Top five biggest casino wins in America and how they happened

The allure of gambling is easy to understand. Some people are attracted to the sense of camaraderie that they feel with their fellow gamblers, while some are more interested in large game selections that allow them to try something new. Most players, however, are enticed by the possibility of a big win. What could be better than ‘free’ money? While the odds of landing a life-changing win are low, a few incredibly lucky individuals have managed it. Here are the top five biggest casino wins in America and how they happened.

MGM Grand – $20m to $40m

If you haven’t heard of Kerry Packer, you’ll soon come to recognize him as the luckiest man in gambling history. In 1997, Packer, an Australian billionaire, visited the MGM Grand casino in Las Vegas. The businessman ultimately won somewhere between $20m and $40m one lucky night while playing blackjack. The exact figure has yet to be established, but what we do know is that it is one of the biggest wins in the history of Las Vegas.

How exactly did Packer land this huge sum? Unsurprisingly, he made it by betting a lot of money. More specifically, he allegedly played eight hands of blackjack at the same time with wagers of at least $250,000 per hand. 

Excalibur Casino – $39.7m

We aren’t sure if this win tops Packer’s or not, but regardless, it is one of the largest casino wins in American history! In fact, it could be the largest win! In 2003, a lucky player visited Excalibur Casino in Las Vegas with $100 in their pocket. They decided to try Megabucks, a slot infamous for dishing out exciting wins. That day was no exception! 

When the player, who remains anonymous, finally popped the jackpot, they won roughly $39.7m! To date, this is the biggest slot win in America.

Desert Inn – $35m

In 2000, Cynthia Jay Brennan headed to the Desert Inn, previously located in Wynn Las Vegas, for some light gambling. In a stroke of luck, Brennan decided to try her hand at the Megabucks slot machine, a name that has already graced this list. Once again, Megabucks paid out handsomely in an incredibly lucky jackpot win worth $35m! 

The truly amazing aspect of this win is that Brennan had no intention of trying her luck with slot machines at all. Then a casino waitress, she almost never gambled when she decided to give the slot a try. Tragically, Brennan was seriously injured in a car crash just a few weeks after the win. Despite this, she lives a quiet and happy life with her husband, with much of her time spent helping others with disability and paralysis (which she suffered as a result of the crash) issues. 

Palace Station Casino – $27m

In 1998, one lucky retiree visited Palace Station Casino with $100 in her pocket and the intent to enjoy some time on the slot machines. Can you guess which slot she decided to bet on? That’s right, Megabucks sounded like a good time, so she sat down and started to spin. Over the course of the night, she ultimately spent close to $300, but the price was well worth the eventual win. 

Our lucky retiree hit a jackpot worth roughly $27m! Not much is known about the winner outside of the amount she won, but we’re certain that she’s enjoying the big win all the same. 

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The Mirage and Cannery Casino & Hotel – $26m

If you have done any research into big casino wins, then you have likely stumbled across the story of Elmer Sherwin. Infamous in the industry, this lucky player won not just one, but two massive jackpots! The first occurred during a cross-country trip in his RV. Elmer and his wife decided to swing through Las Vegas, and hit a jackpot at The Mirage of $4.6m! 

If the story stopped there, of course, we wouldn’t be here. However, 16 years after this massive win, Elmer returned to Las Vegas and played the Megabucks slot machine at Cannery Casino & Hotel. Once more, he hit the jackpot and won a staggering $21m. 

Elmer remains one of the luckiest players in America to date, winning roughly $26m in just two jackpot wins. 

How did the gamblers win big?

If you’re wondering how the gamblers managed to land these impressive wins, then you aren’t alone! We have some good and bad news for you here. While some of them got by based primarily on their skill, many of the wins came down to luck alone. 

Of the winners on our top five list, Packer is the only player whose skill with the game in question took them to a big win. He won by playing blackjack, a game infamous for its low house edge comparative to player knowledge. Players who have the experience can whittle down the house edge in order to give them a better chance of winning. Packer was a relative master at the game, and his skill, paired with some luck, led to his victory. 

Beyond Packer, the other gamblers won by pure luck! Well, almost. You see, picking the right game to play is an important part of almost any win, and slot jackpots are no exception. As you can see, the biggest casino wins outside of Packer came from the Megabucks slot machine. This slot is famous for delivering incredible wins, and if you are going to take a chance and gamble, then you might as well pick a slot with a history of big wins. 

Note that this doesn’t mean that you can’t be lucky on other slots! There are other games with impressive wins behind them. The point is that picking a game with a history of big wins – a game that has a huge jackpot ripe for the popping – is perhaps a smarter strategy than playing whatever catches your eye. Of course, this only applies to players hoping to secure one of the biggest casino wins ever! 

Another factor to consider is bet size, though perhaps not in the way that you think. Spreading your budget out gives you more chances to win. If you pick a game where the amount of money that you win is entirely dependent on how much you wager, instead of a pooled jackpot, then you might consider betting higher even if it leads to your funds evaporating more quickly. 

With all of the above in mind, it is important to understand that luck is an incredibly important part of massive wins. You are never guaranteed a big win, no matter how long you play for and how much money you bet over time. Picking a game with a history of big casino wins and reliable service are two important steps to give yourself every advantage to win. And, of course, strategy-based games such as blackjack require a lot of time and energy to master. However, the potential payouts are often worth the effort. 

Big online casino wins

The US is not the only country with a strong gambling presence. In fact, it has a relatively small gambling industry compared to other areas. As you might expect, this means that big online casino wins as well as big land-based casino wins are common all over the world. But do they compare to the big wins that we mentioned above? Let’s take a quick look at some of the most impressive wins that happened overseas. 

UK – £6.3m ($7.6m) 

In 2017, a man known simply as ‘Neil’ won roughly £6.3m ($7.6m) playing the slot Hall of Gods, a game by NetEnt. Not much else is known about the winner and his whereabouts, but we know that he’s from Aberdeen and presumably returned home to live his life peacefully with the massive payout. 

Something else to note is that this amount was won with an approximate £4 ($5) bet from his kitchen table. 

France – €1.8m ($2m)

In 2009, a slots player known as Alain M won €1.8m ($2m) playing the game Beach Life at the Europa Casino. Developed by Playtech, Beach Life is a popular game that has a history of awarding players impressive payouts. 

While the above might not seem like the most impressive wins around, they are certainly nothing to sniff at. Gambling in the US in places such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City is simply something special.  

Are you interested in learning more about online casino games and the titles that sometimes award big casino wins? If so, Resorts Casino offers free demo play so that you can explore the most popular online slots without risking your own funds. And if you decide to play with real money, then we can also help there! Take a look at everything that we offer our players. 

Author: Tanya Fields

Campaign Acquisition Manager Length with RC: 1 year, 9 months Favorite Casino Game: Starburst Background in iGaming: Opened the iGaming Department at Hard Rock Atlantic City in 2018 in both Customer Service, and then CRM, prior to moving over to RC in January 2021 Location: Based in NJ at the RC HQ Content: Occasionally, but only as it pertains to RC