Return-to-Player in Slots (RTP)
Our guide about slot RTP and return-to-player payout percentages. How to calculate it, where to find it, and how to use it to win at online slots!
What is a slot RTP? For newbie casino slot players, this is a technical slot term that is not easy to understand. However, if you are a seasoned player or someone who wants to get more value for your bucks, it's important to understand what RTP is and determine how it affects your playing experience.
A Video Lottery Terminal, or VLT, is a type of electronic gambling. Sometimes called slot machines or video gaming machines, they are stand-alone devices that usually contain a random number generator (RNG) that makes sure every spin has a fair chance of winning. Each machine is connected to a centralized computer system that monitors the gameplay and collects the casino's share of the revenue.
Thanks to RNGs, each spin is independent, which means even if you hit the jackpot on this spin, you still get a chance to win on the next spin. Return-to-Player percentage controls RNG in how much it will return to the player in the form of winning lines. The opportunity to win a jackpot is the same for every spin that you play.
What is Return-to-Player (RTP) in Slots?
Return-to-Player, or RTP, is a term from casino operators expressing the total of a slot's wagered amount returned to the players as wins or jackpots. In other words, RTP is the odds of winning at a specific slot machine.
RTP is usually used to decide on the payback to players over a period of time, most often every month of a calendar year. Percentages are used to describe the RTP and estimate the wins. The bigger the bets, the higher amount of wins returned to the players.
All slot games possess their own particular return-to-player percentage in every casino. On average, casinos can program as low as 80% to 98% RTP in their slot machines. Over time a VLT or slot machine pays back players for the RTP percentage assigned on a specific device. It can be advantageous to both parties, players, and houses, and is calculated on a long-term basis.
One good example is that a hundred $1 bets with a 90% RTP can expect to win $90 overtime.
If players take a really good look, RTP will show the twist of the house advantage. A machine can have a 20% advantage, and the Return-to-Player percentage on average will be 80%. In time, that machine gets a 20% revenue, while all players have a fair chance of taking back 80% of all bets.
Where to find the RTP of a slot machine?
Finding the RTP percentage of your favorite slot games allows you to make wise decisions regarding when and how much to bet. In most jurisdictions, a casino or gaming establishment is required by law to display return-to-player percentages for their video slots publicly. However, there is a difference in the RTPs for online and land-based casino slot machines.
In an online slot game
Finding the RTPs for online slot games is easy enough. Just google any slot game that you wanted to play, add "RTP" or "Return-to-Player" in the keyword search, and voila! You'll get the estimated payouts for any given game. Sometimes, it is also published in the information section of the game that you are playing.
Some examples of online slot RTPs are the following:
- Coyote Cash by Real Time Gaming - 97.5% RTP
- Achilles by Real Time Gaming - 95% RTP
- Fruit Loot Reboot by Concept Gaming - 97.24% RTP
- Monster Pop by BetSoft Gaming - 97.7% RTP
In a land-based casino slot
Land-based slot machine RTPs are a little harder to find, and they are also generally lower compared to slots in online casinos. Las Vegas casinos are required to have an RTP of 75% or greater. Some casinos have 97-99% RTP signboards prominently displayed in a particular cluster of slots but follow it on only one machine. You can always ask customer service though, but they will rarely give you a definitive answer in most cases.
Does the RTP actually matter in practice?
A slot RTP matters greatly for regular casino players that invest a considerable amount of money in playing. If you are just a casual slot fancier, the thrill of the game is enough, even if you lose a few bucks in the process.
For regular slot players, RTP gives you a fairer chance of getting more value for your investment. While RNGs give you a reasonable chance of winning at every spin, RTP assures you that the device is programmed to provide a percentage of all the bet money, whether to you or another player.
Whether in a physical casino or online casinos, RTP gives slot game players a chance to get back the money that they played. Like any form of gambling, the house will always have an advantage. When you understand how RTP works, the chances of your money going back to you in the form of wins will also be your advantage.
Hit Frequency, Variance & Return-To-Player
Seasoned and professional casino players need to understand the technical jargon of gambling. Among them are Hit Frequency, Variance, and Return-to-Player. Each one is closely related but calculated differently.
- Hit Frequency - a measure of how often a player gets a winning combination on a payline. This value is represented as a percentage per 100 spins. For example, an 8% hit frequency means that a player will have a probability of getting a winning combination eight times out of every 100 spins.
- Return-to-Player - a percentage representation of the total amount of the bets that are returned to the players over a period of time. Whether a machine has high or low hit frequency will still produce the same RTP percentage that is programmed in the device in the long term.
