or a network of linked machines. A portion of each wager is added to the jackpot pool, which continues to climb until a lucky player hits the winning combination. These jackpots can reach life-changing sums, making them a major draw for many casino players.
How Do I Win a Progressive Jackpot?
Winning a progressive jackpot can happen in two exciting ways. You might line up the right symbols according to the game's rules, like a specific combination or hitting a bonus round. Alternatively, some jackpots are awarded randomly based on pre-set criteria like time, total wagers, or the jackpot reaching a certain size. This means you could win big without needing to match any specific symbols!
Do I Have to Bet the Maximum Amount to Win a Progressive Jackpot (Video Slots)?
In most video slots with progressive jackpots, the answer is no. Unlike traditional slots where max bets were often required, video slots often allow participation in the progressive jackpot through "side bets" or specific wagers that don't require playing the maximum amount on the base game. This makes progressive jackpots in video slots more accessible to a wider range of players.
What are Multi-Tiered Progressive Jackpots?
Multi-tiered progressive jackpots offer a twist on the traditional jackpot format. Instead of one massive prize, these jackpots are divided into several smaller tiers, each with its own prize pool. While the top tier might not reach the heights of a single large jackpot, the smaller tiers offer more frequent wins, making them more appealing to players who enjoy the thrill of winning a progressive jackpot without needing to hit the biggest prize.