What does Return To Player Mean?

Why do casinos publish the RTP percentages
Why do casinos publish the RTP percentages

Return To Player Mean

Return to Player (RTP) is the term casinos use to describe the percentage of all the wagered money a pokies machine will pay back to players over time. For example, if you make a hundred $1 bets on a machine on which the RTP is 90%, you might expect to get back about $90 in wins. Both house advantage and RTP are generally calculated over the long term. But in the short term it is unpredictable and therefore you should only bet with money you’re prepared to lose.

You may have already noticed that RTP is really just the flip side of house advantage. If a machine has a 20% house advantage, then the average RTP will be 80%, meaning that over time the machine will keep about 20% of all money bet and will return the other 80% to players in wins. You can find RTP of pokies machine at its help section.

Casinos in Australia offer RTP between 93 to 98%

Casinos in Australian offer RTP between 93 to 98%
Casinos in Australian offer RTP between 93 to 98%

Australian online casinos tend to have an average Return to Player Percentage value of somewhere between 93.00% and 98.00%, although sometimes this has been known to be even higher. In some cases, the RTP % has exceeded 100.00%.

There are several independent online casino testing agencies such as Technical Systems Testing (TST) and eCOGRA. These companies monitor the games on a daily basis and they check for fairness. They also calculate how much individual games pay out based on a certain number of spins or on a certain number of hands.

If a casino has an average 98.00% RTP, it means that out of ALL wagers spent within the casino (usually over a four week period), 98.00% of those wagers will find their way back to the players as winnings and the remaining 2.00% will be kept by the casino operators as profit. As a player you should try and look for online casinos whose RTP % is lower than 93.00%.

RTP Changes regularly

RTP Changes regularly
RTP Changes regularly

As well as the casino in general having an average RTP % calculated on a regular basis, the RTP % for individual games and individual game categories is also calculated. For example, one online pokies machine may have an average 98.50% theoretical RTP. Therefore if AU$1,000,000.00 is wagered on that pokies, a total of AU$985,000.00 will be returned to players as winnings and the casino will then keep AU$150,000.00 as profit.

When looking for this information, you can usually find it somewhere on the homepage of the online casino. If the casino is eCOGRA approved for example, all you would need to do is click on the eCOGRA logo and then you will be redirected to page which contains the very latest payout report information usually for the previous month.

Why do casinos publish the RTP percentages?

The online casinos often publish the RTP percentages for their pokies and table games. They do so to convince players of the fairness of their software. And to provide a means of comparison with their competitors. Games with low RTP figures are said to be “tight,”; while those with high values are referred to as “loose.” For pokies games; the range separating the two categories can be as great as 75 to 99 per cent. Fortunately, most jurisdictions regulate the minimum paybacks that games must return; so players are protected from casino operators who might otherwise take unfair advantage.

It is important to remember that the declared RTP; no matter how fair or accurate; is an average of many plays over time. The percentages may vary only a little from month to month; but during a single short session of play, the actual RTP can be quite different from the published statistics.

As an example, a game of Blackjack played solo against the House. The House Edge might be 1%, but the player doesn’t expect to win back $99 on every $100 bet. For a single $100 wager; the RTP will most likely be either zero (for a loss) or 200% (for a win). If splits, doubles, insurance, pushes and surrender are taken into account, even more possibilities arise, none of which is 99%. It is only over the course of hundreds or thousands of hands that the theoretical payout of 99% will be reached.

What is the frequency factor in RTP?

What is the frequency factor in RTP
What is the frequency factor in RTP

RTP does not give any indication of how frequently the player can expect to win. As an example European Roulette offers an RTP of 97.3%. That percentage is true for every bet made at the table. But a player wagering only on the colors, Red or Black, will see payouts much more frequently than the player who bets on just one number straight up. In fact, it may take dozens of spins before the single number player sees any return at all.

This frequency factor applies to pokies games as well. A 95% RTP game that has a low frequency of payouts may only have a winning combination show up once in every ten spins while a high frequency 95% RTP game may have winning combinations appear every three or four spins on average. The difference is that games with a high win frequency make numerous small payouts, while those with a lower win frequency pay out larger amounts only on occasion. Thus frequency has no effect on the game’s RTP.


When playing at the casinos not only RTP should be considered when evaluating what games to play, but other factors, such as a high volatile game and variance like the bank roll strategy should also be taken into consideration. This will give you an idea about the casino payout before you play the games.

You can visit Victorian Responsible Gaming Foundation for more information.

About the author

Kamal Kaur