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How Progressive Jackpots Work

Do you believe that “less is more”? When it comes to things like art, engineering, or fine dining, there’s a case to be made that too much is, well, too much. But when it comes to winning a jackpot? That’s when most people will kick their refined philosophical outlook to the curb—you’d be hard pressed to find someone who wants to win less.

No surprise then, that many casino and lottery games use the lure of a seemingly ever-growing top prize—known as a “progressive jackpot” to boost excitement and ultimately, sales. While it’s exciting, playing smart requires understanding how they work. And whether your odds of winning are better or worse.

It just gets bigger and bigger.

Unlike standard predetermined or fixed prizes, progressive jackpots grow as the game is played. As players purchase their lottery tickets or place their wagers on slots, the value of a progressive top prize typically gets higher and higher, and in some cases doesn’t stop rising until it’s won.

One of Ontario’s (and Canada’s) most popular progressive games is LOTTO MAX, which holds the record for the largest lottery jackpot, totaling $117 Million (consisting of the $70 Million top prize and 47 MAXMILLIONS prizes of $1 Million each).

What do you feed a growing jackpot?

With progressive slot machines, a percentage of each coin or credit played is added back into the jackpot. The same thing happens with a lottery as the prizes that aren’t won stack up week after week. So the jackpot is actually “fueled” by all the bets or purchases made. Sometimes, not seeing a winner makes people question whether they want to play. When it comes to progressive jackpots, no winner means that now there’s even more to win, which – no surprise – creates a lot of pressure to play.

What’s key to remember though, is that your odds of winning any given prize stay the same, even as the jackpot grows. That’s because the odds, and factors of randomness, are built into each progressive game’s structure – not based on the prizes.

Let’s start over.

Once some lucky winner claims the progressive jackpot, that top prize returns to its base level. For LOTTO MAX, the minimum jackpot is $10 million. For the progressive linked slot game MegaBucks, the minimum jackpot starts at $1 Million.

When slot jackpots get “hot”.

Progressive jackpot slots have become really popular, especially when the machines in a casino, or even a whole city, are linked within a network. You can usually spot these slots by looking for a flashing sign on top of the unit that keeps track of the jackpot as it grows, minute by minute. The slot machines linked within a network all feed the same growing jackpot. The same idea goes in the digital realm where a game like OLG’s POWERBUCKS can link casino machines on mobile phones, tablets and desktop computers to grow the same jackpot.

As the digital world creates more access for players to participate, these jackpots could grow even faster, and secondary large prizes could be added. It’s an undeniable source of excitement, but one that isn’t going away—so don’t feel pressured to make a bet just because your eyes are on the literal prize (especially if you’ve already spent through your play budget).

Lots more lottery.

Lottery lovers can also experience the excitement of progressive games offered by OLG. The LIGHTNING LOTTO jackpot starts at $125,000, LOTTARIO’s starts at $250,000 and the LOTTO MAX top prize starts at $10 million. From there, all of these games grow based on sales.

It must be ready to burst!

The idea of a prize being so big it’s “Due for a win” is really just wishful thinking. In fact, no matter how huge the jackpot grows, the odds of winning per prize stay the same. Enthusiasm is understandable, but it’s wise to always set a personal limit and play within it.

Want more?

If you’re in the “more is more,” camp, progressive jackpot games just might be your ticket (or your… slot voucher). If that’s the case, take some time to learn more about slot machines and progressive jackpots and progressive jackpots in the lottery. Understanding how the games work, and what the odds of winning are, will help you have fun while making smart choices.