Biggest Gambling Wins of All Time

Updated: | By: Frederick Worsham
Biggest Gambling Wins of All Time

Luck is mostly a thing that determines whether you win or not playing casino games. If you are lucky enough, the next spin or card could make you a millionaire. And this happens more often than you might think. Almost every year, a few gamblers manage to obtain a record breaking gambling payout. Some are big enough to go down in history, while others — keep players busy until the next record. But they all definitely change the winners’ lives. For your inspiration, we have compiled a list of the biggest gambling payouts ever won in different categories.

Largest Casino Wins in History

This category mainly includes land-based casino payouts, not online casinos. Those who earn a historically significant payout are either high-rollers, professional gamblers, or stubborn people who repeatedly play in a particular room or the same game. Some payouts on this list are lower than in other categories; for example, there are slot machines that pay more to the player. However, each name here is history, and they are known even years later, unlike “anonymous” pokie winners. It’s also quite a long list, but having removed the legends and myths, we’re left with three big verifiable wins.
  • Archie Karas – Between 1995-1998 – $40M in Poker – Various Casinos: Archie Karas earned $40 million playing poker, not overnight, but in three years from 1995-1998. Considering he only had $50 in his pocket when he arrived in Las Vegas, that’s an incredible feat. He was earning so much that he managed to get into the Guinness Book of Records. Unfortunately, this was a story that ended badly. Karas lost all his money in the end and was arrested for cheating at blackjack.
  • Elmer Sherwin – September 2005 – $21.1M in Pokie Machine – Cannery, Las Vegas: Elmer Sherwin is not a professional gambler, but he is a very lucky man. He won $4.6 million in a slot called Megabucks at Mirage Casino in 1989. This was not a record-breaking number, so it did not attract much attention. However, Sherwin managed to earn another $21.1 million on the same machine 6 years later. His total earnings were $25.7 million, which was a one-in-a-billion probability.
  • Kerry Packer – July 2000 – $20M in Baccarat – Bellagio, Las Vegas: How much can you win at a casino in a single night? For Australian billionaire Kerry Packer, the answer is $20 million. Playing baccarat at the Las Vegas Bellagio Casino, Packer earned that much overnight. The same night, he allegedly gave the dealer $1 million in a tip. According to some unconfirmed rumours, his luck was so good that he kept playing for three days, making a total of over $30 million. However, he lost all his money in another game in London a month later.

Record Breaking Slot Wins

Slot machines can deliver surprisingly large payouts. Better still, anyone can win them, as a pokie doesn’t require experience and skill, you don’t need anything but luck. When it comes to slot big prize, we can divide them into two categories – fixed and progressive jackpots. The second category pays more, but slots with fixed jackpots can also pay significant amounts. Below you can see the biggest ones. These are verified records and consist of a mix of online/land-based casinos:
  • Cynthia Jay Brennen – January 2000 – $34,9M in Megabucks – Desert Inn Casino, Las Vegas: A 37-year-old Cynthia won this money with a bet of $6 she put in Megabucks pokie machine.
  • Anonymous – November 1998 – $27,6M in Megabucks – Palace Station Casino, Las Vegas: An elderly woman, who did not want to be named, won this amount after spending $300 on the game. She preferred to receive the payment not in one go but in the form of $1.1 million every year for 25 years.
  • Johanna Heundl – May 2002 – $22.6M in Megabucks – Bally’s Las Vegas: 74-year-old Heundl won this payout after spending $170.
  • Trainwreck – April 2002 – $22.5M in Might of Ra – This slot has neither fixed nor progressive jackpot, yet Trainwreck, a Twitch streamer, managed to win the biggest theoretical payout after just two spins.
  • Anonymous – December 2012 – $17.3M in Megabucks – M Resort Las Vegas: The winner of this payout didn’t even spend his own money. He was using a free play and food voucher during his gameplay.
  • Anonymous – December 2014 – $14.3M in Megabucks – Rampart Casino, Las Vegas: The lucky punter donated a large portion of this payout to charity.

World’s Biggest Jackpot Payouts

Progressive jackpot is a game category that can pay very big amounts, as we mentioned above. Even the current world record belongs to a progressive jackpot machine. This time, only online casinos are on the list, as they are connected to a much larger network, so they can accumulate more money in their common pools. Games at land-based casinos cannot exceed a certain limit as they are limited to a certain geographic area. Once again, we only included verifiable payouts in our list:
  • Anonymous – April 2021 – €19,4M in Absolootly Mad: Mega Moolah – Napoleon Sports & Casino: The €19,430,723.60 payout was won by an anonymous Belgian player, equivalent to around $22 million. Absolootly Mad: Mega Moolah is a game developed by Triple Edge Studios and is just one of the Mega Moolah variants. This slot has paid close to $50 million total so far.
  • Anonymous – January 2013 – €17,8M in Mega Fortune – Paf Casino: Won by a man in his 40s living in Helsinki, equates to about just over $20 million. Mega Fortune is a slot developed by Netent to rival Mega Moolah.
  • Jon Heywood – October 2015 – €17,8M in Mega Moolah – Betway Casino: Mega Moolah, a game with multiple records, also managed to enter the Guinness Book of Records with this payment of €17,879,645 ($20,062,600). Developed by Microgaming, this slot continued to pay big in the following years. For example, it paid €10,012,954 in April 2023, €12,792,526 in May 2022 and €14,679,069 in August 2020.
  • Anonymous – April 2021 – £15,1M in Book of Atem: WowPot – 32Red Casino: The lucky player won £15,183,085.96 with a £0.80 bet. This figure equates to about 20 million dollars. His name is announced as “Mr. M”. Book of Atem: WowPot is a Microgaming slot released in February 2020.

