What is Return to Player (RTP) and How does It Work at Online Casinos
If you’ve ever engaged in gambling, whether at an online casino or a land-based one, you must have spent some time calculating your chances of winning. Well, you’ve landed in the perfect spot! In this article, we will provide a comprehensive explanation of Return to Player (RTP) and delve into the concept of “house-edge.”
Furthermore, we will address common inquiries such as, “Is it possible to improve the odds of winning on a slot machine?” and “Which games offer the highest RTP?” Prepare to explore these topics and more as we embark on an informative journey through the world of casino gaming.
What is Return to Player (RTP)?
Understanding Return to Player (RTP) is more complex than a single sentence can convey. RTP refers to the percentage of all wagers or stakes played that are returned to the player. This may lead to questions about who receives the money back, who gets more or less, and how the exact percentage is determined. RTP, theoretically standing for “Return to Player,” is crucial because it represents the long-term average. Let’s illustrate this with an example:
Consider a new slot machine with a 98% RTP, and ten different players each spend €10 on the first ten spins, totaling €100 in combined investments.
Ideally, these players should receive €98 back while the casino makes a €2 profit. However, if one player wins the €1,000 jackpot while the others win nothing, the casino is now €900 in “debt.” This demonstrates why RTP is theoretical and requires more data to be validated. Eventually, the casino regains its money and remains cash-flow positive. It’s also possible for all players to win something back or for only half of them to get more than they spent, while others experience losses. This complexity showcases the true nature of RTP and its operation in the world of casino gaming.
Let’s continue with the example where ten players individually spend €10 each, spinning the slot reels once. At that moment, the €2 taken by the casino can be considered the house edge. However, similar to RTP, the house edge is only meaningful over an extended period. These two concepts, house edge and RTP, work hand in hand. The house edge represents the percentage of all wagers or stakes that the casino retains for itself. Essentially, it answers the question, “How do casinos make their money?” in a straightforward manner.
Since most slots and casino games provide information about their RTP, calculating the casino’s edge becomes effortless. By subtracting the RTP percentage from 100%, you can determine the casino’s edge. For instance, a game with a 96% RTP corresponds to a 4% edge for the casino, while a 1% edge implies that players will receive 99% of all stakes back over time. It’s a simple calculation.
However, delving deeper into this topic raises new questions: Who decides the RTP? How is it determined and processed? And who ensures that casinos do not manipulate the edge to their advantage?
These are crucial inquiries that require further exploration to fully grasp the intricacies of how casinos operate and maintain fairness in their games. As we delve into these aspects, we gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics between players and casinos in the world of gambling.
Who Sets the RTP?
Indeed, the history of gambling, video slots, and online casinos extends far beyond recent times. Slot machines have been in existence for well over a century, while the first online casino, InterCasino, made its debut in 1996, and Microgaming developed the pioneering online gambling software in 1994.
Determining the Return to Player (RTP) is typically the responsibility of the game’s developer, which could be a development studio or an individual freelancer. However, freelancers setting RTPs has become relatively uncommon, given the rapid growth of the industry in the last 5-10 years. Nowadays, the RTP is often established through collaboration between publishers, software provider studios, and online casinos. In some cases, prominent online casinos even create their own software providers to have more control over the process.
For players, opting for games and slots from reputable companies that are “3 in 1” (publisher, software provider, and online casino) is considered the wisest approach. These established entities offer a level of trust and reliability. On the other hand, this is also why new companies and providers face significant challenges when trying to enter the market and make a mark in the industry.
The long-standing history of gambling and the established partnerships between publishers, software providers, and online casinos contribute to the complexity and competitiveness of the iGaming industry. As a result, players often find comfort in choosing well-known and reputable options while navigating this dynamic landscape.
What is Random Number Generator (RNG)?
The Random Number Generator (RNG) is a crucial element that determines the outcomes of spins in slot machines. Whether in land-based casinos or online gambling, the RNG ensures randomness and fairness in the gaming process. In land-based casinos, a microprocessor continuously operates to randomly position the reels and decide the results.
For online slots and virtual gambling, the concept remains the same, but the implementation differs. Online RNGs are typically complex, developed codes that often employ the MD5 algorithm, thanks to Ronald Rivest’s invention in 1991. Although originally a 128-bit hash function used in cryptography, it found practical application as an RNG for online slots.
There are two primary types of RNGs commonly used:
- Hardware Random Number Generator: Mainly utilized in land-based casinos and arcade games.
- Pseudorandom Number Generator (PRNG): Commonly used in online casinos.
While in theory, predicting and manipulating RNG outcomes might seem possible, in practice, it is extremely challenging due to the inherent complexity and randomness of the algorithms. The outcomes of spins are determined by intricate mathematics, genuine randomness, and preset values like the Return to Player (RTP).
