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What is RTP in Casino Slots – Return to Player percentage

No matter if you are new to online or land-based casinos. Whether you are a seasoned gambling enthusiast. You will learn everything you need about RTP or Return to Player. Profiles like online casino streamers often mention this cryptical term. And we will take you through what the term means. But more importantly what it means for your gambling at online casinos. This article will help you find the games that will help you having the best chance of making a profit. And also show you some of the truths and myths surrounding RTP or Return to Player in casinos and slots. 

Researched and written:  Richard Johansson   I   About our creators    I    Review Expertise

Busting RTP or Return to Player myths

There are many myths and stories circulating around the internet about casinos rigging games. And tricking players for money and getting away with breaking the law. Also we are not going to say that this has never happened, as there has been cases of casinos creating their own games. And then reporting the wrong RTP to trick customers as well as regulators that their games are legit. However, on online casinos in 2024, the games come from reputable game studios and not the casino themselves.

MYTH #1:

“Online casinos change the RTP of their games to make more money.”  

Firstly, the notion that an online casino can manipulate the games that are supplied by a third party provider is not true at all. So you can put that one to rest right away. However, there are some truth to the fact of changing RTP, but it is a bit more complicated. Since game providers like Play’n GO, NetEnt and Pragmatic Play offer online casinos a suite of different RTPs for their games. So an online casino can in fact offer you a lower RTP on certain games from certain providers. And this is why the same game can have different RTP than you would find at a competing casino. However, you can always find this information in the game description.


Return to Player percentages does not matter for me or in a single gambling session.”

This is not true, even though the impact of RTP does not truly show until you have millions or even billions of game rounds included in the statistics. However, a game with lower RTP will make you lose money faster, than if you play a game with a higher RTP. And the same goes for volatility. Since a very high volatility game brings you the risk of having many “dead spins” and losing the money very fast. But it also gives you the chance to win very big, making up for the lack of frequent wins in the base game. And as we have said before; Check the RTP on any casino before you start playing. So that you can find the casino with the highest win probability!


Jackpot games and progressive jackpots impacts the RTP of the slot.

For most jackpot games, and especially progressive jackpot slots, the RTP might read 95%. But this is then often including the Mega Jackpot that might go once every month. So this means that for 99.9999% of the players the RTP is a lot lower than 95%. But for that lucky person that wins the jackpot, the payday is truly life changing and the RTP is through the roof.


Games are rigged so that I win when betting small, and lose when betting big.

There are no slot games that changes their RTP when you change your bet size. However, it can feel like this is the case, as you will naturally play fewer spins on higher bets. And the variance of the slot game will catch up with you quicker. But you can win the same 10,000 times your bet multiplier if you bet the minimum. And you can also win this if you bet the maximum on the slot. There is no difference in the amount you bet. But if you play too high stakes, the likelihood of you losing the money quick is also higher.

RTP – Return to Player: The basics explained

RTP represents the amount a casino game or slot pays out to you in theory. And it is in theory as it will be over billions of game rounds or spins. But you will never be able to play that many spins, which is why the number is theoretical. Also, it is usually expressed as a percentage. An example of RTP would be the slot game Gonzo’s Quest from NetEnt that has an RTP of 95.97%. This means that in theory every €100 you spend on the slot, will give back €95.97 in winnings to you as a player. But this is a very simple way of looking at it, as you can both lose all your €100 or win big. Considering that the calculations of RTP is done as a statistical measure and not going to reflect any single person’s game rounds.

The calculation of RTP or Return to Player

The calculation of RTP is based on a large number of spins or game rounds. So during a single, or for that matter multiple sessions, you will not experience the exact RTP stated. But the higher the RTP the more you would potentially win in the long term. Or the less you would lose which is a more accurate description. However it`s not necessarily easier for you to win on a high RTP games, as they might be extremely volatile or have very high variance. But we will get back to you on more of that later in this article.

RTP – Return to Player in Slots

When game studios create slot machines, one of the most critical parts is the mathematical model of the game. This is something you as a player will never see any details about. But if you have ever played a slot game for an extensive amount of time, and it keeps feeling fun and entertaining. Well that is surely a game based on a great mathematical model. However, other games where you can predict the patterns in the wheels landing. And they generally gives you a repetitive feeling. That slot is most likely based on a weak mathematical model. This might all sound straight forward but rest assured that the people calculating these mathematical models are nothing short of geniuses.

The mathematics behind Return to Player percentages

It is critical for the game creators that the math holds up over billions of spins. And that the theoretical RTP matches what was intended, when tests are being simulated. Which happens before a game is released to the market. Without going on too much on mathematics, as many of you might not want to be back on the school bench again. However, the baseline of it all is that a game that is created to pay out 96 percent of the wagered money, will have an RTP around 96%. So the RTP itself is different than the variance or volatility of the game, which we will get to in the next part below. So keep on reading to find out more about volatility and variance in slot games.

Variance and volatility in slots vs RTP

Many are often mistaking the differences, and similarities between volatility, variance and RTP. And these concepts are naturally confusing as they describe one and the same thing. But yet different aspects of how slot games are created and function. Since we have already gone through the Return to Player or RTP, let’s have a look at what variance or volatility means. Let’s get to it!

Volatility, Variance and RTP – What is the difference?

