The Biggest Casino Jackpot Wins in History

The best example of how one’s life can change in an instant would be the case of the lucky player who recently hit a jackpot at the River Belle Casino. They were playing the Atlantean Treasures Mega Moolah slot machine when the jackpot hit, making them richer by €7.78 million (about $9.2 million) in an instant. For them, 2024 probably doesn’t seem as gloomy and horrific as before.

Hitting a jackpot at a slot machine is not easy – it usually involves either a very unlikely combination of symbols to land on the screen or an entire chain of events with a pretty uncertain outcome. The lucky winners, in turn, are rewarded with fabulous wins – thousands at times, millions at others. And in some very rare cases, the wins are truly out of the ordinary, changing the lives of the lucky winners fundamentally and for good.

What is a progressive jackpot


A “jackpot” is a prize that can be won only in a set of very specific circumstances – it usually represents an unusually large win, a grand prize of sorts. It is not specific to slot machines and lotteries, although the term is mostly used in relation to them.

The word itself comes from poker – it was used in reference to ante bets placed in the pot after it was revealed that no player has a pair of jacks or better. It has become widespread in the 1940s when used in relation to grand prizes at slot machines.

A progressive jackpot is a type that grows over time. Lotteries with such prizes that rollover from one week to another, sometimes reaching surprisingly large amounts. When it comes to slot machines, a progressive jackpot means a grand prize that grows by a bit with every spin. Slot machine jackpots can be local or pooled – a local one is collected from a single slot machine, while a pooled one by an entire network of slots. The latter is pretty common at online casinos.

“Famous” jackpots


The jackpots most people in the world have heard about are those from North American lotteries. A few years ago, the Powerball jackpot made the news by reaching a never-before-seen amount: $1.59 billion ($983 million after taxes). Itt was won by three tickets, netting more than $300 million in payouts for each winner. The other famous lottery jackpot is linked to another North American lottery – Megabucks – that paid out $877 million to a single lucky winner in 2018. This is the single largest lottery win ever paid out in history.

The world’s best-known land-based slot machine progressive jackpot is certainly Megabucks, a slot machine built and operated by the multinational gambling group IGT. The slot machine has been around for decades – it is present in pretty much every Las Vegas casino, and it is operated in many other land-based gambling outlets around the world.

And when it comes to online casinos, there are several major progressive jackpot networks that are competing for the players’ attention: Microgaming’s Mega Moolah is probably the best-known and most generous, having paid out close to $1.2 billion in jackpot wins since its introduction in the late 1990s. Its “competition” is Mega Fortune, a jackpot network run by Swedish casino services provider NetEnt. It’s a “younger” network but one with a bang: it has paid out some of the largest progressive jackpots in history.

The largest win in a land-based casino


The history of the Megabucks slot machine is filled with news about spectacular payouts and unlikely events, like Elmer Sherwin’s double jackpot win 16 years apart. The largest-ever jackpot paid out by a Megabucks slot machine so far happened 17 years ago, at the Excalibur hotel-casino in Las Vegas.

A software engineer from Los Angeles, 25 at the time, visited Sin City for the 2003 NCAA basketball tournament when he decided to try his luck at the slots – after all, you can’t go to Vegas and not gamble at all, right? Against all odds, after playing just three $1 spins on the Megabucks Jackpot slot machine at the Excalibur, his life instantly changed: he won $38.7 million. The win broke the previous record of $34.9 million won by a lucky player in 2000, at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas.

The Megabucks progressive jackpot has been growing for almost a whole year at the time of the record-breaking win, with contributions from dollar slot machines in more than 150 casinos in the state of Nevada.

The largest win in an online casino


Online casino jackpots are yet to reach the spectacular payouts of their land-based counterparts but theirs are still pretty spectacular. Not to mention the fact that they can be won over the internet. There are several major progressive jackpot networks – every major casino software provider has one – but there are two that stand out through their massive payouts: NetEnt’s Mega Fortune and Microgaming’s Mega Moolah. These two jackpots have been competing for the title of the most generous win for years, both of them claiming supremacy.

The biggest progressive jackpot payout by a NetEnt slot machine so far happened in 2013 at the Finnish state-owned online casino A player who preferred to remain anonymous won a staggering €17.8 million (over $21 million today), breaking the previous Guinness World Record to become the biggest online slot machine payout in history – at the time, of course. The record has been broken since, and not just once.

Mega Moolah is currently the most generous progressive jackpot network in operation online. Microgaming’s jackpot has paid out more than $1.2 billion in jackpots since its introduction in the late 1990s and has broken several records in the process. The biggest-ever Mega Moolah jackpot was hit by an anonymous player at the Grand Mondial online casino – the win of €18.9 million ($22.4 million today) is the biggest amount ever paid out by an online gambling outlet. Previous record-breaking payouts include $20 million won by a Canadian player last January and a €14.7 million ($17 million) payout to a Swedish player this August.

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