The Progressive Slots Craze Is Fading for Good Reason

Closeup of a Row of Progressive Slot Machines

When I first began my casino career, I had two conflicting voices in my head. My friends and family who didn’t gamble were constantly encouraging me to hit a massive slot machine jackpot and strike it rich.

Simultaneously, my friends, who were more veteran and even accomplished gamblers, preached the importance of focusing on areas of the casino where I could gain an edge. They insisted on maintaining a system of profitability that’s sustainable.

There were considerable struggles early on as I tried to find my way through the casino and learned to endure the losses. I want to tell you I never let the greed get the better of me, but I wasted a lot of money chasing the massive progressive jackpots.

The worst part is that I was playing games I didn’t enjoy. The progressive slots craze is fading for a good reason. I’m here to spread the word on the downturn and hopefully help other gamblers get the most from their money.

The Progressive Slots Offer Incredible Prizes, but They are Increasingly Less Impressive

The thing that jumps out the most when looking at the progressive slots is the behemoth nature of the jackpots. Many of the largest progressives climb into the seven-figure range.

That gives players the feeling that they are always only a single spin away from what seems to be the end of all financial worry. Sadly, that’s hardly the case for the overwhelming majority of players.

The odds of hitting one of the famous progressives like Megabucks is about 50,000,000 to 1. Only slightly better than winning Powerball, depending on how you look at it.

For my gambling dollar, neither seems like a good wager. But I’m more inclined to go for a $100,000,000 plus prize for the same investment.

I’ll cover that correlation more in-depth momentarily. Let’s focus on the volume of these progressives.

It seems that the games aren’t doing enough to keep up with the changing times. Not long ago, a $20,000,000 lottery prize seemed insane.

Your family would be financially secure for generations. These days, most people won’t bother to buy a ticket for a drawing worth less than ten times that amount.

Our perspective has changed considerably in a short time. Yet, the progressive jackpots are the same as they were over a decade ago.

Players that have been making the same investment for decades are ready for a change. That spells bad news for progressive machines.

The New Player Factor

New players drive a considerable portion of the casinos’ revenue from progressive slot machines. Several factors contribute to these players contributing so much money.

However, there are a few that stand out above the rest. The first is that many novice gamblers are naturally drawn to the slot machines because they are easy to play and there’s nobody watching.

The anonymity provided on a bank of slot machines comforts players. These players don’t want a dealer or more experienced gamblers dissecting every move they make on table games.

Row of Slot Machines

Another reason newbies are prone to taking a seat on progressive jackpots is the money. Novice gamblers have fewer delusions about walking up to a live dealer roulette table and striking it rich than many people think.

Because new players don’t know how to monetize table games, they stick to slots. Merely insert your money, spin the reels, and voila, you’re rich.

At least, it seems that way in the beginning. Yet, as players become more attuned to casino gambling, they realize that the slots may not be the best way to reach early retirement.

The internet and mobile apps allow more gamblers to learn casino games before they ever walk into a casino. That’s going to catch up to the slot machines eventually.

A Cash Cow for the Casinos Is Changing

If you’re not convinced that the casinos are worried about the future of their most profitable games, look at how many innovations have come to the world of slot machines in the past ten years.

Games went from small video screens with retro graphics and puzzling themes to some of the most cutting-edge games in the casino. Today, there are multiple bonus games, side features, and the most popular themes are well represented.

Casinos know that the garden variety slot machine won’t entertain future generations. These are the gamblers who have had an iPad in their lap since they were 18 months old and grew up with 4k video and the internet.

I do not doubt that casinos will continue pressing the software developers to create content sought by the new generations. My doubts lie in whether anything the casinos do can keep the slot machines in the forefront of casino play.

More Players Understand RTP and How Slot Machines Drain Them

One of the principles of progressive slots is that the players work against themselves to increase the RTP. The return to players on progressive slot machines is considerably lower than the typical machine at the same denomination.

For example, the average $1 slot machine in Las Vegas has an RTP averaging around 95%. That indicates that machines pay back $0.95 of every dollar played on the game.

For the most popular progressive in Nevada, Megabucks, the RTP in Las Vegas casinos falls to nearly 87%. The main difference is that one machine gives you a 1 in 50,000,000 shot of becoming a millionaire.

Megabucks Slot Machine Progressive Sign

That means to players that for every $100 you play on a standard $1 slot machine, you’ll lose $5. On the Megabucks game, the losses for the same period will be more than double that at $12.

I don’t know many people who are cool with the idea of losing money at more than double the clip when they can avoid it. If you think Megabucks must offer unique features and incredible cutaways, you’re wrong.

The game is as elementary as you’ll find anywhere in the casino. When your biggest star needs a total revamp, it’s a clear sign that the casinos shouldn’t ignore.

Thanks to the vast catalog of online resources, more players than ever are walking into the casinos with some degree of education on casino games. When young budget-minded gamblers start on the table games that offer a much better value, they aren’t likely to leap backward to slot machines.

That creates a climate when the supply dramatically exceeds any demand and casinos are forced into making the tough decision to make more room for table games. I don’t believe we’re at this point, but a short time ago, this scenario was unthinkable.

In a Tough Economy, Players Can’t Justify the Additional Money Vanishing

Armed with the knowledge of how the RTP is stifling any hopes of winning on progressive slots, many gamblers are using the economy to steer their decisions.

It may seem like the clever play to shoot your shot at the massive progressives in hopes of winning a life-altering sum of cash. But more players see the casinos as an entertainment expense.

So, instead of burning through money quickly playing games with a house edge over 10%, they choose to stretch their money by playing games with a lower house advantage.

Not only do slot machines let you keep less of every dollar you put into play, but they draw on your money much faster than other games.

Table Games Offer a Better Value for Entertainment

Table games are almost exclusively superior to slot machines for the average player. Games like blackjack, baccarat, and craps give players the ability to face a house advantage below 1.5%.

That’s a tremendous value alone. Yet, when you consider the games themselves, that value skyrockets.

Casino Floor at Century Casino Cape Girardeau

Many gamblers want to have the social aspects of gaming at the forefront of their experience. You can quickly get that by playing the table games.

Craps may be the most exciting game in the casino, and the house edge on the pass line is only 1.41%, which isn’t even the best wager in the game.

Progressive slots reward the players lucky enough to win a jackpot. Everyone else is merely playing a wishing game.

The Lottery Is Taking Business Away from Progressives

I mentioned earlier how the jackpots for the lottery are significantly outshining anything from the progressive jackpots in casinos.

It seems that many people are content to take their chances at a mega prize via the lottery.

That causes them to be less inclined to head straight for the progressive slots when they visit the casino. At a minimum, these players are less likely to gamble excessively chasing the jackpot.

In Summary

I don’t think I’ll live to see a day when progressive jackpots are no longer a part of the casino experience. Too many players want to take a chance at walking away from the casino with an excess of $30,000 in tow.

However, the progressive slots craze is fading, and for a good reason. Players will continue to demand more from casinos, which begins with the entertainment value received.

In the future, progressive slots may begin to look different than they do today. That’s a necessary response to what I believe to be the future wave of gaming.