Casino RTP – What is Return to Player? (Explanation)

Author Jouni
August 16, 2022 6 min read
by

There are at least a couple of things that you should know about differing RTPs. Not every online slot will give you the same chances of winning, and this blog post is all about that! Read further to discover how RTP (return to player) affects your chances of winning gambling online.

The world of online casinos is an awesome one. Besides this, however, it can also be a bit treacherous at times.

We at this website never fail to emphasise that online casino gambling is all about luck. There is certainly no way to force slots into giving you money, nor is there an actual skill that you can learn to boost your odds of winning.

Online casino slots are essentially just a roll of the dice. Whether you get a 1 or a 6 is totally up to Lady Luck herself and no one else.

RTP in a nutshell

This is not the first time that I have written about the concept of RTP gambling on this website, but these things definitely bear repeating.

Casino RTP is a gambling abbreviation that has been derived from ”return to player”. It basically comes in the form of a percentage point that answers the question of how much money the game returns to its players when measured in the long term.

  • If the RTP is 0%, that would mean that it is impossible to win any money from the slot in question.
  • If, however, the RTP is 100%, this means that the game returns just as much as it takes.

The interesting thing about RTP is that it can indeed only be measured in the long term. For instance, if a slot machine had an RTP of 100%, it could still have high volatility and only rarely give out wins. Below is a completely fictional example of this:

  • Game X requires a £1 bet per spin.
  • There is a 1 in 100 chance to win £100.
  • There is a 99 in 100 chance to lose your bet.

Here the RTP is indeed 100%, but it does not mean that you will win every time—nor does it mean you will always win back your money if you play 100 spins.

Now think if the odds of winning were 1 in 10,000 and the win would be worth £10,000… This would mean you are almost guaranteed to lose when playing a little but have a great chance of winning everything back if you continue playing for a really long time.

Typically, modern online casino slots come with an RTP of around 96%, but the way that slot machines arrive at these numbers is usually a lot different than what I have described here.

Usually, the casino RTP will be composed of multiple different tiers of winning, ranging from minor to major wins. After all, no one would want to play a slot that only gives you wins on 1 out of every 100 spins!

RPTs come in many shapes and sizes — 3 things to watch out for

Next up, I will take a look at the meat and potatoes of this very article.

Now that we have gotten the concept of what casino RTP means out of the way, it is time to dive deeper into what you should know to get the best value for your so-called online casino investment.

1

Each game has its own RTP

First and foremost, every online casino slot comes with its very own RTP. No matter how much fun a game might look in the casino lobby, its value could be less than what you think.

As a general rule, it would be wise to stick to games with higher RTPs as, to a point, this increases your chances of winning.

You can check most games’ RTP from their internal instruction manual.

Personally, I used to love ELK Studios games in the past. This was before I noticed that their games seem to categorically have lower RTPs than most of their competitors. While most top companies aim to create games with a 96% casino RTP, ELK Studios seemingly guns for around 95%. This is, of course, only a small difference, but it was still enough for me to fall out of love with ELK games.

My RTP findings here basically made me think of ELK as these bastardly people who want to sneak in hidden extra costs to benefit themselves. Call me crazy, but this is how I nowadays feel!

2

Volatility is also important

As I already explained above, RTP might not even be the only be-all and end-all thing to consider when you want to win at an online casino. Instead, you should also pay attention to volatility and variance.

If the volatility of a slot machine is super-high, winning will be less likely even if the RTP is considerably high. On a more positive note, at least these games give lucky players the possibility of winning the kind of money that will make them want to go to the cashier and withdraw!

As I have grown more experienced with casino slots, I have noticed that I have started to turn to higher volatility slots more than I used to. This is because I have noticed that more minor wins usually only fuel your desire to win more, whereas bigger wins could actually turn your immediate life around. Granted, an extra £100 might get you the video game that you were pining for, but £10,000 will really let you do whatever you want!

3

RTP can even change between slot versions

This third thing is actually the biggest reason why I originally wanted to write this article. Not everyone out there might be aware that online casinos usually have a say in how high they want their slots’ RTPs to be.

I do not know if this used to be a thing, but at least nowadays, most online casino companies are creating multiple versions of their newest slots. These slot versions will then be distributed to online casinos who choose which ones they want to use. The most frustrating thing about this is that casino brands will rarely be upfront about what the casino RTP for their slots is. Instead, the only way to obtain this information is to open the slot in question and go access its internal instruction manual.

