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As an avid online casino player, you’ve no doubt come across the term “Return to Player” or RTP, especially if you’re a fan of spinning the slot reels. But what is RTP, really? In a nutshell, RTP is a measure of the average percentage of bets a game returns to players over at least a million spins. RTP is a theoretical calculation. It’s not gospel. It doesn’t apply to huge random wins or longer streaks of losses. But it does tell you about the average estimate for a game. Sounds complicated? Keep reading to learn all about how Return to Player percentages work and how you can make them work for you.
Return To Player, in its simplest form, is the percentage of all wagers played that are rewarded back to players.
The RTP rate is usually decided on the payback to players over time – often every month. Return to Player rates are described in percentages. The bigger the bets, the higher the wins returned to players.
That brings up a lot of questions. Who gets the money and who decides on the percentage? The best way to explain RTP is to use an example.
Let’s say a new slot game is released, and ten different players spin the first ten spins.
Can you see why RTP is theoretical? You need to give the algorithms some time to average out. Eventually, the online casino gets its money back and stays in the positive. Choosing to play a high RTP game is the best way to statistically ensure the fairest of gaming experiences.
The RTP matters if you’re a regular casino player and you invest a fair amount of money. If you’re a casual slot player, though, chances are the thrill of the game is enough for you.
Blackjack and other table games tend to have very high RTP rates and, in consequence, low house edge.
But for avid casino gamblers, RTP offers up a fairer chance of getting more value for your gaming investment and assures you that a game is programmed to provide a percentage of all the money wagered, be it by you or other players.
RTP allows casino players to get back at least some of the money they’ve wagered. Like any type of gambling, the house always has the advantage, but when you understand how Return to Player works, the chances of winning your money back will be to your advantage.
RTP and house edge go hand in hand. Let’s carry on with our example of 10 players each spending €10, and each only spinning the reels once.
The €2 that the casino makes is the house edge. But like Return to Player, it’s only valid over an extended period of time. It may be reflected in short gaming sessions, though.
So, the house edge is the percentage of all wagers that the casino takes.
If you love numbers, it’s easy to work out the house edge. Simply deduct that percentage from 100%. For instance, a 96% RTP game has a house edge of 4%.
Now you have an understanding of what RTP is, let’s dig deeper and find out who sets that percentage and how you can make it work for you.
Who Sets the RTP Percentage
You’ve heard of top software developers like Microgaming, Netent, BetSoft, Yggdrasil and the like. They’re the geniuses behind creating the slots and casino games you love.
When a developer comes up with a new game, the software includes a random number generator (RNG). It’s the RNG’s job to control the randomness of every spin of the reels, throw of the dice or game of cards.
Once a developer has finalised a new game, the game undergoes randomness testing from auditing labs like iTech Labs, TST or eCOGRA. These trusty bodies have auditing programmes that run hundreds of thousands of slot spins, for example, in a very short period.
The data is used to figure out how much each amount wagered will be returned to the player.
While it’s up to the game developers to set the RTP, there are some games that come with a mechanism allowing casino operators to adjust the payout odds slightly, but it’s so slight it has a minimal impact on a game’s RTP percentage.
Some developers allow the casino operator to pick the RTP of their games based. This is because some providers like NetEnt and Play’N GO offer up to 5 RTP variants of each slot. That’s why you’ll find some versions of Starburst with 96% RTP and others with 94%, for example.
Finding the Return to Player percentage of your favourite casino games helps you make informed betting decisions. All reputable online casinos are required, under their casino licences, to clearly display a game’s RTP rate.
How To Calculate RTP
We’ve covered how to work out a casino game’s house edge, but what about the Return to Player percentage?
In theory, it’s easy.
Total amount returned to players divided by total amount gambled by players.
While things are pretty obvious in some table games, where you know you can win about half the bets you place, RTP rates on online slots can be misleading. It doesn’t always indicate how often you can expect a win.
Slots can payout mega jackpots less often. But over a period of time, the result will be the same – a Return to Players percentage that’s slightly less than turnover.
Other games can be tricky to calculate as they depend on player strategy. For instance, Blackjack requires skill, and in Craps, different bets can be placed where the RTP ranges from amazing to pitiful.
Low RTP Games
Knowing that not all casino games are created equally when it comes to RTP can help you avoid certain games. That is, games with an RTP of 93% or lower.
