Online vs. Land-Based Jackpots: Biggest Slot Machine Wins

In most cases, slot machines are the first thing all of us would start their gambling with. They are fun, they are highly engaging, and the best part is — they are easy! There’s no learning curve to them — you just pick active lines (either max them out or put in a random number, pretending you know what’s what), place in a bet, and pull the lever. The rest is up to Jesus, Allah, Ra, Zeus, or Jupiter, depending on your beliefs (although in a casino, you kind of believe in the teamwork of the omnipotent).

And then, once we get on a bit and play with real money slots for some time, we learn that there’s more to gambling than just slot machines. Moreover, they even advise us against it. The fact that there’s no learning curve means that it’s skill-less. For instance, when we play online slots to win real money, we can only rely on our luck in order to get something out of it. Subsequently, advanced gamblers turn to games of skill, such as poker, blackjack, and baccarat. There, they can use their knowledge and experience to land themselves one of the biggest casino wins ever, instead of just pulling that imaginary lever to play online slots and win real money.

Yet, when you look at the biggest casino wins of all time, none of the other games can even compare to the biggest slot machine wins! For instance, if we take a look at the game of craps, the record win went to an unidentified man who earned $5.3 million while he was playing craps for six hours. But the risk was incredible. At times, he bet $100,000 per round! With poker, the biggest win in a land-based casino took place back in 2012 when Antonio Esfandiari won $18,346,673. Those are all incredible numbers, no two ways about it; but let’s check what slot machines can produce before we start dropping chins!

Biggest Slot Machine Wins

Biggest Slot Machine Wins

Before we go into who won the jackpot and went home a millionaire, let’s get one sad story out of the way. A lady from New York, Katrina Bookman, thought she sat at a lucky slot machine when her winnings read incredible $42.9 million. Perhaps already imagining a penthouse on top of the White House, Bookman asked if the money was paid, and yet, all she received from the casino was a steak. The reason? Sadly, when she hit the jackpot, the machine malfunctioned right at that moment, as it came with a maximum payout of just $6.500. We all hope you enjoyed your steak, Katrina!

But, we don’t intend to bring the tone down. After all, we’re all here to learn about someone else’s wins, imagining what it would be like. Let’s check out ten of the biggest jackpots players landed during real money play.

Taking the Jackpot Out of the Stone

One of the biggest wins in Las Vegas history went to a man who remained anonymous. What we do know is that he came from Los Angeles to watch his basketball team play. With some time to kill before the game, he decided to visit the Excalibur at the Las Vegas Strip. He started placing bets in the Megabucks slot machine (a recurring scene, as you’ll see), and after betting $100, he managed to beat the odds of one in 16.7 million. When he walked out, he was richer for $39.7 million dollars! If you want to be accurate, he won exactly $39,710,826.36.

Aloha, Money!

Do you believe in higher powers? Well, Amy Nishimura certainly did! A 71-year-old Hawaiian lady went on a vacation to Las Vegas, and she visited a slot machine she’d played on many a time before. Allegedly, Nishimura would come to the same penny slot and talk to it, asking for a huge win. It took its time, but the machine finally granted the old lady her wish. Nishimura put in $100 and went away with $8.9 million!

Veterans Know

This story is about another player who had to wait for their late age to get their big break. A WWII veteran, Elmer Sherwin, was one of the first customers of the newly-opened Mirage back in 1989. Already an elderly, Sherwin played on Megabucks. Just a few hours after the casino opened, they had to shell out $4.6 million to the ex-soldier.

Veterans big casino win

Fast forward to 2005, and the same Elmer Sherwin, now in his 90s, visits Las Vegas again and goes into the Cannery Casino, North Las Vegas. He starts betting on that all-too-familiar slot game and gets lucky again. Only this time, Sherwin cashed in $21 million, most of which he gave away to his church and charity.

New Record Made

In 2000, Cynthia Jay set a record for the largest jackpot win up until then. Sticking with the pattern, she also played Megabucks and managed to take out a whopping $34.9 million from the Desert Inn Casino. Sadly, her life story took a wrong turn later on, as she never got to spend that money in the best way possible. Just six weeks later, Jay was involved in a car accident, in which she became disabled, and her sister lost her life. Unfortunately, it’s a sad ending to a great story.

