The emergence of progressive slot machines was one of the most significant milestones in the history of slot gaming. IGT developed the world’s first land-based progressive jackpot slot game called Megabucks. An electronic network connected multiple Megabucks slot machines together, with a small percentage of every bet taken contributing towards a mammoth progressive jackpot capable of being won from any Megabucks machine.
The carrot of million and multi-million-dollar progressive jackpots naturally attracted more people through the casino doors to sample Megabucks and the other eventual progressive jackpot games released. In 1998, an anonymous customer won over $27.5 million on a Megabucks machine. A payout that has only been surpassed on the Megabucks slot on two occasions since. Just a decade on from that mystery payout, the concept of progressive jackpots also found its way into the world of online casino gaming.
In 2009, iGaming software pioneers Microgaming showcased the world’s first online progressive slot – an African-inspired game titled Mega Moolah. It exhibited animations and branding akin to the hugely popular SNES platform game Donkey Kong Country. But most significantly, it included a massive four-tier progressive jackpot. Mega, Major, Minor, and Mini progressives could be won. Unlike some more recent progressive slots, the amount staked per spin does not determine a player’s eligibility for the biggest Mega progressive jackpot.
In the first 12 months of its existence, Mega Moolah paid out on three occasions. The first payout was a staggering $6.3 million, with $1.17 million and $1.24 million payouts occurring later in the year. It continued to be one of the most popular online progressive slots in the last ten years, despite the raft of newcomer progressive slot titles inspired by Microgaming’s innovation. That’s largely due to the fact that Microgaming is a founding member of eCOGRA – an independent organisation that oversees iGaming software developers and casino operators to ensure fair and transparent gaming.
Players can still enjoy Mega Moolah today, safe in the knowledge that they have a fair chance of winning one of the four progressive jackpots. Most household names in the iGaming world now comply with eCOGRA guidelines. 888casino, which is regarded as the 2nd best NJ online casino, has multiple player protection protocols in place to ensure the most entertaining progressive slot experience. It’s also got a dedicated section for progressive slots, underlining the increasing importance of this slot subsector.
The Most Successful Online Progressive Slot Releases since Mega Moolah
Swedish iGaming software developer NetEnt embarked on designing and building a progressive jackpot that could compete with Microgaming’s Mega Moolah. The early 2010s welcomed the arrival of NetEnt’s Mega Fortune slot. This five-reel, 25-payline game features a lavish theme, inspired by the rich and famous with their millionaire lifestyles. Aside from its progressive jackpots, Mega Fortune was built to have a free spins mode, as well as a pick-me bonus screen, where players can click items on-screen to reveal instant-win prizes.
Unsurprisingly, the highest value symbol in Mega Fortune is the speedboat, which also acts as the ‘wild’ symbol. A wild symbol can replace other base game symbols on the reels to help build symbol combinations and multiply potential winnings. Lock in three or more champagne scatter symbols to unlock up to ten free spins and the chance to land multipliers worth up to 5x your initial wager. Activate the Mega Fortune jackpot wheel to try and spin and win the Mega Jackpot. This is activated by using locking in three wheel bonus symbols on the third, fourth and fifth reels.
NetEnt followed up with their success of Mega Fortune with the release of the Aladdin-inspired Arabian Nights progressive slot. It is said that 4.5% of every stake per spin contributes to the progressive jackpot of the Arabian Nights progressive payouts. With the Arabic temples in the foreground of the reels, there is a genuine air of ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ in this game.
Aladdin’s lamp acts as the bonus scatter for this game. Find one on each reel to land 500x multipliers and three or more will also trigger the free spins round. You’ll start out with 15 free games, with all wins boasting a 3x multiplier attached. This feature can be retriggered once to give you up to 30 free spins in total. To unlock the progressive jackpot round, land five wilds on a payline. It is said the progressive jackpot for Arabian Nights pays out every 147 days as an industry average.
Playtech is another proven European iGaming software developer. It not only specialises in progressive jackpot slots, but it also has a penchant for live dealer casino action, with its own purpose-built studios providing white-labelled gaming for some of the industry’s biggest operators. Its top-performing online progressive slot in the 2010s was Jackpot Giant. This Stone Age-themed game sets the scene from its intro animation, where the Jackpot Giant throws gold coins into the mouth of a volcano, causing an eruption of cash.
This 50-payline slot is said to pay out over $6 million on average, in terms of its progressive jackpot. Aside from the progressives is the Giant Bonus round. This is unlocked by landing the volcano bonus scatter on the first and last reels. This is a pick-me bonus screen, where you’ll be tasked with clicking three of the six volcanoes displayed. You can accrue instant-win cash prizes, with the ability to win all six prizes if you reveal the ‘Win’Em All’ prize.
Even new and emerging iGaming software studios began to dabble in progressive online slots as the decade advanced. Yggdrasil Gaming launched the Joker Millions slot, which carried a progressive jackpot, as well as ‘Free and Respin’ feature. Whenever a winning payline is formed, the winning symbols will be locked in place and the reels are respun again for free. It’s a chance to turn one symbol combination into two or more without risking another cent.
The Joker Millions slot is just one example of how slot developers have gotten increasingly creative with online progressive slots. The 2010s were the golden decade for progressive slot action, creating a new era for big-money slot prizes that have helped put many online casino operators firmly on the iGaming map.