Casino Payout Percentages Explained – Guide to Casino RTP
What’s the first thing they teach us about Casinos? “The house always wins”, right? While it may seem like a cheesy line from a ‘70s Hollywood blockbuster, there is, in fact, a bit of truth in it (well, a bit more than a bit).
As it turns out, every game in a casino starts off with a slight, pre-calculated advantage that puts the house in the poll position by a certain margin. This advantage may vary depending on the casino you’re in or the game you’re playing, but it is certainly there. So how do all those people win at casino games? Well, despite this “house advantage”, you can still cash in from time to time by picking your battles.
If this has you intrigued, sit tight and read on to learn more about things such as payout percentage, house edge, and RTP (return to player).
Key Terms in Understanding RTP
In order to fully grasp the concept of RTP and payouts, here are some terms that the UK Gambling Commission thought would be useful to know:
- Theoretical RTP: This is the RTP that was projected for the game in question. This RTP is also going to be the percentage you’ll find advertised for the game.
- Actual RTP: This would be the “real” RTP. This shows the number of wins vs turnovers the game has actually achieved. The difference between theoretical and actual RTP is the deviation from the mean shown in the table.
- Volatility: To put it simply, this would be the game’s “attitude” in a given time period. Games that give out larger winnings less often are considered to be highly volatile, while games that give small winnings frequently are labeled with “low volatility”. There is a mathematical formula used to calculate volatility, but it includes things such as square roots and other stuff we’re not smart enough to discuss here.
- Turnover: Apart from being a betting category in basketball games, turnover in casinos represents the sum of all stakes invested in a game, including reinvestment of winnings made during the game.
- Win: Sum of all prizes given to players during gameplay.
- Gross Gambling Yield (GGY): Calculated for each game by deducting the win from the turnover. GGY is a very important part of reports that casinos submit to the UK Gambling Commission.
How Casino Games Work
So, as you could’ve guessed by now, all the casino games are designed to give a very slight advantage to the house. It needs to be mentioned here that this is in no way, shape, or form a scam run by the gambling industry; it is simply a matter of percentages that help keep the house afloat. In so many words – the house doesn’t win, so you’d lose your money, the house wins, so you’d have a place to gamble.
This slight “advantage” is probably best seen in a game of roulette. If you place your bet by colors, you might think that you have a 50% chance of winning. However, as soon as the ball spins, you realize you forgot to factor in the 0 in those percentages.
So, on a typical roulette table, we have 18 red and 18 black fields, which makes for an even 50 – 50 spread, but the 0 is there to rain on your parade. You see, the 0 is actually green. So if you place your bet on black, for example, instead of having a 50% chance at winning, you have a 48.65% chance. Whereas the 0 has a 2.7% chance of the ball landing on it. This 2.7% is the house edge in this case.
Making Sense of RTP and Payout Percentages
If you are new to casinos, terms such as “payout” or “RTP” may seem a bit daunting and confusing. But fear not, we’ll try to break them down for you, so you’d understand how to use them to your advantage.
The concept of Payout Percentages, or RTP (Return to Player), is a rather simple one. It tells you how much of the money the players’ bet actually gets back. So, if the RTP is, for example, 95%, that means that the casino will payout £95 for each £100 placed. Now, this may be a little bit misleading, because the number actually represents an average return of ALL the games played by ALL players on that machine or game.
For example, the RTP on a slot machine does not include only the jackpots, but literally all the winnings, including those worth merely a few pounds. They all fall under the same average value. So, to simplify, if a game has an RTP of 95%, that does not mean that 95/100 players get to take the winnings. It is merely the percentage of all the bets that get returned to the players.
A very important thing to understand is that RTPs are calculated over a large number of games, and they are actually a mean percentage over a given number of games. Like any mean value, RTP will vary more if the sample of games is lower.
Here is an example provided by the UK Gambling Commission:
|Number of games played
|% from the mean†
How Will I Know the Payouts Are Fair?
This is relatively easy, just make sure that the casino (online or offline) is licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. This body regulates everything related to casinos, including RTPs.
The Gambling Commission makes it mandatory for casinos not only to test all the games by a third party but also to make the results of these tests publicly available. Casinos also need to submit a transparent GGY report to the Gambling Commission on a regular basis, so that leaves very little room for any unfairness on the house’s side.
If the Gambling Commission license is not visibly placed at a live game or is not available in an online casino, that’s a massive red flag. Should you ever encounter such a casino, cash your winnings in (if possible) and leave. Furthermore, it would be a good idea to report such a casino to the Gambling Commission.
To ensure fairness and an unbiased approach at all times, the UK Gambling Commission uses several monitoring methods, such as:
- Measuring Each Stake Level
- Segregating base game activity from bonus features
- Virtual sports products
- Measuring progressive jackpots
Each one of these methods is applied to different types of games, while there is also a separate method for live dealer games that takes into consideration factors such as the state of equipment (roulette table), fair card shuffling, regular introduction of new decks of cards, etc.
Getting to Know Variance
As you might have already realized, the percentages we discussed above are only true over a long period of time. So, to make sure you get the best out of your game, you need to be ready to play a few rounds more than you may have planned. Of course, you might get lucky and win that mega moolah by getting £10 000 on a £5 bet, but in case you don’t, here are some tips to follow:
- Be conscious of your budget.
