Understanding Payout Percentages of Slots

If you’re one of the millions of people who love playing slots for real money, it’s an absolute must that you fully understand the payout percentages of slot machines. In this guide we'll take a deep dive into everything you need to know, including offline and online casino payout percentage, return to player (RTP) percentage, house edge, where to find the loosest slots, plus tons more.

What are Payout Percentages?

To put it simply, the payout percentage is the average amount of money that will be returned to a player in the form of winnings, compared to the amount that the player wagered. The key word to remember is average. The payout percentage can’t guarantee how much you’ll win in one session, or even in 100, but the more spins you make, the better the chances are that your results will be closer to the machine’s payout percentage.

Let's look at an example:

  • Your favorite online slot has a payout percentage of 90 per cent.
  • You bet $100.
  • On average, the machine will return $90 in winnings to the player.

It’s easy to see that a higher payout percentage favors the player and that’s why it’s really important for you to do the research and focus on the slots with the highest payout percentages.

Casinos make a profit by building an advantage right into the rules of the game. That’s reflected in the payout percentage and it applies to all casino games, not just slot machines. But, like we said before, that’s just an average. In a single session there’s always the potential for a big jackpot or, on the other hand, a cold streak of rotten luck. That’s one of the reasons people love slots. They give you the opportunity to blow the payout percentage out of the water with one big win.


Play Slots with Record Payout Percentages

As a smart gambler, it’s up to you to search for the machines that offer the best odds. It’s fine to play for entertainment, and that’s usually a priority for slots players, but it’s also way more fun when you have the best chance of winning and you know you’re getting the best value for your money.

In the next section we’ll explain how to find the best games and how to give yourself the best chance of hitting a big score. Or, if you’re itching to get in on the action right away, browse our comprehensive online slots reviews for a shortcut to the very best games the internet has to offer.

Reviews

Payout Percentages of Slot Machines

Online and offline games operate on the same basic principles as far as how slot machines pay out. Remember, it’s equally important to know the numbers whether you’re playing on the internet or in a brick and mortar casino.

Online Slots

Payout Percentages of Slot Machines

If you’re looking for online casinos that actually pay out, taking a closer look at the payout percentages is a great place to start. You’re probably wondering where you can look to find the stats. With online casinos it’s usually pretty straightforward.

The payout percentage (sometimes called RTP which we’ll explain later in this article) is sometimes posted on the rules or information page for the game itself, or as a list on either the online casino or the game developer’s website. If you’re having trouble finding where the slots payout percentage is posted, try a quick Google search of the game’s name and either “payout percentage” or “return to player”. If that doesn’t work, a good last resort is to contact the casino directly using their live chat or customer support tools.

Generally speaking, online casinos offer better payout percentages compared to brick and mortar casinos. That’s because they have lower overhead and an unlimited number of people can play the same game at the same time. It’s common to see slots with payout percentages in the high 90s which is a lot harder to find in real life.

Offline Slots

When it comes to payout percentages, it’s all about how slot machines are programmed. To make matters worse, casinos and game developers don’t publish the numbers for specific machines. However, there are ways players can figure out which machines have more favorable payouts.

Luckily, other people have already done most of the hard work for you. There are tons of great forums and resources for gamblers online and the best place to start is with a quick Google search to find the numbers for the game you’re looking for.

The geographic location can also tell you something about the payouts. Casinos have to meet a minimum payout percentage which is set by the gaming authorities in that region. In the US it varies by state but is usually 80 per cent or higher. It’s also true that the payouts vary even within the same game depending on how much you’re betting. Usually the more you bet, the more favourable the payout percentage is.


Return to Player (RTP) Explained

Another name for the payout percentage is RTP. That stands for “Return to Player” and just like the name implies, it’s the average amount that will be returned to the player in the form of winnings compared to how much the player wagered. It’s represented as a percentage with 100 per cent being an even-money game with no casino advantage.

Let's look at an example:

  • Your favorite slot machine has an RTP of 95 per cent.
  • Over the course of one year you play your favourite slot machine every weekend and wager a total of $1,000.
  • On average, that machine should return $950 to you in the form of winnings.

The most important thing to remember is that the RTP is a statistical average. The larger the sample size of spins on a certain slot machine, the closer the actual results will be to the RTP. The flip side of that is if you walk in to a casino, put in $1 and take one spin, the RTP isn’t going to be very helpful predicting the result.

Even though the RTP can’t guarantee results, choosing machines with a higher RTP is always a smart move. The more you plan to play, the more important it is to find a game with a great RTP.


The House Edge Explained

When you hear gamblers talking about “the house edge”, they’re actually referring to the same thing as the RTP and payout percentage. The house edge is the casino’s statistical advantage that’s built right into the rules of the game.

