Take a look around the floor of any large land-based casino, particularly in the United States, and you’ll be certain to find some impressively enormous jackpots offered by their most popular slot machines. The casinos of Las Vegas are some of the biggest in the world, and it was here than the idea of the Progressive Jackpot was first devised.
The earliest Progressive slots were single machines with an ever-growing jackpot that would continue to increase indefinitely until such time as the jackpot was finally won by a lucky player. A competition soon ensued between all of the large casinos on the Las Vegas strip, to see who could offer the largest progressive jackpot on one of their slot machines.
This rivalry between the different casinos soon gave rise to the idea of a “linked” jackpot, where multiple machines could be connected together so that they were all able to contribute to a single, enormous, progressive jackpot. This enabled jackpots to grow much faster than before, but still the casinos wanted more – they all wanted to the biggest and best casino in town, with the largest jackpot.
What could they do next? The linked jackpot idea soon grew from two machines, to four, and then more. But having too many of the same game on the floor wasn’t attractive for players – so some casinos decided to link multiple games to the same jackpot next. They soon realized the sky was the limit with this idea, and soon there were casinos where every machine in the building was all tied in to one, single, ridiculously enormous, progressive jackpot.
Eventually, the larger brands who owned multiple casinos wanted to link those together too. They did this using telephone lines and modems, which allowed networked communication that could perhaps be described as an archaic version of the internet we enjoy today. Now, those with multiple different properties up and down the strip could link all of the machines in every one of their buildings together, and the resulting jackpots were getting really, really big.
Finally, it was not the casinos but the game providers themselves that dreamt up the biggest progressive jackpot idea of them all, in an effort to sell more of their cabinets than their competitors. The network progressive, as it came to be known, merged the idea of the linked machine jackpot with the network communication being used by those with multiple casinos. The game providers would build the networking right into their machines, which allowed slot machines in hundreds of different casinos all over the country to be linked together. Progressive jackpots had now gone as far as they could go… until the internet came along.
There’s a limit to how many people can be playing physical machines on casino floors at once, no matter how many properties you own or link together… how do you remove that limit, and increase the size of your jackpots up to the level of your country or states lottery jackpot? You put the game on the web, of course! With this last innovation, millions of people could contribute to the same jackpot pool.
This is exactly where we are today, and it has created some truly monstrous prizes for online casino players to strive for. Just how big? Let’s dig into the details, and find out which games really deserve the title of “millionaire-maker”!
The Top 20 Progressive Jackpot Wins of All Time – Worldwide
This is probably what you came for, so it seems like a good place to start! We’ll convert all the amounts into USD for simplicity, but bear in mind that exchange rates do fluctuate and several of these jackpots were won in Euro’s or British Pounds, so may have been worth slightly more or less at the time they were won.
- Mega Moolah, Grand Mondial, Unknown, 28 September 2018, $22,553,214.15
- Mega Fortune, Paf Casino, Finish Player, 20 January 2013, $21,292,708.76
- Mega Moolah, Betway, British, 6 October 2015, $18,384,034.05
- Mega Moolah, Lucky Casino, Swedish, 17 August 2020, $17,506,859.53
- Mega Moolah, Zodiac Casino, Canadian, 30 January 2019, $16,088,007.58
- Mega Fortune, Betsson Casino, Danish, 23 September 2011, $13,996,162.32
- Mega Moolah, Unknown Casino, Unknown, 8 May 2020, $13,617,374.00
- Mega Moolah, Jackpot City, Canadian, 5 April 2020, $13,232,089.71
- Jackpot Giant, Unknown, Unknown, 20 October 2018, $13,106,626.78
- Mega Moolah, Luxury Casino, Unknown, Unknown, 5 March 2019, $12,945,603.00
- Mega Moolah, Yako, Unknown, 5 November 2016, $11,633,898.00
- Mega Moolah, Zodiac Casino, Unknown, 28 August 2016, $11,609,942.00
- Mega Moolah, Unknown, Unknown, 3 May 2019, $11,372,260.60
- Arabian Nights, Paf Casino, Finnish, 23 November 2012, $10,300,263.61
- Mega Fortune, Folkeautomaten, Swedish, 28 November 2015, $10,230,169,25
- Mega Moolah, Zodiac Casino, Unknown, 14 March 2017, $9,572,528.00
- Mega Moolah, Unknown, Unknown, 25 April 2017, $9,556,677.81
- Mega Moolah, Spin Palace, Australian, 8 April 2016, $8,058,714.86
- Mega Moolah, Casinoland, Australian, 17 June 2016, $7,842,916.28
- Mega Moolah, River Belle, Australian, 24 May 2020, $7,702,432.32
With only four games earning a place on the top twenty list and two of those occupying only a single position, it seems clear that Microgaming’s Mega Moolah and NetEnt’s Mega Fortune are the only games in town, should you want that shot at winning a truly life changing sum from an online Progressive Jackpot slot.