- Divide your cash into smaller bets.
- Be aware that you can lose even on a “shoe-in” bet.
- The longer you play, the more chances you have of winning.
Maximizing Your Returns
So, statistically, it seems the chances are not in your favor as much as you hoped, right? Well then, let’s see how you can use what you know to get as big of a chance as possible to get that cash.
The best solution to this conundrum would be opting for games with the highest RTP (or lowest house edge), which goes without saying. On top of that, you should combine that with the freebies that all casinos give, especially the online ones. Whether it’s free spins, tokens, or additional cash, make sure you use them wisely.
RTP Laws in the UK
While some countries may mandate a minimum RTP per game, no such regulations exist in the UK. Casinos are, however, required to display RTPs for each game in a visible spot. At live casinos, you can find them right next to the table games or machines you’re using, and in online casinos, they’re usually placed in the help section.
The most transparent online casinos post their RTPs in the most visible spot possible. If you cannot find RTP percentages on your preferred gambling website, more than your gambling budget could be at stake. Make sure you leave that website immediately and report it to the concerned authorities.
It is important to mention that while some games appear to have the same RTPs, this is not in any way a rule or a law. Each casino decides on these by itself. This is particularly true for online casinos, where developers let websites adjust the RTP to a certain extent. So, always make sure you have your numbers straight before sitting at a machine or entering table games.
Common Online Casino Payout Percentages
Here are some average Payout Percentages you can find in most online casinos. As we said, these will not be identical across the board. This is only to give you an estimate of what kind of payouts you can expect for each game.
- Aces and Faces Video Poker 99.26%
- American Roulette 94.74%
- European Roulette 97.30%
- French Roulette 98.65%
- Baccarat 98.99%
- Blackjack 99.54%
- Craps 98.64%
- Game of Thrones Slots 94.86%
- Jacks or Better Video Poker 99.54%
- Jurassic Park Slots 96.67%
- Mega Moolah Slots 88.12%
- Sic Bo 97.22%
- Three Card Poker 98.24%
Now, as we’ve already mentioned, please keep in mind that these numbers do not represent the frequency of winnings, but the overall percentage of ALL bets that get returned to ALL players.
Use Casino Bonuses to Give Additional Value for Money
There are many things you can do to make the most with your cash. One of the things you should focus on is the free bonuses. Most online casinos give different kinds of bonuses to players, and using these can sometimes give you that one extra turn you need to win.
So, whether it’s a free £ 100 coupon for a game of blackjack, a set of extra spins at the French Roulette, or a deposit bonus, make sure you use those whenever they are available. You never know, it might be that one extra spin that gets you a prize.
Payout Percentages You Can Expect to See at Online Casinos
RTP for Slots
The slot machine we used as an example yields 94.88% RTP, but in general, you can expect around 96% RTP on average. To make everything clear, these percentages include all types of winnings, not only jackpots.
RTP for Roulette
Depending on what kind of roulette you choose (European, French, American, etc.), the payout percentages can vary between 94% and 97.3%.
RTP for Blackjack
Blackjack has a very high payout percentage, with an average of 99.54%. This does not mean that you will win big all the time, but you might be able to get many small winnings as you play.
RTP for Baccarat
Just like Blackjack, Baccarat has a very high RTP of 98.94%. This number is only indicative of RTP for Live Baccarat, however. If you are interested in the side bet percentages, they look something like this:
- 89.64% – Banker Pair
- 89.64% – Player Pair
- 91.95% – Perfect Pair
- 86.29% – Either Pair
- 97.35% – Player Bonus
- 90.63% – Banker Bonus
When Low RTP Can Actually Be Beneficial
Low RTP games are, by definition, those with a payout of under 95%. While your initial instinct may be to steer clear of these games, they may actually hold some hidden benefits.
First of all, some players consider these games to be more entertaining. Since there is a lower chance of winning, it feels extra special when you do get a winning hand.
Finally, the biggest benefit of low RTP games is higher jackpot payouts. It’s really just basic math – the lower your chances of winning are, the higher the main prize.
RTP in a Nutshell
To understand RTP best, it would be a good idea to look at how the UK Gambling Commission sees it. They say you can look at it this way – a part of the money you paid to play the game is accumulated by all players and given back as prizes. Whatever is left stays in the house. And always keep in mind that the house has to make a profit in order to stay in business.
So, to sum up, while RTPs can indicate how often a machine or a game rewards the players, you must consider that RTPs are calculated over a very long amount of time (10 000 to 100 000 games on average) and that they are not in any way a guarantee of the amount of money you will win, or if you will win at all.
The house edge is whatever difference there is between the RTP and 100%. This is how much the house keeps to itself.
RTP is part of the money invested in a game that is returned to players through prizes. Simply put, it’s the percentage of all bets placed that players win back.
While it is possible for casinos to control slot machine payouts, it happens extremely rarely. It is more common for a player to hit a “cold streak” than for a casino to “tighten” a slot machine.
While percentages may vary depending on the type of slot and the casino in question, that number is generally around 96%.