Any Game Can Pay Big: Largest Wins in Other Games

When we think of big payouts, most of us imagine slot machines because they have a larger player base. In other words, as more people take their chances, record-breaking payouts are also more common. However, that doesn’t mean that other casino games can’t offer similar payouts. On the contrary, almost every option in the table game category (poker, blackjack, roulette, etc.) has the potential to make huge payouts. Below you can see the best examples of this:
  • Daniel Weinman – July 2023 – $12,1M in Poker – WSOP Tournament: Daniel Weinman won the WSOP 2023 tournament, taking the grand prize of $12.1 million, becoming the highest-paid player in a poker tournament at once. If we look at the list of total winnings, we can see even bigger numbers. Justin Bonomo ($61,954,782), Bryn Kenney ($57,969,392) and Daniel Negreanu ($50,964,144) share the top three spots.
  • Pedro Grendene Bartelle – January 2017 – $3,5M in Roulette – Hotel Conrad, Uruguay: This Brazilian businessman made a wager of $35,000 on “32” and won this straight bet. He received a payout of $3.5 million. We can also include, although unconfirmed, the 2 million Francs that Joseph Jagger allegedly won at the Monte Carlo Casino in 1891. That payment, which bankrupted the casino, amounts to more than $10 million today.
  • Kerry Packer – May 1995 – $40M in Blackjack – Las Vegas MGM Grand: Australian billionaire Packer manages to make the list once again, but this time with blackjack. It has been confirmed that he made $40 million in a few hours, but there are different rumours about how he did it. Majority claims that he played 8 hands simultaneously and bet $250,000 on each.

Enormous Betting Payouts

Casino games are not the only gambling option that offers big payouts. Sports betting can also result in huge wins. You can choose from many sports, such as batting, tennis, basketball, soccer and with the right odds, you can win hundreds of times your bet. Below are some of the bettors that have been able to do this:
  • Billy Walters – 2009 – $3,5M on Super Bowl XLIV: Billy Walters may be America’s most famous bettor. He earned $3.5 million for a Super Bowl XLIV bet in 2009, but that’s not his only success. He also made $2.2 million on a USC bet in 2007. It is claimed that he has not lost in 30 years.
  • Dave Oancea – 2015 – $2,5M on World Series: Dave Oancea, a professional gambler, won $2.5 million by betting that the Kansas City Royals would become World Series champion.
  • Steve Whiteley – 2011 – £1.5M on Tote Betting: Steve Whiteley was an engineer and tried his luck for a £2 tote bet (horse racing) before returning home after work. He earned exactly £1,445,671.20.
  • Fred Craggs – 2008 – £1M on Tote Betting: But there’s another punter who won with less than that. Fred Craggs won £1 million on a tote bet of just 50 pence (approximately $1). The odds of something like this happening are 1 in 2,000,000.
  • James Adducci – 2019 – $1.2M on Golf: Adducci, 39, from Wisconsin, decided to bet on sports for the first time in his life. Using all his savings ($85,000), he bet on a golfer named Tiger Woods, whom no one knew yet, would win The Masters. Needless to say, he made an excellent choice.

Playing Style Changes but We Keep Playing

We have been playing casino games offering the chance to win big for over a hundred years, and we will continue to do so. There will always be players who take their chances and try to win the highest possible payouts. However, the amount of money we are willing to spend for this purpose has changed over the years. We can see this more clearly by having a look at the table below.
Data 2020 2021 2022 2023 (*)
Gross Gambling Yield (Online) £3,232.15 billion £4,038.77 billion £3,897.74 billion £1.3 billion
Operator Numbers 2,581 2,441 2,419 Not yet released
Total Number of Active Players 5,092,050 5,824,531 6,440,083 6,940,406
Total Number of Bets Placed 6,206,345,529 6,737,577,984 7,332,230,498 7,331,509,061
Proportion of those who prefer casino games for gambling 1,2% 1,4% 0,8% 1,2%
(*) 2023 data only covers between January 2023 and March 2023. All other data is for the entire year. There is a very simple reason for the sudden increase in 2021 – the closure of land-based casinos due to pandemic measures has made online gambling more preferred. The reason for the decrease in the amount of GGY in 2022 is the impact of the economy again due to the above-mentioned factor. In 2022, the number of players increased, and more bets were placed, but the lower GGY shows us that the stakes are also decreasing. In other words, people continued to play but reduced their wager amounts. 2023, on the other hand, looks set to go better than 2022. The economy is slowly picking up, and even the GGY from January to March alone shows substantial growth at the end of the year. Table Data Sources:
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