A prime example of a game with differing RTPs is Play’n GO’s ultra-popular slot called Book of Dead. The highest RTP version of this game is worth 96.21%, whereas the lowest end of the spectrum only comes in at 84.18%! These kinds of fluctuations are definitely more than enough to affect your actual chances of winning!

Popular game providers with differing RTP versions

As I noted before, realising that ELK Studios tends to create 95% RTP slots made me more or less sour on the games that the company releases. What you should know, however, is that every single slot company out there has their own distinctive views on the matter at hand. Business-wise, coming up with an appropriate RTP is one of the most vital things for a studio to tackle as it serves as the mathematical basis for all the winning mechanics.

Next, I will take a look at how a couple of the top game providers out there are handling things regarding differing RTPs.

  1. NetEnt

NetEnt was one of the very first companies in the modern era of online casino gambling to break out. Over the years, slots such as Gonzo’s Quest, Starburst, Aloha Cluster Pays, and Twin Spin have become staples at any online casino establishment.

Being that this Swedish sensation has been in the business for such a long time, their game development has also had plenty of time to undergo serious changes. In essence, most of the NetEnt classics have stable RTPs, whereas all the newer slots have multiple different versions. Starburst is one of the exceptions to this rule since, as of 2020, several low-RTP versions have been thrown into the mix. Nowadays the formerly stable 96.09% RTP slot even has versions that go as low as 90.05%. 

  1. Quickspin

Quickspin is another name that has been around for way more than just a cup of coffee. During their time in operation, they, too, have created plenty of popular slots such as Big Bad Wolf, Spinions, Goldilocks, The Wild Chase, Mayana, and Sakura Fortune.

Much like NetEnt, Quickspin used to be known as a company whose RTPs would not budge no matter where you were playing. Unfortunately, this is not the case anymore as many of the most popular slots have undergone some serious changes with RTPs sometimes slashed as severely as 6 percentage points per game.

Even more studios offering differing RTPs

While many of the older casino companies have been found guilty of altering their slot RTPs years after the slots were released, many newer companies have done this since the beginning of their tenure. Rather than thoroughly going through every game studio out there, here is simply a list of a few providers with whom you should be very careful:

(To read more about a company click their name to go to their review page)

Popular game providers with stable casino RTPs

Fortunately, it is not all doom and gloom as there are still a few slot makers who have opted to keep things ultra-transparent by maintaining the same casino RTPs everywhere you play. Chances are that these companies might be a dying breed, though, as things could obviously change at the drop of a hat.

Based on my studies, here are a few notable companies that do not believe in altering their RTPs between versions:

If you see any of these companies at a casino, you can rest easy knowing that you will always be getting the same deal everywhere. (Unless, of course, the provider in question has indeed decided to join the group of game studios that retroactively change their games’ RTPs!)

Conclusion

There are many reasons why a game studio would want to have several different versions of its slots.

Every time that you see a game at a casino, there must be some sort of partnership between the two parties involved. Some casinos might want to maximise their gains by purchasing versions that have lower RTPs as they will be a better investment in the long run. This is especially true when the public at large has not yet even been educated on the idea of differing returns.

We hope this article has helped to explain what RTP is and how it relates to casino gaming. RTP is an important concept to understand if you want to have the best possible chance of winning when playing at a casino. By choosing games with a higher RTP, you can increase your chances of coming out ahead in the long run. Of course, no one can guarantee that you will win when playing casino games, but understanding and utilizing RTP can give you a better shot at success.

We at online.casino want to be your #1 destination for all things online casino. Because of this, we are committed to giving you all the information that is going to help you save your money and make your casino adventure the best it can possibly be.

Do not turn a blind eye to RTPs. Make sure that you are only playing games that give you the most bang for your buck!

Author Jouni

Author

Jouni

568 articles

Jouni is a Finnish journalist experienced in all sorts of writing. From video game and movie reviews to news articles and online casino content, this media maven loves writing and being creative. Jouni has been writing for various gaming publications for years. His extensive knowledge about online casinos and games makes him the perfect candidate to examine and review gambling sites. In addition to casino gaming and sports betting, Jouni is also a huge fan of Eurovision, professional wrestling and the TV series Survivor.
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