What is Return to Player (RTP) in Online Casinos

What is Return to Player (RTP) and How does It Work at Online Casinos

If you’ve ever engaged in online or land-based casino gaming, you’ve likely encountered the concept of calculating your chances of winning. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive explanation of Return to Player (RTP) and delve into the meaning of “house edge.”

We aim to address common questions such as “Is it possible to improve the odds of winning on a slot machine?” and “Which games offer the highest RTP?” By exploring these topics, we hope to equip you with valuable insights and knowledge to enhance your understanding of casino gaming and improve your overall experience.

What is Return to Player (RTP)?

This is a question that warrants more than a simple one-sentence answer. Understanding the concept of Return to Player (RTP) requires delving deeper into how it works and addressing various aspects. Let’s break it down step by step.

First and foremost, let’s clarify the meaning of the RTP abbreviation. In theory, RTP stands for “Return to Player.” While the “theoretical” aspect is sometimes overlooked, it holds significant importance. Here’s why:

Consider a scenario where a new slot machine is released, and ten different players each spin the reels once. The developer claims that the game has a 98% RTP. Assuming each player spends €10, the total investment amounts to €100.

At this point, you might expect that the players would receive €98 back while the casino retains €2. However, what happens if one of the players wins a €1,000 jackpot? If the remaining nine players didn’t win anything, the casino would be in a “debt” of €900. This illustrates why the RTP is theoretical and can only be validated over an extended period. Eventually, the casino will recoup its funds and maintain a positive cash flow. It’s also possible for all players to win something, or for only a portion of them to receive more than their initial wager, while others experience losses.

Understanding the intricacies of RTP involves considering variables such as individual wins, the distribution of payouts, and the algorithms governing the game. By examining these factors, we gain a more comprehensive understanding of how the RTP operates in practice.

House Edge

Let’s continue with the example we began, where ten players individually spend €10, each spinning the reels once. At that moment, the €2 that the casino retains can be considered the house edge. However, similar to RTP, the house edge is only valid over an extended period of time. In essence, the house edge represents the percentage of all wagers or stakes that the casino keeps for itself. This essentially answers the question of how casinos generate their profits. It’s a fairly straightforward concept.

Fortunately, most slots and casino games provide information on the RTP, which means you don’t need a calculator to determine the casino’s edge. Simply subtract the RTP percentage from 100%, and you have the house edge. For example, a game with a 96% RTP corresponds to a 4% edge for the casino, while a 1% edge means that players can expect to receive 99% of their stakes back over time. It’s relatively easy to understand.

As we delve deeper into this topic, new questions arise. Who determines the RTP? How is it calculated and regulated? And who ensures that casinos cannot manipulate the house edge at will? These questions highlight the need to explore the mechanisms and regulations that govern RTP and the integrity of casino operations.

Who Sets the RTP?

It’s important to note that gambling, video slots, and online casinos have a long history and were not recently invented. Slot machines, for instance, have been around for over a century, while the first online casino and its operating software were developed over 20 years ago. InterCasino holds the distinction of being the first online casino, established in 1996, and Microgaming completed the first online gambling software in 1994.

The responsibility for setting the RTP typically lies with the game developer, whether it’s a dedicated development studio or an individual freelancer. However, freelancers setting the RTP is less common nowadays, given the rapid growth of the industry in the past 5-10 years. Our experience within the iGaming industry suggests that the RTP is often determined through collaboration between publishers, software provider studios, and online casinos. In fact, some prominent online casinos have even established their own software providers to have more control over the process.

This is precisely why it’s advisable to play games and slots from well-known and reputable companies that offer an all-in-one experience. On the other hand, it also explains the challenges that new companies and providers face in finding their place in the market and the industry as a whole.

What is Random Number Generator (RNG)?

The outcome of spins in slot machines is determined by a technology called RNG, which stands for “Random Number Generator.” In land-based casinos, an RNG is a microprocessor that operates continuously to randomly determine the positions of the reels.