Volatility or Variance are the definitions of how the distribution of the game’s RTP is handled. This means that there is a calculated way on how often a slot game will grant wins. And what sizes these wins will accumulate to. Also, these are generally grouped into three categories, that you might have heard about.

Low Volatility or Low Variance slots

Low volatility or Low Variance slots, are the types of where the slot game pays out smaller wins to you. But at a much higher frequency. Meaning that you win more often, but you might not be winning any really big wins at all. Examples of games with Low volatility are Starburst and Mustang Gold.

Medium Volatility or Medium Variance slots

Medium Volatility or Medium Variance slots, have a better balance of large wins and frequent wins. But where you would win maybe every other spin in a low variance slot, a medium variance slot potentially pays out every three or four spins. Also, the biggest wins are naturally larger than the low variance slots. Therefor, these slot games have a higher potential to grant you bigger wins. Examples of slots with medium variance are Genie Jackpots

High Volatility or High Variance slots

High Volatility or High Variance slots are seeing the most growth in the industry. This is because game creators are looking for that next new hit to show you record wins. Specially in the day and age of casino streamers, as well as blogs and video outlets. And they are all looking for those captivating videos or reviews, showing people winning life-changing amounts of money. So you probably already guessed it, high variance slots are games where the maximum win potential is high. But the frequency of wins are very low, meaning you have a bigger potential, while winning less frequent. Examples for such slot games could be East Coast vs West Coast, Fire in the Hole xBomb and Book of Ra Magic.

Are all slots either Low, Medium or High Volatility?

We want to emphasize that the three categories above are generic. And there are a lot of games that fall in between, our outside of these categories. Jackpot slots for example have a very low RTP, but the highest max win potential of any games. There are also a new category emerging within the industry, the Extreme Volatility or Extreme Variance slots. Where wins over 100,000 times your bet size is offered without any jackpots included. Games with very high volatility can be slots like Dolphins Pearl Deluxe, Lucky Lady Charm Deluxe and Vikings.

RTP differences between different casinos

If you have ever played at a brick-and-mortar casino, or land-based casino as we normally call them now a days. You have probably noticed the long rows of slot machines filling up pretty much every square meter of the rooms. And there is a reason for that, as these are the real money makers for the land-based casinos. Also, because Live Casino games like Blackjack or Roulette has a higher RTP if played optimally. While the slots on land-based casinos are mostly ranging between 75% to 90% RTP. But you will rarely find an online casino creeping below the 90% mark.

What is a good Return to Player percentage?

The benchmark of a good RTP on online slots is pretty much agreed across the industry to land around 96%. However, this does not mean that all online casinos offer games with this RTP. And game providers like Play’n GO, NetEnt and Pragmatic Play all offer different RTP variations of their game. So always make sure to check these providers slot games on the casino you are playing at, to see what RTP you are playing at. Some online casinos have 96% RTP on Book of Dead, others have 94% or even lower.

Why does land based casinos have lower RTP than online casinos?

The main reason for brick-and-mortar casinos having a significantly lower RTP is that it has been historically more accepted. As they have limited space to spread their slot machines. And more staff that is on the payroll than an online casino needs. In this age of information it is also a lot easier for a you to check online what RTP a game should have. And then you can change over to another casino if you are not happy with the game selection or RTP offered. Also, while you would probably find at most a few hundred slot machines in any land-based casino. You can find thousands of slot games online, and with a few clicks of a button you know the games true RTP.

Recommended best slot games with high RTP

Blood Suckers by NetEnt: This is one of the slots with the highest RTP`s with a grand 98%. And popular for bonus wagering when possible.

Jackpot 6000 by NetEnt: Another slot from NetEnt with super high RTP. It has an insane 98.86% Return to player percentage!

Mega Joker by NetEnt: Without repeating NetEnt too much, here is another insane RTP slot. It has a theoretical RTP of 99%!

Recommended best slot games with Low Volatility or Low Variance

Starburst from NetEnt: The classic game that has been the most popular slot for more than a decade.

Mega Fortune by NetEnt: Luxury slot game that has a huge jackpot, but low volatility base game. And you could win millions!

Recommended best slot games with Medium Volatility or Medium Variance

Book of Ra Deluxe by Novamatic: Maybe the greatest Book game to date, where you can win up to 5,000 times your stake.

Twin Spin by NetEnt: A staple in most online casinos, with a Medium to high variance. And you can win 1,080 times your stake.

Fire Joker by Play`n GO: Joker slot that brings you a perfect balance of variance, where you can win 800 times your stake.

Reel Rush by NetEnt: Fruity slot that can bring you juicy wins up to 3,840 times your stake.

Wolf Gold by Pragmatic Play: Howl with the wolves in this classic slot. And cash in wins up to 5,000 times your stake.

Recommended best slot games with High Volatility or High Variance

San Quentin xWays by No Limit City: This is an extremely high volatility prison slot. And you can win up to 150,000 times your bet.

Money Train 2 by Relax Gaming: Jump into a slot where you can rob the train. And you can win up to 50,000 times your bet.

Mystery Museum by Push Gaming: Mysterious slot with very high variance. And you can win up to 62,003 times your bet.

Immortal Romance by Microgaming: Vampire themed slot with high volatility. You can win up to 12,150 times your bet.

Reactoonz by Play`n GO: Reactions and aliens giving you a high volatility slot. You can win up to 4,750 times your bet.