When picking an online casino, most players base their choice on criteria such as licensing, game diversity, bonuses, and loyalty rewards. Most tend to neglect the return to player percentage, which is easily one of the most crucial things to factor in when deciding where to take your real-money action.
Commonly abbreviated as RTP, said percentage is an integral component of all casino games and ultimately determines how much of the wagered money players win back in the long term. All properly licensed casinos must display information about their games’ return percentages, allowing players to draw comparisons and make better-informed choices when deciding where to bet.
In a highly competitive market, the best regulated gambling sites provide players with high overall return percentages. In turn, this means the odds are less tilted to favor the casino and you grind against a lower house edge.
In the following article, SuperCasinoSites explains in detail what RTP is, how online casino games are tested for fairness, and by whom. We finish off with a shortlist of the highest-value online casinos in terms of RTP to spare you the scutwork of finding them on your own.
RTP and House Edge – Two Sides of the Same Coin
The return to player (RTP) reflects the proportion of money wagered that players receive back by way of monetary prizes. One way to calculate the RTP is by dividing the overall amount won by players in the long term by the total amount they have wagered on a given casino game.
In games without strategy where no element of skill is involved, players can arrive at the RTP percentage by subtracting the house edge from 100%. Common examples of such games include roulette, craps, and slots, where it is impossible for players to affect the odds in any way and tilt them in their favor.
One important thing to note is the greater the number of trials, i.e. rounds you go through, the more accurate information you gain about a casino’s game actual return percentage and the more precise the above equation becomes. By precise we mean the two components of the equation come nearer and nearer to number 1 as the number of trials grows bigger and bigger.
Thus, the theoretical return of casino games is equal to 100% – House Edge % whereas the actual return is (100% – House Edge %) / Return to Player > 1. People tend to use the terms RTP and theoretical return interchangeably but there is some difference between the two. The number of rounds required to reach the advertised return percentage depends on whether a game is compensated or completely random. Now, let’s examine the difference between the two.
Compensated vs. Random Game Control
Games that involve some kind of feedback compensation built into their software are known as “compensated” games. By contrast, games that implement and operate on completely random software are known as “fully random” ones. With that distinction in mind, you should also take note of two things.
1Pseudo-Random Number Generators (PRNG)
The word “random” typically refers to pseudo-randomness in the context of gaming machines and online casinos. Most online casino games rely on pseudo-random number generators (PRNG) to yield their outcomes. PRNGs use initial seed numbers and complex mathematical algorithms to produce results that appear random but are, in fact, deterministic in nature.
2True Random Number Generators (TRNG)
While the results are still impossible to predict with certainty, the number sequence inevitably starts to repeat itself at a given point. In contrast, true random number generators (TRNG) rely on truly unpredictable physical phenomena to create random numbers/outcomes rather than on mathematical calculations. Common examples include atmospheric noise and radioactive decay.
3PRNG vs TRNG
Both compensated and completely random games produce their results with the help of RNGs. However, the number of rounds required to reach the advertised return percentage differs between the two types. Compensated games usually reach their targeted return after tens or hundreds of thousands of rounds, while their completely random brethren require millions of cycles to arrive at their expected RTP percentages.
How Different Casino Games Rank in Terms of RTP
Let’s have a quick look at some examples to demonstrate how the RTP works in different casino games. For the sake of simplicity, we shall start with the wheel-based game of roulette where outcomes are fully based on chance and completely independent from each other.
A single-zero roulette game carries a house edge of 2.70%, which is to say the theoretical return to player equals 100% – 2.70% = 97.30%. After a sufficient number of trials, the probabilities even out so that players lose approximately 0.027 cents per every dollar wagered. Add an extra zero for 38 numbered pockets on the wheel, and the player return drops to 94.74%, with a twice as high house edge of 5.26%.
Similarly to roulette, craps is a chance-based game of independent trials. One major difference between the two is that here house edges and player return percentages vary across the board, depending on the type of bets one makes. A person who plays the pass line without odds faces a house edge of 1.41% and will win back approximately 98.59% of their total wagers over time. The contrast is enormous when you compare pass line wagers with Big Red (Any 7) bets, which carry a house edge of 16.70% and only return 83.30% of total wagers in the long turn.
Return percentages in video poker depend on payouts which is why comparing the games’ paytables at your preferred casinos is of utmost importance for your long-term profitability. Let’s assume casino A offers a 9/6 paytable for Jacks or Better video poker – this is to say flushes pay at odds of 6 to 1, whereas a full house yields a 9 to 1 payout.
In one such “full-pay” variation, the overall return to player is rather high at 99.54%. In the meantime, casino B offers 8/5 Jacks or Better where the payout reduction for a flush and a full house causes the RTP to drop 97.30%. A sensible Jacks or Better player would choose to enjoy their favorite game in Casino A rather than Casino B any day.
As far as slots go, return percentages vary wildly across the board, and usually range anywhere between 80% and 99%. House edges and return to player are influenced by a variety of factors, including paytables, combinations, and in-game features. The good news is most properly regulated casinos publish the percentages of their entire slot catalogs so that players can check and compare the games’ RTP. Another way to figure out the player return of your chosen slot is by opening the help section where such information is normally available.
The above-listed games (bar video poker) rely on pure chance and require no strategy. Most also have a high hit frequency, especially even-odds bets in roulette and pass line wagers in craps. One key thing to note here is that the lower the win frequency of a given game is, the more rounds are required for it to arrive at its target return percentage.
Key Independent Test Houses of Online Casino RTP
All reputable regulatory bodies (including the likes of the MGA and the UKGC) require their licensees to subject their gaming catalogs to regular audits. The practice aims to ensure all games converge to their expected theoretical return percentages. It also serves to instill confidence in the fairness of the games and show they indeed produce unbiased results.
It is typical for regulators like the UKGC (UK Gambling Commission) to demand such audits to be carried out by approved test houses. The testing agencies are always independent to prevent conflict of interest and ensure objectivity. They evaluate the output of the Random Number Generators implemented by the casinos within a specific period, let’s say a month.
One such test involves millions of rounds. In online roulette, for example, it serves to show the RNG consistently produces random results, with each number within the range of 0 to 36 having equal chances of hitting.
Below are some of the key test houses that audit online gambling games. If your chosen casino bears the stamp of approval of one of those agencies, you can rest assured you are playing fair games.
Highest Value Online Casinos Based on RTP
In a highly saturated market, gaming sites strive to beat the competition by offering higher return to player percentages than those of their rivals. This translates into lower house edges, better winning chances, and greater profits for players over the long haul. The only trouble is that finding those offering the highest value requires hours, if not days of research.
We have done the heavy lifting for you, presenting you with a shortlist of online casinos with high RTP percentages. All of them undergo regular audits by the above-mentioned test houses and publish the results on their websites, allowing players to compare RTPs and pick the games with the most value. Topping it all off, our recommendations provide excellent game selections, fast payouts, and top-notch promotions.