RTP on Video Slots ExplainedWelcome to our ‘RTP on video slots explained’ online guide. The term RTP stands for ‘Return to Player’, which traditionally you will see as ‘house edge’ on table games like Blackjack. However, developers, our review team delivering online video slot news, and online casinos refer to the ‘house edge’ as RTP when referring to the long-term average return you can expect from the slot. The technical term is ‘Theoretical RTP’.

This is perhaps one of the most interesting topics in iGaming, especially if you are new to online gambling and were wondering exactly how random the outcome is on video slots. As with ‘house edge’ on games like Blackjack or Baccarat, the topic has been the subject of many strategy articles and ‘how slots work’ guides with varying views and opinions. Importantly, we can tell you right now that there is no secret formula to win playing slots, no way to manipulate the RTP, and no cheats – in fact, every spin is a completely random event in the same way as the rolling 2 or 3 dice ice – any combination can appear.

In fact, for slots, roulette, wheel of fortune titles, and most other casino games, there is no way to improve or decrease your RTP. Only in a game like Blackjack can your decisions change your RTP. This can happen by making the wrong decision like splitting 10s or hitting for another card when basic strategy charts would indicate no to split or to stand, respectively. Quite often, blackjack players spend hours memorising basic strategy charts. The aim is always to get the best RTP out of their game. And when you think the RTP of a blackjack table is on average 99% to 99.7%, playing mathematically is crucial because you can reduce that favourable RTP by as much as 2-3% making if you make the wrong decisions.

On the contrary, video slots are one of the easiest casino games online. Unlike blackjack, there are no right or wrong moves you can make. In other words, you can’t make the wrong decision playing slots. All you need to do is spin the reels and let the slot do the rest of the work for you.

Your Betting Style: Video slots are super easy to play. You have no influence on the outcome or the RTP. However, your bet sizing and the use of features like ‘gamble’ can affect your profit/loss ratio. As a result, your ‘bankroll management’ and ‘bet sizing’ strategies are just as important as understanding how RTP works. This means choosing spin bets according to your budget/bankroll and using the gamble feature sparingly. Get this combination of factors right, and you can reduce your losses, which effectively means you become a more efficient slot player.

How is RTP calculated on video slots?

RTP is set by the software developer when the game is designed. In this section, we will cover exactly how the game developer sets the payout ratio on the slot,  look at RTP ranges set by casinos or determined by the region you are playing from, and make a quick comparison between online video slot and land-based video slot RTP.

Slot developers use all the information listed in the box accompanying this section to calculate RTP by inserting all the information into a proven mathematical formula that can process the information into a percentage/payout ratio. Back in the days of the 1 armed bandit and mechanical reels, this was no easy task but fortunately today, software providers use complex computer-generated algorithms to figure out the RTPs. Changing the percentage could mean adding lower-paying symbols, giving players a higher chance of landing lower-valued combinations.

By changing the symbol counts, the RTP changes too. For example, to increase the RTP, the slot developer might add more scatters/bonus symbols to the reels replacing other symbols. The outcome of doing so would mean the player has a higher chance of winning, let’s say a free spins bonus. It could be more wild symbols are added, stacked wilds or adding a cascading reels feature. All of these changes will have an effect on the RTP, and the developers won’t release the slot until they have the perfect payout ratio.

How developers use mathematics to set the theoretical RTP

Setting the RTP on a slot is a complex mathematical process – one lucky you don’t need to worry about. That said, it’s interesting to know how they do it. The crux of it is that the entire process comes down to these key components:

  • The number of each symbol on the reels
  • How many reels the slot has
  • Whether there is a random jackpot or not
  • The number of positions available in view on the reels (symbol in view)
  • The number of positions in total on each reel (this includes symbol not in view)
  • The number of pay lines ‘OR’ Ways to win using no pay line tech (Megaways, Ways-to-Win, or Clusters)

Flexible RTPs Depending on the region

Some slots come with an RTP range which is set depending on the region you play in and by the casino. For example, Playtech may release a new slot with 5 RTP ranges. 84%, 90%, 94%, 96%, or 98%. The casino can set the RTP or sometimes the RTP is determined by the region you play in where there may be a minimum or maximum RTP. As video slots are online and created by computer code, all the developer needs to do is create a different version of the reels for each RTP range, which is done by using mathematical algorithms. In the past, when slots used mechanical parts, changing the RTP on these land-based counterparts was obviously much harder to do.

