A method for awarding bonuses over a gaming network having a plurality of gaming machines interconnected by a network. Play is allowed to occur on the plurality of gaming machines. A bonus period is initiating for which a bonus-triggering event (e.g. a winning combination) and an initial bonus amount is determined. The reel combinations obtained from normal play over the machines are detected and compared to the wining combination determined at the start of the bonus period. A match of the combination obtained with the winning combination initiates a bonus-triggering event that results in the bonus amount being paid out to the gaming machine which had the winning combination. In a preferred embodiment, the initial bonus amount is decremented over the bonus period so that the bonus amount won is greater if the winning combination appears at the beginning of the bonus period as opposed to near the end.