Slots Ultimate guide to how jackpots work

Ultimate guide to how jackpots work

Tuuli O.

For many new casino players, the word ‘jackpot’ signifies the best part of online casino play – the dream of winning a huge, life-changing amount of money in a single spin. While that is possible and has indeed happened several hundred times over the past few years, there is more to jackpot games than meets the eye.

For one thing, there are several types of jackpots. In this guide, we will be looking at all the different terms you might encounter when reading about jackpot games and how each type works.

We will also be discussing what a good jackpot strategy entails and what process you can expect to go through if you are lucky enough to win a jackpot. Let’s get started!

What is a jackpot?

‘Jackpot’ technically means a big pile of money won through a game. However, the term is also used to refer to jackpot games i.e. slot games that offer the chance to win said pile of money. For the purpose of clarity, we will be using the term ‘jackpot’ to refer only to the cash prize money.

Different types of jackpot

There are four types of jackpot you are likely to encounter as you play at online casinos and these are: local, network, fixed and progressive. Each type will help determine the size and frequency of the jackpot payout as well as which players contribute to the prize pot.

What is a local jackpot?

Local jackpot

This jackpot is comprised of bets made by players at a specific casino. Think of this like a village raffle where only locals are allowed to purchase tickets – the winner will, logically, be a local.

The same goes for local jackpots. The same local jackpot game can be available at several casinos but the prize pot at each casino is formed of bets made by that casino’s players. As a result, local jackpots are usually smaller than network jackpots.

What is a network jackpot?

Network jackpot

This type of jackpot is made up of bets made by players across all casinos that host the game in question. A popular network jackpot is NetEnt’s Hall of Gods. Players at Casumo, for example, will be hoping to win a prize on Hall of Gods that includes bets made by players at Mr Green, SlotsMillion and so on.

The network jackpot is like a national lottery. Players from all over the country contribute to the prize pot and in the end, the jackpot can be won by someone in Bristol or in Birmingham or Bath.
Network jackpots, also known as pooled jackpots, are generally the largest kind of jackpot, simply because so many players’ bets go towards the prize pool. Games of all sorts can have a network jackpot, including slots, table games and scratchcards.

Fixed jackpot

This is the only type of jackpot that does not fluctuate. Games with a fixed jackpot give the player the chance to take home a fixed sum during gameplay.

This feature is built into the game itself and does not depend on bets made by other players, local or otherwise.

How does a progressive jackpot work?

Progressive jackpot

A progressive jackpot simply means one that grows each time a player, either at the same casino or across the network, makes a bet.

So every time you spin Mega Fortune for £1, a proportion of that bet is added to the jackpot. As this particular jackpot slot is very popular, we can expect thousands of players to be betting on it every day, which means that the jackpot can reach several million pounds.

Progressive jackpots can grow to such an extortionate amount because they are hard to hit. You won’t see a single jackpot get hit more often than once every few months. This rarity gives the jackpot room to grow to massive amounts.

Wins on any slot game, jackpot or otherwise, are determined by a Random Number Generator, which ensures that the game is completely fair and cannot be manipulated. That means that a jackpot can drop at any time, though experienced players can work out, very broadly, how often a jackpot will pay out.

Online slots with multiple network/progressive jackpots

Sometimes progressive jackpots can be a tad confusing. This is because many network jackpots offer more than one jackpot for you to win. One such example is Mega Moolah which comes with 4 jackpots.

Before you start playing a new progressive slot game, it is always best to look at the pay table to understand how the game works, its paylines as well as the jackpots. By doing this, you are better prepared for going after the main prize.

You can also play the jackpot slots for free so you know if before you decide to deposit.

Happy JohnSlots winning a jackpot

What are the chances of winning a progressive/network jackpot?

We’re not going to sugarcoat this, but the chances of winning a progressive jackpot are not as high as a fixed/local jackpot due to a little something called Hit Frequency.

A Hit Frequency is basically related to how often a winning combination is given out by the slot game as well as its jackpot potential.

Players still manage to win the jackpot though, but on average a network jackpot is won once every three to six months.

Tips for developing your jackpot strategy

Some might argue that with jackpot slots, like any other slot games, having a strategy is pointless because the games are not based on skill, just luck. To some extent, that is true. The Random Number Generator ensures that every single spin has the same chance of being a winner, no matter how the previous spin turned out.

However, there are some things you can do to minimise losses (and thus prolong your gameplay) by making some practical decisions.

1. Stick to a budget

It can be easy to get drawn into spending more than intended when chasing a big jackpot. “Just one more spin…” can quickly turn into blowing way too much cash without seeing any return.

2. Set yourself a loss limit

This can be on a per session basis or per week, for example. Once you hit that limit, close your laptop or switch off your tablet – your play is done for now. You may not have won a significant amount but you have ensured that you have enough cash in the bank to have another go later.

3. Learn about the games

All kinds of jackpots (except fixed jackpots) vary in the amount they build up to before they pay out. This means that there’s no telling when a jackpot will drop. However, there are patterns to watch out for – a jackpot that routinely pays out in the millions is not likely to drop when the prize pool has only just begun to be replenished.

A number of useful sites collate jackpot data, keeping track of the size of the prize pool and when it last dropped. These are by no means a foolproof way to ‘predict’ when a jackpot will pay out but this information can help you make smart choices about when to play which jackpot game.

4. Keep an eye on bonuses and promotions

Plenty of online casinos are constantly coming up with new bonuses and promotions.

Casinos are also promoting progressive jackpots and offer free spins and other bonuses as an incentive to get you to play. Keep an eye on these offers so you can get a little something extra when you’re playing at a casino.

5. It’s not just slots…

Most of the biggest jackpot games happen to be slot games. However, if you’re hunting for a big payout, it’s worth looking at other types of games, if you are interested in playing them.

Table games like blackjack, roulette and poker, as well as bingo and scratchcards can have jackpots up for grabs and with slightly less interest from punters, you have better odds of being the lucky player at the table.

6. Bigger bets doesn’t mean better chances

Some players are under the false impression that to win a jackpot, they need to bet at the highest possible value on every spin. First of all, this is untrue. A jackpot can drop at any size wager. And second, this is the quickest way to completely decimate your bankroll.

The possibility of a big win should not cloud your judgement. Taking big risks with large wagers is a surefire way of cutting your gameplay short with big losses. Spin with the aim of small, regular wins rather than the big prize and you are more likely to keep spinning for longer.

What happens when you win a jackpot?

The stars have aligned, Lady Luck is smiling on your and the RNG has seen fit to pay out on this spin – you’ve won a jackpot prize!

After taking a personal moment – maybe call your spouse, make a cup of tea and/or dance around the room – the next question is usually “what happens now?”

Verifying the win

To start off with, most casinos will take some time to verify the win. This means checking their records to ensure that the win was legitimate (i.e. no fraud or abuse was involved, no terms and conditions were violated etc).

Once this is done, the casino will usually congratulate the player and might even request an interview, which will then be published on the casino’s site.


The next and most important step – the payout – depends on the casino’s rules.

Some casinos will happily pay out a jackpot all in one go while others will pay out in line with their monthly withdrawal limits, set out in their T&Cs. This means that a multi-million pound jackpot will be paid out over several months at a casino that limits monthly withdrawals to £10,000.

Casino managers will be more than happy to talk winners through the process and what they can expect and when.

Good jackpot casinos

If you are looking for a great jackpot casino, check out the toplists at JohnSlots. Many UK casinos offer different kinds of jackpots.

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