But what if these games aren’t available in your country? There are some other options you’ll find at the end of this article which may be of interest to you, such as those from Real Time Gaming and Rival. Their jackpots aren’t as large as those offered by Microgaming and NetEnt, but they are available right across the United States.
What else do these numbers teach us?
For a start, it seems clear that Mega Moolah drops the largest number of multi-million-dollar prizes in the world of online slots, so does indeed deserve its often-uttered tagline of being the true “Millionaire Maker”.
Looking at the dates on which the jackpots were hit also indicates that there is a definite upwards correlation between the dates that jackpots have been won and the size of them. Seven of the top ten entries in the list occurred in the last three years alone, demonstrating that more players must be playing these games today than ever before.
One fact that is hidden by the conversion to USD of the overall sums being won is that the higher the value of the currency you play in, the more your jackpot might be worth. Let me explain – in order to keep things easy to understand and fair, the minimum bet size is identical at 0.25 units no matter whether you are making your bets in US Dollars (USD), British Pounds (GBP), or Euros (EUR).
The size of the jackpots shown on screen is also identical – but as a result of exchange rates, a player betting in GBP is wagering more per spin, so could eventually go on to win a larger jackpot than somebody else who was wagering in USD. The software providers use the current exchange rate at the time of the win to determine how much to pay each winning player, and, in turn, how much should be left in the jackpot pool for the next lucky progressive winner.
Players usually won’t have a choice of which currency they wish to bet in. Most casinos will set the currency used by their slots to the same one used in the country each player is located in. A few others choose to convert all deposits into US dollars for simplicity at the time the funds are transferred to them.
The majority of the jackpots listed above were actually won in Euros, but that honestly doesn’t mean anything beyond the fact that there are more players who are betting in Euros than any other currency.
The Best Stories Behind the Jackpots
It’s not surprising that many of the winners of progressive jackpots choose to stay anonymous. Unfortunately, money does have a way of corrupting people and therefore those with lots of money have a habit of being targeted by scammers. Even just regular contacts such as friends and family might look to take advantage of a winners new found wealth, so it makes sense that many people choose to retain full control over who gets to learn of – and share in – their good fortune.
Rank #1 – Unknown Player – $22,553,214.15, September 2018
The biggest ever winner of an online progressive jackpot hit the Mega Progressive on Microgaming’s Mega Moolah for over $22.5m back in September 2018. Unfortunately, that player was one of those who chose to stay anonymous, so there isn’t much of a personal story to be told about their win.
That said, it was widely publicized at the time that this jackpot was hit that it was way past its normal “drop frequency”, which was usually around eight weeks. This publicity no doubt contributed to the irregularly large size of this jackpot, when it was eventually won. The huge size of the prize will have been a big draw on its own, but superstition always plays a huge role in gambling too. Many players will probably have felt the jackpot just “had” to pay out soon, so will have invested additional time and money into playing the game as a result.
Earlier in 2018 this same game had paid out twice in just two days, on the 19th and 20th of April. That freak occurrence resulted in a win of “only” $2,470,917.27 for the second player, who may well have felt slightly disappointed given that another jackpot of $5,691,921.42 had been awarded just hours earlier. Unfortunately for the second player, this is just how things balance out in the world of progressive jackpot slots – sometimes there will be large gaps between wins, other times many jackpots can drop in quick succession.
Unless a particular machine advertises that its jackpot has to be won within a certain timeframe or before it reaches a specific size, this feeling that a jackpot “has” to drop soon is exactly that – just a feeling, and nothing more than superstition.
Rank #3 – Jon Heywood, United Kingdom – $17,506,859.53, October 2015
This prize was a record breaker at the time it was won by a soldier from Great Britain, an army man who had previously served his country in Afghanistan. The story goes that Jon had seen an advert for Betway casino on television during the day time and decided to give the operator a try later that same evening.
