Progressive slots are a special category of slot machines known for their huge additional prizes which keep rising every time someone spins the reels.

With jackpots that can run into the millions of pounds, it’s not surprise that ‘progressives’ are the most popular type of slot at online casinos. Let’s see how they work, how to play progressive jackpot slots, how to bag a jackpot and which are the top progressive slots at PlayOJO.

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What are progressive slots?

These games are called progressive slots because the jackpot prize isn’t fixed – it progresses with every bet made, until it’s won. Some progressive jackpots automatically pay out if they hit a certain size, but most are uncapped and can, in theory, get bigger and bigger until someone wins it.

Progressive jackpot slots are only different to the rest of the slots universe because of the monster prizes. Some slots are dedicated progressives, while others are merely versions of existing games that are connected to a jackpot network.

Progressive slots meaning:

A casino slot machine which features a progressive jackpot – a cash prize that gets bigger every time someone places a real money wager and the jackpot isn’t won. A small share of each wager is added to the jackpot, and the jackpot size is usually displayed in real time, so players can see it rise. When the jackpot is won, it is reset to a pre-determined minimum amount called a seed.

But casinos and games developer wanted to find ways to offer bigger prizes without stumping up the cash themselves. A shrewd game designer figured out that if they got players to fund the jackpots themselves using something called a stake contribution, it would produce bigger prize funds. These would attract more players, who would fund bigger and bigger jackpots, and so on!

This innovation basically means that millions of players each contribute a few pence so that one of you becomes a millionaire, a bit like a lotto.

Cleopatra Slot

Thanks to the massive popularity of games like Cleopatra, IGT’s progressive MegaJackpots prizes are some of the biggest in the UK.

How do progressive slots work?

Let’s answer that question by going under the hood of these casino games and taking a closer look at the model these slots use which makes huge wins possible.

The contribution

For every bet you make, a small portion is siphoned off into a separate pot which is used to fund the jackpot or jackpots. Play any Red Tiger slots linked to their Daily Jackpots feature and around 3% of your bet will fund the jackpot pool, while IGT’s MegaJackpots take around 2.3% of your bet.

The seed

What happens when someone wins a jackpot and why doesn’t it start at zero? Progressive jackpots have to start somewhere, because no one would play a slot with a jackpot of £0 or £10.

That somewhere is called the ‘seed’ amount and it’s guaranteed by the casino or game supplier. IGT’s MegaJackpots™ prize pool is seeded at £500,000, for example.

The prize

A progressive jackpot is just one which keeps rising as it’s played, until it’s won. The million-pound progressives get all the attention but progressive slots come in all shapes and sizes, with some slots even having their own progressive jackpots of less than £1,000.

IGT’s MegaJackpots games have paid out average jackpot wins of £846,000 and has been won (again, on average) every 10 weeks.

Different types of progressive slot

Progressive jackpots have continued to change since they were invented decades ago. What started as single-game jackpots have now evolved into jackpots that are funded across an entire international network of casinos. The more players participate, the bigger the jackpots AND the more frequently they’re won.

Here’s Blueprint Gaming’s Jackpot King feature, which shows their 3 networked progressive jackpots and the rules.

Jackpot King Slot

Here are some of the progressive jackpots you’ll find at PlayOJO:

  • Game jackpot: Games like Ozwin’s Jackpots have their own progressive prize, although they are still funded from players across different online casinos
  • Network jackpot: Game providers now bolt on a network-wide jackpot system to their most popular games, so that players can choose from over 30 different slots and still have the chance to win the same prize.
  • Tiered jackpots: Many progressive slots now offer as many as 4 different progressives, ranging from Mini pots worth hundreds of pounds that are won every few minutes, to Mega prizes worth hundreds of thousands of pounds which are won every few weeks. This makes jackpot bonus games more interesting, as you’re more likely to win something, while keeping the potential for the biggest win alive.
  • Timed jackpots: Red Tiger pioneered the online timed progressive with their Daily Jackpots, which feature small and medium progressive pots that are guaranteed to pay out by a particular time of day.

How to win a progressive jackpot

Fortunately, if you already know how to play online slots, then you’ve got the skills to win a progressive jackpot too. It’s all luck, so just pick your stake, spin and go!

But how does the game know to pay out? Let’s get technical and see how these special slots award their biggest prizes.

Progressive slots have been around since the 1980s. The jackpot win is just another line in the math model that powers the slot, so it’s controlled randomly in much the same way as the other slot prizes.

The jackpot has a win condition that’s built into the slot’s maths design. It can be a fixed probability event (e.g. 1 in 6.43 million spins) or a randomly selected time, total staked across all slots, or jackpot size.

The slot provider picks the design of the jackpot event and the random number generator inside the game software does the rest. That’s the how software that powers the slot chooses when a jackpot is won. But what happens on-screen differs from game to game.

