Published on: 2023-05-19
In the rapidly evolving world of online gambling, one crucial factor that influences player experiences and satisfaction is Return To Player (RTP). RTP plays a significant role in determining the long-term profitability and fairness of online casino games.
In this blog, we will delve into the details of RTP, exploring what it means, how it is calculated, volatility, regulatory requirements and why it is a key factor that more players are considering when choosing which games to play. Understanding the significance of RTP is important for both industry professionals to strategically optimise game offerings and for players to make informed decisions based on odds and pay-out structures.
What is Return To Player?
Return to Player, commonly referred to as RTP, is a vital statistical measure used in the world of online gambling to represent the percentage of wagered money that a casino game will pay back to players over time. It represents the opposite side of the house edge, which denotes the casino’s advantage over players.
For example, a slot game with an RTP of 95% implies that, on average, players can expect to receive 95% of their wagered amount back over extended gameplay. The remaining 5% represents the house edge or profit for the casino.
RTP is typically expressed as a percentage and indicates the expected return on investment for the player over an extended period. The RTP is also tested for accuracy by game developers and specialised testing agencies so players have confidence that the game they are playing is operating fairly.
The personal RTP (your experiences) can be higher or lower on a small number of plays, but usually converges to the payback ratio over millions of spins. You should also be aware of the fact that while the RTP indicates the overall potential Return To Player, online casino games utilise a RNG (Random Number Generator) for the source of randomness when generating outcomes within a game, meaning that there is always a chance that a spin could win or lose.
While the goal of online casino games is to enjoy the gambling experience, players also want to maximise their return – so it’s essential to get to grips with the basics of Return To Player. Return To Player (RTP) is the percentage of money paid out as prizes on an online casino game. It is an average achieved over a significant number of game plays and not each time the game is played.
Here are five key points to remember when understanding RTP:
- RTP stands for Return To Player and indicates the expected return if the game was played indefinitely.
- RTP is based on percentages with the cumulative bets wagered in the games life cycle accounting for 100%.
- The RTP is calculated on the probability of outcomes and the prize associated with those outcomes. Simulations based on millions of spins are generated to verify that outcomes occur in line with its associated probabilities and consequently verifying the pay-out frequency of a particular prizes.
- There is no universal minimum RTP on online casino games, however operators run the risk of losing their customers if they alter the game RTP to lower the player’s edge.
- Casino games, such as roulette, blackjack, and punto banco, are games of unequal chance with the house having an advantage (the house edge).
Understanding the basics of RTP is an important step in maximising your return. It’s essential to know the probability and expected returns of the games you’re playing to understand the risks and rewards of each game.
As an example, the expected return in European Roulette is 97.30%. The probability of winning a straight up bet is 1/37 , the pay-out for winning this bet is 35 multiplied by your bet amount plus your original bet. The expected return on a straight bet is therefore 36/37 . If you choose to bet for a limited amount of time you would expect your return to fluctuate, but over time you will notice that your return will converge to 97.30%. This will help you make informed decisions and give you the best chance of increasing your winnings.
How is RTP Calculated?
The calculation of RTP involves complex statistical analysis and takes into account all possible outcomes of a particular online casino game. This encompasses millions of game rounds to ensure accuracy.
To calculate RTP, the total amount wagered on the game is divided by the total amount won by players. The result is expressed as a percentage, representing the long-term expected return. For example, if a slot game has an RTP of 96%, it means that, on average, for every £100 wagered, the game will pay out £96 to the players over time.
It is essential to understand that RTP is a theoretical concept calculated over the long term and does not guarantee individual winnings or losses in a single session. While some players may experience significant winnings, others might encounter losses during their gambling sessions. Knowing these details can help players make an informed decision on which games to play.
In essence, the house edge is the difference between the true odds of a game and the odds that a casino offers the player. The house edge can be expressed as a percentage of each bet that the casino can expect to keep, and this percentage is determined by the game’s rules.
When it comes to casino games like roulette, blackjack and punto banco, the house has an advantage. For example, in American roulette, the house edge is determined by the number of pockets on the wheel and is usually around 5.3%. This means that, on average, for every £100 bet, the casino will keep around £5.30. Odds and RTP differ slightly in American roulette because of the extra number 00 added in comparison to European Roulette.
Understanding the house edge can allow players to identify games that may offer better pay-outs than others.