Aside from having been won on the very same day that Jon signed up with Betway casino, this win is also notable because it occurred whilst the machine was being played at the minimum stake of just 0.25 British Pounds. In this respect, Jon’s win is probably still a record holder as the largest online casino win ever recorded in terms of multiple of stake. At 52,851,528x the amount of his bet, this jackpot dwarfs almost every prize ever won in any kind of contest as far as this important metric is concerned.
Predictably, as a new player, Jon really wasn’t even sure that what he was seeing on the screen was real at the time! Just after his win, he was quoted as saying: “It’s all so surreal, and I can’t come to terms with it just yet. I just kept staring at my screen and seeing this huge number in my Betway account.”. Whilst most players would probably have decided to call in sick after such a huge win, Jon clearly took his role as a soldier in the British Army very seriously, as he still turned up for work just a few hours later.
Jon spent a sizable portion of his winnings acquiring private medical care for his father, who was gravely ill and awaiting a heart and lung transplant at the time Jon won his jackpot. The UK’s National Health Service is a fantastic thing and a credit to the country overall, but operations of this type often have long waiting lists and sadly some patients do die whilst waiting for the date of their treatment.
It must have been amazing for Jon to suddenly find himself in the position of being able to pay for private treatment for his father. How much such treatment costs in the private sector in Great Britain is something of a mystery, but you can be sure that Jon will still have had plenty of cash left in the bank to enjoy after dealing with this important expense!
Predictably, both Microgaming and Betway Casino were quick to capitalize on the extraordinary nature of this jackpot. Microgaming released a press statement reminding the world that they were the first company to create an online progressive jackpot slot, way back in 1998. They were also keen to point out that their games had paid out over half a billion Euros in jackpots since then too, and that Mega Moolah was still available for play at hundreds of online casinos for any player who fancied a shot at a similar prize themselves.
Rank #9 – Unknown Player – $13,106,626.78, October 2018
This was only the second time that a jackpot had been won by a player spinning Playtech’s Jackpot Giant, a somewhat less notorious progressive jackpot game than the two “Mega” slots from Microgaming and NetEnt. It had been almost three years since the jackpot had last been won too, leading some to question just how bad the odds of hitting the big one on this machine must be compared to other progressive jackpot slots.
Playtech had previously earned a somewhat poor reputation with respect to their progressive games earlier in the decade, and I believe they had made some changes to their operating procedures by the time of this win. See, unlike other top-tier gaming providers, Playtech actually paid out these jackpots directly to the casino where the player was gaming, which led to a number of players becoming caught out by scandalous maximum withdrawal limitations that meant they would have to wait decades to finish withdrawing their entire balance after a progressive jackpot win of this size.
Things came to a head in 2009 when Joyland, one of the largest Playtech casinos at that time, applied their standard maximum withdrawal limit of $9,000 per month to a progressive jackpot win of over $4 million. The player, known as Sylvia P., was understandably upset when she was told that it was going to take almost four decades before she was able to receive the entire amount she had supposedly just won – many players won’t even live that long after their win, and if they do, what’s to say the casino will still be around? Funnily enough, Joyland is not, just twelve years after this scandal occurred!
Sylvia was eventually offered an alternative by the casino – the opportunity to receive around half of her winnings as an immediate lump sum, if she agreed to forfeit the remainder to the casino. Unfortunately, Sylvia agreed to this disgusting arrangement, and Playtech decided to parrot the line of “Sylvia agreed to the terms and conditions when she chose to play at Joyland” when they were asked about this shockingly poor case of business ethics.
Fortunately for the winner of this October 2018 Jackpot Giant prize, they were playing with Gala Casino at the time of their win. This ensured that they were paid in full, immediately, without any shady terms and conditions attached.
The Jackpot Giant Jackpot remains elusive to this day, with few recorded winnings since this one back in 2018. The game continues to be offered at hundreds of Playtech casinos though, including many which still have maximum withdrawal clauses that apparently apply to progressive jackpot wins. Unfortunately, this leaves us no choice but to advise caution if you do choose to chase this prize as a result.
Rank #14 – Unknown Player, Finland – $10,300,263.61, November 2012
The little-known NetEnt progressive Arabian Nights has seemingly had its payout potential altered since the time of this win, as the average hit of this jackpot is only around $1 million dollars today – and has regularly been won for only a fraction of that amount too. It definitely reseeds at a very low amount, perhaps as low as $10,000 – despite some older advertising stating a figure of $125,000, there have definitely been wins smaller than that amount won in the meantime.
