Slot Machine Jackpots

Last update: May 5, 2024

Odds of hitting a slot machine jackpot

It's rare than any article elsewhere will actually tell you the actual odds of hitting a slot jackpot (because the writers have no idea), so I'm going to lift the veil off that mystery right now.  Here are the actual jackpot odds for various slot machines.  This is the kind of thing you get only here on Easy Vegas, and exactly nowhere else.

Jackpot odds revealed!

Jackpot Amount Odds Source
Red White & Blue
1000 coins 1 in 32,768 University of Nevada
Double Diamond
2500 coins 1 in 46,656 Par sheets obtained by Canadian researchers (PDF)
Blazing 7's electromechanical
2500 coins 1 in 46,656 Par sheets obtained by Canadian researchers (PDF)
Blazing 7's, video 20,000 coins
1 in 81,920
Wizard of Odds (estimate)
Triple Double Diamond with Hot Roll 10,000 coins
1 in 105,286
Wizard of Odds (estimate)
Phantom of the Opera 5000 coins 1 in 114,131
1 in 155,345
Par sheets obtained by Canadian researchers (PDF)
Red White & Blue 2400 coins 1 in 262,144 Wizard of Odds.  Note that different flavors of the same slot can have different odds.  Another version of Red White & Blue listed above has shorter jackpot odds.
Double Strike 5000 coins
1 in 500,000
Wizard of Odds (estimate)
Hexbreaker 10,000 coins
1 in 562,209
Wizard of Odds (estimate)
Money Storm 10,000 to 50,000
1 in 2,188,411
Par sheets obtained by Canadian researchers (PDF)
Jackpot Piñatas 5000
1 in 3,695,354
Wizard of Odds
Jackpot Party 5000
1 in 3,703,704
Wizard of Odds
Lion Fish 5000 1 in 6,250,000 Wizard of Odds
Lucky Larry's Lobstermania 10,000 to 50,000 1 in 8,107,500 Par sheets obtained by Canadian researchers (PDF)
Cleopatra (IGT) 10,000 coins
1 in 16,605,000
Wizard of Odds
Lion's Share $2.4 million
1 in 10,493,179
Wizard of Odds (estimate)
Megabucks $8 to $33 million
1 in 49,836,032 John Robison in Casino City Times
Note that there are often different versions of machines with the same name, so the numbers above might not apply to every flavor of the named machine.  What you should take from this is that as the jackpot goes up, so does the difficulty in actually hitting it.  Note that the long odds for some games with relatively low top jackpots is because the player could also win a comparable amount (or maybe even more) in bonus rounds.


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Gold Rush Gus slot machine

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I don't know the odds for any machine not listed above.  Casinos and manufacturers are secretive about the odds of their machines.  (They ought to be required to post the jackpot odds, but they're not.)  To my knowledge, no manufacturer, land casino, or online casino publishes the jackpot odds of any of their slots.  Some of the data in the table above comes courtesy of academic researchers who used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain it, and some from other sources, but none directly from the manufacturer or casinos themselves.  Years ago, a now-defunct online casino ( published some of theirs.  Here's what they were, along with the progressive jackpot amounts for the $0.25 and $1.00 machines at the time I created the table.

Online jackpot odds

Jackpot Odds
$0.25 machine
$1.00 machine
Aladdin's Lamp
1 in 2.5 million
$118, 385
Haunted House
1 in 1 million
Jack in the Box
1 in 250,000
Gold Pirates
1 in 250,000

Return/Payback and Jackpot Odds are not the same thing

The return of a machine (e.g., 92%) and the jackpot odds (e.g., 1 in 16,000,000) are completely different things.  If all you know is the return, you can't figure the jackpot odds, and if all you know are the jackpot odds, you can't figure the return.

Loose machines are not more likely to hit the jackpot

The difference between loose and tight machines is the frequency and amount of small hits, not the chances of hitting the jackpots.  Jackpots are just as likely on loose vs. tight machines.

Henry Reid Airport has the tightest slots in all of Las Vegas (WoO), but still gives its fair share of jackpots.  Twice in one month there were hits of jackpots paying over a million dollars. (8News) 

How much of the payback comes from the jackpot?