- Variance - also known as volatility, it refers to the risk amount of a particular slot game. It is similar to hit frequency in a way that it calculates how often and how much you can expect to get on a winning combination. Low volatility slots mean getting smaller frequent wins, while high volatility slots mean long periods of no winning combinations, with higher jackpot prizes.
Land-based Slots RTP vs. Online Slots RTP
Online casinos fare higher in terms of RTP, mostly because there are less overhead and fewer operating costs to consider. Other than the initial set-up and occasional maintenance expenses, online slot sites cost less to operate. Some online game providers offer as high as 98%, but there will never be a case of 100% RTP.
Land-based casinos provide players with the overall "casino experience," which may or may not include access to additional features like free food and drinks, complimentary rooms for VIP players, and that general ambiance you would expect from such an establishment.
For most people, this experience is what they sought in a casino establishment like what you see in Las Vegas or Macau. Most of these players pass through or on holiday, so they won't care about low RTPs, hit frequency, or even win variance.
The industry standard in land-based casinos is 86%, with some establishments programming even less than that. The reason is that their overhead costs, or the money they spend managing the establishment, are considered when calculating how much revenue they need to take out of player bets.
Slot RTP - FAQ
The concept of RTP in video slots can be a little confusing to slot players. They often wonder why the return-toplayer rate is so high but they win so little. Allow us to answer concisely many of these common questions!
What does RTP mean in slot machines?
RTP, also known as slots odds, is a percentage value representing the total amount of bets paid back to players over a given amount of time. To calculate RTP, you can look at this simple formula.
RTP = total amount players win / total player bets over a period of time
What percentage do slot machines generally payout?
RTP is different for every casino, but it ranges from 90-99 percent to get the European Gaming Commission license to operate. For online slot games, a 97% RTP gives you very good odds of winning, while 96%, which is the industry standard, is also an acceptable return. Anything below 90% when it comes to online slot games should be avoided.
For physical casinos, RTP tends to be lower, as they consider the high overhead costs needed to operate their establishment. On average, a land-based casino can program an RTP of 75-94% in their slot machines, with the industry average being only at 86%. While it's a poor comparison to their online counterparts, the experience of being in a physical casino and the additional amenities they provide is still more attractive than playing online.
Is the RTP value publicly available for any slot?
RTP must be displayed in all gaming machines or made publicly available by all casinos, whether online or land-based. Online casinos usually publish the RTP of every slot game in the information section or can also be found online on their game developers' website. Land-based casinos can be trickier because while they sometimes display boards showing the RTP of slots, not all machines follow the same percentage that is advertised. It is a marketing ploy used to attract players.
How do casinos calculate the RTP of a slot game?
RTP is calculated by the total amount returned to players in the form of winnings divided by all players' total bets. For example, if a player bets sum up to $1,000, the RTP will be roughly $900-$980 with an RTP range of 90-98%. It is a long term calculation of total bets given back to the players in many small wins or few big jackpots.
With land-based casinos, RTP is lower because it considers the overhead of the establishment in determining how much RTP they are going to give.
Is a higher RTP slot always better?
Yes, a higher RTP gives players a higher chance of winning. RTP is a theoretical statistical calculation of averages that determine the value that will be returned to players. Although it does not guarantee a win, a higher RTP gives players a better advantage to get back a portion of the bets they made over time.
What is important to understand here is that the house, in this case, the casino, will always have a share of the revenue. The RTP is put in place to ensure fair play, and RNG is set up to give all players a chance to get a winning combination.
Are RTP and winning frequency connected?
RTP and hit frequency have different meanings. Some slot machines have a lesser win frequency, but higher payouts, and some have higher chances of winning, but the prizes are usually of a lesser amount. Both can have an RTP of 97%, but one can have a win frequency of 8% while another can have 3%. For a player, it may feel that he is winning more often with a high win frequency, albeit small ones, but in reality, the chances of winning the 97% RTP is the same.
Variance and return-to-player percentages are closely related but very different in the way that it affects the player experience. A lower variance means lesser chances but higher winning value, while a higher variance game gives the illusion that you are winning a lot. In the long-term, it averages the amount of money that players win back in the long term. That is when RTP comes in.
The important thing to remember here is that slots RTP make the winning value constant, whether the variance is high or low. The house will always have a holding share of the revenue from all player bets. Understanding Return-To-Player percentage gives you the advantage of getting as much value as you can from your money while still retaining the thrill of playing the games you love.