What on earth are RTP stats? Real Tough Procedures? Rapid Terrifying Pandas? Ridiculous Time-consuming Protocols? As with any niche industry, acronyms abound, and the world of online casinos is no different. We also have acronyms like AI (All-In), or BR (Bank Roll) to round things out. But RTP? That means Return to Player.

What does Return to Player (RTP) mean?

When we see RTP, it is always accompanied by a number beside it, a percentage. For instance, for a slots machine, they may advertise RTP 96%. What this means is that as your spins head off towards infinity, that you will receive 96c for every dollar that you play.

Of course, we don’t play slots for infinity spins, because that’s impossible, so we see variability when we play for a short amount of time. Sometimes we’ll get $1.40 for every $1 down, sometimes it’ll only be 60c.

It’s a statistics and probability thing.

The same thing happens when we flip a coin. We know that there is a 50/50 chance it’ll be heads. However, we might flip the coin five times in a row and get tails each time. This doesn’t mean that our odds are wrong, just that we got a streak of tails. It happens. So don’t go smashing your screen just yet if you’re on a losing streak.

Are RTPs always the same?

Definitely not.

Regulations mean that online slots are only allowed to have a minimum RTP percentage – which varies from region to region. They may use this minimum, let’s say 96%, or if they are feeling generous, bump it up to 98%.

An example from real-life slot machines is the difference in RTPs in casinos and other venues like pubs and clubs, in Australian states like Queensland and New South Wales in Australia. While there is a minimum RTP for casinos, it is actually lower at other venues – i.e. it’s a revenue maker for their business. In Queensland, the RTP minimum is 85% in pubs and clubs, but at the casino, 90%. This means that you’re likely better off playing in a casino than in a pub with these land-based slots machines. Do remember they have the option to set them higher than the minimum, too.

Why do casinos print RTP stats?

The short answer is that they’re required to. Yep, online casinos, if they are properly registered and regulated are required to provide the RTP for each slot game they have on their site.

Because there are laws surrounding a minimum RTP, the online casino that you’re laying your chips down with needs to print that RTP for you, yes, it’ll probably be in very fine print there somewhere, but you will see it.

Do online casinos always use the minimum RTP by law?

No way! Oftentimes, online casinos bump up the RTP to 98% or even 99% for new games. Overall the house always wins anyway, but you’re more likely to lose less than you would for older games.

Casinos can also adjust RTPs on the fly, so perhaps they adjust that RTP for the game you’ve been playing back to the minimum after you’ve been at it for 100 spins, or an hour or two. If the game seems like you’re getting less than you used to, it might be because you are.

How can you use RTP stats to your advantage?

The obvious thing to do is to always check the RTP of the game that you would like to play. The closer to 100 that figure is, the better off you are. Games in the 80-something return rate? Forget it! Play those ones for free if you really like them or are a big fan of losing that cash money, honey.

How you play matters as much as where you play. Some casinos only use bare minimum RTPs across all their games all the time. So be wary of that one, too.

The other thing that you can do is seek out the newest games at online casinos. As mentioned, these often have a time-limited higher RTP rate than when they get relegated to the regular ranks of the other slots.

What if RTP stats aren’t published?

If the casino you’re playing at isn’t publishing their RTP stats, then it’s probably best that you don’t play on at the site. You need to be able to trust that a casino is playing fairly, and adhering to the proper rules and regulations of the region that they are registered in. For instance, PlayAmo is the only registered online casino under the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

It’s sort of like going to the shop and just grabbing a block of chocolate without checking the price first. It might be cheap and cheerful, or you might have accidentally bought the most expensive thing on the shelf without realizing it. Always check first.