RTPs on Land-Based Slots

Even in land-based casinos, video slots use computer code on a TV screen. You will generally find these slots are set to 84% or 90% because land-based just don’t have the reach an online has and so to make a profit, the lower RTPs are used. On top of this, online casinos have so much competition, the higher the RTPs the more attractive its slots. Back in the day, when slots used mechanical components, changing the RTP often meant physically changing the reels.

Theoretical RTP Algorithms Testing Vs RNG Tests

In many of our online casino reviews and software developer guides, you will see that our review team mentions testing certificates and licensing. The same applies to our software developer reviews. Internationally recognised companies are companies in place, like TechLabs, Global International Laboratories, and eCOGRA, that test the RNG algorithms to ensure they are fair and the RTP is correctly designated. Moreover, licensing authorities insist on these certificates being obtained by both software developers and online casinos.

What about payout calculation reports: Licensing authorities like the MGA and UKGC, as well as independent services like eCOGRA, produce RTP calculations. These tests are carried out to ensure the RTP produced by the RNG (Random Number Generator), are similar to the RTP advertised on the slot. Usually, a slot with an RTP of 96% will range from 94% up to 98% in these reports. And if you play at an eCOGRA casino, you will be able to see these reports because they are made public.

Myths About RTP Debunked

Some mathematical interpretations of RTP are dangerously incorrect. Understandably, some people see the simple mathematics behind it, but do not count for variation or probability. Below we look at some of those myths, so you know that’s exactly what they are if you ever read them and don’t fall into the trap or false sense of security they may offer.

  • Myth: If the RTP of a slot is 96%, then I will win 96 out of 100 spins – this couldn’t be further from the truth, and there is an easy way to explain why.
  • Myth: I will win €-£-$ 96 back for every €-£-$ 100 I bet – again this is as far fetched as the 96/100 spins above for the same reasons. Probability and variations will always play their part.

Important: To understand just how random slots are, you need to understand slot machine variance. Each spin is independent of the other, and this is the same for games like roulette and live wheel of fortune game show titles. If you have a 1% chance of hitting the jackpot, then every spin has a 1% chance of hitting it. The same in Single-Zero Roulette – there are 37 numbers, and every coup/spin has a 1 in 37 chance of hitting the zero.

Which online slots have the best RTPs?

There has always been competition across the video slots niche not just for feature and gameplay but for the RTP offered by certain slots. A general rule of thumb is that the higher the RTP of a slot, the more players will flock to it. Albeit, this is not an exact science. Some players may like the look of the high RTP but the theme and/or features is not their cup of tea, or the minimum bet is too rich for their budget. The general rule of thumb in today’s modern online slot sphere is a 96% RTP is about the average.

Generally, software developers have always been pretty good at looking at what the competition is producing. It is rare for a software developer to produce a slot with an RTP lower than 94.5% unless it comes with a progressive jackpot. What we can tell you is that there is not much difference between each software provider. Microgaming, Red Tiger, NetEnt, Endorphina, Play’n Go, Pragmatic Play and other big names all tend to have very similar RTPs of 95% to 98%. Although they do exist, (Jackpot Joker by NetEnt), it is very rare for these providers to produce a slot with an RTP of over 98%.

