Are Online Slots Fair?
If you are looking for assurance about how fair and honest online slot games are, it helps to know how they are designed.
RTPs and RNGs
If you know anything at all about slots, you’ll have heard of these two abbreviations. But what do they mean?
RTP stated as a percentage, stands for Return to Player and represents the odds of you, as the punter, winning. For example, when you play a slot that displays a 95% RTP this simply means that for every £100 you play the slot should pay out £95 over time. The casino edge is 5%.
In theory, a higher RTP indicates less chance of losing significantly over time.
Can’t guarantee the percentages. However, a long-term expected figure and the actual payout percentage for an individual in one session could differ greatly.
As a general rule, you should avoid slots with less than 90% RTP. You will find land-based slots offering 70% or 80%. With online, it is higher and can go up to 98% or 99%.
Be aware that particular games with marginally lower RTP may offer more opportunities for bigger one-off payouts. It is known as ‘variance’ and high variance games payout more, but less often, and low variance games payout smaller sums, more regularly.
You will often find the RTP published on the screen by the game.
RNG stands for Random Number Generator, the computer algorithm that drives online slots by producing a random number with every ‘spin’ that translates into the paylines that you see on the reels.
What this means is that you have the same opportunity to win as anyone else. It’s a level playing field, so superstition has no place here.
The full cycle of games played out in any one slot could be hundreds of thousands of spins long, but they will pay out the full percentage of that slot over that cycle. And that is how it works.
Individual payout percentage
As previously mentioned you cannot necessarily expect to get back the percentage payout stated in your individual game. But, it is a good idea to know how to work out what you have achieved so that you can keep track of profit or loss on your own game.
Here’s how you do it. You must take note of every paid for spin and how much you won in an individual session, then divide your winnings by your stakes, and you will have your individual percentage payout. Here’s an example:
Stakes = 175
Winnings = 150
Divide your winnings by your stakes, and you get 0.85714286
Round the figure up to two decimal places, remove the zero before the decimal point and the decimal point and end up with 86.
Your individual payout percentage for that session is 86% or stated another way, for every pound that you bet you got back 86p.
A profitable session would show a figure of over 100%
Regulation and Licensing
Are the online slots regulated, and does it matter? The truth is there is not so much control online as there is in the land-based casinos where regulations are in place. Not only to protect the player but also the protect tax revenue for the government. However, most are self-regulating and proudly claim to follow the bricks and mortar models found in Vegas. It’s good for business because punters are looking for peace of mind and a fair gaming experience.
Online providers of slot games must be vetted and licensed by an independent authority. Such as the UK Gambling Commission and the Malta Gaming Authority. It is to ensure that they adhere to standards regarding RNGs, stated RTPs and that all registered players have equal chances.
Regulation and licensing exist to protect the online consumer and their data. You should avoid any casinos operating without a license. If you are playing in the UK, note that casinos can only operate there with a UK license.
So, when playing online slots, check out online casino with licences from the more respected jurisdictions. For instance Gibraltar, Malta or Alderney with the UK Gambling Commission seal of approval to be assured of their commitment to fair play. This information should be readily available on their websites often somewhere at the foot of the page.