How to Find the Payout Percentage on a Slot Machine

By Alex Smith Sep 18, 2022

The payout percentage of a slot machine – known in the industry as the return to player (RTP) – is the amount of money that a video slot or land-based slot machine is expected to pay out over the course of its lifespan. Contrary to what many online guides are saying, the payout percentage does not necessarily determine your chance of hitting a big win. However, games with a lower payout percentage will pay big wins less frequently, but it’s not something you should overthink in the short term.

On this page, we will look at how to determine the payout percentage of a video slot. You can use four essential methods to determine a video slot’s payout percentage. While this article touches on land-based gambling, it is geared primarily toward online gameplay.

Understanding Payout Percentages on Slot Machines

The chance of winning while playing a slot machine comes from probability. Let’s begin by looking at an easy example; if you flip a coin, there is a 50% chance of landing heads and a 50% chance of landing tales. This equates to a probability of 0.5.

As you can imagine, the closer the probability is to number one, the more likely that specific event will happen. In the betting world, probabilities are displayed as odds. It can sound quite complex, so to kick things off, below, we will be looking at the two key terms surrounding probability when it comes to gambling payouts.

RTP

The RTP percentage is a theoretical amount that slot machines are expected to pay out during their lifespan. Online casino operators can calculate how profitable the games should be. If you play video slots online, you will generally see an RTP between 90% and 98%.

Let’s imagine you are playing a video slot with an RTP of 95%. For every $100 machine, $95 will be paid back to players. The casino can expect to make a profit of five dollars.

In another example, this time, with a slot with an RTP of 92%, for every $100 wagered on the game, $92 would be paid back to players, and the casino would expect to make a profit of eight dollars. Now, these numbers can be pretty deceptive – for one main reason.

The RTP of a video slot is calculated over billions of simulated spins. There is nothing to say that a slot will pay anywhere near the expected RTP for thousands, even tens of thousands of spins. This is why, while RTPs can be helpful to understand, they do not affect short-term gameplay as much as some players like to think.

However, the difference between a video slot running at 98% RTP and 92% RTP IS significant – especially regarding total gameplay time. The more spins put through the video slot, the more accurate the RTP becomes. Another thing to consider is volatility/variance – which is a topic we will cover later on.

House Edge

The house edge of a game is identical to the RTP: the only difference is in how the number is represented. For example, when calculating RTP, we talk about the expected theoretical return to players. However, the house edge is the other way round – it focuses on the amount of money the casino will make.

A video slot running at an RTP of 98% would be 2%. If you play a video slot with an RTP of 92%, the house edge would be 8%.

Are Casinos and Game Developers Required to Show Payout Percentages?

Unfortunately, not all casinos are required to display RTP information. While this is something that some online gambling regulators have started to enforce, it is nowhere near the norm. Things get even worse when you look at land-based casinos. In several jurisdictions, land-based casinos and developers that provide their games are not required to offer any indication of what the RTP for that machine is.

Thankfully, some online gambling regulators do require operators to display the RTP of the game. For example, the U.K.’s Gambling Commission and the Maltese Gaming Authority state that the game’s help file must display the current RTP. This means that you should have no problems looking up the RTP and finding out what it is – provided you live in one of these jurisdictions.

How to Find a Slot Machine’s Payout Percentages

As we just saw, not all online gambling regulators require game developers and licensees to display information about the RTP. Below, we will be looking at four different methods you can use to find out the RTP of the game.

View the Game’s Information Screen

If you live in a jurisdiction that requires casino operators and game developers to display the RTP, the easiest way to find it is to simply load up the game and enter the help files. You will usually see the RTP list on the last page; this help file can usually be accessed by clicking the “i” button in the bottom corner of the screen. Please note that you may need to open the in-depth help files instead of the paytable to view the RTP.

If you cannot find the RTP this way, the best thing you can do is contact the casino’s customer support team. They will hopefully be able to help you and give you the information you need, but if they can’t, proceed to one of the following methods.

Research it Yourself

If you are unable to view the RTP of a video slot directly from the game itself, you will be happy to know that there are some other options. Many game manufacturers post public information about their games on their websites, which often includes the RTP percentage.

You can also search Google for “slot name” followed by RTP, and you may find people in forums and posts on other online gambling-related websites discussing the RTP for certain games. However, you do need to be careful here; some game developers offer their games in multiple RTP settings, and if this is the case, even if you find the RTPs listed online, you have no way of telling which version of the game you are playing at your preferred online casino.

Look at Average Payouts

Some online casinos publish monthly payout percentage information, and some more sophisticated systems allow you to view the payout information for specific games. While this will not give you an exact figure on the theoretical RTP of the slot machine, it will give you a rough indication of how the game is performing.

For the best results, you should try to view this payout percentage history over months as opposed to just 30 days. This method is not foolproof, and it’s not something that all online casinos offer, but it’s a good start.

Track Your Play

If you cannot find any information about the RTP of the game you want to play, there is one final solution; tracking your gameplay and calculating the RTP on your own. This is quite an ask and will not give you a very accurate representation of the slot’s RTP.

To achieve this, you need to calculate exactly how many spins you put through the machine and track your exact wins/losses. While this could indicate the game’s RTP over a lengthy period of time, if you are playing a game for a few hours, it’s not going to do you much good.

However, a couple of software applications – usually plug-ins that you install to your Internet browser – track your gameplay automatically. They then pool your data with thousands of other players to create a rough RTP that you can check out.

Again, none of these methods are as foolproof as checking the RTP from the game directly, but if you are left with no other choices, it can be a decent workaround.

