RTP rates were generally decided by game studios rather than by the casinos themselves. But RTP ranges are changing how the RTP is set. Now more than ever, casinos can often control the RTP as long as they remain within the range set by the game developer.
The return-to-player rate (RTP) is an important stat to casino players since it affects the long-term profits and strategy. Imagine their concern if an online casino pulled the rug from under their patrons by changing the RTP of their games.
In this article, we cover an operator's ability to change the slot machine RTP to help you understand if this is illegal or not, and to what extent can online casinos control their slot games.
Online Casino Game RTP Explained
Return-to-player (RTP) rates are a statistical prediction of how much money you win back after spinning the reels several times.
Statistically, if you are to spend $100 worth of wagers on a slot with a 97% RTP, you are likely to get $97 back after several spins.
Rise of RTP Ranges
While new casino players or casual visitors are only interested in jackpot prizes or high payouts, regular patrons are much more interested in a slot's RTP. High-rollers and advantage players are looking for a long-term payout, which involves a steady growth of their bankroll through more than 1,000 spins.
Information is critical to players looking for a long-term payout. Such information includes a slot machine's RTP, variance, and hit frequency. All information is displayed on the cabinet or within the game.
Variance rate is the risk vs reward percentage of a game where high rates result in a small number of wins with higher payouts and low rates offer numerous wins with low payouts. Hit frequency is the percentage of wins you can get out from spinning the reels a certain number of times. You got it, it's all about the slot developer's mathematical model.
With the RTP and other important mathematical stats, players can pinpoint the slot game(s) where they have the best edge against the house. This also allows seasoned patrons to avoid casino gimmicks or slots that are designed to extract as much money from a patron.
Can Online Casino Operators Change The RTP of their Games?
Some operators are capable of changing the RTP of their online slots. This includes the slot machine cabinets among land-based casinos and online casino software among gambling sites.
Slot machine cabinets have EPROM chips that allow operators to set the game's RTP. Adjusting the EPROM chip can alter the slot machine payout to match the RTP set by the operator. This chip is responsible for the random number generator (RNG) algorithm of the game, which determines if you win or lose a spin.
Online casino operators can only change the RTP if there is an option for them to do so, built-in by the slot game developer.
Play'n Go games provide operators with several versions of their games with varying RTP, which is why you can find a 7 Sins slot with a 96% RTP on one website and 95% on another. Operators can choose a version of Play'n Go slots with an RTP that fits their business goal. Take note that this option is not available for other online slots.
Slot game suppliers such as Microgaming only offer slots with fixed RTPs which are more predictable and easier to reason about.
Can Online Casinos Hide the Real RTP of Their Games?
Operators are not obligated to show the RTP of their online casino slots or other games. However, licensed online casinos are required by law to be transparent with the fairness of their games. If an operator has an online game with a different RTP as advertised on their website, they are likely to get in trouble with the regulation office. This is why most online gambling sites and cryptocurrency casinos do not show the RTP of their games.
Why Do Online Casinos Change the RTP of their Games?
Online casino operators focus on the profit margin of their gambling sites, especially in established markets like the United Kingdom or in newer online US casino sites (e.g., NJ slot sites). One of the available options for them to make sure they are earning enough to cover the monthly overhead is to change the RTP of their slots to favor the house.
What are the Risks of Changing the Online Slot RTP?
Operators run the risk of losing their customers if they alter the slot RTP to lower the player's edge. High-rollers and advantage players, who make up a significant portion of an online casino's revenue, are less likely to play on an online gambling site if words get out that they change their game's RTP.
Land-based and online casino operators can change the RTP of their games if the option is available. However, if operators lower the RTP of their games too much, they run the risk of losing a sizable player base bored of never winning anything. And while online casinos are able to change the theoretical RTP of a game, it's important to remember that this number is only a long-term average. In the short term, the actual payouts from a game can vary quite dramatically from the theoretic RTP.
This article was published on May 7, 2022, and last updated on October 26, 2022.