Jackpot Slot RTP: A great example of jackpot slots with lower RTPs is Microgaming’s Mega Moolah collection. The main Mega Moolah slot (the original) has an RTP of 88.12% because the progressive jackpot contribution is 5.30% of your spin bet. The same for other slots in its network like Immortal Romance Mega Moolah which has an RTP of 96.73% while the original non-jackpot version has an RTP of 96.86%. If you know Playtech’s Age of the Gods jackpot slots, the RTP averages around 95%, but this is because the jackpot is much smaller, and the contribution is only 0.99% of your bet in comparison.

Here is an example of some video slots with high RTP:

Online Slot Title Software Provider Theoretical RTP / Return to Play
Book of Dead Play'n Go Spielautomaten 95.60%
Fire Lightning BGaming Titles 97.61%
Blood Suckers NetEnt Spielautomaten 98.00%
Retro Reels Extreme Heat Microgaming-Software 97.50%
Jokerizer Yggdrasil Spielautomaten 88.80% to 98.00%
Money Cart 2 Relax Gaming 98.00%

Tip: Always look out for the RTP on a new video slot or any online slot that takes your fancy, for that matter. It will give you a good idea of your chances of winning. Without stating the obvious, it is best to avoid low RTP slots because inevitably your chances of winning are much less. The only time playing a video slot with a low RTP is advisable is when there is a chance of winning a jackpot. The Microgaming jackpot slot titles come with a low RTP but 4 different progressive jackpots that drop low amounts hourly, daily, weekly, and then there is the chance of winning a life-changing jackpot into the millions which can drop every 5 to 8 weeks on average.

The average RTP for table games Vs video slots

If you are already a casino game guru, then you already know that table games tend to have a better RTP versus slots. This has always been the case even before online casinos came around. Also, one important factor to remember about games like poker, roulette, blackjack, and baccarat (the most popular table games) is that the way these games are played doesn’t change much and so the RTPs rarely change dramatically at all.

On the other hand, the way slots play out with their thousands of different features, reel mechanics, and layouts, RTPs from slot to slot can change immensely. A good example of this is 1429 Uncharted Seas by Thunderkick which has a 98.5% RTP and tons of features while Play’n Go’s Bell of Fortune 3-reel classic with 1 pay line has an RTP of 94.45% just because the gameplay and features are so different.

  • American roulette with 94.7%
  • French roulette with 97.3%
  • Blackjack – 99% to 99.75%
  • Baccarat – 99%

Games like blackjack can change in RTP via several factors. Firstly, there are the rules such as whether the dealer hits or stands on a soft 17 (H17 Vs S17), when you can double down, how many times you can split, and even the number of decks in the shoe. Secondly, there is the player. As blackjack is a game of mathematics, each situation has a win/loss percentage. I.e., you might have a 52% chance of winning if you ‘hit’ but a 58% chance of winning if you ‘stand’. Those that do not know the game might choose to hit unaware that this lowers his/her chance of winning, thus the player’s lack of knowledge reduces the RTP.

Interesting: Interestingly, the disparity in RTP between ‘land-based slots’ and ‘land-based table games’ is much wider than their online counterparts. Slots in land-based casinos usually have an RTP of 80% to 90% while table games have a similar RTP to that of an online table game. That’s because there’s not much you can do to change the traditional way to play poker, baccarat, blackjack, or roulette, even with an online version. However, slots are far more flexible, hence the lower RTP in brick-and-mortar establishments.

Which online casinos have the best payout percentages?

The million-dollar question is which online casino is going to give you the highest chance of winning. To be perfectly honest, unless you are superstitious, all the casinos these days offer the same chance of winning.

OK, so it’s not an exact science, but it’s very difficult to say that video slots on LeoVegas Casino slots pay better than video slots on 888 Casino. This is because both brands use similar software providers, and there is not a huge difference in RTP on the slots produced by different software providers. In theory, you could decide to only play at online casinos with the eCOGRA seal of approval. This was you can check the monthly payout calculation reports to see which one is the luckiest casino with the highest average RTPs.

