One huge advantage tribal casinos have over state-regulated casinos in the Chicago-area market is the availability of wide-area progressive slot machines capable of awarding jackpots in the hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars.
When jackpots are funded by banks of machines that are networked in properties state-wide or even around the country, huge progressive awards are made possible by the vast number of people who play the games.
One of the most popular genres of these slot games comes from International Game Technology (IGT) in the form of MegaJackpots. Machines are available in many themes in different denominations, but something they have in common is the ability to make slot players instantly rich.
Timothy T., a lucky slot player who hails from Buchanan, Mich., started the New Year off a big winner when he won a $744,966.02 jackpot playing "The Great and Powerful Oz" penny slot machine from WMS Gaming in the early morning of Jan. 1 at Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo, Mich.
Timothy, who came to the casino to celebrate New Year's Eve, said he plans to invest his winnings.
Four Winds is one of many tribal casinos across the nation that belongs to a multi-state Native American progressive gaming network. Any time a coin is played in a linked machine anywhere along the network, the cumulative Megajackpot continues to grow until it is won.
Other recent jackpots at Four Winds New Buffalo include a $334,298.78 jackpot hit on Aristocrat’s "Tarzan Lord Of The Jungle" in December 2012, and a $409,722 jackpot hit in October 2012 on the "QuarterMillion$ Instant Fortune" penny slot machine.
The world record for a MegaJackpot is $39,713,982.25 which was won on March 21, 2003 at the Excalibur Casino & Hotel in Las Vegas by a 25-year-old software engineer from Los Angeles.
It came on MegaBucks, a three-coin dollar game that was the trailblazer of wide-area progressives. At the time the world record hit, the progressive had built up over a period of 10 months without a winner. It has been estimated the odds against winning the MegaBucks jackpot are 50 million to one.
Something else has to be taken into account with top-award progressives: The maximum credits per spin must be played in order to become eligible to claim the prize. Some people who make the ill-advised decision to play less than max coins on progressives are just as likely to line up the jackpot symbols as anybody. When that happens, there's a payout but a fraction of what it would have been with the full amount of play.
When a player beats the millions to one odds to be eligible for a MegaJackpot but isn't eligible for the prize, mathematical probability remains consistent but the jackpot carries on.