Is the slot’s RTP important to the player?
That’s not a “yes or no” question, but let me put it this way: as long as it holds in a reasonable range (we’ll discuss that range a bit later, for now, let’s assume it’s somewhere between 92-98%), it’s not that important.
Of course, we need to remember that we’re always talking about an average player having an average session in terms of the number of game rounds (between a few hundred and few thousand). The die-hard high rollers should think more about choosing games with higher RTP.
Who should pay attention to it if it’s not that important to the player? The studio that produces the game and the operator (casino) that offers it to the players. That’s the truth about RTP – its primary purpose is the indication of the machine’s profitability. Even if those fractions of a percent in practice mean nothing to the player, to both producer and operator, they can mean tens of thousands in profit.
Again, let’s take an easy example.
A studio has produced a slot machine with 95% RTP. They “loan” this slot to a casino for a 10% commission on earnings. Let’s assume it’s a good game that becomes popular with that casino’s players and generates a steady average turnover of €100,000 a day, therefore €3,000,000 a month.
Turnover is what goes into the slot, and to this value, we apply the 95% that goes out. Of the €3,000,000, that’s €2,850,000. Meaning that the remaining 5% equals €150,000, and that’s the amount that stayed in the slot and is considered the casino’s profit, also known as “edge” or “cut”.
If we apply the studio’s 10% commission from loaning this slot to the casino, that will mean they have earned €15,000 (and the casino itself €135,000 in the end) from this cooperation. And this is just one month on one game.
Let’s imagine that the same game was initially produced with an RTP of 97% instead of 95%. That means it’s now giving back more money to the players. If we take the same turnover of €3,000,000 and apply the 97%, the casino’s earnings fall from €150,000 to €90,000. That’s a €60,000 difference for the operator and €6,000 less for the studio! Pretty severe for such a seemingly harmless 2%, right? And let’s remember it works the same in the other way. If the RTP is lower, more money stays in the casino’s pocket.
So there you have it. RTP is far more significant to studios and casinos than it is for an average player. However, some scenarios can disrupt the perfect examples I’ve shown you.
Curious about what they are? Keep reading.
Is RTP always the same?
We must remember that when it comes to RTP, we work with many variables. Since the “Return To Player” is a percentage, that brings inevitable volatility to all those calculations.
Even though the producers calculate the final RTP value very carefully, with so many players and massive amounts of game rounds, fluctuations are bound to happen.
In practical terms, a casino can never be sure that a particular slot with a specific RTP will regularly, month on month, behave in the same way down to the tenth decimal place. Sometimes, a larger-than-expected number of players got lucky, and the slot ended up with an RTP over 100%, which means that it paid out more money than was put in, and the casino is experiencing a loss. However, that’s only a short-term view when casinos run monthly reporting, for example. In the long run, the math will always even out the result to match the original RTP.
That’s again coming back to the “huge numbers” statement from before.
The bigger the numbers, the more “Return To Player” makes sense.
That’s why a single player may experience the RTP of 10% (if they came to a slot with €100 and walked away with €10 after a losing streak) or 2000% (if they came with a €100 and left with €2000 after a series of big wins). But the big picture (visible only to the studio and the casino) will always remain almost the same as designed.
Can RTP of the same slot vary between casinos?
Not all producers offer such an option to the casinos, but some do. As explained above, the lower the RTP, the better the earnings for both casino and the studio. Therefore some of the latter choose to create a few models of RTP for the same game.
This is mainly an answer to the different needs of different casinos on the market. The online gambling giants can afford higher RTP (fewer earnings), and they sometimes use it as an acquisition tool to attract players to more significant theoretical payback. The smaller brands sometimes choose the lower RTP to boost their internal cash flow more directly.
“Return To Player” is a licensing requirement and must always be mentioned in the slot’s rules. If you’re playing on several different casinos or changing to a different one, it’s best to have a quick look before you deposit to ensure that your favorite slots have the same RTP you’re used to.
Usual RTP ranges and licensing
As I mentioned a few paragraphs above, there is an RTP range that I consider a reasonable one. Given everything we’ve discussed, especially the statement that RTP is not that important to the average player, we still want the most significant chance to win when we gamble.
For me, the lower end of this range is 92%, but in reality, I rarely play anything below 95% unless it’s a slot with something unique or the potential of max win higher than anywhere else. The top range, of course, has no cap, and I’d gladly try my luck in machines with 200% RTP. On the market, however, you will find few slots that are above 98%. That’s usually as attractive as it gets.
There are also different licenses in different countries which regulate this matter not to allow games that hold RTP below a particular value. For example, the MGA (Malta Gaming Authority) set a limit of 88%. Any game with RTP below that value cannot be certified and offered to the players.