Online Casino Payout Ratio Casino Review
Löwen Play Auszahlungsquote 96.47% Löwen Play Casino
Wunderino Casino Auszahlungsquote 96.00% Wunderino Casino
Lapalingo Auszahlungsquote 97.62% Lapalingo Casino
DrückGlück Auszahlungsquote 96.90% Drückglück Casino
Mr Green Casino 95.60% Mr Green Casino
Wazamba Casino Auszahlungsquote 96.84% Wazamba Casino

Pinpointing one of these casinos as the place to go to win more or to say one of the casinos is a clear winner when if comes to paying out is impossible. Some offer slots from the same software providers, some have unique slots, and more. There are many variables to consider. In theory, we could say the casino with the lowest wagering requirements and relaxed bonus terms, like the option to cash out or longer bonus expiry times, will give you the highest chance of winning because lower wagering requirements with longer to play thorough generally makes it easier to win your bonus money by converting it into real money.

Frequently Asked Question about RTP (Return to Players) on video slot machines

There are always more questions about RTP and how it works. Also, we highly advise reading the myths about online slot RTP debunked section to make sure you avoid making any rookie RTP assumption when it comes to playing video slots.

Are there any tricks or tips I can use to make RTP work in my favour?

In short, there are no video slot tricks that will help you manipulate the RTP on any slot. Every spin on a slot is completely random. The upside of this is that you can’t make a mistake or make a wrong decision when it comes to the outcome of the spin. On the other hand, in games like blackjack, if you choose to hit, split, or stand and it is mathematically the wrong move, you can end up reducing the RTP. Luckily for online slot players, slots are incredibly simple to play.

If the RTP is 96%, will I win 96% of my money back?

In theory, yes, but in reality, no. Now that RTP percentage is ‘theoretical RTP’ and achieving exactly a 96% return would be over a long period. If you go on a hot streak, you could end up with a 150% RTP playing a particular slot. Conversely, you can just as easily end up with a 50% RTP. It’s all down to variation and pure luck. It could take 2 years of playing the same slot for the RTP to exactly 96% or you could hit that theoretical average every week with one-week winning and the next losing, and so on.

Is the RTP on a mobile slot the same as on a desktop slot title?

Not anymore. There was a time when the mobile and desktop slots were different versions of the same gameplay – one for desktop and one for mobile. Occasionally, this also meant varying RTPs across mobile and desktop versions. However, today that is no longer the case because mobile slots and desktop slots now use the same technology to deliver the game and outcomes.

Is RTP different on cryptocurrency slots that use Provably Fair algorithms?

If you are playing crypto slots from a well-known provider that uses cross-currency betting interfaces, then the RTP on the virtual currency and real-money versions are the same. For example, Endorphina casino games accept BTC, ETH, LTC, DOGE, USD, UKP, INR, CAD, AUD, CAD, EUR, ZAR, and more currencies. You can see this is a mix of crypto and fiat currency. However, the same slot game will load with the same RTP with the only difference being the currency accepted.

Do online casinos change the RTP on video slots?

No, not really. It is generally the software provider that changes the RTP or offers the casino a version choice. For instance, there could be 84%, 90%, 94%, 96%, or 98% versions of the slot, and the casino chooses the version it wants. In theory, the casino could change the version it wants at request. In most cases, the RTP is displayed in the slot’s paytable or in the help menu. On UKGC casinos, the RTP should be listed, or the support should be able to tell you the RTP, which is part of the licensing.

How do I know a casino’s RTP on its video slots are fair?

Licensing, testing certificates, and payout percentage reports are the key indicators. Under the MGA, UKGC, and Curacao eGaming licenses, casinos must produce an algorithm testing certificate to verify their RNGs (Random Number Generators) are fair and tie in with the game’s RTP. Also, regular payout calculation reports are run on the casinos to check the slots are producing fair results. The best payout calculation report out there today is by eCOGRA. This company makes sure casinos holding an eCOGRA seal of approval all produce a payout percentage report that is publicly accessible through its logo in the footer of the casino.