Lottery Odds vs. Progressive Jackpot Slots

Two of the most popular ways to become a millionaire overnight are playing the lottery and progressive jackpot slots. But which of the two has the best odds of winning?

From an odds perspective, your best bet is progressive slots – but there’s a bit more to it than that. Let’s break it down to give you exactly what you need to know to win huge.

Lottery: Odds Of Winning The Jackpot

According to the Mega Millions website, the odds of winning the Jackpot is 1 in 302,575,350. For the Powerball, the odds of winning the Grand Prize is 1 in 292,201,338 according to the website.

Basically, you have a 1 in 300 million chance of winning the lottery. To put that in perspective, if the President of the United States was chosen at random out of all the adults in the US, the odds that you’d be selected would be about 1 in 209 million.

When people talk about “winning the lottery,” they usually mean the multimillion-dollar grand prizes. The largest single-ticket lottery win of all time was the Mega Millions drawing on October 23, 2018, which paid out $1.537 billion (before taxes).

But you have much better odds of winning smaller sums. For example, many scratch-offs feature 1 in 3 odds of winning your money back, and even the Mega Millions offers a 1 in 24 chance of winning something.

Progressive Slots: Odds Of Winning The Jackpot

The highest paying slot machine of all time is the Megabucks progressive slot, which is available in several different locations around Las Vegas. And the odds to win that jackpot is about 50 million to one.

The biggest slot win of all time was $39.7 million in 2003, and it was on the Megabucks slot at Excalibur Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

However, the odds of winning progressive slots can vary wildly. Some are guaranteed to hit within a certain timeframe (such as once a week, month, or year) while others, like Megabucks, can go years without triggering the progressive.

Playing online slots in states with legal online casinos versus physical casinos makes it easier to shop around for the best odds. While you stand to win more at brick-and-mortar casinos, you can find far better odds to win five-figure progressives by shopping around the online casinos in Pennsylvania, New Jersey online casinos, Michigan online casinos, and other legal online casino states.

Bottom Line

In summary, you have a higher likelihood of winning a progressive jackpot than you do of winning the lottery’s grand prize. But you can win a lot more playing the lottery than you can playing progressive slots.

For both the lottery and slots, the only way to guarantee a win is to play for fun and expect to lose. That makes following responsible gaming best practices a lot easier, which makes for a lifetime of betting enjoyment.

Strategies To Win Progressive Slots

The best way to win a progressive jackpot on a slot machine is to make sure you’re placing a qualifying bet. The single biggest mistake slots players make is assuming that any spin of the reels can trigger the progressive. Wrong. Instead, you usually have to bet the maximum.

Betting the maximum usually means one or all three of the following:

  • Select all the paylines
  • Play all the coins
  • Play the maximum coins/paylines set at the maximum denomination

For example, you can bet on the Megabucks slot in Vegas for as little as $1. But you’ll need to play all three coins (minimum $3 total) to qualify for the progressive jackpot. The record-breaking winner in 2003 was playing for $100 a spin.

Before placing a bet, go to the game’s info and make sure you’re placing a qualifying bet. If the minimum qualifying spin is too high for your budget, walk away. The odds of losing are always higher than winning, even if you’re going for the smaller wins.

Strategies To Win The Lottery

The Kentucky Lottery’s old slogan best sums up playing lottery games like the Mega Millions or the Powerball: “Somebody’s gotta win, might as well be you.” 

The causality really rings true. You know buying a lottery ticket means an almost certain loss, but somebody’s gotta win eventually. Hey, it might as well be you, right? Every number has an equal chance of selection, and every ticket has an equal chance of winning.

But here are some lottery strategies that might give you a slight edge over other players:

  • Statistically speaking, “quick pick” auto-generated numbers have the best chance of winning.
  • The more tickets you buy, the better your chances of winning.
  • Many people choose numbers based on birthdays. So if you do want to select your own numbers, have most be above 31 to avoid splitting the jackpot.

Another option is to not play the massive lottery jackpots and instead focus on the smaller drawings or the scratch-offs. All state lottery websites list the probability of winning each prize within each game. That means a little online research can make a big difference.

About the Author
Mike Epifani

Mike Epifani

Casino Content Manager
Mike Epifani is a gambling expert and professional writer with more than a decade of industry experience. His current role is Brand Content Manager at, part of the Catena Media network. Mike has written hundreds of guides on online casinos, casino gaming, sports betting, sweepstakes sites, and lottery play.
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