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Best of John G. Brokopp

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Megabucks Jackpot Winner Rewards Parents

25 June 2003

The Nevada Megabucks progressive jackpot, which had swelled to world-record proportions after not being won since May of last year, has finally been hit.

The lucky player lined up the three elusive Megabucks jackpot symbols on a machine in the Excalibur Casino & Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip on March 21. His jackpot was $39,713,982.25.

The winner was a 25-year-old software programmer from Los Angeles who requested anonymity. He was in Las Vegas visiting friends. Prior to leaving on his trip, his uncle told him about the Megabucks jackpot and suggested he give it a try.

It's a good thing he listened to his uncle's advice. The winner said he had played around $100 in the machine. He turned his head away for an instant while the reels were spinning, then looked up to see he had lined up the winning symbols.

"I'm still stunned, it doesn't seem real yet," the unmarried winner told casino officials minutes after the windfall. "Both of my parents are still working, so some of this money will be used to fund their retirement." Now that's a refreshing twist on the usual stories of college funds for children and grandchildren!

The money is paid off in annual installments over a 25-year period.

In the 17-year history of Megabucks, there have 58 jackpot winners with combined jackpots totaling more than $425 million. The 3-coin dollar progressive links 691 machines in 160 casinos throughout Las Vegas. The jackpot is "seeded" with $7 million.

So serious are Nevada gaming regulators and IGT officials about Megabucks that every machine in the network is under the observation of continual 24-hour video surveillance cameras to visually document every play that is made and to ultimately verify the jackpot has been won.

"The latest MegaJackpot is nearly $5 million more than the previous world slot jackpot amount (a $34,955,489 MegaJackpot hit at the Desert Inn in January of 2000)," said John Sears, vice president of MegaJackpots for IGT, creator of Megabucks. "This one goes into the Guinness Book of Records."

The odds against winning the Megabucks progressive jackpot have been estimated to be a staggering 50 million to 1. But when you factor in the number of machines (691) that are linked to the jackpot and the amount of play that each machine receives each day, it is quite amazing there had been no winner in 10 months. Here's why:

Say, for purposes of illustration, each of the 691 machines was played continuously for 24 hours every day. It would be conservative to estimate that 10 plays could be made every minute on each machine, which comes to 600 plays per hour or 14,400 plays per day. Multiply that by the number of machines and you get 9,950,400 total plays every day.

If the odds against winning are 50 million to 1, mathematical probability, according to our exaggerated sample, says the jackpot should be hit on some machine in some casino once every five days.

Now we all know that every machine isn't being played continuously, but Las Vegas is a 24-hour town and there are many machines on the network that get plenty of action each day. Even if we cut our play estimate in half, the progressive would go on an average of once every 10 days mathematically speaking.

But mathematical probability has many deviations over the short run. The 10-month gap between winners was certainly unusual. In the 204-mointh history of Megabucks there have been 58 winners, which averages out to a winner once every three-and-one-half months or so. In fact, winners have sometimes been separated by weeks or even days.

What also must be taken into account here is the fact that at sometime during the 10-month period, a player or even players may have lined up the Megabuck jackpot symbols but weren't eligible for the top award because they didn't play the maximum three coins! The 50 million to 1 shot still came through but the jackpot carried on.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp