Who says you can’t win on the Las Vegas Strip? In the last week of 2009, mega-jackpots were hit on progressive slot machines at Bellagio, Paris Resort and even the new Aria. Is it time for locals to start playing on the Strip? Maybe so.
Slot machines with progressive jackpots start at a pre-determined base amount and then build up over time until they are hit again. Each slot machine is part of a virtual private network (VPN) dedicated to each particular game (i.e., Megabucks, Wheel of Fortune, Wizard of Oz, etc.) and is managed by the machine’s manufacturer. That’s why those scrolling jackpots on progressive slot machines are always exactly the same in Reno, Laughlin, Las Vegas and everywhere else in Nevada. The jackpot increases based on a percentage of total play and is constantly being updated over the entire network. When lots of players are playing the same progressive game, the jackpot increases faster and faster on the marquee. When there are fewer players, the jackpot increases at a slower rate.
It’s really amazing technology and it’s reassuring to see so many big jackpots hitting recently at various Strip resorts.
Three lucky visitors to Las Vegas hit three different progressive slot jackpots in the last week of 2009. The biggest winner was a 57 year-old South Korean man from Los Angeles. He won $12.2 million on a $1 Megabucks machine at Bellagio on Monday December 28 around 3 a.m. in the morning. His wife was playing on the Megabucks machine next to him, so although he wished to remain anonymous, he couldn’t completely disappear. The Megabucks jackpot was the third one to hit in 2009. It also hit at the end of July 2009 at the Casino Royale (an older Strip casino sandwiched between Harrah’s and the Venetian) and at Terrible’s Rail City Casino in Sparks, Nevada in April 2009. When it hit last April, the jackpot had grown to over $33 million because the only time the 3-coin, $1 Megabucks jackpot hit in 2008 was at the Palms Resort (just off the Strip on Flamingo).
There are about 575 Megabucks machines in 140 Nevada locations. It requires a 3 “coin” bet (i.e., $3) for a spin to qualify for the jackpot. The IGT designed game resets to $10 million after a jackpot is hit. In looking at the Megabucks jackpot history, it’s safe to say that the jackpot generally hits about twice a year. Hopefully 2010 will follow the same trend.
The day after Christmas, another lucky winner won $1.6 million on a $1 Wheel of Fortune slot machine at Paris Las Vegas. Also an IGT designed game, it only requires a 2 “coin” bet (i.e., $2) for a spin to qualify for the jackpot. The $1 Wheel of Fortune jackpot resets to $1 million after the progressive jackpot hits. The $1 Wheel of Fortune jackpot seems to hit about eight times a year, although in 2006 it hit a whopping fifteen times! The lucky woman, a retired 63 year-old visiting Las Vegas with her daughters had played about $25 when the woman playing the machine next to her got up and left. So she started playing both machines and that’s when the jackpot hit. (No word on the whereabouts of the woman who got up and left that machine. For her sake, I hope she never finds out!)
Finally, on December 29, 2009 the first big winner at the new Aria Resort at City Center won almost $300,000 on a progressive QuarterMillion$In The Money slot machine built by Bally Technologies. Unlike the other two winners who wished to remain anonymous, Jose Gonzalez wasn’t afraid to step into the spotlight for his fifteen seconds of fame. He plans to honor an agreement he made with his business partner back in Monterey, Mexico to split any money he won in Vegas. “I put $40 in the machine and I was down to my last $6 when the game lit up,” he said.
Like the three other “QuarterMillion$” progressive games, each jackpot resets to $250,000 after being hit. But it’s only a 25-cent machine with a 3 coin ($.75) maximum bet to qualify for the jackpot. Not a bad bet if you’re just waiting in line at a breakfast buffet.
For a list of several of the biggest progressive slot jackpots in Nevada click here. The site also lists the jackpot histories in case you want to try to figure out when and where the next big one might hit. Personally I like the 25-cent Wheel of Fortune game even though the last jackpot just hit at Harrah’s in Reno on December 26. This jackpot resets to $200,000 and hits about twice a month on average. It’s currently over $350,000 and seems like the best bet for my free play action!
Look for my “Best Bets” in a separate column starting next week. (be sure to subscribe to my free RSS feed so you don’t miss any updates). For this week-end’s NFL Wild Card games I like the Packers with any points you can get (hurry, +2 is already gone), the Bengals at – 2 1/2, the Ravens at +3 1/2. Tease the Cowboys down to -3 just in case it somehow turns into a close divisional contest. The Cowboys have already beaten the Eagles twice this year, but betting they’ll win again by more than a field goal is risky.