Biggest Jackpot

It is the dream of all slots players - the big jackpot, the one spin of the one-armed bandit that sets you up for life, like winning the lottery with a 25-cent spin of the wheel. Although possible, it also is extremely rare. But it is the reason almost all slots players feed the machine. Psychologists say that desire for the big payoff is one of the main motivations driving people to play the slots.

The good news is that the size and frequency of that big payday is increasing. Over the past 20 years the size of record jackpots has risen dramatically, along with difficulty in keeping up with the record. This is due partly to the rising popularity of casino-style gambling and the internet where “progressive” slots boast of multi-million dollar possible payoffs.

The Penny Slot

With some slot machines that accept up to $10 and $20 bets, it would seem that the biggest return on a spin in a penny slot would have to be meager. As of 1984 the record payout for a penny slot was in the neighborhood of $95,000, not much for a gambling record payout, but an extremely handsome return on what might have been a one-cent wager. That figure has risen dramatically in the early years of the 21st century. Only five years into the new millennium, there have been at least three million dollar-plus jackpots recorded, maybe more by the time anyone reads this.

Two of the million-dollar wins were on the “Millioni$er”-linked system and represents the trend to progressive slots. The drawback for the progressive slots (and slot experts still advise against playing the machines) is that there are lower odds of winning, making that big jackpot even more like winning the lottery. Overall, the highest recorded penny slot jackpot to date is more than $1.54 million.

Higher Records

Of course, not that many people play penny slots. Quarter slots are the most popular but machines exist that take nickels, half-dollars, and larger denominations. The record for a nickel slot as of the middle of 2005 was nearly $3.2 million hit by an off-duty cab driver in Las Vegas. (It looks as if asking the cabby where to go gambling is a ‘good bet’ after all).

The record for a quarter slot stands at more than $13.7 million hit at a casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, in 1993, also on a progressive slot. The biggest win on a 50-cent slot was a paltry $6.1 million in Atlantic City, which, coincidentally, has a high percentage of half-dollar slots. The really big win was on the dollar slot, when in 2003 a 25-year-old software engineer, on a weekend trip to Las Vegas to watch the NCAA basketball tournament, landed a jackpot of $39.7 million.

Nothing but net.