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Are simultaneous jackpot hits on a progressive link possible?

24 February 2007

Hi, John,

Many casinos now offer their players rows of same game slots that have a common progressive payout. When the jackpots get high, these machines get a lot of play with many players all hitting the spin buttons at what could be the same times.

Have you ever heard of two (or more) players hitting a jackpot at precisely the same moment, or is each machine programmed to hit at the expense of another machine not hitting?

I enjoy your column and always learn a lot.

Thanks,
Ron

Dear Ron,

Thanks for the kind words about my columns.

You asked a great question. Here's how progressives work in Las Vegas and other Class III jurisdictions.

Each machine independently determines the outcomes of its spins. Even if players hit the Spin buttons on the machines at the exact same instant, it is unlikely they would get the same results. The machines were probably not turned on at the exact same instant. And even if they were, the RNG functions speed up and slot down at random times and they also reseed at random times. The RNGs in the machines would not have been in the same places in their cycles.

Each machine reports the activity on it to a Progressive Controller. The activity reported includes money played on the machine and hitting a primary or secondary jackpot.

The Progressive Controller gathers all the messages coming in from the machines on the link. It recalculates the amount of the progressive jackpot(s) based on play activity messages it has received and sends the new amount out to the progressive displays on or above the machines. When it receives a Jackpot Hit message, it sends the current value of the jackpot down to the machine that hit it and resets the jackpot amount on all the other displays.

If this progressive is a Wide-Area Progressive, the Progressive Controller will also act as a go-between, sending messages from the machines it is attached to up to another controller, which may be attached to yet another controller, and so on, until the messages reach the Master Progressive Controller.

The more widespread the progressive, the longer it takes for a Jackpot Reset message to propagate through the system. On just a row or two of machines, the reset occurs almost instantaneously. On a bigger system, like Megabucks, it could take a few seconds for all locations to get the message. It is definitely possible for someone to hit the jackpot on one machine and another person to hit the jackpot on a different machine before the second location has received the Jackpot Reset message.

It's possible, but not likely. The chances of hitting the jackpot are so small, the casinos and manufacturers have very little exposure to a second jackpot hitting within the system latency time. Should it happen, the second player wins whatever is on the progressive meter on the machine when the jackpot was hit, not the reset amount. I don't remember the details, but I think this has happened — not with Megabucks, but with a different progressive system.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@comcast.net. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

John Robison

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots