When you hear the term “jackpot”, you most likely think of lotteries – the Powerball, for example, that has recently paid out its biggest-ever win in history. But jackpots are everywhere in the gambling world, associated with games ranging from poker and blackjack to good, old-fashioned slot machines. Most online casino players think of slot machines when hearing of jackpots. This should not be a surprise, because those tend to have the biggest jackpots associated with them. If you’re curious about what other games come with jackpots, see the list at

Progressive jackpots

What makes a jackpot progressive? As its name suggests, a progressive jackpot is a jackpot that progresses – grows. As opposed to fixed jackpots, the total amount of a progressive jackpot grows with every round played.

When there were only electromechanical gaming machines available – the ones where you had to drop coins into the device – the machine directed a coin into the special “jackpot” container after a number of rounds were played. Things are more accessible today, with video slot machines and their online counterparts, as the software adds a few cents for every dollar spent to the total of the jackpot that can be won.

Today, land-based casinos have slot machines and other games connected to a network, so multiple games can contribute to the same progressive jackpot. So do online slots – except that in their case, the network that connects them is global. This is why online progressive jackpots are the fastest-growing out there.

What progressive jackpot games are there?


One of the most famous progressive jackpot games you can find in land-based casinos is Megabucks, a slot machine launched by IGT in the 1980s. It is a strictly land-based jackpot, so it’s not available online – it is present in the lobbies of most Las Vegas casinos, though.

Online, there are several major progressive jackpots to be won. Perhaps the most famous is the one associated with the Mega Moolah slot machines. The first Mega Moolah was launched in 2006 by veteran game developer Microgaming. Since then, the series was expanded with several titles, with various themes, all sharing access to the same jackpot. Since its release, the Mega Moolah Mega jackpot has made several multi-millionaires – by 2019, the jackpot has paid out more than $1 billion in winnings.

Another well-known progressive jackpot is Mega Fortune and Mega Fortune Dreams, maintained by the Swedish online gambling solutions provider NetEnt (now part of Evolution Gaming). At one time, Mega Fortune Dreams held the world record for the biggest-ever online progressive jackpot paid to a player – until being dethroned by the above-mentioned Mega Moolah slot machine.

Most major gambling software developers and solutions providers have their own progressive jackpots. Veteran developer Playtech has the Jackpot Giant and Age of Gods progressives, and Yggdrasil Gaming has its own Joker Millions progressive jackpot.

The biggest online progressive jackpot wins so far

When progressive jackpots pay, they pay big. Well, many of them do. Progressive jackpots are won more often than you might think – they hit dozens of times each day, paying anywhere between a few hundred and a few hundred thousand dollars. Truly big progressive jackpot wins happen far less often, though.

This year’s biggest online progressive jackpot payout of over $12 million was made by a Mega Moolah progressive slot back in May. Before that, another multi-million jackpot was hit in February. On average, a lucky player wins the Mega Moolah Mega jackpot twice a year.

The biggest jackpot win on an online casino game was recorded in 2024 – the lockdowns turned out life-changing for a lucky Belgian player who won the $20 million prize.

Other progressive jackpots that made millionaires were WowPot, another Microgaming progressive, the above-mentioned Mega Fortune by NetEnt, and Playtech’s Jackpot Giant which paid a massive win a couple of years ago.

So, how do progressive jackpots work?


The basic idea behind the progressive jackpot is simple: there is a special combination of symbols that triggers a special feature that will, in certain conditions, lead to a big win.

Most online slot machines come with special “scatter” symbols meant to trigger a feature – usually a “free spins” feature. In most cases, there is a mini-game inside the free spins feature where players can win the jackpot. To make winning big even less likely, there are usually several jackpots associated with the same game: a small one, a medium one, and the big one. If you are lucky enough to win all these, you can become a millionaire in an instant.

Some game developers are much more straightforward than this. In some games, the progressive jackpot is triggered at random. The probability of winning a progressive jackpot on these games can be increased by playing larger amounts per spin.

Most casino games have a “big win” – slot machines have a combination that pays hundreds or thousands of times the bet per spin. Others have fixed-amount jackpots that can be won by landing a specific combination of symbols on the reels or at the end of a mini-game. These are often referred to as “fixed” or “local” jackpots and, while they are certainly nice to win, they are not life-changing amounts.

“Pooled” jackpots are the ones that grow the fastest. Here, an entire global network of slot machines contributes to the total – and at the same time, any of the games connected to the network can win the jackpot.

When a progressive jackpot is won, it resets to a “seed” amount. Mega Moolah, for example, resets to 3 million euros (around $3.1 million today), and the growth can start again.


How likely it is for you to win a progressive jackpot?

The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot – even when it’s not a record-breaking amount – are around 1 in 300 million. This means that you are more than 10 times more likely to win the Mega Moolah progressive jackpot, at 1 in around 25 million – a bit less likely than you becoming an astronaut.