In online slots and online gambling, the concept of RNG remains the same, but the implementation differs. In this case, RNG is a complex code developed specifically for the purpose, typically utilizing the MD5 algorithm. The MD5 algorithm, invented by Ronald Rivest in 1991, is a 128-bit hash function primarily used in cryptography. However, its usefulness has extended to other areas, including RNG for online slots.

There are two commonly used types of RNGs:

  1. Hardware Random Number Generator: This type is predominantly used in land-based casinos and arcade games.
  2. Pseudorandom Number Generator (PRNG): Online casinos typically employ PRNGs to determine outcomes.

While it may be theoretically possible to predict or manipulate the RNG as an end-user, in practice, it is highly complex due to the involvement of intricate mathematics, randomness, and preset values (such as RTP). The outcome of each spin is determined by these factors. However, ensuring the safety and integrity of the RNG, as well as the maintenance of the declared RTP by the casino, requires additional measures, which we will explore in the following section.

Who Keeps You Safe?

In the realm of online gambling, it’s essential to have confidence in the trustworthiness and fairness of the casinos. This is where licensing agencies and authorization bodies play a crucial role. When a casino holds a valid license, it assures players that their funds are secure and that the games offered are legitimate. Furthermore, it guarantees that the declared RTP will remain unchanged, ensuring equal treatment and giving everyone an equal chance of winning.

Several reputable licensing agencies operate worldwide, including:

  1. Kahnawake Gaming Commission
  2. UK Gambling Commission
  3. Gambling Supervision Commission
  4. Malta Gaming Authority
  5. Alderney Gambling Control Commission
  6. Curacao Internet Gambling Association

These are just a few examples, and new licensing authorities emerge regularly. Given the vast number of online casinos and games available, it is strongly advised to only play at casinos licensed by the appropriate regulatory bodies. This ensures a safe and fair gaming experience, providing peace of mind for players.

Games and Slot Machines With the Highest RTP

The return to player (RTP) and house edge can vary across different casino games. Here are some well-known games and their corresponding RTP values:

  • Jacks or Better (Video Poker) – 99.54%
  • Single Zero Baccarat – 97.30%
  • Vegas Rules Blackjack – 99.72%
  • European Roulette – 97.30%

It’s important to note that the rules and variations of a particular game can influence the house edge. For example, the difference between European and American roulette lies in the presence of an additional field (double zero), which nearly doubles the house edge to 5.26%.

Online slots, on the other hand, have unique stories, symbols, and ways to win, resulting in different RTP values for each game. Factors such as the number of symbols, paylines, reels, and developers contribute to the overall RTP. As a result, the RTP for online slots can range from under 90% to over 99%.

Here are 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 appears to be a software provider known for higher RTP slots, as they occupy half of the spots on the list. Despite their age, many of these slots have timeless graphics and gameplay, contributing to their popularity.

When discussing RTP, it’s important to mention jackpots. There are different types of jackpots, including those specific to a particular slot, casino-exclusive jackpots, multi-casino jackpots, and progressive jackpots. The availability and contribution to the jackpot can impact the overall RTP of a game.

It’s worth noting that jackpots can increase over time and be won by players who choose to contribute additional funds towards the prize pool. These variations add excitement and the potential for big wins in the world of online slots.

Final Words on RTP

It’s essential to understand 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 consistent winnings. In the case of slot machines, the only aspect you can control is the amount you bet.

Using common sense, you might think that avoiding a game where someone recently won a large amount or a jackpot is a good idea. However, as you now understand how RTP and RNG work, you know that such factors do not influence your chances of winning. Playing games with a high RTP does not necessarily mean you will win more frequently or lose less over time.

Ultimately, the most important aspect of playing casino games is to have fun. Playing slots, roulette, blackjack, or poker should not be solely about making money. Find a game that you genuinely enjoy, set a budget that you can comfortably afford to lose, and prioritize responsible gaming practices.

When exploring new games, you can always try them out for free to get a feel for them. When you’re ready to transition to real money gameplay, ensure that you choose a licensed casino. A license guarantees that the promised RTP is maintained and that your funds are secure at all times.

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