VEGAS MYTHS BUSTED: Megabucks Will Hit on a Casino’s Opening Night

Posted on: December 11, 2023, 08:12h. 

Last updated on: December 12, 2023, 10:58h.

When the Fontainebleau opens to the public at midnight on Thursday, many gamblers, probably wearing their lucky sweaters, will beeline for the nearest free Megabucks slot machine. Once seated, they’ll pull on its arm because of an urban legend that’s pulled on their legs for 34 years.

Megabucks slot
To win a Megabucks slot jackpot, players must make the maximum bet possible on the spin. Then, all three Megabucks symbols must come up. (Image:

Elmer Sherwin was the retired 76-year-old WWII veteran who turned $100 into a $4.6M Megabucks jackpot at The Mirage on Nov. 22, 1989. That was the famous casino resort’s opening night, and it explains the origin of one of the most enduring Las Vegas gambling myths, which says Megabucks jackpots are more likely to hit on a casino’s opening night.

That’s because it’s beneficial to the casino, since the eyes of the world are already on their property.

Seven months after The Mirage opened, you couldn’t get near the Megabucks machines during the Excalibur’s opening weekend. And the story’s been the same during every subsequent Vegas casino opening.

Elmer Sherwin begat the persistent myth that Megabucks jackpots are more likely to hit on a casino’s opening night. (Image: Facebook)

‘Bucks Naked

Megabucks was created in March 1986 by slot manufacturer International Game Technology (IGT) as a way to win back some of the business Nevada casinos were losing to state lotteries. Those  promised mega-million jackpots, and racetracks offered big pay-out parlay wagers. It was the world’s first wide-area linked-progressive slot machine system.

Whenever someone takes a Megabucks spin, a small portion of the bet is placed into a jackpot that anyone, at any machine, can win at any time. The longer the interval between jackpots, the higher the amount.

Mega Bull****

Casinos have zero control over which three Megabucks symbols click into place on a slot machine. That’s determined by a random number generator.

Because that sequence is generated entirely at random, each of the approximately 750 Megabucks machines in Nevada’s 136 networked casinos has the same odds of hitting the jackpot.

Every. Single. Time.

And though those odds have never been public information, they are certainly long.

But science, technology, and logic aren’t things that deter Megabucks believers. Most will tell you there’s more to it than that. And the evidence most will point to is, once again, Elmer Sherwin.

Sixteen years after hitting his nearly impossibly unlikely Megabucks jackpot at The Mirage, Sherwin hit another one, at age 92, at the Cannery Casino in downtown Las Vegas.

That’s like getting struck by lightning while sitting on your living room couch without a cloud in the sky,Anthony Lucas, a professor of casino management at UNLV, told last year when we busted another Megabucks myth.

Sherwin used the extra $21.1M to travel the world in the year he had left.

Oh, and it wasn’t the Cannery’s opening night. They had already been operating for two years.

Extra Proof that Logic Wins

Since Sherwin’s Mirage jackpot, 46 more casinos have opened in Las Vegas. The Fontainebleau will be the 47th. So far, not a single one has produced a Megabucks jackpot on its opening night.

But try explaining that to anyone beelining for a Megabucks slot at midnight on Thursday in their lucky sweaters.

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