There are so many different slot machine types and variations it’s hard to figure out how to count them all, let alone how to organize or group them.  Some online casinos have over 500 different slot machine titles all with different price structures, paylines, jackpots and themes.  If you’ve ever been inside a land based casino you know the variety of slot machines that they offer.  I checked a gaming industry website before writing this and in their directory of slot machine suppliers for the online market they indicated 216 companies.  They made no guarantees about this being an exhaustive list.  Counting all of the versions for different countries and regulatory districts and it’s not a stretch to say that there are thousands of different slot machine titles currently in operation.

Given this variety it’s surprising that we can group every slot machine made into one of two types of jackpots—progressive or non-progressive. Some slot machines offer a simple style of play similar to what you’d have found in a casino in 1970’s.  At the other end of the spectrum, some cutting edge hi-tech games are barely recognizable as a slot machine.  Somewhere beneath all of the pop culture branding, ‘bonus games’ and CRT screens there are some spinning reels.  Even antique slot machines that are decades old offer the same binary distinction of being either a progressive jackpot or non-progressive jackpot machine

These distinctions are extremely important since they’re factored into game choice and your goals as a slot player. Your choice will consider your playing style, risk aversion and overall purpose for playing the slots in the first place.  Are you trying to ‘grind out’ a profit (if you’re lucky) or are you shooting for the moon hoping to win a massive and life changing jackpot?  Would you prefer to milk a game for a longer period of time or are you comfortable losing your money quickly in a quest for a multi-million dollar payday? Do you like more traditional style slots with a few reels and paylines or elaborate state of the art machines with video screens, bonus games, etc?


PROGRESSIVE JACKPOTS:  A progressive jackpot is a jackpot that is not ‘fixed’ at a certain amount or number of credits.  Depending on how the specific casino has their slots configured as players play machines in a ‘bank’ or in a multi-property ‘network’ the jackpots increase.  The specific jackpot structure varies widely depending on where you’re playing and the amount of your stakes.  At the top end of the financial hierarchy are called ‘networked progressive jackpots’.  The best known is the ‘Megabucks’ machines that are ubiquitous in Nevada casinos and are networked across the state to create jackpots in the tens of millions of dollars.   Once someone hits the jackpot, the machines are reset to a set starting amount (you’ll hear slot players refer to this as the ‘reset’)

NON-PROGRESSIVE JACKPOTS:  At the most fundamental level, any machine that doesn’t fit the above description by offering a fixed payout structure is a ‘non-progressive jackpot’ machine.  On these machines, every jackpot is paid equally no matter how many people have played or how long it has been between hits.  The most ‘retro’ and simple slot machine designs will  the traditional slot symbols like ‘cherries’ ‘bars’ and the ‘big 7’.  A jackpot on this type of machine might pay out 5,000 coins for three 7’s (7-7-7).   Usually slot machines with non-progressive jackpots are of a more traditional design since they’re often favored by more serious slot players.  Conversely, many of the newer themed machines are specifically designed to attract a demographic of novice gamblers.  Obviously these are just general rules and ‘your mileage may vary’.  At the end of the day, the best idea is to play the games and jackpot types that you enjoy the most.