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What is RTP slot machine?

June 01, 2022

If you've been playing slots for any length of time, or just watching streamers play slots on the Internet, you've probably heard the term RTP more than once. Even if you have no idea what it means, it's clear that this elusive RTP is an important factor for slot machines. In this article, we'll explain everything you need to know about this concept, how it relates to slot machines, and how it should influence your decision on which games to (not) play.

What does Return to Player Percentage mean?

What does Return to Player Percentage mean?

RTP literally signifies "return for the player". Its value shows how often the player can expect to win. The higher the %, the more likely and more often he can win. The RTP indicates how many bets a player can expect to get back from all the bets he makes on a particular slot machine in the long run.

Let's take an RTP of 100% as an example. This means that the player's chances of winning are equal to the casino's chances of winning, so the final result will probably be a draw. If the RTP is higher than 100%, it means that the casino will lose money over time. That is why slot machines with an RTP higher than 100% are rare to find. If the RTP is below 100%, the player still has a chance to win.

As a rule, the RTP of a slot machine in online casinos should be 90%. Reputable software providers always have information about the RTP of a particular slot or game. In land-based casinos, facilities with a lower RTP are the standard. Find out How to win jackpots on slot machines?

How to calculate the RTP?

The percentage of winnings in online casinos can be calculated with a simple formula. For this purpose, the amount of winnings is divided by the amount of bets and multiplied by 100%.

If you know the RTP, you can determine the percentage advantage of the gambling establishment. For example, if you know that a certain slot machine has an RTP of 95%, it means that in the long run, the gambling establishment will receive only 5% of the stakes placed by the player during the game.

The RTP is a theoretical, statistical calculation and therefore should not be taken literally.

Note that the return on investment for the player depends only on the developer of the slot machine - this is true for both land-based casino slots and online gambling establishments. Neither land-based casinos nor online casinos can influence the RTP numbers of slot machines, so players can be sure that all their wins or losses are fair - they are determined by the mechanics of the slot machine, including the random number generator. The principal thing is to choose a trustworthy casino with licenses and original slots.

Truths and myths about RTP in slot machines

We're going to address some truths and myths about RTP in slot machines. Over the years, players have developed a number of ideas about how RTP works and what is possible and what is not, so we will try to dispel some of them.

  • Online casinos can manipulate the RTP of their slot machines: It's not true. Online casinos do not own the slot machines they offer for play. They merely rent the slot machines from the game developers, and the games are usually stored on the developers' servers, which means that the casinos don't have the kind of access needed to change key settings like the RTP. Some providers do offer games with multiple RTP variations (like Play'n GO), but the casinos cannot change a random game at will.

  • RTP is completely irrelevant for a single game: This is both genuine and false. Since anything can happen in a single slot session and the actual RTP of the game won't be reached either way, this information is not that important. However, on average, a slot with 96% RTP will play better than one with 85% RTP. While you can win and lose on both, you will win more often on the game with the higher RTP, so it is better to play that one.

  • Progressive jackpots affect the actual RTP of a slot machine: This is the case in most cases. Slots with progressive jackpots, for example, can be advertised with an RTP of 94%, but part of this RTP is usually achieved through the progressive jackpots. This means that if you don't actually win the jackpot, you will play the game with a significantly lower RTP than the one advertised.

Is there a correlation between win frequency and RTP?

Is there a correlation between win frequency and RTP?

The RTP can also be somewhat misleading. The RTP says nothing about how often you can expect to win. Online slot machines with the same RTP of 97% can produce winning combinations with different frequencies. However, there is an indirect correlation between the percentage of wins for the player, the frequency and the amount of winnings.

Slots with lower RTP pay out more frequently but smaller amounts, while slots with higher RTP pay out larger amounts but much less frequently. This phenomenon is called scatter. Slots with high RTP usually have high dispersion, and low dispersion for small wins. Accordingly, players with a lot of experience who prefer to play a slot machine for a long time should pay attention to slot machines with a high percentage win. Beginners or those who want to risk less should opt for slot machines with lower RTP.

Variance and RTP: Two similar but different things.

RTP is often confused with the variance of a game (and vice versa). Although these two terms are usually closely related, they are not the same thing. We have already explained what Return to Player is and what it means in short form. Now let's briefly discuss variance.

Variance basically defines the way the game's RTP is realized. Slots with lower variance are programmed to land smaller hits frequently, which helps you keep your head above water and play many rounds without busting. In higher variance games, a large part of the RTP is in the bonus features and can lead to really big wins. Despite that, to compensate for these big wins, these slots machines don't have as much small to medium wins in the base game.

This means that not all slots with high RTP are necessarily very friendly to your bankroll. In general, games with a higher RTP are always a better choice than those with a lower percentage, but if your game of choice is very volatile, you may go through many thousands of spins before you even get close to the true RTP.

Land-based vs. online slot machines: Which have the better RTP?

Most players who switch from land-based casinos to online slot machines or play online and in brick-and-mortar establishments soon come to the conclusion that online slot machines are better to play. Although the world of gambling is full of misconceptions and false beliefs, this is not one of them.

Online slot machines actually pay better in most cases.

Most online slot machines, even if they are the same game, have a significantly higher RTP. Land-based slot machines usually have an RTP between 70% and 90%, with very few games ever exceeding 92%. Online, slot machines that offer less than 94% to 95% are usually considered poor, and many of the newer games have RTPs above 96%.

However, this is not a brick and mortar industry conspiracy. The reason why slot machines in physical venues yield less profit is because land-based casinos have limited space and therefore need to make more money from physical machines to keep up with costs and make a profit.

Online casinos, on the other hand, can provide hundreds or even thousands of machines to play at any given time with no space restrictions. Therefore, they can afford to offer games with a much higher RTP. Discover also our article on Is the Roulette Ball Magnetic?

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