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What Causes a Progressive to Increase?

Written by Joshua

It may seem like a simple scenario – you play a slot, the progressives grow. But what makes them grow? In today’s post I’ll discuss a bit about how a progressive jackpot works.

But first, a reminder: A progressive jackpot is a jackpot that increases over time as a slot is played. This is different than a fixed jackpot that stays the same regardless of how much a slot is played.

Progressives usually take a few forms:

  • Must Hit By Progressives: Progressives that have a Must Hit By component reset at a certain number, but must be won by a certain number as well, so they are always within a set range.
  • Progressives with Caps: Some casinos will cap certain progressives; some games, like Lightning Link’s Major progressive, are designed to cap at a certain number.
  • Open-ended Progressives: They’ll just grow and grow until they hit, which can lead to some really big opportunities.

Progressives usually increment in one of two ways:

  • Based on wager: Wager-based progressives will increment based on how many dollars are passing through it.
  • Based on wins: In rare instances, like WMS’ G+ Deluxe machines, the progressive will increment based on how many dollars have been won.

Progressives can be:

  • Local to one machine: The wagers for one machine impact the progressives for only that one machine
  • Linked with other machines in a casino: This can be contained to a bank of machines, or could be linked throughout a property in bigger cases
  • Wide-area progressives: they are linked across properties, either within a state or across the country.

In a few cases some progressives can be local, and the top progressive linked across machines. This is common on many of the Link-style games: Lock it Link, Lightning Link, Ultimate Fire Link, Mighty Cash, etc.

So, based on all this information, progressives generally increment based on bet. If you do enough consistent spinning at a certain wager you can begin to figure out how often they increase. For Must Hit By machines that can be useful information to figure out how far from the top they really are.

Machines with multiple progressives likely put different amounts into each of the progressives with each bet; the ones hit more often will likely increase the fastest because they also get hit and reset the most often.

The highest progressive will probably move the slowest. Part of that factors in the baseline on a top progressive being much higher than the smallest progressive, so the game has to make all that money up over time.

One last note is that it is possible on certain games the progressive moves at a different pace on some installations than others. This isn’t unusual on a game like Video Poker, so it helps to check that out if you’re going to be playing awhile. Just like you want to pick a game with the highest progressive amounts, if you spot a game where the meter is moving faster than normal, it may be worth a consideration to play.

About the author


My name is Joshua, and I’m a slot enthusiast who works in tech as a marketer by day, and dabbles in casinos periodically during off-times. Know Your Slots will reflect my interests in understanding the various ways you can play slots, travel, casino promotions and how you can get the most out of your casino visits.

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