Megabucks Slot

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Theme of Megabucks Slots

Megabucks was created by International Game Technology (IGT) and launched in 1986, changing the lives of dozens of people for good, and becoming one of the most infamous slot machines in the world. Mega Bucks is a part of IGT's Mega Jackpot slot system.

This system connects more than 700 machines placed around Nevada's web of 136 casinos and forms one big primary jackpot while having dozens of machines in other casinos as well. It is widely claimed and accepted that IGT's fundamental reason for coming up with Megabucks was to compete with the state lotteries.

At the time of the introduction of Megabucks to casino floors, slot machine jackpots were very limited in their functionality. This means that each separate slot machine had its own little piggy-bank sized payout for every player, which was decided based on the number of coins that had previously been deposited in between significant payouts.

Even back then, IGT thought ahead of its time and came up with the idea to connect classic slot machines in different areas and combine all the deposits to increase the overall payout. This also meant that a player who was playing at any of the casino floors in Nevada was contributing to the same jackpot as a player sitting and playing in Reno or Mesquite.

This was revolutionary at the time and came to be known as the Wide-Area Progressive (WAP) jackpot system. This system is functional across countless Megabucks slot machines, which can be found throughout IGT casinos in Nevada and Las Vegas.

However, some other US jurisdictions also offer a smaller version of the same jackpot. Megabucks also has a presence in Macau, where it can be found in most casinos. Owing to the WAP jackpot system, which we'll explain up ahead, Megabucks slot machines feature one of the most massive jackpot slots in the world, offering players a chance to become potential millionaires while spending as little as $100, as has happened before. 

Theme of Megabucks Slots

Probability of Winning Megabucks

Statistically speaking, the odds don't look good. To win the  $1,000,000 Megabucks jackpot, you must obtain three of the distinct Megabucks eagle symbols. The only problem is, even attaining one of these is reasonably hard. The odds of a player landing one megabucks eagle symbol  is 1 in 368. Considering this, the chances of achieving all three megabucks eagle symbols simultaneously are 1 in 50 million!

To put that into perspective, the odds that you will get struck by lightning during your life are 1 in 700,000. The odds of you being attacked by a shark are 1 in 3.7 million. And the odds of you dying from a plane crash are 1 in 5.3 million. You're 70 times more likely to get struck by lightning, 14 times more likely to get attacked by a shark, and 10 times more likely to die in a plane crash than you are to win the jackpot in Megabucks.

Those are pretty slim chances. But even with all these statistics, people do get struck by lightning, attacked by sharks, and killed in a plane crash.

Similarly, people do win the Megabucks jackpot. Since the jackpot reset amount has been increased to $10 million, 22 people have won the prize... pretty. short numbers. And since we have been talking statistically, about two people per year have walked away with a massive amount of money. Even though there is a very slim probability of winning, there is still a probability, and someone is going to win, after all. So if you are going to try your luck at a game, Megabucks should be your number one pick.

The Megabucks jackpot often waits for its next lucky winner for lengthy periods of a year or more. Due to the delay in the winner, the Megabucks jackpot bank increases and often reaches exciting heights. One of these exciting heights came about in 1998 when Megabucks players witnessed an incredible run that saw the jackpot amount rise to a staggering $27.5 million, a massive amount in the '90s.

A staggering amount of money was won at the Palace Station in November of '98, but this record was broken less than two years later. In January of 2000, a cocktail waitress walked away with a blistering $34.9 million while playing at the Desert Inn. A little more than three years later, a new record was set at the Excalibur, one of the strangest yet amazing stories of pure luck. 

The anonymous winner walked into the casino with just $100 and, upon the request of a family member, checked out the Megabucks Slots. The fortunate player had the possibility of a maximum of 33 spins (valuing each spin at $3).

But even with that small amount, the player watched in awe as the Megabucks eagle symbol slowly came to a stop not once, not twice, but three times. And just like that, the player walked away with $40 million to his name, agreeing to receive $1.5 million over the next 26 years.

Megabucks Slot Gameplay

At its core, IGT's Megabuck is an old-fashioned slot machine. There are no bonus games and free spins, no symbols scattering across the screen, no sirens and sounds going off, no animations from one end to another, no intricate patterns and no principal theme—just some good old-fashioned slot spinning gameplay.

You can play for a minimum of $1, but you'll only be handsomely rewarded if you put in $3, since the game requires three coins to hit the jackpot. Every time there is a grand wine, the jackpot is reset to a specific amount.

Initially, upon release, the reset amount was set to $1 million, before being increased to $7 million in 1997. As of right now, the reset amount after every mega win is set at $10 million, with rumors going around that this will soon be increased to $11 million

Understanding and playing Megabucks is quite simple. Players get awarded credits every time they put money into the machine. Players then decide how many paylines they want, and how much they want to bet for each line. Lastly, players are required to pull the lever located on the side of the slot machine or push the spin button.

The most popular Megabucks slot machines are just plain old 3-reel slots with a single pay line. There are different 5-reel versions as well, but these are relatively unpopular among the general public and increasingly harder to find. The 3-reel version is pretty standard, as mentioned before. On the screen, players will see the usual symbols of cherries, bars, and 7s. What is required is for the players to align all three symbols across the payline.

The symbols you want to align are the Megabucks symbols since these will reward you with the biggest wins. This is the beauty of Megabucks. It is so pure and straightforward that the few people who don't know about it almost don't pay any attention to it until they look at the reset meter above the screen.

And that's the hook. Even if you think you’re the unluckiest person in the world, watching that $10 million (or more) reset meter makes you want to have at least a few tries, just to see what happens

As mentioned before, Megabucks is simple. But at the same time, it is cunning and deceptive.

