Consider this scenario: Tomorrow night, I want to host a small poker game from my home. I am going to invite five friends over to play, charging them $10 each as a buy-in. At the end of the evening, the winner will take all, going home with $49 after I have charged my $1 commission for hosting.
The above is effectively what happens in a commercial poker room, albeit often with much larger amounts of money involved. However, that will usually mean that the player will need to put down a huge amount of money to get into the game, i.e. it’s reserved for high rollers.
Yet, today online casinos are using tech to develop mega jackpots and then offering them to every type of player, not just the high rollers. The mechanics behind them are fascinating, as is the math that makes it possible to have a headline marketable product with relatively little effort.
Economy of scale has changed casinos
Let’s look at an example. Gladiator slot – based on the Oscar-winning movie – is a popular bonus game at slotsheaven.com and other casinos which host Playtech games. These regular games use Random Number Generators (RNGs) to determine the outcome. That means the game is random, but over time it will yield a small percentage of profit for the casino (usually around 3-4%).
However, there is a separate version of the game called Gladiator Jackpot. This game is basically the same, but it also offers a progressive jackpot, which can be awarded randomly to any player at any time. The jackpot is funded by taking a small percentage of each player’s wagers (usually around 1%) and paying it into the jackpot fund.
Now, if we revert back to the poker game I am organizing with some friends. And imagine I asked for a half cent for each hand of played, and I would offer the side pot as a special random bonus prize. It would take a while for that pot to build into something attractive, right? Well, imagine that I have five players playing in each room in my house, on every house in my street, and every street in my city.
No limit to the number of connected games
That’s the ideals of economy of scale that online casinos are trying to practice here. Paying into the jackpot is basically unnoticed because the contributions are small, but it is scaled up by the game being connected through multiple rival casinos across different countries. At any one time, 1000s of players could be playing paying their proverbial half a cent into the pot with each spin. For that reason, the jackpot can reach millions. The money is not paid by the casino, but by the game’s developer, protecting the operator from being the ‘unlucky’ one.
So, you can see that it makes sense connecting the jackpot across casinos. But what about connecting it across games? The developers behind Gladiator, Playtech, have reckoned with that, creating a new game – Gladiator: Road to Rome – which shares the same jackpot network. That’s now twice the exposure for the jackpot to grow.
Some games series have taken this even further than Gladiator, with the likes of Age of the Gods (around 12 games) and DC Superheroes slots (around 20 games) all sharing the same jackpot. Even some unrelated games will have shared jackpots in order to tap into this economy of scale marketing.
Obviously, there is a caveat. The more players playing the game means it is less likely that you are the one who hits the big win. Yet, not unlike buying a lottery ticket, it is human nature to see the big numbers in front of our eyes and say, “why not me?”