Most of the return on a typical slot comes from the small pays, not from the jackpot.  In fact, the jackpot usually comprises less than 1% of the total payback.  The exception are the huge progressive slots like Megabucks, where the large jackpot is a big part of the total return.  Here's what portion of the total payback is comprised of the jackpot.  And here again, this aggregated table is the kind of thing you won't find published anywhere else but here.

  Portion of Payback that comes from the Jackpot 
Hexbreaker <0.1%
Lion Fish <0.1%
Jackpot Piñatas 0.1%
Lucky Larry's Lobstermania 0.15%
Double Strike 0.6%
Cleopatra (IGT) 0.9%
Red White & Blue 0.92-1.5%
Blazing 7's electromechanical 1.93%
Blazing 7's, video 8.1%
Megabucks 10.2%
Figures are given in percentage points.  So, if a machine pays back 95%,
and the jackpot portion is listed as 1.5%, the machine would pay back
93.5% if there were no jackpot on the machine. • (sources)

Higher jackpot = harder to hit

In general, the higher the jackpot, the harder it is to hit.  Which is exactly as you should expect.  The best odds I've found are 1 in 32,768 (for a 1000-coin jackpot on a flavor of Red White & Blue), and the longest are 1 in 49,836,032, for Megabucks, which has a multi-million-dollar top prize.

A mistake is to reason that if a bunch of machines all cost $0.75 to play, you might as well choose the one with the biggest jackpot, because that will be the best deal for your $0.75.  This misses a few important things:

  1. The bigger the jackpot, the harder it is to actually hit.
  2. The higher the jackpot, the more likely you'll lose in the short-term.  It takes a lot of play to fund those extra-big jackpots.
  3. The machines with the huge jackpots like Wheel of Fortune and Megabucks have lousy odds.  Not just for getting the jackpot, but for the small pays, too.  Yes, they cost the same amount to play as regular machines, but they definitely suck your money away faster.

To have the best chance of winning, choose the machines with the smallest jackpots.

Largest slot jackpot in the world: Megabucks

The slot with the largest jackpot in Vegas (or anywhere in the world, for that matter), is Megabucks, often hitting at around $12 million, but once hitting for $33 million.  It's a progressive slot, which means that the jackpot amount grows progressively higher as people play it, until someone hits it.  The Megabucks machines are linked throughout the whole state, so the same jackpot is available at hundreds of different casinos.  As of this writing, the last time it hit was for $15.5 million, at Suncoast (an off-strip casino), on Christmas Eve 2020.  That was the largest jackpot in Vegas in eight years. (Fox 5)  When Megabucks hits, it reseeds at $10M.  IGT (the slot maker) has pages showing the current Megabucks jackpot amount and the jackpot amounts for its other progressive slots.  Here's a list of Megabucks jackpot hits from 2003-2014, and IGT press releases about Megabucks hits after that.

If you can't make it to Vegas, Bovada has dozens of progressive jackpot slots, with the biggest jackpot being $329k (Gold Rush Gus) as I write this.(advertisement)  If you play for real money, be sure to follow the rules for gambling smart.

How long you have to play to get the jackpot

It takes weeks to years of full-time play to hit a slot jackpot, on average.  At a brisk 800 spins per hour, that's 6400 spins for a full day, or 32,000 spins for a full-time week, or 1,664,000 for a year (@ 40 hrs/wk).  At that rate, here's how long it would take to hit the jackpots of the games mentioned above.

