An apparatus and method for an automated tournament gaming system (10) comprising a central server computer (20) operatively coupled to, inter alia, a plurality of gaming machine G.sub.1, G.sub.2 . . . G.sub.N for automatically harnessing any of the gaming machines for automatically inciting and running a tournament where a group of players are participating for a period after which prizes are awarded to the winning tournament play participants. In addition, the system (10) includes a host site computer (200) operatively coupled to a plurality of the central servers (20) at a variety of remote gaming sites C.sub.1, C.sub.2 . . . C.sub.N for providing a multi-site progressive automated tournament gaming system (210). The multi-site system (210) is integrated into the system (10) to increase the winnings, progressive amounts and the total buy-ins.