With Atlantic City casinos closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic from mid-March until July 4 weekend, and thereafter limited to 25% capacity, it was up to NJ online casino gaming to pick up much of the slack.
The runner-up, at $3.3 million, occurred July 27 on PlayMGM, a mobile partner of Borgata. That came on a “The Big One Colossal Cash: Luck’O’Jackpot” game.
But the lucky winner of $2.6 million, the third biggest jackpot of the year, was on hand at Bally’s Park Place casino back on Jan. 19, somehow winning that amount on a Wheel of Fortune penny slots machine.
Tropicana a lucky casino for a pair
The year’s two next biggest brick-and-mortar winners each were claimed on the grounds of Boardwalk casino Tropicana.
A Monopoly 3RM game paid out $902,000 at that casino on July 13 — good for fifth place on the overall list — while a Wheel of Fortune slots game paid $899,000 on Dec. 12.
The other million-dollar jackpot of the year — paying exactly that amount — came on Pillars of Asgard on May 20 on Golden Nugget online casino.
Borgata online casino players collected the seventh and 10th-largest payouts: $800,000 on Game King Double Double Bonus Poker on Feb. 1, and a Double Diamond game that paid out $500,000.
At PlaySugarhouse, a partner of Golden Nugget, a Slingo Reel Extreme player won $503,000 on Jan. 19 — the same day as the $2.6 million jackpot was won in person at Bally’s.
There were no $500,000-or-more jackpots won last year in New Jersey in April, June, September, October, or November.
Charting the big jackpots of the past
How big does a win have to be to constitute a “jackpot”? Gaming officials in New Jersey say the magic number is $50,000.
That total was hit 770 times at the state’s casinos and affiliated websites in 2020, compared to 611 in 2019 and 384 in 2018.
The first online million-dollar casino jackpot of 2015 occurred on Feb. 14 — Valentine’s Day — when a $500 play turned into $1.5 million on the Let It Ride game on Betfair Casino, a Golden Nugget partner.
That was followed by a pair of such wins in 2016, though at brick-and-mortar casinos: $3.1 million on Jan. 2 at Trump Taj Mahal on a 1-cent Wheel of Fortune play, and $1.5 million on a $1 Wheel of Fortune try at Harrah’s on Oct. 15.
Two more million-dollar jackpots were won at Atlantic City casinos in 2017: $2.6 million on a Wheel of Fortune 25-cent Pink Diamond game at Harrah’s on Aug. 21, and a $1.2 million prize at Bally’s on a 25-cent Reel Adventures-Elvis game at Resorts just eight days later.
There was only one “instant millionaire” from these games in 2019: $1.1 million won on, you guessed it, Wheel of Fortune, at Golden Nugget on July 27.
Back to 2020
Last year, there were 44 payouts of at least $200,000.
Aside from the 10 worth at least a half-million, one more was worth over $400,000, and another six were in the $300,000 to $400,000 range.
As for the luckiest pair of days for the most gamblers in 2020, that distinction goes to Oct. 24 and Oct. 25.
Seven players won $50,000 and another won $60,000 on Oct. 24 — all at Betfair Casino and all on the same game, Blackjack Classic Touch. That same day, Borgata online casino paid two six-figure winners: $200,000 on Game King: Triple Double Bonus poker and $104,000 on Panda Power.
The next day, Blackjack Classic Touch produced seven more winners of $50,000 to $60,000, and Resorts online casino had a $127,000 winner. On that same day, and again on Betfair Casino, a fortunate player won $87,000 on Multi-hand Blackjack Perfect Pairs + 21+3. Over at Resorts online on Oct. 25, a Blue Ribbon game paid $127,000, and at the Tropicana, a player got to celebrate a $98,000 win on Triple Play Poker Link.