does slot RTP matter?

Over the years, I've had many conversations about slot RTP ( Return to Player Percentage ) and whether it matters to the individual player who might head over to a slot and put a bit of money through it. I thought it would be interesting to write an article about it so I decided to research the UK online market and put down my findings and opinions.  

a quick intro

An average punter may not have much of an idea of what slot RTP is, but anybody who's a regular player, works within the industry, or streams online slots will know that it's the total percentage returned to the player over a period of time. The big debate over RTP tends to come around the fact that it has been calculated over millions of spins, so if a player deposits £50 and puts it through any online game, does it make much difference if, for example, the RTP was set at 96% or 94%?

RTP refresher

Here is a quick recap or a brief overview for those a little rusty or new to the term RTP. The slot Return to Player Percentage (RTP) is the percentage that a slot machine pays back to punters over a long period of playing time. The theory is the higher the RTP, the more you'll receive back. For instance, a slot with a 96.50% RTP will, on average, return £96.50 for every £100 wagered over a sustained length of time. This metric helps players understand the expected payouts from a slot game.

so does it matter?

This is where opinions can be divided, but I'm a firm believer that even if you're only playing a small deposit or number of spins through a game, a lower RTP does make a difference. Why do I think this? Through my past experiences of working in land-based establishments managing and operating AWPs as well as being a long-time player of them, you can see the difference in how they play and certainly how much money they take if they are on a lower percentage payout. Yes, they're not an online slot, but they work on the same principle, money goes in, money comes out, and the RTP is generated over the lifetime spins and payout of that machine.

What did i decide to look at for a comparison?

We've reviewed hundreds of demo slots and games since our site was formed, so I decided to take eight of the most well-known slots and check out each of their RTPs across five UK-facing casinos, which are MrQ,, Parimatch UK, MRVEGAS, and PlayOJO. Take a look at the findings below.

Casino Book of Dead Big Bass Bonanza Wanted Dead or a Wild Fishin Pots of Gold Starburst Fire in the Hole Money Train 3 Reactoonz 96.21% 96.71% 96.38% 96.00% 96.09% 96.06% 96.10% 96.51% 96.21% 95.67% 94.55% 94.06% 96.09% 96.06% 96.10% 96.51%
Parimatch UK 94.25% 95.67% 94.55% 94.06% 94.05% 96.06% 96.10% 94.51%
MrVegas 94.25% 94.50% 94.55% 94.06% 94.05% 94.11% 94.00% 94.51%
PlayOJO 91.25% 95.67% 92.33% 92.15% 92.05% 94.11% 94.00% 91.49%

the results

As you can see from the results, there is quite a significant difference between the highest RTPs and the lowest, with the biggest gap coming on Play'n Go's Reactoonz, which is 5.02%. If you take the average RTPs from these popular slots at each casino, you get the following results.

  • MrQ: 96.26%
  • 95.66%
  • Parimatch UK: 94.91%
  • MRVEGAS: 94.25%
  • PlayOJO: 92.88%

It's important to note that players may have accounts at many different online casinos, but as the choice is becoming more limited, there is a chance that a punter will find a brand they like and then stick with it as their primary place to spin the slots. The above research is just a small sample size of UK-facing brands, but I hold an account of each of these casinos, and any other gambler that was presented with the above stats, even on a small scale, would quickly decide where to play at or choose to stick with going forward.

what else did i find?

Being in the business of reviewing slots, you soon get to find out where each provider has the RTP listed for you to check, with some being a little easier to locate than others. However, a very pleasant surprise in the UK market is MrQ, which has opted to be completely transparent with its RTPs, and they are displayed on each slot as the game is loading up. As it stands, I'm not aware of any other UK operator that does this. I do believe some slots, as standard, show the RTP as the load screen is displayed, but these are few and far between.

This stood out for me as being a good thing as I know from our review site that more developers are now offering variable RTPs across their slots, so unless a player decides to try and find this information off their own back, they'd have no idea if they were playing a game such as Reactoonz that can potentially have a 5% lower RTP.

Each slot on MrQ displays the RTP as the game is loadingEach slot on MrQ displays the RTP as the game is loading

will other casinos follow MrQ?

I think that in due course, all online slots will be made to display their RTP, either as MrQ has chosen to do so or positioned somewhere on the screen as you're playing the game. Land-based AWPs / B3s have long been made to display a percentage payout, whether that be a mechanical slot or one of the newer video versions, although in all my time working and dealing with compliance officers, not one of them ever checked they were in place or if indeed the displayed amount matched the percentage key in the machine.

Currently, this aspect of online slots may have been overlooked by the regulator, but like a never-ending itch that needs to be scratched by the UK authorities, I wouldn't imagine it was too long before they take a closer look at this, as after all, players should be aware of a percentage payout without having to wade through pages of instructions to find it.

Kudos to MrQ for being ahead of the curve though, and for opting to use the higher RTPs made available to them too. It does make you wonder if the regulator did enforce casinos to openly display the RTP of each game if they would then choose to increase their RTPs to match those of their competitors, as it would be far easier for a player to compare the values across brands than it is now, or in perhaps a lot of instances question what RTP is to begin with, and openly research it.

final overview

The RTP debate will no doubt continue over the months and years, but surely, it will only be a matter of time in the UK before this information pops up somewhere on a player's screen when they are loading their favourite slots, informing them clearly of what the RTP is. For now, however, punters will have to locate that information themselves or possibly continue playing blissfully unaware they are spinning the reels on slots with an extra 5% or more of the RTP finding its way into the virtual cash boxes rather than back in their pockets.

Author Bio

Interview by Nigel Hall

23 years Gambling Industry Experience

About Nigel Hall >