Providing players with clear information is essential. This includes information on games’ categories, % RTP, and whether they are random or compensated. It is important for players to make informed decisions and optimise their chances of success. This information must be readily available to the player to ensure that they are aware of the specific details of the game they are playing.
Players should understand that the % RTP provided is an average achieved over a significant number of game plays, not each time the gaming machine is played. As such, players should not expect to win an average of 85 pence for every £1 they stake during a playing session. The % RTP is also a measure of the money paid to play the machine that is then given back to players as prizes, rather than an indication of a guaranteed return.
Importance of RTP for Players
Understanding the significance of RTP is crucial for players who want to maximise their chances of winning and make informed decisions throughout their gambling experience. Here are some reasons why RTP matters:
By considering the RTP, players can make informed decisions about which games to play. Comparing the RTPs of different games enables players to choose those with a more favourable pay-out structure.
RTP acts as an indicator of the fairness of a game. Reputable online casinos undergo rigorous testing by independent auditors to ensure the accuracy of their stated RTPs. Trustworthy operators display the RTP values openly, allowing players to assess the fairness of the games before investing their money.
Trust and Transparency:
Online casinos that provide accurate RTP information demonstrate transparency and a commitment to player protection. Players can trust that they are engaging in a game with known odds, providing peace of mind and confidence in the platform.
RTP is an important factor in managing your bankroll effectively. Knowing the RTP of a game helps you determine the potential risks and rewards associated with it. Games with lower RTPs have a higher house edge, meaning that over time, players are more likely to lose. By considering RTP, you can make wiser decisions regarding your wagers and allocate your funds accordingly. This leads to more controlled and enjoyable gambling experiences.
Factors Affecting RTP
Several factors can influence the RTP of online casino games. It’s important to be aware of these factors when analysing RTP values:
Different types of casino games have varying RTP percentages. For instance, slot games generally have lower RTPs compared to table games like blackjack or poker. This is because slot machines typically have more substantial house edges. Skill-based games, such as blackjack or poker, generally have higher RTPs as they involve a certain level of player strategy.
RTP values can also differ among various software providers. Each provider designs games with unique features and pay-out structures, resulting in variations in RTPs. Renowned providers often strive to offer higher RTP percentages to attract players, while lesser-known providers may have lower RTPs. Researching the reputation and reliability of software providers can help you choose games with higher RTPs.
Within a particular game category, different variants may have distinct RTPs. For instance, in slots, a game with more pay lines or bonus features may have a different RTP compared to a basic slot game. Understanding these differences allows you to select games that align with your preferences and expectations.
Jackpots and Bonuses:
Games that offer progressive jackpots or lucrative bonuses may have slightly lower RTPs. These features contribute to the overall entertainment value but come at the expense of slightly reduced base game pay outs.
Approved testing, inspection and certification agencies such as eCOGRA provide RTP Verification services to ensure that the Theoretical RTP of a game matches the Actual RTP. Theoretical RTP is the designed Return To Player percentage of the game. It will also be the advertised RTP as displayed in the player facing rules. The Actual RTP is calculated using the generated win and turnover figures of the live operational game over a selected period of time.
Even though games are tested prior to release (and after updates which may affect fairness) it is possible for a design, implementation or operational issue to evade identification during testing or deployment. This is why it is important for RTP Verification to take place after the game has been live for an optimum period of time. RTP Verification is calculated by dividing win and turnover figures.
For example, if after one month of play a game, designed with a 91.68% RTP, has accrued £1,200,000 of turnover and £1,085,000 in wins the RTP can be calculated as follows:
1,085,000 / 1,200,000 = .9042
Therefore, this game has achieved an actual RTP of 90.42%, which is below the designed RTP. When assessing if this actual RTP is within acceptable range of the Theoretical RTP, one must factor in the volatility of the game and sample size. With this information a range is created around the TRTP, if the actual RTP falls within this interval created, the actual RTP is accepted.
The Volatility of a game refers to how widely dispersed the pay-outs and frequency of those pay-outs are from Theoretical Return to Player.
A highly volatile game might showcase fewer prizes with expected returns close to the Theoretical Return. A larger acceptable range will be created by default for the actual RTP to fall within.
