What Are Progressive Jackpots?

A progressive jackpot is one where the cash amount that can be won gradually keeps increasing every time a game is played until one player succeeds in winning the total. When the jackpot is finally won, it is reset to a predetermined minimum level.

Progressive jackpots are available on some slot machines and video poker machines and are also available on some casino games such as blackjack and roulette. In the case of slot machines and video poker machines, several machines can be linked together to form one large progressive jackpot that increases more rapidly because a number of players are simultaneously contributing to the ‘pot’. The jackpot can generally only be won if a player succeeds in attaining the best winning combination for the particular machine.

Some gamers play strategically, or even in teams, in order to increase the likelihood of their success. In video poker, for example, it is possible to calculate the payoff probability and at some point the jackpot may be larger than the amount of cash required to pay for the number of games needed before a payoff is statistically due to happen. Because the jackpot of a progressive video poker game is constantly increasing, eventually a point can be reached where the machine favours the player rather than the ‘house’. On this basis, providing enough games are played (usually thousands), a player can make a profit from a video poker game. The casino also makes a profit, even in this circumstance, because most of the progressive jackpot has been provided by other players’ contributions.

Winnings can be very high. In the case of multi-million dollar jackpot wins, players may be paid part of the amount in cash and then have a period of time (usually up to 3 months) to decide whether they want the rest of the winnings paid as a lump sum or as an annual annuity on the balance.

Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs)

Fixed odds betting terminals were introduced into betting shops in the UK in 2001. They enable players to place fixed odds bets on a number of different popular games, which commonly include: Roulette, Bingo, simulated horse and greyhound racing and slot machine games. Players can win up to £500 per bet and place bets at high speed.


Betting shops’ profits have soared since their introduction, reversing the trend away from betting shop closures. Each betting shop can install up to 4 terminals and amass a total average profit of £900 per week. This has lead to a “clustering” of betting shops in particular areas in order to increase the number of machines the betting companies can make available to punters.

However, they have been the subject of much criticism. GamCare, a charity funded by the gambling industry, has raised concerns about the level of addiction associated with fixed odds betting terminals and in the Republic of Ireland their installation has been restricted to casinos. According to GamCare, there has been an increase in calls to its helpline from young people in debt due to an addiction to FOBTs. The terminals are particularly appealing due to the large returns they yield ˗ much higher than the jackpot wins available using the most popular fruit machines.

Fairer Gambling, a non-profit organisation founded by Derek Webb (who introduced the machines to the UK in the first place), now campaigns against the use of the machines and claims that their installation is targeting the poorest areas with the highest unemployment. However, the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) has denied the idea that bookmakers target vulnerable communities, claiming that shops are located where “footfall is high and rents are affordable”.

To date, the government has chosen not to intervene to reduce the prevalence of FOBTs although a number of MPs, whose constituencies are particularly affected by the growth in betting shops, are expressing concern. FOBTs could only forcibly be removed altogether by the enactment of new legislation. More likely, the Gambling Commission, which regulates the industry, could decide to use its powers to enforce a much lower maximum stake and increase the interval between bets.

Betting Shops are a ‘Blight’ on London’s High Streets

The deputy leader of the UK’s Labour Party, Harriet Harman, has expressed that, in her opinion,  betting shops are a “blight” on London’s high streets.

In 2012, a total of £9.5bn was spent on gambling in the capital, which represents almost a quarter of the UK total, according to the Campaign for Fairer Gambling.

Here is a link to a BBC interview with Shadow Culture Secretary Ms Harman and Association of British Bookmakers chief Dirk Vennix.