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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Megabucks

15 May 2003

A 25-year-old man from Los Angeles won a record $39 million on the Nevada Megabucks on March 21. Let's look at how Megabucks works and some of the myths of the system.

Megabucks links slot machines in multiple casinos into one network. Unlike multi-state lotteries, Megabucks does not cross state lines. Each state with Megabucks has a separate system with separate progressive meters and separate winners. What happens in one state does not affect another.

Why did IGT create the Megabucks system? To compete with state lotteries. A $10,000 jackpot for a $3 bet looks pretty stingy when compared with a multi-million-dollar jackpot for a $1 bet. Never mind the fact that you're much more likely to win the $10,000 jackpot, unlikely as that is.

Just what are the odds of hitting the Megabucks? According to a PC sheet I have for a Megabucks machine--the PC sheet gives the percentages of a machine and the probabilities of hitting the winning combinations--the odds of hitting the Megabucks is about 1 out of 50,000,000.

How are winners chosen? Each machine has its own Random Number Generator and each machine chooses its own outcomes. Each machine reports its outcomes to a central station so when the jackpot is hit, the central station can send a signal to the other machines on the system to reset their progressive meters. Contrary to the myth, the central station does not choose the winner.

Has anyone underage ever hit the Megabucks? Notice that I didn't say has anyone underage ever WON the Megabucks. If you're underage, you don't win. Period. Underage persons have hit big jackpots--Quartermania once, Million Dollar Babies at Caesars--but not the Megabucks.

Did IGT change the programming of the system to make the Megabucks hit less frequently but for more money? IGT claims they didn't, but I think the truth is somewhere in between. I believe this is actually the second incarnation of the Megabucks system. If you look at the first winner, he won a little under $5,000,000. The current reset value is $7,000,000. So the system was changed. I think it is correct to say that IGT has not changed the system after any changes they made when they changed the reset value.

Who owns the Megabucks machines? IGT does. The casino gets a cut of the money each machine wins from its players.

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