A low volatility game will have more prizes closer to the Theoretical Return to player which will pay-out more frequently, consequently a smaller acceptable range for the actual RTP to fall within. For this reason volatility is something which must be considered in respect to the tolerance between Theoretical RTP and Actual RTP, particularly when dealing with limited amounts of play.
A common misconception is that the size of the prize may affect the volatility of the game. However, the size of the prize is not going to cause the game to be volatile if it occurs at appropriate odds. This is because the expected return will be close to the Theoretical Return.
As an example, if a prize of 1 million pounds exists with an odds of 1 in 1 million, the expected return will be 1. This will not cause the game to be volatile because it is close to the theoretical of 0.96. But if the same prize existed at odds of 1 in 1 hundred thousand , this will lead to an expected of return of 10 which is quite far away from a theoretical of 0.96 and will cause the game to be more volatile.
The regulatory requirements surrounding RTP vary by geographical jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions regulate the minimum RTP percentage allowed. For example, to operate an online casino in Malta the minimum RTP percentage threshold allowed on individual games is 85%. Games may operate at a higher percentage in Malta, but 85% RTP is the lowest they are legally allowed to have, as per regulations set forth by the Malta Gaming Authority.
In the UK this figure is much higher. The UK Gambling Commission announced in April 2023 that from the 1st June 2023, all licensed online casino operators will be required to set a minimum RTP of 99.9% on all online slot games. The previous industry standard in the UK was 95%.
In regulated markets, online casino games undergo rigorous testing to ensure that random number generator (RNG) driven products are fair and achieve the designed return to player. Games must be tested prior to release however it is possible for an issue to evade identification during testing or deployment. For this reason, online casino games are required in several markets, such as the UK and Italy, to undergo periodical audits to ensure that games are performing in line with their Theoretical RTP.
Return to Player (RTP) is a fundamental concept in online gambling, serving as a guideline for players to make informed decisions about which games to play. By understanding the odds a player can assess the RTP of a game, and manage their bankroll effectively. RTP provides insights into the long-term profitability and fairness of online casino games, allowing players to choose games with higher chances of success.
When engaging in online gambling, always remember that RTP is a theoretical measure and does not guarantee individual outcomes. It’s essential to play responsibly, set limits, and enjoy online gambling as a form of entertainment rather than relying solely on potential financial gains. By considering RTP alongside other factors such as game rules, strategies, and personal preferences, you can maximize your enjoyment of online gambling while enhancing your odds of winning.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I increase my chances of winning by playing online casino games with higher RTP?
Playing slots with a higher RTP percentage may seem like it would give you a greater chance of winning however this number is validated over hundreds of millions of spins. Therefore a higher RTP does not necessarily give the average player more chances of winning.
It is also important to remember that no matter what RTP percentage a slot has, there is still a random element to the game, so you may still lose despite playing a slot with a high RTP.
- Do all casinos have the same house edge?
No. Each casino has its own house edge, and this is determined by the game rules each casino has in place. While some casinos may have a higher house edge than others, they all still have a house edge. This house edge is the advantage the casino has over the player, and is the percentage of each bet which the casino expects to keep on average.
Knowing the house edge of a casino and the games it offers can help you make informed decisions on which casino to play at and which games to play.
- Is the RTP of a game ever changed after it is released?
No, the RTP of a game is not changed after it’s released. The RTP is calculated and assigned to the game before it is released to the public and verified by a specialised iGaming testing agency. This ensures that the game is fair and trustworthy. Players can expect to receive an average return of the assigned RTP over the long term. However, players can still experience higher or lower returns on a small number of spins. RTP is based on averages across millions of simulated plays.
- Are there any strategies to increase my RTP?
There is no guaranteed way to increase your Return To Player (RTP) when playing online casino games, however understanding the odds and pay-out structure of a game can help you make an informed decision on which games to play. Additionally, it’s wise to set a budget and stick to it.
- Is the RTP different for online slots compared to physical slot machines?
Yes, online casino games generally have higher RTPs than physical casino games, ranging from 95% to 98%. This is because online casinos don’t have to pay for the additional overhead costs associated with physical slots, such as electricity, staff, and maintenance.
Additionally, online casinos can offer more bonuses and promotions to attract players, which further increases the RTP. The higher RTP of online slots can significantly increase your chances of winning over the course of a gaming session.
However, it is important to remember that RTP is an expected return and that individual sessions may differ.