Way back in 2012 though, Arabian Nights produced the second largest progressive jackpot win ever recorded at an online casino at that time. At over ten million dollars, the unknown Finnish player must have been very happy indeed!
Rank #15 – Alexander, Sweden – $10,230,169.25, November 2015
This time, the eye watering sum of over ten million dollars was won not on Mega Moolah, but on NetEnt’s similarly titled but very differently styled Mega Fortune slot instead. Mega Fortune is full of luxurious imagery – even the royal symbols are styled on diamond rings of various colours. The picture symbols consist of limousines, wads of cash and champagne bottles, which all serve as a constant reminder of the kind of opulence that awaits should today turn out to be your lucky day…
… Which it almost certainly won’t be, of course – Sorry to say! That is, unless you happened to be this lucky chap named Alexander who was playing at Folkeautomaten – Sweden’s version of the popular ComeOn! Casino brand – on the 30th November 2015. Like many of the other top wins of the last few years, this one was produced using the smartphone version of the game, too – which always seems to make such wins seem even more extraordinary than they already are.
Alexander himself commented at the time of his win: “I was totally speechless, and couldn’t believe what was happening. It was late and my wife had already gone to bed, but I had to wake her up and celebrate. I’m going to lay low to begin with, but I’ll make sure my mortgage is paid and treat myself to some exciting holidays. It will probably be difficult to avoid buying a new car!”.
And who can blame the guy? I’ll bet this was one night his wife didn’t object to being woken up as a result of her husband getting a little overexcited by his gambling habit. Of course, the producers of Mega Fortune – Swedish gaming powerhouse Net Entertainment – were quick to get their version of the story out to the media, too. They claimed that this was the largest jackpot ever won on a mobile device at that time, and that their game had now paid out over thirteen million euros in jackpots during the past week alone – “the perfect early Christmas present”, according to Chief Product Officer Simon Hammon.
And Finally, If You Don’t Have Microgaming or NetEnt Slots in Your Country, Read On….
There are many other online gaming brands that offer progressive jackpots which don’t receive quite the same amount of media attention as the games mentioned previously in this article. It seems only fair to give a few of these a mention, particularly for players in the USA who have had their access to these games cut off (apart from in a few legal states) ever since the UIGEA was first brought in way back in 2006.
Real Time Gaming (RTG) – Total Jackpot Pool: $7,148,812
This American online casino brand has continued to offer their games right across the United States despite every obstacle they have encountered over the past two decades, and they understandably remain popular with American players because of that fact.
Many of their games have smaller progressive jackpots in the region of a few thousand dollars, but there are a few waiting to be won that have reached some fairly monstrous totals. Top of the list is the game Jackpot Pinatas, which has a jackpot that has yet to be won. It currently stands at $1,837,043 – could you be the first to collect the jackpot in this game? Be sure to choose a trustworthy RTG casino if you do decide to make an attempt, as there has been a couple of shady operators that have used this software in the past.
Other top prizes include Aztec’s Millions jackpot of $1,012,689. This is actually very low at present compared to its average payout of $4,420,568, the result of a recent win that occurred just a few days before this article was written. Megasaur has a fairly long average payout time of over three years, but usually pays out around a million dollars each time it hits. It currently stands at $957,236.
RTG also have randomly awarded progressive jackpots tied to their Let’em Ride and Caribbean Stud Poker table games, which is somewhat rare and unique. Both usually average around $80,000 when they are won, but neither has been hit for some time now and the pair have ballooned to almost $180,000 as of the time of writing.
Rival Gaming – Total Jackpot Pool: $165,728
Some smaller jackpots available at Rival casinos are worth a look if you have limited access to the larger online gaming brands, and most of their prizes drop fairly regularly too – in the range of between a few weeks to a few months at the most.
The biggest prize on offer at a Rival Casino is currently Strike Gold, which has an average prize of $44,812 and currently stands at $68,940, as it has not been hit for over 23 weeks. Second on the list is the Diamond Rhino slot, which usually pays out every couple of weeks or so and currently stands at $32,681 with an average prize of $22,295. The biggest Diamond Rhino win was a fairly impressive $76,693.
Some Rival games have had much bigger jackpots in the past, which potentially suggests a downturn in the number of people playing these games or a change to their payout mechanics. For example, the game Money Magic has previously paid out $302,512, and Jackpot 5x Wins has also broken the $300k barrier several years ago too. It seems a shame if interest in Rival and their jackpots is indeed dying out, as many of their games are of excellent quality. Be sure to give them a look if you are based in the United States.