Casino RTP Explained

Explaining casino RTP for live and online casinos.
Explaining casino RTP for live and online casinos. | Photo by Adrian Trinkaus on Unsplash

Do you play casino games for money? Or do you play for fun? Either way, casino RTP is one factor that can take your gaming experience from mediocre to awesome. The thrill and excitement of gameplay depend a great deal on a game's RTP, and it is a useful tool that comes in handy when picking the best games.

Here we will explain what RTP means, how to calculate it, and its effects on slots and other casino games.

What is Casino RTP?

Do you ever wonder how casino games pay out winnings to players? Contrary to what you may think, casino operators do not control what you win from a game, the RTP does.

RTP is an acronym which stands for Return to Player. It refers to how much of the total money bet on a game will be "returned to players" over time. It is also called the payout percentage because it is a percentage value, and the higher the percentage, the more money you can win.  It is calculated using a simple formula:

(Total Amount Won/Total Amount Wagered) x 100 = RTP percentage

For example, imagine 1 million players bet $1 each on a hand of American Roulette, and they collectively win $975,000. The RTP would be:

($975,000/$1,000,000) x 100 = 97.5%

This formula has been an industry standard for nearly two decades and is verified by international testing services like eCogra and Technical Systems Testing. Luckily, there won't be any need for you to bother with these calculations because payout percentages are usually published and disclosed to the players.

Here are some of the most common ones:

Slots

Blood Suckers - 98.00%
Starmania - 97.87%
Spinata Grande - 96.84%
Fruit Spin - 96.84%
Dead or Alive II - 96.80%
The Legend of Shangri La - 96.60%
Eggomatic - 96.50%
Asgardian Stones - 96.31%
Temple of Nudges - 96.03%

Casino Games

  • American Roulette - 94.74%
  • European Roulette - 97.30%
  • French Roulette - 98.65%
  • Blackjack - 99.54%
  • Baccarat - 98.99%
  • Jacks or Better Video Poker - 99.54%
  • Let it Ride - 96.49%
  • Three Card Poker - 98.24%
  • Mississippi Stud - 98.63%

How Does RTP Work?

The first thing to realize about casino RTP is that it doesn't apply to one single player. Let's say you play a slot with a 96% RTP, and for every $100 wagered you get $96 back. It would be gravely boring because you already know the outcome in monetary terms. That's practically throwing the excitement out the window.

Instead, RTP figures are calculated for a large number of slot spins, or hands of cards, as many as 100,000 or 1 million. It takes into account all activity on a game, including wagers from you as well as other players. You could hit the jackpot or make small wins, but the average amount the game returns to players over a certain period will be in line with the RTP percentage.

This is all designed by the expert developers behind the scenes who set up the RTP using math sequences and game simulations. Without going too much into the technical stuff, the RTP distribution is programmed to give back a set percentage of total waters that go into it. However, it takes a while for the real-life outcomes to match the theoretical value built into the software. The more the game is played, the closer the real payout percentage is to the predetermined RTP.

RTP vs. House Edge

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Even though game developers determine the RTP, the casino has an influence on the percentage value. Being profit inclined, the casino has an advantage over every hand of cards, roll of dice, and round of play that takes place at the site, and this is what we often call the house edge. For instance, the standard house edge in Blackjack is less than 1% (depending on the number of decks a casino uses in a game, the exact value varies).

At the Blackjack table, the dealer has a statistical advantage over the player. The dealer acts last in a hand and is able to see players' cards and their moves before taking action.

Hence the RTP and house edge are opposite sides of the same coin. The former tells you how much you can gain, and the latter tells you how much you can lose, but they both show whether the odds are in your favor or not. If the house edge is given as 5%, then the RTP will be 95%. The RTP will never go above 100% because that would mean that the casino will be running at a long-term loss no matter what happens.

Benefits Of Understanding RTP

Casino Bonus

Casino bonuses are a fantastic incentive except for the fact that they come with a caveat. The bonus terms and conditions include a time limit, wagering requirements, among other things, and RTP is the solution to working around them. Good knowledge of payout percentages helps you get the most out of your casino bonus. Playing slots is the best way to reach your wagering requirements because stakes on slots contribute 100% to bonus clearing. However, not all slots are created the same way, and with high RTP slots, you not only meet the requirements quickly, but you increase your chances of winning and increasing your bankroll in the process.

If you want to maximize the benefits from a casino bonus, it is vital that you pay attention to RTP values.

Slots

Photo by Morning Brew on Unsplash
Photo by Morning Brew on Unsplash

Slot RTPs are as versatile as the games themselves. They vary from slot to slot and are dependent on how the game is set up. Slots variance is often misinterpreted to mean the same as RTP.

Variance is the payout frequency of a slot - how often you hit a winning combo. Slots can either be low, medium, or high variance. High variance slots pay out large sums once in a while, and low variance slots offer frequent wins of smaller amounts. And medium variance is the middle road between the two. However, all three levels can indicate the same RTP. This is because variance is simply the distribution of the payout percentage. In reality, RTP does not affect variance, and variance has no impact on RTP. The only way to confirm the RTP value of a slot game, for instance, is to spin the reels a considerable number of times.

Slots with lots of bonus games and multipliers tend to be high variance because those extra features allow the opportunity to roll out big wins while classic style slots are simple and low risk. To ensure you make the most profits in the long run, you will need to look out for games with a high RTP irrespective of the variance level you prefer.

Casino Games

While every slot game has its own RTP, table games usually have a standard payout percentage. Roulette, Poker, Baccarat, and other casino games do not have variance like slots. Nonetheless, you can find slight differences in game payouts between casinos. This is because game developers often allow casino operators to modify the RTP percentage to fit the house rules. These differences appear insignificant, but over millions of plays, amount to hefty sums.

RTP is even more essential because gambling is a high-risk activity, so knowing the most profitable games to choose makes all the difference, and RTP enables players to take calculated risks.

Why RTP Is Higher In Online Casinos Than Land-Based Casinos

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The online casino has many benefits, one of which is a higher RTP. While you will find payout percentages as low as 80% or less at offline casinos, online sites go as high as 98%, and there are two main reasons for the disparity. The online gaming landscape is very competitive as we've seen with bonuses, and favorable RTPs are another means to entice players. Hence, operators try to offer the highest payout percentage that they can afford without making a loss.

The second reason is that the online casino is a lot more cost-effective than running a land-based lobby. One is entirely run on internet-based software while the other involves physical labor and on-premise equipment. Only with a more significant house edge will land-based casinos be able to cover up such expenses.

Validation Of RTP

RTP percentages are a casino standard, and many US online casinos monitor the performance of individual games as well as the collective performance of their games library.

An online casino having a generally high RTP across all its game offerings tells you that you are likely to win more money playing on the site. While a high casino RTP is necessary, it is not sufficient. The most trustworthy RTP values will be those at a reliable casino like FanDuel Casino.

The best online casinos are regulated by licensing authorities. They have their games tested and authenticated by reputable third-party agencies in the iGaming world such as eCOGRA, Technical System Testing, and others.

Conclusion

RTP cannot be determined in a single gaming session but over a long series of gameplay. In spite of that, for a one-time spin of the reels, a hand of cards or roll of the dice, a high RTP game will play and pay better. Players are better off playing games with 96% RTP or higher, and you could always try out games in free play mode before playing for real money.

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