Be Weary of Casinos Showing off a Broad Payout Percentage

You might see an advertisement for a specific payout percentage on older online casino sites. For example, some casinos will claim that they offer payback percentages as high as 99%. This means that one of the games in their portfolio is paying out this high – so they then use that as a marketing tactic to try and convince potential new signups that they have one of the highest payout percentages in the industry.

Remember, just because a slot machine has a high RTP does not mean you will end up as a winner. RTPs are calculated over billions of spins, and it can take a lifetime for a slot machine to reach its true RTP potential. Of course, the flip side of this is that it’s also possible for a slot to go over its RTP.

The Slot Player’s Nemesis: Varying RTPs

One thing you must be careful about is game developers that offer their titles in multiple RTP settings. Play’n Go, Pragmatic Play – and, more recently, NetEnt – are renowned for this practice.

In today’s online gambling world, profit margins are smaller than ever. More competition, increased regulatory requirements, and higher transaction fees mean casinos make much less money than you think. One of the main ways some casinos have started to drive profit up again is to offer players lower RTP versions of games.

This means, theoretically, you could be playing a game at a casino that is running at a 97% RTP – only for them to replace it with an identical-looking game that now has an RTP of 87%. That is a significant difference, and this difference will be noticed even in the short term. To make matters worse, operators are not required to inform players when they introduce a lower RTP game version. Thankfully, some dedicated websites have now started tracking which RTP settings some of the biggest casino operators are offering, and it’s well worth checking these out.

What Does Hit Ratio and Volatility Have To Do with it?

The hit ratio and volatility of the game can significantly affect the payout percentage. Firstly, let’s take a look at the hit ratio. The hit ratio is the percentage of times you hit a winning spin while playing the slot. For example, if a video slot has a hit frequency of one in four, three of the four spins will be a loss, while one will win. Generally speaking, most video slots feature a hit ratio of around 30% – but it can easily sway 10% or more in either direction.

Thankfully, game developers and online casinos generally build games that have relatively high hit ratios. After all, the last thing they want is for you to get bored, click away from the game, and play something else. However, the hit ratio is just one part of the puzzle – which many players are confused about. Hit ratio does not mean you will have a winning spin – it simply means that the spin will not be a complete loss.

For example, if you are playing a video slot at two dollars per spin, and the spin returns you one dollar, that still counts as a hit – even though you have lost money.

Volatility is another significant factor that you need to be aware of. A high variance game offers less frequent hits, but when they come, they’re worth more significant amounts of money. Conversely, a low variance game will have a much higher hit rate – although the wins will be worth substantially less.

This is why it’s not uncommon to go 40 or even 50 spins without hitting a win when playing a high variance slot. Because high variance games tend to offer so much win potential, they are designed in a way that dead spins are simply unavoidable.

FAQs

Does Changing the Bet Size Affect the Payout Percentage?

In the majority of cases, no; it does not. The vast majority of video slots work on a ratio-based pay scale. This means that if you are betting one dollar on the slot and won $10, if you placed a $10 bet in the same scenario, you would win $100. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule – although, thankfully, they are pretty rare.

For example, some progressive jackpots – most notably, Microgaming’s Mega Moolah – state that players playing at a higher bet size have an increased chance of winning the jackpot. Betsoft and Playtech also utilize this tactic. Some game developers like IGT and Barcrest also increase the RTP of the game for players who are playing at higher stakes. Thankfully, regardless of the jurisdiction these games are hosted in, they are required by law to inform you about this – so you will always be able to see whether the larger bet size affects the RTP and payout percentage of a slot or not.

How can I find the RTP of a video slot?

The best way of finding the RTP of the slot machine is to load up the game and open up the help files. In most regulated markets, operators are required – by law – to display the RTP information here. If you do not find it here, you can search for the slot followed by the phrase “RTP” or check out the game developer’s website to see if they list the information in their product catalog.

Can RTPs Change?

Yes, some game developers offer the same game in multiple RTP settings. This is because some casinos want to offer players a lower RTP version of the game to increase their profit margins. Thankfully, this isn’t something you need to worry too much about – but it’s worth keeping in mind, especially if you plan on playing a game frequently.

Do Casinos Control the RTP?

When you’re playing slot machines, the average payout and payback percentage for that particular game remain consistent. It doesn’t matter whether you play slots at max bets or play slot games at minimum stake – with a few rare exceptions that a given slot machine will always offer the exact payout percentages.
The main exception is playing slots with progressive jackpots – or those in Las Vegas. Some slot machines in Las Vegas and online offer a different payback percentage depending on the sake you are playing at. Thankfully, this is rare – especially in loose slots.

Other Useful Articles you Should Read

What Does Volatility Mean in Slots?

Whenever you play an online video slot, the game will have something known as volatility attached to it. Today, there are more video slots available to play than ever before.

By Alex Smith Sep 18, 2022

How to Play Penny Slots

Penny slots are a unique casino game that allows you to play a slot machine for as little as one cent per spin. These games are designed specifically to cater to players on lower budgets, and the coin value per line is usually set at one percent, meaning you only need to spend a few pennies per spin

By Alex Smith Sep 18, 2022

Are Slot Machines Rigged?

One of the most common complaints that you will see from gamblers online is querying whether or not the casino games and slot games are rigged. This is no surprise – and, especially for newer players – knowing whether or not the games at online casinos are truly fair at random or not, is a valid question.

By Alex Smith Sep 18, 2022

Why do Gas Stations have Slot Machines?

If you head to virtually any service station in the UK, you will notice that there are – almost always – slot machines

By Alex Smith Jul 29, 2022

Complete Guide and Tips To Play Slots Tournaments

Slots tournaments have always been a popular choice with players, and they’ve been offered at online casinos since – pretty much – the first

By Alex Smith May 2, 2022