One of the very first thing a developer, casino or review site will tell you about any slot you come across is the return to player rate that the game offers. Seeing as this is one of the first bits of information you’re going to know about a slot you’re considering playing, it must be important, right? And seeing as the value of the RTP rate is a percentage, surely the higher the rate is, the better for the player?
Well, like all too many things associated with the online gambling industry, things with RTP rates aren’t as straight forward as you might hope. While you might be under the misconception that a higher RTP means higher payouts and therefore better news for players, there are plenty of reasons why players might opt for a game with a lower RTP rate.
What Is A Return To Player Rate?
In its most basic definition, RTP is a percentage that tells you how much of a player’s wagers would be returned to them over an infinite number of spins. Because casinos need to make cash to operate, the RTP is always under 100%, although they vary depending on the game from the mid 80s to the high 90s.
This is a theoretically calculation, and your individual experience of a slot over a finite number of spins will almost never match up perfectly with the RTP rate, however, it usually gives you a pretty good indication of how hard it’ll be to get decent wins out of a slot. So, given that it seems that higher RTPs mean more money for you, the player, why on earth would you want a lower one? Let’s explore some reasons.
One of the other factors aside from the RTP that affects in what ways and how much you win is the volatility of a slot. Volatility works on a spectrum, with low volatility promising more regular payouts of lower value, while high volatility means less regular payouts of higher value. Low volatility is favoured by beginners or those on a tighter budget, while higher volatility is favoured by risk takers.
It also just so happens that higher volatility slots also tend to have a lower return to player rate. This is because you’re more likely to lose on the average spin than with lower volatility. Why’s this a benefit? Well, when you do win, the rewards are going to be much greater, appealing to those players who are really out to make some money.
The other really big reason why players opt for lower RTP slots is that, by and large, the slots which allow players to win the biggest jackpots – i.e. progressive jackpots – tend to have a lower return to player rate. This isn’t just something developers do to make you lose out while playing progressives, though, there’s actually good reason for it.
The way progressive jackpots work is that a small percentage of every single wager that’s made on a certain slot is banked in a central kitty, which is the money that goes towards the progressive jackpot. Because that money is out of the normal circulation of the slot, its value is not going to go towards your normal wins.
So, effectively you’re definitely not going to see it again. All this lowers the RTP rate, but ensures that players have the opportunity to win some totally huge and outrageously impressive jackpots. Go for it!