In the early years of progressive jackpots, you would have to match special symbols on a payline. With 21st century progressive jackpot slots, you’ll usually trigger a bonus game first. You won’t be guaranteed the biggest jackpot, and you might not even be guaranteed any of the tiered jackpots.

Dynamite Riches Slot

With Red Tiger’s Daily Jackpot games like Dynamite Riches, you have to land 3 jackpot symbols during a base game spin. You’ll then get to spin the jackpot wheel, which features the Daily and Mega progressive jackpots you can see above.

IGT’s MegaJackpot is a simple beast; if you land 5 jackpot symbols on the centre payline. Blueprint Gaming’s Jackpot King is a different animal.

To trigger the jackpot bonus game, you must first trigger the Jackpot King Deluxe bonus feature, then spin 15 or more Kings to enter the Wheel King jackpot game. It is possible to go straight to the Wheel King if you land the correct number of Wheel King symbols.

But even once you’re in the Wheel King, a life-changing win isn’t guaranteed, as you could scoop a cash multiplier instead of one of the 3 jackpots.

Almost all game providers now offer progressive slots online, although it’s difficult for the newer or smaller game studios to go out on a limb with bigger prizes, so the biggest and most popular prizes are usually reserved for the likes of Games Global, NetEnt and IGT.

Because the 3 network jackpots from Red Tiger, IGT and Blueprint now dominate the slots world, their participating games tend to top the charts of best progressive jackpot slots.

Mega Fortune Slot

There are a few exceptions such as IGT’s Mega Fortune which you can see above. This famous slot has its own jackpot and as you can see, it’s usually one of the biggest UK online progressive jackpots out there.

At the other end of the progressive spectrum, games like Play N’ Go’s Celebration of Wealth and Yggdrasil’s Dr Fortuno have much smaller jackpots because fewer players spin them from day to day. The advantage of these smaller jackpots is they’re easier to win, as there’s less competition.

Our top jackpot slots

You can tap the Jackpot section of our casino for the latest progressive prizes, but here’s a snapshot of the best progressive slots this year.

OJO's Top Progressive Slots


That’s your lot for the ultimate guide to slots. What we haven’t covered so far, isn’t worth knowing! Now you know what are progressive slots and the top progressive jackpot we have at PlayOJO. Time to go spin and win!


Does anyone ever win progressive jackpots?

Although the odds of landing a progressive jackpot are tiny on any given spin, progressive jackpots are won pretty often, because millions of spins happen every week. The biggest online progressive jackpot win came in 2017, when a UK player won £13.2 million on Mega Moolah. In recent years at PlayOJO, many six figure progressive jackpots have been won. Leisureles won a £100,182.51 progressive on Top Cat, Richvandam1 bagged £205,056 on the Divine Fortune slot and Vericeca won £118,546 on our Mega Fortune slot.

How can I improve my chances of winning a jackpot?

There’s no silver bullet which gives you better odds of winning progressive slots online, but there is a myth about looking for jackpots that are ‘due’. There’s some truth in it, too. Sure, progressive jackpots pay out randomly, they are more likely to hit once the jackpot is bigger than the average. Be wary though, as other players may have the same idea too, so your chances of winning may not really improve. You can give yourself a better chance of hitting a win on slots by playing more lines at lower stakes, playing at casinos which offer the fairest rewards. The more spins you can squeeze out of your carefully-managed bankroll, the more chance you’ll have to win a progressive jackpot.

How do progressive slot RTPs compare to regular slots?

Because of the extra contribution to the jackpot funds, progressive slots tend to have slightly lower Return To Player percentages than regular non-progressive slots. The official RTP for the classic Fishin’ Frenzy slot is 96.12%, but the Fishin’ Frenzy Jackpot version linked to the Jackpot King networked progressives has an overall RTP of 95.64%. When you break it down, the base game has an RTP of 93.32% and the progressive feature has an RTP of 2.32% which includes 0.68% contribution to the reserve to seed future pots. If you are very price conscious and prefer immediate returns, you should consider sticking to non-jackpot slots.

Do you need to play maximum bet to qualify for a progressive jackpot?

Not always, but you should check the game rules to make sure you know how to qualify. Most of our progressive slots have no minimum, but some games do require you to select the maximum number of paylines or coins to be eligible to win the game. Knowing the rules inside out sounds like a chore, but it’s one of the key factors in how to win at slots. All providers used to do this to create a level playing field, so that high rollers weren’t at a disadvantage against small stakers. But these days, providers have discovered new and inventive ways to allow any player the chance to win, although higher stakers will have a better chance of triggering the jackpot.

Daniel Grant

Daniel Grant

Dan Grant has been writing about gambling for 15 years, and been fascinated by beating the odds for even longer. Now he’s on a mission to help others bet smarter and avoid the mistakes he made. When he’s not obsessing over bankroll strategy or counting cards badly, he’s hosting The OJO Show podcast.