Maintaining transparency and ensuring that online casinos uphold their promised RTP without manipulating it behind the scenes is a legitimate concern for players. However, reputable and licensed online casinos undergo regular audits and testing by independent agencies to verify the fairness and accuracy of their RNG systems. This external scrutiny aims to assure players that they can trust the integrity of the gaming process, thus fostering a secure and enjoyable gambling experience.
Who Keeps You Safe?
So far, we have understood that Return to Player (RTP) determines the amount players receive over time, and Random Number Generator (RNG) governs the outcomes of games. The RTP is often set by providers, publishers, and sometimes the casino itself. However, when it comes to the overall responsibility of casinos, licensing agencies and authorization bodies play a crucial role.
When engaging in online gambling with real money, it is essential to have the peace of mind that your funds are secure and that fair play is ensured. This is where licensing agencies and authorization bodies step in. A licensed casino guarantees that all their slots and games are legitimate, and the promised RTP remains unaltered, treating every player equally and providing everyone with the same odds of winning.
Some of the most reputable and trustworthy licensing agencies from around the world include:
- Kahnawake Gaming Commission
- UK Gambling Commission
- Gambling Supervision Commission
- Malta Gaming Authority
- Alderney Gambling Control Commission
- Curacao Internet Gambling Association
While these are some of the prominent agencies, there are many more out there, and new ones emerge each year. Given the vast array of casinos and games available online, there is no reason to play at an unlicensed or uncertified casino. Choosing a platform licensed by the right authority ensures a safe and fair gaming experience, providing players with the necessary confidence to enjoy their online gambling endeavors.
Games and Slot Machines With the Highest RTP
Popular casino games like roulette, baccarat, and blackjack often maintain consistent Return to Player (RTP) percentages:
- Jacks or Better (Video Poker) – 99.54%
- Single Zero Baccarat – 97.30%
- Vegas Rules Blackjack – 99.72%
- European Roulette – 97.30%
However, the RTP can vary based on the specific rules of each game variation. Even slight changes can significantly impact the overall RTP. For instance, comparing European and American roulette shows a substantial difference. The American version’s addition of a double zero on the board results in an almost doubled edge of 5.26%.
In contrast, online slots are entirely different, with each game having a unique story, symbols, winning mechanisms, RTP, and edge. The diverse parameters constantly vary, such as the number of symbols, paylines, ways to win, reels, rows, jackpots, and the involvement of developers, publishers, and prevailing market conditions and laws.
With thousands of distinct slot games available online, the RTP can range from under 90% to over 99%. Here’s a list of the top 10 slots with the highest RTP percentages:
- Goblin’s Cave – Playtech – 99.30%
- Ugga Bugga – Playtech – 99.10%
- Ocean Princess – Playtech – 99.10%
- Nemo’s Voyage – WMS – 99.00%
- Ooh Aah Dracula – Barcrest – 99.00%
- Tropic Reels – Playtech – 99.00%
- Jackpot 6000 – NetEnt – 98.90%
- Cinerama – Playtech – 98.40%
- Blood Suckers – NetEnt – 97.60%
- Big Bad Wolf – QuickSpin – 97.35%
Playtech emerges as the most generous software provider, claiming 50% of the spots on the list. Their longstanding presence and quality gaming experiences have contributed to their success in the industry.
When discussing RTP, it’s essential to consider jackpots. They come in various types:
- In-slot Jackpots: Affect the RTP as they are factored into the RNG code.
- Casino Exclusive Jackpots: Can be won in any slot within the casino and do not impact individual game RTPs.
- Multi-casino Jackpots or “Megas”: Available across multiple casinos simultaneously.
- Progressive Jackpots: Increase with each regular round played but not won. Some reset upon winning, while others involve additional player contributions.
These variations add excitement to slot play and offer opportunities for significant winnings beyond the standard game outcomes.
Final Words on RTP
The key takeaway is that you cannot manipulate the outcome of casino games. While strategies exist for games like Poker, Roulette, Dream Catcher, and Blackjack, they do not guarantee winnings. Slot machines, in particular, offer no means of altering outcomes, leaving you with control only over the amount you bet.
Using common sense, some may believe that playing after someone wins a significant amount or hits the jackpot is not favorable. However, that is not the case. Now that you understand how RTP and RNG function, as explained in our detailed guide, you know that such factors do not influence your chances of winning or losing in the long run.
The ultimate factor to consider is the enjoyment you derive from playing. Avoid playing slots, roulette, blackjack, or poker solely with the goal of making money. Instead, focus on finding a game that you genuinely enjoy, set a budget you can afford to lose, and practice responsible gaming habits.
Before transitioning to real-money gameplay, you have the option to try new games for free. When you’re ready to play with real money, ensure you choose a licensed casino. Licensing ensures that the promised RTP is upheld, and your money remains safe and secure at all times.
In the end, the essence of casino gaming lies in the entertainment and thrill it provides. Approach it with a responsible mindset, and remember that while luck can influence short-term outcomes, the long-term results are determined by the inherent randomness of the games.