The strategy to disregard the multiple paylines and expanded reels gameplay, used by the majority of casino slots, brings forth an attractive dilemma for the players: winning big money with Megabucks Slots, or taking away little cash from games with multiple paylines and guaranteed pay? As mentioned earlier, the final target for any casino player is to win big.

Progressive Jackpots 

To be eligible to win the progressive jackpot slot game, you have to bet all three coins ($3) for a spin and align three Megabucks symbols in a row. It is as simple as that. You don't have to be skilled to achieve this. You just have to be lucky, which is the whole idea of the game — come on up and test your luck.

The $10 million jackpot is always a very tempting reason to start, so if you do win — whether you put in $3 or $100 — you'll be looking at a huge amount of money. But $10 million is just the beginning of something that can become mind-boggling. In 2003, one player won almost $40 Million ($39.7 million to be exact) while playing at the Excalibur.

Apart from this insane isolated case, people have frequently reported winning jackpots of $20 million or more. Each Megabucks slot machine games has a huge display screen connected to it on the top, which shows the winning amount so that it is clear how big of an amount is at stake.

If a player does manage to hit the jackpot, all that excitement can be cut short by the rules and regulations of the Megabucks Slots. According to IGT, contrary to what many people would have wanted, jackpot winners cannot just walk out of a casino with bags full of cash. Instead, the winning cash is provided to the jackpot winners over 25 years.

But even in that case, receiving half a million to a million dollars per year for 25 years does not sound like a bad idea. However, as most lottery players have tried and failed to win the jackpot, they can attest to the fact that just because it's simple does not mean it's easy.

Wide-Area Progressive Jackpot

As mentioned earlier, Megabucks Slots features a Wide-Area Progressive (WAP) jackpot. The first thing to understand is the progressive jackpot. As the name suggests, a progressive jackpot grows or progresses over time as players pour their money into the machine. A progressive jackpot utilizes a minor chunk of each bet to power that jackpot. 

The second concept to understand is the machines, and how each connected machine shares the same jackpot. Some games are stand-alone progressives, which means they're just harbouring the jackpot which they own.

Then there are games connected by Local Area Network (LAN) machines, which cover identical machines within the same casino, or even a specific area within the casino, that contribute to the same jackpot. And then, there comes the Wide-Area progressive jackpot.

This bad boy can connect to virtually hundreds and thousands of slot machines across a broad geographical location and combine all the jackpots covered by those thousands of connected machines. This is why the Megabucks Jackpot Bonus tends to grow so large so fast.

Bonus Games

Megabucks Slots also has another version of their classic game with 5 reels and a few minor variations. Firstly, it has four different mini progressives. These include the Mini Bucks, Minor Bucks, Major Bucks, and Max Bucks.

These mini progressives are awarded to players when they hit the progressive jackpot symbol two or more times within a single spin, which will then transform into gold bar symbols covering the entire screen. Players can expect to win prizes ranging from $10 to $500 if they manage to land the symbols two or more times.

The exciting thing about this Megabucks variation is that the longer it takes for someone to cash the prize, the higher it gets, so the person winning it is walking away with a big catch.

Megabucks and its Expected Value (EV)

Megabucks and its Expected Value (EV)

When players know what the odds of winning are while dealing with a bet, they can easily calculate how good or bad the bet is and then proceed accordingly. That gets measured by the expected value (or EV) of the bet.

Slot bets, and generally most casino bets, are negative EV (or –EV). That means that the player naturally expects to lose a certain amount of money when he or she makes that bet. But after lots and lots of contributions, when the jackpot for a game gets high enough, the expected value for that bet becomes profitable. That is why professional poker is possible and why card counting in blackjack is so profitable. It is all about the expected value.

To explain that in layman's terms, imagine you're flipping a coin, and you choose heads. Every time the coin shows tails, you lose $5, but every time you get heads, you get $10. You can see how that could end up being profitable, can't you? Similarly, with Megabucks Slots, whenever the jackpot amount crosses $32.2 million, you're dealing every bet with a positive expected value (+EV).

Final Verdict

Conclusively, Megabucks Slots is the epitome of go big or go home. It is an old-fashioned classic that gives people the hope and glimmer they need while wandering around in Nevada. Even if it is for a short while, looking at that meter on the machine and thinking about winnings of that size feels blissful.

It is clear from its popularity that the low risk and high reward model works for this game, as it has attracted thousands, if not millions of players over the years to come and try their luck. Few have tried, and even fewer have succeeded, but so long as everyone dreams of that life of glam and riches, people will always be willing to see what happens and take a chance.

For this exact reason, lotteries and casinos in the United States have been popular for hundreds of years, and exactly why the Megabucks Slots will continue to be a success among the general public and players alike. 

In the end, we'd like to remind you that in a city like Las Vegas, an average tourist came in with $100, not knowing what to expect, and walked away with $40 million, setting a new Guinness Book world record for slot machine jackpot winnings by a single player. More than a decade has passed since that brilliant feat, but it hasn't been topped yet.

The Megabucks Slots have dished out millions of dollars worth of money in jackpots on multiple occasions since then. This goes to show precisely how baffling and incredible that record is, still being strong after all these years. It also goes to show that it's been a long time since someone hit it big, and maybe there's a new winner on the horizon.

As always, make sure you are of legal age to play Megabucks.


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Giuseppe Faraone

Giuseppe Faraone

Author & Online Gambling Expert

1188 Articles
Being so close to the action in iGaming, Giuseppe is on top of any new developments the minute they come through the door, as his book is testament to. Published in October 2022, his first book; The Untold Story of Online Gambling is available on Amazon.
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