Something to Nibble on

Here we have another older person hitting it big. Who said there’s no experience factor in playing slots?! This time, we’re going back to 2002, when 74-years-old Johanna Huendl was off to grab an early-morning bite at the Bally’s. On her way there, she decided to make a detour and play a few rounds on a slot game (you guess which one).

She had $170 on her (apart from the money she took aside for breakfast) and started betting. After several hours, Huendl was excited to see that she won about $2 million and called the hostess. Then, she realized that her eyes, which were around to see the construction of the Empire State Building, failed her. In fact, she won a jackpot of $22.6 million! That’s a blunder everyone wants to experience.

Keep Trying

It was 1998 when an unnamed woman walked into the Palace Station Casino in Las Vegas. A flight attendant by vocation, she had a few days off in Sin City and decided to make her time worthwhile. The lady played a game of Wheel of Fortune, and she managed to cop $680,000. After the Wheel of Fortune, slot Megabucks was in her sights. You see, young padawans, don’t accept minor victories (yes, we’re aware we said minor about over a half a million) — shoot for the stars! This lady didn’t give herself any boundaries, and she went on to play some more. And wouldn’t you know it, she landed another jackpot, this time for $27 million!

Two Million a Minute

In what’s one of the bigger jackpot stories in recent history, a Las Vegas resident (unnamed as well) went to the Rampant Casino in 2014. He didn’t hang about for too long and went straight to the very slot that brought so much joy to other players mentioned in this article. After just a few minutes of spinning wheels, the man hit the sweet spot and walked out with millions of dollars in his pockets. How many millions? Fourteen.

Caesar’s Gold

As you can see above, many of the lucky winners decided to take their names out of the publicity that comes with high jackpots. And you can’t really blame them, the reasons for such a move is completely obvious. There’s another man who chose to do the same and remain anonymous. In 1999, the 49-year-old came from Illinois, where he worked as a business consultant. Our guess is he used to be an unbelievable consultant, as he consulted himself to go to the Caesars Palace and try out this obscure slot game called Megabucks.

He deposited $10 and made only one spin. That very first spin brought him incredible $21.3 million!

Dirty Dozen

What would you do if you won a slot jackpot and saw your winnings never stop going up? It just goes up and up and starts reaching millions. How would you react? You can’t really tell, can you? But there would certainly be an element of incredulousness. The same happened in 2011 with a woman (name not known) who stayed at the Aria. On her way to the hotel room, she decided to stop for a second and drop $6 into a machine.

At first, she thought it was fake; it might have been a hoax or a simple malfunction of the machine. But, when the staff came, it turned out that there was nothing wrong — she did actually win $12.7 million in cash!

Marine Luck

Finally, we arrive in 2012 to Alexander Degenhardt, a 26-year-old marine trying out his luck in Nevada. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this story is that he took his cash playing a different game — Money Vault Millionaires Seven. Take that, useless Megabucks!

Anyhow, Degenhardt was in Vegas on military training, and he decided to spend his last night in the city trying to cash in a big jackpot at the Bellagio. He put in $100 and was “bragging” about the fact that he would never win more than $200. Only this time, he landed a spin worth $2.9 million.

For a quick recap, here’s a table of our winners with the amounts won and the names of the casinos at which they won

Online Slot Records

The question many people ask themselves is, should you gamble online? Is it the same? The thing is, online casino games work exactly the same as land-based ones, regarding the rules and game progression. At times, it’s even better to do it online, as the best online slots give a much better return of investment. Their RTPs (Return to Player, a metric opposite to a house edge) go mostly from 92–97%, as compared to 85–90% you get in brick-and-mortar casinos. As a result, it’s only normal that people have won huge amounts of real money online.

For instance, Jonathan Heywood, a man from the United Kingdom, played online slots (Mega Moolah, in particular). Heywood, a soldier veteran from Afghanistan, placed £1 bets into the video slot and hit the jackpot of £13.2 million ($20 million at the time). Similarly, a Finnish player tried his luck on the Mega Fortune slot machine too, which gave him €17.8 ($19.6) million. To keep it simple, here’s a list of six best online slot winners (prizes represented in millions):

  • Jon Heywood: $20
  • Finland anonymous: $19.6
  • Anonymous: $9.2
  • An unnamed player from Norway: $12.8
  • Alexander from Sweden: $8.6
  • Georgios M from Greece: $8

As you can clearly see, online slots are not falling behind at all. Furthermore, due to the fact that there are many more online slots than physical ones, the number of jackpots they give out is bigger by far.

