Many of us kick back and daydream about what we would do if we won a life-changing jackpot, be it on a state lottery game or a video slot machine. For a select club of people, that dream has become a reality. There are people out there that have unlocked tens of millions of dollars from the random spin of a slot game or roulette wheel. Fortunately, there are now many opportunities to play for these progressive jackpot payouts online too. As casino operators compete with one another using bonuses for new and existing customers, this creates the opportunity for free spins and bonus funds that can be credited for use on games that can yield some of the biggest prize pools out there.
If you’re wondering just how big some of the casino jackpots have been in the past, read on as we explore the largest payouts in the industry's illustrious history.
$40m – won by Australian billionaire Kerry Packer
Media tycoon Kerry Packer was one of the most influential moguls in the Australian press throughout the 20th century. At the height of his fame and fortune, Packer would regularly pay a visit to casinos in Las Vegas for high-stakes blackjack sessions. The billionaire once frequented the MGM Casino and wagered $250,000 per hand across eight high-limit tables simultaneously. Within a 40-minute session, Packer managed to rake in $40m in winnings. Although it was a bad night for MGM Casino, it was later proved that the news of Packer’s lucrative night actually improved the resort’s popularity with tourists and locals alike.
$39.7m – won by Anonymous
The Excalibur Casino & Resort is one of the least likely venues you’d think where the biggest slot jackpot has been won in Las Vegas, but this South Strip resort paid out the big bucks in 2003. The lucky winner from Los Angeles opted to play the Megabucks slot machine, complete with progressive payouts. They wagered just $100 to unlock the mammoth $39.7m progressive jackpot, which remains the biggest land-based or online slot jackpot in history.
$35m – won by local Cynthia Jay Brennan
We return to Las Vegas for the second biggest slot jackpot win of all time. This time, at the Desert Inn, which closed its doors back in August 2000. The site of the Desert Inn has since been replaced by the new Wynn Las Vegas resort. The Megabucks jackpot proved decisive once again when 37-year-old Cynthia Jay Brennan landed the payout back in 2000. Brennan, who was the biggest slot jackpot winner at the time, was tragically paralyzed in an accident only a handful of months after her win.
$19m – won by British gamer Jon Heywood
Former British soldier Jon Heywood enjoyed the most enjoyable introduction to online casino gaming back in 2015. Within 25 minutes of opening his first ever online casino account, Heywood became a multi-millionaire by landing the $19m progressive jackpot on the slot game Mega Moolah. This success went immediately into the official Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest online slot jackpot win. Heywood landed his Mega Moolah payday from a spin worth just 25 cents. Heywood even gifted $5m of his winnings to his long-time friend, with the pair having a pact that they would share any lottery or gaming winnings.
$15.1m – won by corporate worker Don Johnson
Salem-born corporate executive Don Johnson was regularly invited to play high-stakes blackjack at the leading casino resorts in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Johnson was offered multiple incentives to visit, including loss rebates of up to 20%, which were unheard of prior to the 2008 global recession. In 2011, Johnson won a remarkable $15.1m across three Atlantic City casinos in a six-month period. Johnson took almost $6m from the Tropicana, $5m from Borgata and another $4m from Caesars. After these hefty victories, Johnson was discretely banned from playing under the same conditions and bet limits.
As you can see, it doesn’t matter whether it’s slot machines or table games, there have been big bucks to be won in the past across the casino industry. With more innovation and gaming options than ever before, the sector is sure to yield more record-breaking winners in the years to come.