 Average time to hit the jackpot (800 spins/hr, 5 days/wk) 

Jackpot Amount Odds Time to Hit
Red White & Blue 1000 coins 1 in 32,768 1 week
Double Diamond 2500 coins 1 in 46,656 1.5 weeks
Blazing 7's electromechanical 20,000 coins 1 in 81,920 2.5 weeks
Blazing 7's video 5000 coins 1 in 93,312 3 weeks
Phantom of the Opera 5000 coins 1 in 114,131
1 in 155,345
3.5 to 5 weeks
Red White & Blue 2400 coins 1 in 262,144 2 months
Double Strike 5000 coins 1 in 500,000 3.5 months
Hexbreaker 10,000 coins 1 in 562,209 4 months
Money Storm 10,000 to 50,000 1 in 2,188,411 1.3 years
Jackpot Piñatas 5000 1 in 3,695,354 2.2 years
Lion Fish 5000 1 in 6,250,000 3.8 years
Lucky Larry's Lobstermania 10,000 to 50,000 1 in 8,107,500 5 years
Cleopatra (IGT) 10,000 1 in 16,605,000 10 years
Megabucks $8 to $33 million
1 in 49,836,032 30 years

By contrast, the odds of getting a the top jackpot (royal flush) on a Jacks or Better video poker machine is only 1 in 40,000.  Yet another reason to switch to video poker.

The really long odds on the newer video slots (Money Storm, Lucky Larry's) is no accident.  When someone hits a big jackpot, they have to wait for casino staff to come pay them by hand.  That's downtime during which the casino isn't making any money from that player.  Also, players who hit a big jackpot are more likely to take a break and quit playing for a while.  That's why the top jackpot on the newer slots typically take years to hit.  This is a huge scandal which hasn't gotten much attention, mostly because most people don't know how lousy the odds are.  But now you know.

The jackpot never gets more likely to hit

You don't get closer to hitting the jackpot the longer you play.  Every spin is random, so if the jackpot odds are 1 in 250,000, then they're 1 in 250,000 on your last spin, on your current, spin, on your next spin, on the spin after that, and so on.  The odds are the same whether the last jackpot hit was five minutes ago or five months ago.  Slot machines don't get "due" to hit.  That's the way randomness works.  It's the same principle that the odds of getting heads on a coin flip are always 1 in 2, no matter what you got on previous flips.  If you're not convinced about this then see my article about exposing the gambler's fallacy.

The exception are "must-hit" progressives, which have to award the jackpot before it hits a maximum amount.  More on those below.

How to tell when a slot machine is close to hitting the jackpot

You can't tell when a slot is close to hitting, because it never gets closer to hitting.  Every spin is completely random.  Your chances on any spin are identical to your chances on every other spin.

Slots are random because:

  1. That's the only fair way to do it.
  2. It's required by law (because that's the only fair way to do it).
  3. Casinos don't want you to be able to figure out when a slot will hit.  Why on earth would they make it possible for you to do so?

Imagine you're a casino slot manager.  Which of these would you choose?

  1. Buy games that are completely random so that players can never tell when a jackpot is close to hitting.
  2. Buy games that aren't random, and hope and pray that players never figure out the secret to predicting the jackpot hits.

Progressive Jackpots

On most slots the amount of the top jackpot is fixed, but some slots have a meter that shows the jackpot amount getting progressively higher.  Those are called progressive machines (as opposed to "flat-top" machines).  A portion of the money played in those machines helps push the jackpot ever higher.  The more it's played, the higher it goes.  If it doesn't get any play, the jackpot amount doesn't budge.

Progressive machines are often linked together so that play on any of the linked machines feeds the jackpot.  And of course, any of those linked games can win the jackpot.  There might be as few as a single bank of machines linked together in a single casino, but there are also machines that are linked through the entire state of Nevada, like Megabucks and Wheel of Fortune.  If you walk from one casino to another, you'll see that the jackpot for Megabucks is the same.  Play on any Megabucks machine in the whole state makes the meter go higher.  That's one reason they can afford to make the jackpot so big.

The other reason is that the statewide progressive machines have lousy odds.  A huge portion of each dollar played goes to fuel the jackpot, so a lot less is returned in the form of small pays.  Pioneering analysis by the Wizard of Odds showed that for each dollar played on Megabucks, about 10¢ goes to feed the meter, 11¢ goes to profit, and only 78¢ is returned to players in the form of non-jackpot payouts.  Ouch.

A to Z Las Vegas has a good list of current statewide progressive jackpot amounts, along with the date, amount, and location of the last hit.