Some popular slots with low paying Return to Player percentages include:
RTP & Variance
Return to Player and game variance are often mistaken for one another. They’re closely related, but they are not the same.
Variance is how a casino game’s Return to Player is realized.
But let’s explain one thing here. Slots with a high Return to Player percentage aren’t always kind to your bankroll. Typically, games with higher RTP are a better choice, but if the game is highly volatile, you could go through thousands of spins before you come close to the actual RTP.
We can’t mention RTP and variance without mentioning hit frequency. The hit rate determines the probability of you scoring a payout in any given spin of the reels.
For example, a slot with a 30% hit frequency means you’re likely to win, on average, on 3 out of 10 spins.
Many popular online slots feature a hit frequency of between 25% and 35%.
RTP and Profits
Now you’re getting the hang of Return to Player percentages, let’s consider whether or not this fact can affect your long-term profits.In the short term, 1% or 2% doesn’t make a big difference. But over more spins, the effect on your profits is more noticeable.
So, if we consider a slot with an RTP rate of 96%, what does a change to 94% mean? It’s actually a big reduction in value. The more spins you play, the larger the difference.
In other words, it can pay to find the best RTP when there’s a big bonus with large playthrough requirements. That’s because you’re playing slots to free up your bonus funds and this can mean hundreds or thousands of spins.
Slots With The Best RTP
Getting excited about RTP now? Then you’ll want to know which slots have the highest Return to Player. They might not be the best choice if you’re after regular wins, but they do pay pretty well with a decent amount of playtime.
Top 5 Slots with Great RTP
|Monopoly on the Money
|Big Bad Wolf
Tips for RTP
While it’s impossible to avoid or cheat a game’s Return to Player percentage, there are a few things you can do to help boost your winning chances.
While it’s impossible to modify the RTP in casino games, you can optimise games like video poker or live blackjack with a strategy.
With a good strategy in place, you can make sure you leave as little as possible to chance and help the probabilities to work for you.
For instance, using a system in video poker, you stand to walk away with more bankroll than you started with.
Using a deposit bonus is a good way to minimize the house edge because you have extra funds to play with. The match deposit bonuses, especially when they’re 100%, see you receiving double funds when you sign up at an online casino. This effectively lowers the RTP thanks to the bonus funds.
Be warned, though, that things aren’t straightforward. You should always check a bonus’s terms and conditions before taking it. You’ll need to adhere to the wagering requirements, too, before you can cash out any winnings.
Aim for slots with potentially big wins of at least 500x or 1,000x your bet, and stick to games with a Return to Player of 96.50% or more.
In short, you want to play slots with High Max Win and High RTP.
But remember this: If you decide to play slots with low variance, you’ll automatically get lower Max Win, as the wins roll around more frequently.
Yet slots with high variance are riskier, with wins that come less often. But the payout, when it comes, will be well worth the effort.
Return to Player, or RTP, shows how much of your bets you can win back. It’s shown as a percentage. This percentage is worked out by considering every feature of a game and coming up with a possible outcome.
Classic RNG table games like blackjack have high RTPs, as do roulette and poker.
Every game does have a win and loss potential, and in most cases, it’s calculated through the RTP. Slots, table games and live casino games all have a percentage coded into the software.
The RTP rate for casino games varies for different software providers and categories. Most titles have an RTP of less than 100%, but blackjack is the game with the highest RTP, soaring up to 99%.
Yes, this gives you a higher chance of winning. While RTP doesn’t guarantee a win, a higher Return to Player rate does give you a better chance of getting back a portion of your bets over time.
The RTP is usually added to each casino game, and you’ll find it in the game’s info or after hovering over a game’s title with your mouse.
It all depends on the casino you want to play at. Check out elements like which software developers offer games at a casino, and then read reviews on the games to find their Return to Player rate. You can find some of the best online casinos on our top list and check out which games are on offer.
Typically, the developers who create a casino game have the games tested by outside auditors to determine the average Return to Player rate. RTP is determined by dividing the total amount returned to players by the total amount gambled by players.
✅ What is RTP and Why Is It Important for Casino Players? (Sigma World)
✅ Malta Gaming Authority to lower minimum RTP threshold to 85% (iGaming Business)
✅ Return to player: how much gaming machines payout (Gambling Commission)