This is How Much the Casino Keeps When You Play Slots

Avatar for Øystein Winje Øystein Winje
Two men playing slots

Slot machines are among the most popular forms of gambling in online casinos. Their colourful graphics, engaging themes, and huge payouts make them irresistible to many players. 

However, one crucial aspect that players often overlook is the Return to Player (RTP) percentage. RTP is vital as it influences how much money a casino retains from the wagers that were placed on slot machines. 

What is RTP?

Return to Player (RTP) is a term that describes the percentage of all the wagered money a slot machine will pay back to players over time. It is the opposite of the house edge – the percentage of wagers the casino expects to keep.  

If a slot machine, for example, has an RTP of 96%, it means that for every £100 wagered, the machine will return £96 to players, while the casino keeps £4.

RTP is a calculation based on millions of spins, so it doesn’t guarantee that a player will receive £96 back for every £100 wagered in a single session. Instead, it provides a long-term expectation of the machine’s payout performance.

How does RTP work in Slot Machines?

RTP is based on how the game is designed and how its algorithms work. These are carefully tested and controlled to make sure they are fair and random. A short version of how it works is shown below:

  • Game Design: Game developers program slot machines with specific payout structures. This includes the frequency of winning combinations and the value of payouts.
  • Algorithm and Random Number Generator (RNG): The RNG ensures that each spin is random and independent. This guarantees that the results are fair and cannot be predicted.
  • Testing and Regulation: Regulatory bodies test the slot machines to verify that the RTP is accurate. The RNG must also function correctly. In the UK, this falls under the purview of the Gambling Commission to ensure compliance with national and international gambling standards.

What is the RTP Variability?

It is crucial to note that not all slots have the same RTP. Different games offer varying RTP percentages, ranging from around 85% to 99%. Some high RTP slots include:

  1. Mega Joker (NetEnt) – 99%
  2. 1429 Uncharted Seas (Thunderkick) – 98.6%
  3. Blood Suckers (NetEnt) – 98%

Lower RTP slots include progressive jackpot games, which offer the potential for large payouts but have lower RTPs to make room for the jackpot prize pool.

Impact on Players

With the knowledge of how RTP works, let’s look at its impact on players.

  • Informed Choices: Players can choose games with higher RTPs to maximise their potential returns over time. For instance, selecting a game with a 96% RTP over one with an 85% RTP is a smarter choice in the long run.
  • Bankroll Management: Knowledge of RTP helps in managing one’s bankroll. Higher RTP games provide more extended playtime and better chances of smaller, frequent wins.
  • Realistic Expectations: RTP is a long-term average that helps set realistic expectations. It’s important to understand that short-term outcomes can vary widely due to the inherent randomness of slot machines.

So: How Much Does the Casino Keep?

Let’s take a look at the examples below with different RTP percentages, to illustrate how much the casino keeps:

Game A: RTP of 95%
If a player wagers £1000, the expected return is £950. 
The casino keeps £50.

Game B: RTP of 98%
If a player wagers £1000, the expected return is £980.
The casino keeps £20.

Game C: RTP of 90%
If a player wagers £1000, the expected return is £900.
The casino keeps £100.

These examples demonstrate how the casino’s profit varies with the RTP. The lower the RTP, the more the casino keeps, highlighting the importance of choosing games with higher RTP percentages.

RTP in Progressive Jackpots

Progressive jackpot slots contribute a portion of each bet to a collective jackpot, which can grow to substantial amounts. They’re a unique case. With this, their base game RTP is often lower to compensate for the potential huge payouts. For example, Mega Moolah, a popular progressive slot, has an RTP of around 88%.

While the lower RTP might seem disadvantageous, the trade-off is the chance to win a life-changing jackpot. Players should balance their desire for huge wins with the understanding that the odds are significantly lower, and the casino keeps a larger portion of the wagers.

Volatility – The Other Factor in Slot Machines

Besides RTP, volatility (or variance) is another critical factor in slot machines. Volatility refers to the risk level of a slot game, indicating how often and how much a player can expect to win:

  • Low Volatility: Games with frequent but smaller wins. These are suitable for players with a smaller bankroll seeking more consistent returns.
  • High Volatility: Games with infrequent but larger wins. These attract players willing to take bigger risks for the chance of substantial payouts.

Understanding the balance between RTP and volatility can help players select games that match their risk tolerance and gaming preferences.

The Takeaway

RTP is a fundamental aspect of slot machines that every player should understand. It directly affects how much the casino keeps from players’ wagers and influences the overall gaming experience. 

By choosing slots with higher RTPs and understanding the implications of volatility, players can make more informed decisions, manage their bankrolls better, and set realistic expectations for their gaming sessions. 

Knowledge of RTP empowers players to enjoy slots responsibly while maximizing their potential returns over time.

Avatar for Øystein Winje
Author Øystein Winje

I'm the CEO of the company behind, AyeAye Group. I like to write about data, statistics and other interesting stories from the gambling industry.