What is Return to Player (RTP) in Casinos?

Online casinos are becoming all the rage nowadays. In the past couple of years, the amount of gamblers who have moved away from land-based establishments, and have made accounts online has increased significantly. Oftentimes, you will see the phrase “Return to player” or its abbreviation (RTP) pop up when discussing online casino games. But just what does this phrase entail? In this article, we will go over what Return to player means and how it works.

Return to Player

What Does RTP Stand for in Gaming?

Just what is return to player? The term is most commonly associated with online slots. Much like brick-and-mortar slots, online slots are a game of pure chance, relying mainly on luck, rather than skill. So, when people say Return to player, often times, mistakenly, one might assume that it refers to the amount of cash a player will receive when playing online slots. So then the question remains. Just what do we mean when we say return to player in online slot games?

What is RTP in Slot Games?

The term Return to player refers to the amount of money that a given casino slot pays back to the players. However, this definition is a bit wonky, as it only works in theory. Why this is, is because a certain player could spin 1, 10 or 100 times, and never once land on a winning pay line. However, another player might get the jackpot on their first try. So, be aware that an RTP does not refer to how much money every player of the game will get. Rather, it refers to the amount of money that a machine can pay out.

How do Online Casinos Show RTP?

At most online casinos the return to player is shown in the form of a percentage. The percentage is calculated by watching gameplay over a long period of time. On average, the RTP at low minimum deposit online casinos will be 96%. However, it is notable that this number may vary depending on the slot provider.

But just what does this percentage mean? The percentage refers to the amount that is expected to be paid out to a player. So, for example a 96% RTP means that for every $100 placed, the player will receive $96. However, these numbers are purely theoretical. A player could receive nothing, or they could receive the jackpot. It all depends on the hit frequency of the slot.

RTP in Casinos Expressed as a House Edge

The house edge is a percentage that refers to the advantage that the casino (or “the house”) has over the players. Often times, in films or other pop culture, you will hear the phrase “the house always wins”. And the reason for this is because most games are rigged to have a house edge.

Sometimes, the return to player at certain casinos will be expressed in the form of a house edge. So, just how can you tell the RTP percentage by looking at the house edge percentage? Well it is simple, the house edge percentage works opposite of the RTP.

Let’s take an example. A hypothetical online casino offers slots with the claim that the house percentage is 4.5%. What this means is, that for every $100 wagered on the slot, a player is expected to lose $4.5. While this sum may not seem like much, it is worth remembering here that slots are often unpredictable. As we said before, a player can spin the reel 100 times and never come out on top, while a different player could spin it once and come out with a huge sum.

Formula We Use to Show How RTP is Calculated

Now that you are familiar with what RTP is, the question you might have is how exactly is it calculated. As some of you might now, there is a certain degree of mathematics that goes hand-in-hand with gambling. In theory, the formula for calculating the return to player is not very difficult at all. All you really need to know is a couple of numbers and take into account certain variables. The most simplistic way to calculate RTP is by using the following formula. Take the total amount of the sum returned to the players and then divide it by the total amount that has been gambled by players. The number that comes up is your RTP.

Of course, in the 21st century, this process is a lot more easily accomplished using computers. Some online casinos even employ computers to run every possible combination that can come up on a certain slot, and using the data extracted determine the theoretical return to player percent. No matter how it is calculated, always remember that the RTP percentage is theoretical. Due to the volatility of a casino slot, we can never truly know the actual RTP. However, we can make inferences.

Is Hit Frequency the Same as Casino RTP?

Apart from RTP, another term you will hear when discussing slots is hit frequency. Some people have been convinced that hit frequency and RTP is the same thing. This is, in fact, not the case. RTP refers to the theoretical amount of money that a player will be paid out. Hit frequency describes the amount of times that a slot will land on a winning combination.

For example, let’s say that a certain slot machine has a 6% hit frequency. This means that there is a 6% chance that the slot will land on a winning combo every time you spin. So you see, the RTP refers to the theoretical amount of cash awarded, whereas hit frequency refers to the amount of times a player will get a win.

Summing Up

So, to sum up, the return to player percentage is a theoretical amount of money that a player will be awarded when playing an online slot. The percentage is rather easy to calculate, however, it is always theoretical and cannot be taken at face value. It differs significantly from hit frequency and will sometimes be displayed in the form of a house advantage.

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