Why Do Cruise Ships Cap Top Jackpots on Slots?

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Lightning Link with a fixed Grand jackpot

If you’ve been on a cruise ship, you may have noticed many of the top progressives on games like Lightning Link and Dancing Drums are fixed at their starting number and don’t go up. This leads us to today’s reader question:

Why do casinos at sea cap the grand payout at $10,000 most of the time?

Bruce M.

There’s a couple of reasons for why that top jackpot is changed from a progressive to a fixed jackpot. You’ll also see this in some bigger casino markets like Atlantic City and Las Vegas (primarily on the strip for the latter).

The $10,000 number is often seen because many of those jackpots start at $10,000, but it varies – Lock It Link games often start at $12,500, and some Asian themed games will start at $8,800.

It Increases the Casino House Advantage

Progressives are a small percentage of the overall payback to the player. When a progressive is fixed at its starting point, the money that would normally be added to the meter for an eventual win by a player is instead kept by the casino.

It’s not going to be a significant percentage (after all, that prize is only won once in a blue moon, and the odds of it being you isn’t particularly high on any one session), but it still counts against the payback of the machine when the casino keeps it instead.

It Limits the Casino’s Liability

When prizes exist on individual machines, casinos have to pay it. And sometimes those top progressives can take a long time to pay out. All the while they keep growing and growing.

For awhile we had our eye on a local casino that had a Mega jackpot on Ultimate Fire Link that was over $50,000 – it certainly had been growing for a long time! But when it finally does go off, the casino is liable for paying that entire prize out.

Cruise ship casinos, like physical casinos, tend to pay these prizes in cash. And they only have so much cash on board at a time. So to reduce the liability a bit, fixing the prizes means they know the upper limits of the prizes they could be awarding at a given time.

Bonus Note: Where’s the Gigantic Progressives?

By the way, ever wonder why you don’t see games like Megabucks or other gigantic Wide Area Progressives? Normally those are established by linking multiple casinos within a state or group of states together to share a growing jackpot.

Cruise ships are notorious for having so-so internet, given they have to rely on satellite services, which can be impacted by things like weather. That would make the ability for the casino to communicate back to the central progressive home more difficult, and less reliable. It would also be difficult for a slot company to reach the ship easily in the event a major prize was won.
So, you won’t find those on a casino ship. That doesn’t mean you can’t win a big prize, however – one of our staff managed landing a Grand jackpot on a $1 bet during a Brian Christopher Slots Cruise, to the tune of $12,500! So it can be done.

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