What Does RTP Mean in Casino Games?


What does RTP mean in Casino Games?


In the ever-expanding world of online casinos - featuring an increasingly lengthening list of table games and, quite literally, thousands of slot titles - how are we to know which sites and games offer the best value for money?

When choosing between different sites, many players zero in on those operators with the best sign-up deals or regular perks. There's nothing wrong with that - we all love a nice bonus - but the most influential factor on your long-term bottom line is the RTP of the games you are playing. Familiar to some and alien to others, here, we look at what this term means, the impact it can have and identify the typical RTPs of popular casino games.

What Does RTP Mean?

RTP stands for Return to Player and is expressed as a percentage. Games may have an RTP of 85%, 90%, 96% etc. RTP represents the percentage of your total stake you can expect to receive back on average.

Consider a slot game with an RTP of 96% as an example. This 96% RTP means that for every £1 spin, you can expect to receive 96p back - representing an average loss of 4p per spin.

Of course, you may lose the whole £1 or trigger a win on any individual spin. However, over a large number of spins, you can expect your total return to approach the 96% RTP value. The higher the number of spins, the more likely your returns will come close to that 96% value.

Why Does RTP Exist?

The reason for the existence of RTP is the one you might expect, i.e. casino operators are in the business of making a profit, with RTP simply being the way in which they make their money.

Gambling differs from many other businesses. For example, a clothing store may buy a pair of jeans at a cost price of £20 and sell them to the customer at a sales price of £40. The profit-making mechanism is pretty obvious.

Casino Operators aren’t able to charge for items in quite the same way. Instead, they build their profit margin into the odds of the games they offer. The most straightforward example of this is the famed roulette wheel. A European Roulette Wheel features 37 numbers (0 – 36). The correct odds of predicting a single number are, therefore, 36/1. However, when placing a single number bet, you will only be paid out at 35/1 if correct. That amounts to a 2.70% edge against the player. Not much on the face of it, but that small percentage was enough to build Las Vegas!

For slot-style games, this odds edge lies within the software. The odds you will be paid for any winning line or bonus feature is less than the true statistical odds of that line or bonus feature occurring. The lower the RTP, the bigger the difference between the True Odds and the Payout Odds.

Why is RTP so Important?

When assessing the RTP of a game, you may not think there is much difference between an RTP of 96%, 92%, or 88%. Over a small number of spins, hands of blackjack, throws of the dice, etc., you are unlikely to notice the RTP much - if at all.

However, it is important to remember that casino games are very high turnover products compared to other gambling mediums, such as sports betting. A horse racing punter, for example, places his bet and then must wait for the next scheduled race before betting again. In casino gaming, you can place another bet as soon as your previous bet ends – mere seconds for most games and even less than that for slots.

When placing a high number of bets, RTP begins to bear its teeth. Let’s look at the difference in the expected loss (EL) from those 96%, 92%, and 88% RTPs over 10, 100, 1000, and 10000 spins to illustrate this point.

Casino RTPs Illustration


A difference of 80p over ten bets may feel fairly inconsequential. However, for slot games, in particular, it is very easy to place 1000 spins within an hour. Playing this many spins on a slot game with an RTP of 88%, you could expect to lose £80 more than if choosing a game with a 96% RTP.

Beware Variable RTP’s

Whilst the RTP of games such as Blackjack and Roulette tend to be fixed from casino to casino due to the mechanics of the game, the same is not always true of slot titles. Many slot games come with a variable RTP range. Individual operators can then select which of the values from within the range they would like to use. The RTP in use at any casino should always be listed in the information section of the game.

Typical RTP of Casino Games

Exact RTP’s may differ from casino to casino due to varying rules and additional special bet types, but the following is a guide to the type of RTP you can expect to find in standard versions of the most popular games:

  • European (single zero) Roulette - 97.30%
  • American (double zero) Roulette - 94.74%
  • Blackjack - 99.45% (when playing perfect strategy)
  • 3-Card Poker - 98.24%
  • Craps - 98.64%
  • Baccarat - 98.94%
  • Slots - 90-99%

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