RTP – Return to Player

Playing slots should be fun, done responsibly and within your budget, not as a means to make money. If you have a fundamental understanding of how slots work, then you likely also know that the house has an edge. This means that in the short run, you might beat the casino, while in the long run, the casino always wins. RTP, or Return To Player, is the mechanism that assures the casino of long term profit and RTP is what we’re going to take a look at here.

Slots may be all about luck, but basic knowledge of slot machines can still come in handy. There are a large number of casino games available on the market of varying quality, and while most are fair, there are always going to be bad apples. We are going to try and help you identify those bad apples so you can stay away from all the pitfalls.

There is no single measurement to tell you the odds of winning on a slot machine. Instead, there are many factors at play, such as hit frequency (the probability of winning on any given spin), bonus frequency (the probability of landing a bonus), max win probability and variance/volatility. All the RTP tells you is how much money the machine is going to give back to the players in the long run and how much the operator gets to keep. In the short run, RTP means nothing. There are ways of increasing your chances. One obvious way is to play with deposit bonuses. This extends the play time without investing more of your own money, while also allowing for more aggressive betting. It is no secret that bonuses gives players a slight edge over the casino. Not all slot developers will disclose all mentioned stats except for the RTP. We advise reading our reviews to get a proper understanding of the games and the quality of them.

But what exactly is RPT?

The higher the Return To Player, the more money the slot is programmed to give back to the players in the long run. The numbers don’t say much about your individual chances however, instead it has been calculated over a vast amount of spins, sometimes up to a billion. To make things a bit more complicated, a high RTP in itself doesn’t mean you’re more likely to land a massive win. In terms of payout size, there is another mathematical indicator at play known as variance, or volatility as it’s also called. Variance decides how large the swings are – a slot with high variance is designed to work a bit like a lottery, it will give back A LOT to FEWER players. A low variance slot works oppositely – it pays out smaller wins more frequently.

Normally, the RTP shouldn’t really be a factor to consider when choosing what online slot to play, unless the RTP is lower than usual. We would advise against playing online slots with an RTP lower than 94%. However, due to increased taxes and stringent regulations, many casinos have had to lower the RTP to make up for lost revenue. Generally speaking, well-balanced slots and quality mathematical designs are of much greater importance. Game developers may also advertise huge potential along with a ridiculous number of paylines, but in reality, you may be just as unlikely landing a jackpot on Mega Fortune than you are landing a max win on the slot in question.

Practical examples of RTP

For this tutorial, let’s assume that our slot machine has an RTP of 100%. In practical terms, this would mean that the casino would break even on the machine. They would end up on zero in the long run while each player would have a personal RTP totally different from the others. Our slot would basically give back all the money wagered to the players. Will it give all YOUR money back? Probably not. That’s important to remember. If you’re lucky, however, it could give back your money AND someone else’s too. As we said before, the RTP doesn’t mean much over 1 or even 50 individual sessions. Your personal RTP can end up being 140% after you’re done playing for the day. Play enough spins, however, and this number WILL even out and eventually reach the stated RTP.

Most online casinos offer slots with an RTP in the 94-97% range. This ensures that they will make profit, something that is, of course, necessary if you want to be able to run a casino. The RTP of any given slot should be stated in the help file, or in the info text of the slot, although there are some exceptions to this. Games licensed in Curacao, for example, won’t always disclose the RTP. More on this further below.

Variance / Volatility

Variance is the spice that makes slots interesting to play. If variance works in your favour, you can hit a massive win on your very first spin and walk away with a huge profit. On a day like this, the casino might actually end up in the red. In fact, there have been examples of casinos having to close due to players having landed extreme wins that the operator had failed to protect themselves from. Most of the times, however, all the casino owner has to do is to sit back and wait as the RTP evens out.

Games to avoid

To be on the safe side, you should stick to EU-licensed casinos regulated by reputable governing bodies such as the Malta Gaming Authority, the UK Gambling Commission and the Swedish Gambling Authority. This assures that you’re playing on a fair, transparent and compliant casino. Playing at off-shore casinos (most commonly Curacao) is usually a bad idea and many times you won’t even be able to tell what the RTP of the game is. While most providers ship their games with a fixed RTP, some allow for casinos to choose between a set number of RTP settings in order to adjust for a particular market. This can be necessary if, for example, a specific market involves high taxes, in which case the casino might need more headroom. It’s also possible, of course, for a casino to choose a lower setting out of pure greed.

The fact is, however, that the competition is fierce and online casinos that don’t offer a reasonable chance of winning will eventually begin to lose customers. Most, if not all, reputable online casinos wish to boast a high RTP. At Bigwinboard.com we assure that all casinos listed have been handpicked and tested. Our casinos are considered to be the very best the industry has to offer.

And finally…

  • Jackpot slots usually have lower RTP since part of every bet has to go to the jackpot.
  • Keep in mind that variance has a greater impact on your individual sessions as opposed to a 1-2% difference in RTP.
  • RTP at land-based casinos tends to be much lower than online casinos. This is because land-based casinos have more expenses.