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Slots returns or payback - a brief introduction

Yield, return to player (RTP), payback, returns...all different terms or essentially the same thing - how much of the cash that is being put into a slot game does that slot game pay back to the player as winnings. 

There is very little skill involved in a game of slots.  It is essentially a game of chance, where you choose your game (machine), select the amount you want to bet per spin, the number of lines you wish to play, and you hit the spin button.  You really can not impact the games payback significantly through skilled play (although there are a couple of tips you should be aware of...see our slots playing strategy page for details). 

In fact, the return to player rate, for a given slot game is programmed to a predetermined rate, that is usually expressed as a percentage.  A return to player rate of 86% means that for every $100 you put in the machine, you will be paid back $86.  Some players will win, some will loose, but in the long run the machine's return will tend to its preset rate.

Terrestrial casinos or slot machine venues usually have prescribed minimum return to player rates set by gaming regulators in that particular jurisdiction.  Online casinos, being largely self regulated do not have any minimum returns imposed on them.  This then begs the question, are returns at slot games online as good as those offered by traditional slots games?

Below are summary findings of a more detailed analysis that follows, to answer this question.

Findings Summary...

Type of slot

Return Range 

Return Average

Traditional - US

90.12% - 96.05%

93.12%

Traditional - Australia

85.47% - 90.66%

89.62%

Online

93.71% - 97.57%

95.71%

The outcome of our analysis revealed that online slot games returned substantially more to players than traditional slot games.  The average return for online slots was nearly 6% higher than traditional Australian slots, and 2.5% higher than traditional US slots.

Considering that traditional slot venues have significantly higher overheads to fund, this result is not really surprising.


 

Detailed analysis

Traditional slot returns...reported statistics

Below are a range of reported return to player statistics provided by a number of gaming regulators from different jurisdictions around the world.  The list is reasonably comprehensive, but obviously only includes jurisdictions where rtp rates are reported and published for public consumption.  (eg slots on international water cruises where there is no governing authority do not have to publish rtp rates)

 

a. US

Where actual rates are reported:

A number of jurisdictions are required to make publicly available their actual historical slots payback rates.  These are set out below:

Unless otherwise stated, stats are for period 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000.

Jurisdiction

Relevant Governing Authority

 Reported RTP - all slots

Colorado: 

Colorado Division of Gaming

    Blackhawk

Colorado Division of Gaming

94.55%*

   Central City

Colorado Division of Gaming

94.01%*

   Cripple Creek

Colorado Division of Gaming

94.54%*

Connecticut:

   Foxwood's

Division of Special Revenue

91.87%

   Mohegan Sun

Division of Special Revenue

91.97%

Delaware:

   Delaware Park

Delaware State Lottery

92.50%

   Dover Park

Delaware State Lottery

91.50%

   Midway Slots

Delaware State Lottery

90.12%

Louisiana: 

   Baton Rouge

Louisiana State Police

93.90%

   Lake Charles

Louisiana State Police

92.88%

   New Orleans

Louisiana State Police

93.14%

   Shreveport

Louisiana State Police

93.72%

Nevada:

   Lake Tahoe

Nevada Gaming Control Board

95.01%

   Las Vegas:

Nevada Gaming Control Board

        Strip

Nevada Gaming Control Board

93.98%

        Downtown

Nevada Gaming Control Board

94.69%

        Boulder Strip

Nevada Gaming Control Board

95.58%

        North L.V.

Nevada Gaming Control Board

96.05%

   Laughlin

Nevada Gaming Control Board

94.29%

   Reno

Nevada Gaming Control Board

95.04%

New Jersey

NJ Casino Control Commission

91.60%*

West Virginia:

   Tri-State Park

91.95%

   Mountaineer Park

91.66%

   Wheeling Downs

91.45%

   Charles Town

91.53%

SIMPLE AVERAGE:

93.23%*

* This rate includes all machine games, ie slots, video poker and video keno.  Video Poker RTP rates are generally significantly higher than slots, so the slots RTP would likely be less than the figure reported.

Where actual rates are not reported:

Regulations governing gaming in certain jurisdictions set RTP limits that must be adhered to but, do not required that actual rates be made publicly available by operators.  We will only look at actual historical rates so cannot include these jurisdictions in the analysis, but as a matter of interest, regulatory minimum RTP rates are set out below.  Operators are free to set their slots returns anywhere above the minimum.

Jurisdiction

Relevant Governing Authority

Minimum slots RTP rate

Arizona

Arizona Department of Gaming

80%

Michigan

Michigan Racing Commission

75%

Minnesota

Minnesota Dept of Gaming

80%

Montano

Montana Gambling Control Divn.

80%

New Mexico

New Mexico Dept of Gaming

80%

North Dakota

North Dakota Dept of Gaming

80%

Wisconsin

Wisconsin Dept of Gaming

80%

 

b. Australia

While a much smaller market than the America, in per capita terms, Australia has 5 times as many slot machines as the United States.

The following data is extracted from the Tasmanian Gaming Commission's 'Australian Gambling Statistics 1973-74 to 1998-99'.  This report provides comprehensive gambling statistics compiled from data obtained from relevant state gaming authorities, as follows:

  • New South Wales : Department of Gaming and Racing

  • Victoria : Victorian Casino and Gaming Authority

  • Queensland : Queensland Office of Gaming Regulation

  • South Australia : South Australian Office of the Liquor and Gaming Commissioner

  • Western Australia : Western Australian Office of Racing, Gaming and Liquor

  • Tasmania : Tasmanian Gaming Commission

  • Australian Capital Territory : The ACT Department of Treasury and Infrastructure

  • Northern Territory : Northern Territory Racing and Gaming Authority

The following stats apply to Slot Machines in the year ended 30 June 1999:

State/Territory

Turnover ($ Aus)

Expenditure ($ Aus)

RTP rate

NSW

34,522,289,000

3,487,487,000

89.90%

Victoria

20,543,570,000

1,954,192,000

90.49%

Queensland

5,214,254,000

757,411,000

85.47%

South Australia

3,723,706,000

442,466,000

88.12%

Western Australia

-

-

 

Tasmania

352,084,000

39,291,000

88.84%

ACT

1,419,859,000

147,193,000

89.63%

Northern Territory

260,242,000

24,297,000

90.66%

Australia wide

66,036,004,000

6,852,337,000

89.62%

 

The stats...online slot returns

Set out below are audited return to player rates applying to slots games only, for a number of different online casinos.  The casinos listed run on different software, are all recognised leaders in the online gambling industry (in terms of size, reputation and longevity) and collectively offer most of the slot games reviewed here at Slots Jackpots.  

The RTP rates presented have been reviewed and verified by a well known 'big 4' audit firm.

Unless otherwise stated, rate applies to the period 1 April - 30 April 2003

Casino

Software 

Slots RTP rate 

7 Sultans Casino

Microgaming

96.12%

Blackjack Ballroom

Microgaming

97.57%

Golden Tiger Casino

Microgaming

94.47%

The Riverbelle

Microgaming

95.46%

The Sands

Wagerlogic

94.52%

Casino Tropez

Playtech

97.28%

SIMPLE AVERAGE

 

95.71%

 
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