Comprehensive Guide to Payout Percentages

08th August6 min read

If you are a casual player, it’s likely that you choose which slot games to play based on the pretty graphics, fun themes or exciting mini-games. Some slot games come packed with extra features, like the “Hold” or “Sticky Spin”, where you control which reels to spin. Others offer Wild Symbols and Scatters. These highlights definitely help you enjoy the game, but nothing is better than winning big. If you’d like to take control of your own luck, you may be interested to learn how online slots actually work. The easiest way to start would be to check out the payout percentages.

What are Payout Percentages?

Payout percentage is the amount that is given back to the player by the mobile casino. It’s also known as Return to Player or RTP. The UK Gambling Commission states that the minimum payout percentage is 80%, but most mobile casinos offer about 95%. The casino then keeps the rest as their house advantage or house edge.

With the house edge, mobile casinos can offer deposit bonuses and other fun promotions to attract customers. It’s how they earn money in a completely legit and legal way.

Fun fact! Online slots or mobile slots games have higher payout percentages than real slot machines. However, other games like blackjack offer even higher payout percentages (up to 99%). On the days you feel more professional, why don’t you try playing a more difficult casino game? Keep slots for the lazy days when all you can do is press the Spin button.

Why Does it Matter?

The higher the payout percentage, the better! Say, the slots game has a payout percentage of 95%. If you wagered  £100, you’ll get about £95 back. You shouldn’t always expect this though; the number is usually using thousands of historical data and over a certain time period. So, casinos may publish an average payout percentage over 100,000 gameplays.

As an individual player, it's highly likely that your results will vary widely from this long-term expected average. You could hit the jackpot and earn way more than expected; likewise you could lose everything in a single spin. According to the law of statistics and normal distributions, you can get closer to the average with more samples. In short, to reduce the variance of actual payback,  play more rounds of a game.

This table shows what a difference Payout Percentages can make. Each guy starts wagering at £100. At the end of 20 spins, the guy who plays with the slot machine of 90% has about £38 leftover. Whereas the guy with the 80% only has 1 quid! The house or the mobile casino has taken such a large profit out of his wagers. It’s a rough calculation and does not take into account luck or probabilities. However, the moral of the story is clear– Go for higher payout percentages.

Take note though, the wagered money is not the same as deposited money. If most of your wager were from free bonuses, you’re not really getting the full payout promised. For example, I start by depositing £200 at a mobile casino and receive lots more in bonuses. I wagered £1000 on a slot game with a payout of 95%. Using the payout percentage, the casino will payout £950 and keep £50. In real money terms, the casino keeps £50 from my deposit of £200. A little complicated, but this drills in the same lesson– Go for games with higher payout percentages. Play more rounds of a game. 

How are Payout Percentages Calculated?

If you want to get into the Maths of it, you can. Academic papers have been written and real slots machines tested. Some enthusiasts have also checked whether online slots correctly simulate the real slot machines. Over at The Wizard of Odds, this guy has built and deconstructed slot games; revealing the probabilities of hitting each combination. If you’re interested to look at the actual tables, head on over.

To begin with, we need to understand how slots machines work. This picture shows what a real slot machine would look like. This slot machine has 3 reels, which look like wheels. On each reel strip, there are 30 stops, or symbols that could appear in the payline area (marked by black lines along the side of each reel). In this game, there are 10 symbols in use, such as the Jackpot, cherries, coins, money sign and so on.

The Game Maker would set for each symbol to appear a certain amount of times on each reel. For example, there would only be 1 desirable Jackpot symbol on the whole reel strip, and 5 cherries. The chance for the Jackpot to appear on that reel would than be 1/30, since there are 30 stops.

From here, you can calculate the chances of 3 Jackpots appearing in a row. Since the probability is low, the returns would be much higher. You can then calculate the probability for each combination in the paytable, and add them up for the Total Payout Percentage. Ta Da!

Of course, the Maths becomes complicated with the Scatter Symbol, the Wild Symbol, other features or mini-games.

Reviewing Payout %s and Testing Games

Don’t worry though! If you’re playing at a safe and certified casino, their games are tested monthly to make sure the casinos are playing fair. On a technical level, this means that a slot machine must consistently generate random combinations and must not be biased to produce a certain combination. Some testing boards also ask that the casino to publish these payout percentages. There are other independent testing boards that run these tests, including Gaming Laboratories International (USA) and Itech Labs (Australia). These independent verifications are necessary, so that they can get their gaming licenses. It’s a win-win situation for the player and the casino.

Do you know that even test houses must be recognized by the UK’s Gambling Commission? There’s a list of approved test houses here, with all the requirements such as accreditation and experience. It’s great to be gambling in the UK, isn’t it?

Payout % Myths- Busted!

  1. There are myths that some casinos can alter their payout percentages, or lie about them. Well, if they are, they are not certified, and will not be recommended on Droid Slots. Check out our list of responsible and safe casinos to play.
  2. Playing faster does NOT affect the payout percentage. You can’t outsmart the random number generator or play faster than it can generate. It may seem that faster players win more, but it’s really because they’ve increased their chances by played more games.
  3. At times, the game goes on forever without offering winning combinations. And sometimes there are two big wins in a row. This is all normal, statistically legit, and has nothing to do with the payout percentages. It’s all about luck, guys!

Where to Find the Payout Percentage?

According to the UK Gambling Commission, real gaming machines must make information about their payout percentage available. In online casinos, these numbers aren’t so clearly displayed. What can a player do? You can either ask the casino yourself or play at a certified casino with great, trusted numbers. When I asked their customer support about their slots’ payout percentages, most were glad to share these numbers. It's really convenient to contact them too, with live chats, phone calls and emails.

The software provider, Microgaming has a policy to not disclose their games’ payout percentages. Some casinos do not disclose numbers for individual games, rather they provide an average number for all their slots gamesavailable. Likewise, they’d publish an average payout percentage for table games, and another number for poker games.

Time for the Numbers!

The guy at Thrills Casino was lovely, and here’s what I found out. Starburst slot has 96.1% payout percentage, whereas Reel Rush is 97.0%. South Park and Fruit Shop both have a payout of 96.7%. Over at Hopa Mobile, they offered me a 1 in 3 statistic instead. This means that on average, most players win 1 out of 3 times. Of course, the more you bet, the higher the return!

Virgin Games Casino has an average number for their whole casino, at 95%. Major Tom say that their games are rated slightly higher, at about 97%. Now rest assured, all these are great numbers and are much higher than the required minimum of 80%.

Few casinos boast fair gaming practices and publish a Monthly Game Payout Certification. William Hill’s online slot games have a payout percentage of 95.17% whereas the whole casino scores a respectable 96.32%.

Few more numbers by game:

And there you have it! We've demystified payout percentages. However, most numbers require a good amount of effort to get hold of. For most players, these numbers are insignificant. Instead, you may want to choose a game based on the best features or a casino with the best games and bonuses.

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