What is Return-to-Player? How to calculate RTP and why it matters

By June 18, 2020June 19th, 2020No Comments

Some players are attracted to the theme of a slot game, while others are drawn in by the number of features. But for hardcore players, RTP is the determining factor for whether they click on a game or not.

Attracting players boils down to providing them with more of what they want. And players want a game with a high RTP. But what is RTP exactly, and is it beneficial for your casino in the long run? We’re going to explain what RTP is, why it’s such an important feature in any modern online slot game and how it’s calculated.

What is RTP (return to player)?

RTP is a measure of how much a slot machine pays back to its players for each unit wagered over time.  It is usually expressed as a percentage, the higher the percentage the more often the player can win over a longer period of time. So if a slot has an RTP of 96%, it will give back €96 for every €100 that goes into it.

The house edge is the slot machine’s RTP subtracted from 100%. If a slot machine has an RTP of 95%, the house edge would be 5%. It is the house edge that provides casinos with the mathematical advantage needed to make a profit over the long term. Players will often gravitate towards games that offer a high RTP, as it promises better return value. However, in the long run, the house always wins.

RTP does not indicate how often a player is likely to win. For instance, two games can both have an RTP of 95% however one might pay out more frequently but in smaller amounts whilst the other pays out less frequently but in higher amounts. 

Keep in mind that the rate at which a slot game pays out is determined by random number generators. The RTP is a theoretical statistical calculation, it is only an average estimation. This ensures that players will not be able to know in advance when they will win or lose. These random number generators ensure that a player’s chance of winning is exactly the same every time they play. 

Why is RTP important?

Having a high RTP is crucial in order to attract prospective players to your casino. After all, all players looking to win would rather choose a game which pays out 95% over a game that pays 92%. For casual players who enjoy slot games for a short period of time, RTP is not particularly significant. These players will choose their preferred slot based on the aesthetic of the game, rather than calculating the most optimal game to play. However, for players who game on a frequent basis, RTP is a critical statistic in determining which game to play. 

How is RTP calculated for slots?

RTP can be calculated by taking the total amount returned to players, divided by the total amount gambled by players. Let us suppose a game pays out €9500, while the total amount gambled by players is €10,000. This would provide us with 0.95 as an answer, which can be represented as a percentage – in this case 95%. This is usually calculated over a minimum play of 1 million spins, more often it is calculated over a higher number of spins. This last point is particularly important as it ties into variance, which we will discuss in a moment. 

When a game offers advanced features and multiple paylines, the process of calculating RTP becomes significantly more complex. However, a game is programmed to give back the percentage of the total money which goes into it. Another way of putting it is that a slot machine with an RTP of 95% is programmed to keep 5% of all money spent in it. While 5% might not sound like a lot, when you consider how much money players spend on an exciting and thrilling game, the numbers quickly add up! 

Variance vs RTP

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Variance is often confused with RTP. To put it simply, variance is the reason why two games which payout at different frequencies can have the same RTP. Slots with a lower variance will have small, frequent payouts, while slots with a higher variance will pay out large amounts through infrequent jackpots or bonus features.  

Let’s go back to our earlier example of two slot games, each with an RTP of 95%. One game might pay out more frequently but in smaller amounts, and the other pays out less frequently but in higher amounts. They both have an RTP of 95% as it is calculated over 1 million spins. The first slot machine would pay out €9500 out of €10000 more frequently but in smaller amounts, say €95 a 100 times. While the other would pay out €9500 out of €10000 less frequently but in higher amounts say €950 but only 10 times. 

However, this is all theoretical. No online slot game will ever pay out at regular intervals. A game that pays back exactly €95 back after a hundred spins would not be exciting. Instead, the random number generator ensures that anything can happen for each spin. It is this random number generator, as well as the myriad of features and paylines unique to each game, that keeps slots exciting and thrilling. 

When it comes to choosing a slot game for your online casino, you need a game that will attract players. Winning player’s attention comes down to having a favourable RTP, an engaging theme, unique style and a variety of features. At NSERVE we offer high-quality games right at your fingertips, lovingly crafted to create the perfect balance between gorgeous art styles and compelling gameplay – making them appealing for both casual and hardcore gamers! Browse our wide catalogue of AMATIC games to find the next games for your casino right here!

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