The house has an edge on almost every bet in the casino but the size of that edge varies dramatically depending on the game, or even between different bets within the same game. The house edge is represented as the average percentage of your bet that the casino will keep. A game with a payout percentage of 95 per cent, for example, has a house edge of 5 per cent.

Casino Game House Edge
Craps (Odds bet) 0%
Baccarat (Betting on banker) 1.06%
Craps (Betting on pass line) 1.41%
Blackjack (Single deck) 1.5%
Pai Gow Poker 1.3%
Roulette (Single zero) 2.7%

Loosest Slot Machines

What is a loose slot machine?

What is a loose slot machine?

When people call slot machines “loose” and “tight” they’re referring to the payout percentage. A looser machine pays out more often and at a higher percentage while a tighter machine has a lower RTP and pays out less frequently.

The looser the slots, the better it is for the player. That’s why you’ll often see casino billboards advertising “The Loosest Slots in Town!”

In addition to the RTP, another important stat to look for is called the “hit frequency”. This number is also a percentage and refers to how likely each spin is to result in a winning outcome for the player. It doesn’t say anything about how much the player wins, just how often the player will win money on a spin compared to losing. A game with a 20 per cent hit frequency will result in a winning combination one in five times on average.

Where can I find the loosest slots?

If you’re looking for the very loosest slots around, the best answer is the internet. Online casinos are able to offer the highest RTP because they have much lower overhead than brick and mortar casinos. When it comes to offline slots, gamblers have developed a few theories about how to find the loosest games.

Some players believe the loosest slots are always positioned in the most visible areas of the casino since the house wants new customers to see people winning and be inspired to get in on the action. Machines close to cash redemption machines are also thought to be loose since the casino wants players cashing out to see people winning and be lured back to the games. The same theory says to avoid slots near lines like the buffet and shows. The casino knows people here are just killing time while they wait and won’t be playing for very long.


Slots Payout Percentages by State

As we mentioned earlier, casinos and game developers aren’t forced to release the payout percentages for specific games but they still publish some valuable information on slots. First of all, most states set a minimum and maximum payout percentage that casinos must follow. Second, they release average payout percentages that include all of the casino’s gambling machines. By using these numbers we can get a general idea which states have the loosest slots and the highest RTP.

Nevada
Nevada
It shouldn’t surprise you that Nevada has the highest average RTP percentage with the Boulder Strip being the absolute highest at 95.8 per cent. The Las Vegas Strip is significantly lower at 93.6 per cent but if you head to downtown Vegas that number jumps back up to 95.6 per cent.
Florida
Florida
The State of Florida requires casinos to provide a minimum 85 per cent payout percentage and the casinos also must publish averages that include all of their gambling machines. Depending on the area, averages range from 90.91 per cent all the way up to 93.55 per cent.
Illinois
Illinois
Casinos in Illinois average between 89.18 and 92.45 per cent, depending on the area.
Indiana
Indiana
Average payout percentages are reported by casinos in Indiana and they range from 89.83 to 91.61 depending on the property.
Iowa
Iowa
In Iowa the slots are even tighter with payout percentages starting at 89 per cent and going up to 92 per cent, depending on the casino.
Atlantic City
Atlantic City
Compared to Nevada, New Jersey has pretty tight slots. They range from 90.5 to 91.7 per cent depending on the casino.
Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Casinos in Oklahoma aren’t required to release any information at all about their payout percentages and the state does not have a minimum RTP that casinos must follow. For these reasons it’s assumed that Oklahoma is among the tighter regions for slots.
California
California
Just like Oklahoma, California doesn’t have a minimum RTP and also doesn’t require casinos to publish any information about payout percentages. Some estimates put the average payout percentage in California as low as 85 per cent.

Explore the Thrills of Progressive Jackpots

Another reason so many people love slots is the chance of winning a truly life-changing jackpot. Everyone knows it’s a longshot but players love dreaming of what they’d do with millions of dollars if they get lucky and hit it big. In terms of RTP and payout percentage, however, there’s always a trade-off with games that offer big jackpots.

Progressive jackpots work by taking a small piece of every bet and adding it to a prize pool that continues growing until someone wins it. It’s not unusual for these jackpots to get into the millions of dollars. The biggest ever? A $39 million score at the Excalibur in Las Vegas.

Slot Machine Progressive Jackpots

If you’re interested in the very biggest prizes online, check out our progressive jackpot page for a comprehensive list.

It’s true that the odds of winning a huge jackpot are slim, maybe even similar to winning a live lottery, but there’s a big difference between the lottery and slot machines: With slots you can have lots of smaller wins in addition to a chance at the jackpot. With a payout percentage of 95 per cent you’re only sacrificing an average of five cents out of every dollar you bet, and in the short term you can expect to win about as often as you lose. The truth is, people play the lottery their entire lives and never win a cent which makes slots a much smarter bet.

Further Reading

If you’re still hungry for more in-depth slots payout percentage resources, check out these two advanced studies:

Back to top