How Can You Do It?

Well, first of all, you need to know what game to choose. Remember when we talked about RTPs? They won’t make or break your night, but it will give you an indicator of what machines are more generous. To help you out, we’ve come up with a list of ten slot machines with the best RTPs:

  • Mega Joker — 99%
  • Cosmic Quest: Mystery Planet — 98.95%
  • Jackpot 6,000 — 98.86%
  • Chess Mate — 98.70%
  • 1,429 Uncharted Seas — 98.63%
  • Cinema Classic — 98.50%
  • Lucky Mermaid — 98.50%
  • Golden Legacy — 98.30%
  • Sports Fishing — 98.30%
  • Taxi Movida — 98.27%

Furthermore, another thing you should take advantage of is online slots no deposit bonus! You see, there are plenty of online casinos out there, and they will fight for your signature (so to speak) by offering you great promotions in the shape of online slots no deposit (free spins) bonuses. As a result, when you play online slot machines for real money, no deposit bonuses give you a free go at trying to win big. Basically, they are giving you free money for you to play with in order to get you to sign up and, hopefully, make a deposit later on.

FAQ: Common Doubts About Slot Machine Wins

  • Can you win money playing online slots?

Yes, you can, that’s precisely their function! Just like regular slot machines you can find in land-based casinos, online casinos operate with online video slots that work in the same way — you place a bet, and you win or lose depending on the outcome. In fact, you even stand to win more money on online slots. Namely, they come with higher RTPs (Return to Player, opposite of a house edge) than physical machines do.

  • Can I play slots online for real money?

The answer is yes. It’s true that you can play for fun in practice mode, where you bet with fake money in order to get a grip on a specific slot game. But, you can also play online slots for real money, and in that case, you will win real money if you’re lucky. In reality, you don’t even have to make a deposit of your own money, as there is plenty of no deposit bonuses and free spins offers you can take advantage of.

  • How can I get real money for free?

If you decide to gamble online, you can visit a casino where they offer no deposit bonuses. This way, you can get free money or free spins for slots and play with them. Even though you receive them for free, if you manage to win, you will be able to withdraw real money. Before you do claim one of these promotions, check out the terms and conditions that come with them and see if the requirements make it plausible for you to cash out.

  • What is the biggest win in a casino?

Currently, the record holder for a single-round jackpot goes to a Los Angeles man who has decided to remain anonymous. Namely, in 2003, the man went to Las Vegas to watch a basketball game. Since he had some time to kill, he went to the Excalibur Casino, where he started playing on the Megabucks slot. He managed to land on a winning round and won the jackpot prize of $39.7 million! When it comes to online slots, the highest jackpot ever won online is $20 million.

  • Can you play real slots online and win real money?

Yes, you absolutely can. The thing is, slots, be it online or land-based ones, are a casino game. As such, the point of them is to gamble some money, hoping you would make more in return. The same goes when you gamble online. It’s simple, you play the game looking for activating paylines, and if you put in real money, real money will go out. The best thing about online slots is that you don’t even have to put in real money. Nowadays, there are plenty of no deposit bonuses, which will basically give you free spins for you to try out a machine.

  • What is the most money ever won in a casino?

That depends on which source you want to believe. We can say with certainty that the biggest ever slot jackpot went to a man in 2003 when a slot machine paid out $39.7 million. But, when it comes to all casino games, there’s one story that can challenge this near quarter-of-a-billion jackpot. Namely, in 1997, Kerry Packer, an Australian billionaire and avid gambler, went to Las Vegas and spent a night playing blackjack and baccarat. He had an extremely lucky night, and his reported winning sum ranges from $20–$40 million. Packer was known for his gambling and also had losing nights. Two years later, Packer was in London, and during a three-week period, he lost AU$28 million, the biggest recorded gambling loss in Britain.

  • What is the biggest jackpot ever won in a casino?

The biggest jackpot ever to be won in a land-based casino went to an unnamed gentleman from Los Angeles. In 2003, the lucky winner went to Las Vegas and decided to spin a few rounds on the Megabucks slot in the Excalibur Casino. He managed to hit the jackpot, winning a mouth-watering $39.7 million! After him, the second biggest win went to Cynthia Jay, who won $34.9 million at the Desert Inn Casino in 2000.


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