• Friday, July 12, 2024
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How online casinos calculate RTP values

Casino (2)

We all heard about RTP at some point, but some of us aren’t quite sure what it means, how it’s calculated and how it affects the game – and at this point we’re too afraid to ask. This is why we turned to our friends from a New Zealand site DashTickets – you know Kiwis are crazy about gambling – to explain to us the concept. If you visit the dasthickets.nz list of casinos with the highest payout rate you’ll see what RTP means in practice, and here we’ll explain the back story.

What is RTP?

RTP stands for Return to Player. It’s a crucial concept for both seasoned gamblers and newcomers. Essentially, RTP represents the percentage of money that a casino game or slot machine is expected to pay back to its players over time. Here’s how it works:

RTP = Total game payouts / Total bets made x 100 %

If you got back 95,000 Naira from the game through its payouts, but wagered 100,000 Naira, then the above calculation would say that 95,000 / 100,000 x 100 = 95.00%. It is common to use two decimal points for RTP values.

Real vs Theoretical RTP

In the above example, what you got is real RTP. The actual money you got back vs the actual money you invested. This can vary wildly. In slots, it can be as low as 50% or as high as 300% at any point during your playing session.

The RTP that everyone is talking about is actually the theoretical return to player, which should technically be abbreviated as tRTP. It is calculated not even over millions of spins, but is entirety theoretical, based on the calculations and algorithms used in the game. A real-life test would reveal that not even millions of spins are enough to make it close to the tRTP, most likely.

What does RTP tell you then?

RTP is a sanity check more than anything else. It’s telling you how did the casino set up the game. If the RTP is lower than 95.00% then you know for a fact that the game is bad and that it’s set up so the casino takes money from you.

If the game has an RTP of 97.00% or above, you know it’s a quality game. You won’t necessarily be winning more – this part is volatile – but you know you’re playing against a fair casino that isn’t trying to rob you.

Common misconceptions about RTP

Higher RTP guarantees more wins – FALSE

RTP doesn’t directly correlate with the frequency of wins. It only represents the average percentage of money returned to players over time. A game with 95% RTP doesn’t mean you’ll win 95% of the time—it’s about long-term averages.

RTP applies to short-term play – FALSE

Nope! RTP calculations are based on millions of spins or rounds. In the short term, results can be wildly different. You might win big or lose consistently, but over time, the RTP evens out.

Games with high RTP are always better – FALSE

Not necessarily. While higher RTP is generally favorable, it’s essential to consider other factors like volatility, game features, and personal preferences. Some players enjoy riskier games with lower RTP for the thrill.

RTP is manipulated by casinos – POSSIBLE

Some slot game developers create games that have different RTP settings such as Low, Medium and High. It isn’t always the case that the game has a single setting. This allows casinos to choose which setting they want to use.

RTP can be rigged by the casinos – FALSE

The slot game developers determine what the RTP, or RTPs, of the game can be. The casino can’t do anything about it and can not rig the game. What the casino can do is choose a RTP setting, that’s it. It’s still a fair thing to do, you know the RTP value (if you care to look), and the spins are independently audited for fairness.


Theoretical RTP is just that – theoretical. But it’s a good tool in your arsenal for detecting games that are fair and those that are not really. This is the first thing everyone should check when playing a game.

Different bets also have different RTP values quite often, so it’s good to check those to decide which bet you should be making.

RTP will not be something that you’ll see within the constraints of a single playing session – your fortunes will depend on variance and luck more than on the RTP. But still, RTP is a good sanity check.