Huge jackpots are usually paid in installments

Multimillion-dollar jackpots, like Megabucks, are typically paid in annual installments over a number of years, rather than all the money up front. (source)  For example, Megabucks is paid out over 25 years. (source)  You can find out whether your favorite machine pays up-front or in installments (and if so, how many installments) by reading the fine print on the machine itself.

What happens when you win a $1 million+ jackpot?

The Las Vegas Sun (which I like better than the Las Vegas Review-Journal) has a good article about what happens when someone wins a >$1 million jackpot.

Taxes on jackpots

Taxes on jackpots is a complex topic, so I have a whole article on gambling taxes.

Non-payline jackpots and "Must-hit-by" progressives

There are two kinds of slots where you can win the jackpot without lining up the jackpot symbols.  These are often referred to as "Mystery Jackpots".  Let's go over both flavors.

Non-Payline Jackpots (NPJ)

With these games, there's a progressive jackpot, and there are two ways to win it:  Either by lining up the jackpot symbols normally, or without lining up the jackpot symbols.  Uh, how do you win without lining up the symbols?  The game rules don't say, only that you can win the jackpot "randomly" without lining up any winning symbols.  For example with Lightning Link and Lightning Cash, the rules state (paraphrased)

  1. Grand Jackpot is awarded when you get 15 gold balls; also:
  2. Grand Jackpot may be won randomly even where 0 gold balls appear.

Other NPJ games include Dragon Link and Dollar Storm.

Here's a video of a NPJ win, without lining up any symbols.

What distinguishes these games from those in the next section, is that with NPJ games, there's no upper limit for the jackpot amount.  It keeps growing until someone hits it.

Must-Hit Jackpots

Some progressive slots must award the jackpot before some maximum level.  These are called "Must Hit By" progressives, because they must hit before they reach the maximum.  How does that work?

Let's first see how it doesn't work.  Let's say the max jackpot is $5000.  You might guess that every spin has equal chances until the meter grows to $5000, and if no one's hit before then, then whoever's spin pushed the meter to $5000 automatically wins.  That's a good guess, but that's not it.

Instead, every time someone wins the jackpot and the machine resets, it secretly picks the must-hit-by amount (which it doesn't tell you), somewhere between the minimum and maximum jackpot levels (which it does tell you).  Let's say the winning jackpot amount it picked was $4732.  Until the jackpot gets to $4732, you have no hope of winning, the jackpot will not hit.  Then, when it gets close to $4732, whoever's spin pushed the meter to $4732 will definitely win, whether they lined up the jackpot symbols or not.

On most machines, the jackpot is equally likely to hit anywhere between the reset value and the must-hit-by value.  But on machines made by AGS, the jackpot trigger is pretty close to the must-hit-by maximum. (WoO

Over twenty years ago Fitzgeralds in Reno had a bank of machines with must-hit jackpots, and armed with some back-of-the-envelope calculations, I estimated how high the meter had to get before it seemed like a profitable time to play.  Either my calculations were good or I was lucky, because I did well on those machines.  Once there was almost nobody else playing in that area, so I fed money into an island of about 10 machines, running around them in a circle and hitting the Spin button on each one.  Man, those were the days.

Thanks to members of the Wizard of Vegas forum for helping me with this section.

Largest Vegas jackpots

The list is getting long, so I now have a separate page about the biggest Vegas jackpots.

Play slots online

I suggest you play something other than slots because slot odds are so bad.  You could also play online with fake money, because then it doesn't matter if you lose.  A good casino for free-play is Bovada, since it requires no download and no registration.  (If you see a registration box, you can close it and continue without registering.)  You can play with real money too, though I hope you won't (or at least won't bet more than you can comfortably afford to lose). (advertisement)

All my slot machine articles

Practice gambling with play money

Before you throw down your hard-earned cash in a casino, PRACTICE FIRST!  Learn the games with play money where it doesn't cost you anything if you lose.  Seriously.

You can play Bovada's games (below) right away without registering for an account.  Most every other online casino makes you give up your email address just to play the fake-money games — ugh.  That's the main reason Bovada is the only online casino that gets advertising space on my site.  (When you see the registration box, you can cancel it and proceed to the game without registering.)

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