Millions to one odds can be beaten

2013-04-12T00:00:00Z Millions to one odds can be beatenJohn G. Brokopp Times Correspondent
April 12, 2013 12:00 am  • 

A number of years ago a 25-year-old software programmer from Los Angeles lined up the Megabucks jackpot symbols on a machine in the Excalibur Casino & Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip and won a world record slot jackpot of $39,713,982.25.

Prior to leaving on his trip, his uncle told him about the Megabucks jackpot and suggested he give it a try.

It's a good thing he listened to his uncle's advice. The winner said he had played around $100 in the machine. He turned his head away for an instant while the reels were spinning, then looked up to see he had lined up the winning symbols.

The money is paid off in annual installments over a 25-year period.

So serious are Nevada gaming regulators and IGT officials about Megabucks that every machine in the network is under the observation of continual 24-hour video surveillance cameras to visually document every play that is made and to ultimately verify the jackpot has been won.

The jackpot was nearly $5 million more than the previous world slot jackpot amount of $34,955,489 Mega Jackpot hit at the Desert Inn in January of 2000.

The odds against winning the Megabucks progressive jackpot have been estimated to be a staggering 50 million to 1. But when you factor in the hundreds of machines that are linked to the jackpot and the amount of play that each machine receives each day, it is quite amazing there had been no winner in 10 months. Here's why:

Say, for purposes of illustration, each of the 691 machines was played continuously for 24 hours every day. It would be conservative to estimate that 10 plays could be made every minute on each machine, which comes to 600 plays per hour or 14,400 plays per day. Multiply that by the number of machines and you get approximately 10 million total plays every day.

If the odds against winning are 50 million to 1, mathematical probability, according to our exaggerated sample, says the jackpot should be hit on some machine in some casino once every five days.

Now we all know that every machine isn't being played continuously, but Las Vegas is a 24-hour town and there are many machines on the network that get plenty of action each day. Even if we cut our play estimate in half, the progressive would go on an average of once every 10 days mathematically speaking.

But mathematical probability has many deviations over the short run. The 10-month gap between winners was certainly unusual. The average was a winner once every three-and-one-half months or so. In fact, winners have sometimes been separated by weeks or even days.

What also must be taken into account here is the fact that at some time during the 10-month period, a player or even players may have lined up the Megabuck jackpot symbols but weren't eligible for the top award because they didn't play the maximum three coins! The 50 million to 1 shot still came through but the jackpot carried on.

The opinions expressed are solely the writer's. Reach him at John Brokopp's Beat the Odds tips air Sundays at 8:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 10:42 p.m. on WBBM Newsradio 780.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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