Should You Ever Play an Online Slot With Mystery RTP?

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Online Slot Mystery

Most online slots display their return to player (RTP) in the pay table. You can use this information to figure out how much you stand to win back with a given game.

Many slots providers are perfectly comfortable showing you what kind of edge they hold. Some are even proud when they feature extremely high RTP worth 97% or more.

However, not every developer falls into this category. Certain providers are more mysterious with payout percentages for their games.

You may immediately think the worst upon finding a slot that doesn’t display the RTP. After all, so many game developers are willing to provide this information nowadays.

Should you avoid playing games that don’t feature this info? I’ll discuss more on RTP, where you can find it, and if you should trust slots without available payback.

Why Is RTP Important?

Most casino games feature transparent RTP. For example, baccarat and European roulette offer 98.94% and 97.3% payback, respectively.

These percentages show how much you can expect to win back. Furthermore, they show your chances of beating a certain game.

Here’s a sample comparison between two slot machines that shows which one gives offers the better shot at winning:

Slot #1

  • Offers 97.5% RTP
  • You bet $2,000 on this game
  • 2,000 x 0.975 = 1,950
  • You’ll theoretically win back $1,950 with this slot

Slot #2

  • Offers 95.5% RTP
  • You bet $2,000 on this game
  • 2,000 x 0.955 = 1,910
  • You’ll theoretically win back $1,910 with this slot

One key to remember with payout percentages is that they indicate your long-term chances of winning. These figures typically require millions of spins to reach their stated amount.

Therefore, you can’t just look at high RTP and automatically expect to win more in the current session. However, payback at least provides an idea on how much games pay in the long term.

Land Based Slot Machines Never Feature Payout Percentages

You can see why RTP is important. Unfortunately, not all slots developers display this information in the help screen.

This is especially true of land-based slots developers. When playing in brick and mortar venues, you’ll almost never find the payout percentage for a slot.

The Megabucks progressive jackpot network, which is found in Las Vegas, is one of the few exceptions to this rule. Megabucks games, such as Wheel of Fortune, offer 88% RTP when the jackpot is first seeded.

This payback grows along with the jackpot. Therefore, you won’t be facing such terrible RTP when the jackpot reaches amounts like $15 million and $20 million.

Of course, Megabucks is the world’s largest progressive jackpot. It’s an exception to the norm regarding RTP and land-based slot machines.

In every other case, you’ll be going into the matter blind. You have no idea what kind of payback you’ll face when sitting down to slots in brick and mortar casinos.

RTP Can Be Weird in Unregulated Jurisdictions

You can see that RTP is rarely available in land-based gambling establishments. But what about online casinos?

Fortunately, most online developers provide payback in the info screen. You simply need to click the appropriate button on the game and look through the help screen to find it.

Highly regulated jurisdictions, such as New Jersey, require that all operators display payout percentages. They want to ensure that players know their chances of winning going into the matter.

However, not all internet gambling jurisdictions have high standards. Some, like Costa Rica and Belize, take a hands-off approach to developers and casino operators.

Slots providers that exclusively serve these jurisdictions may feature variable payout percentages. Realtime Gaming (RTG), for example, lets casino clients choose between 91%, 95%, and 97.5% RTP for each game.

Other developers may not provide payout percentages of any kind. In these cases, you simply have to hope that the company is honest.

Pros of Knowing the RTP

Payback may not be the first thing on your mind when playing a slot. However, it’s definitely worth knowing what your chances of winning are.

The average online slot features 96% RTP. You can use this figure as a measuring stick when looking at internet payout percentages.

A slot that only offers 93% RTP, for example, is ripping you off compared to the industry average. Meanwhile, games with 98% RTP are outstanding in terms of payout percentages.

Payback is also useful from the perspective of letting you know if you’re being taken advantage of. I’ve seen internet slots with 91% payback or less. This figure is terrible in the overall scheme of gaming.

You may also be interested in knowing the base RTP of a jackpot game. The base payback refers to the payout percentage when the jackpot his first seeded.

Microgaming’s Mega Moolah, for instance, only offers 88% RTP when the jackpot is initially seated at $2 million. Therefore, you should wait until the jackpot reaches at least $8 million or more before playing.

Reasons Why You May Be Fine Without Knowing RTP

Some gamblers obsess over payout percentages to a fault. They fear playing any game that offers lower than 96% RTP or doesn’t show the payback at all.

Nothing is wrong with wanting to know your long-term chances of winning. However, payback doesn’t play much of a role in the short run. Volatility is much more important for this purpose. It refers to how closely short-term results correlate to the statistical mean.

An online real money slot game may offer 98% RTP, for instance, which indicates that it pays really well. If it’s extremely volatile, though, you could lose lots of money in any given session. After all, much of the RTP might be wrapped up in a huge jackpot and/or features.

Another problem with obsessing over payout percentages is that you’re basically splitting hairs in some situations. You probably won’t notice much of a difference between a slot with 97% RTP versus one with 96%.

Finally, payback may be a completely useless statistic in those cases anyways. Again, these figures are based on simulations that run millions of spins.

You’re almost assuredly not going to reach the stated payout percentage in a single session. You’d need to play the same slot for countless hours before hitting the exact RTP mark.

Is Mystery Payback Really the End of the World?

Payout percentages should definitely be taken into account when they’re available. After all, they provide an indication on how much a game will pay back on average. Ideally, you’ll only play slots that display the RTP. This way, you’ll always have a decent idea on the fairness of a slot machine.

Going further, you’ll be able to ensure that you’re not getting ripped off. The last thing you want is to hop on a game that’s only programmed to pay back 85%. On the other hand, playing a slot that doesn’t show the RTP isn’t the worst thing in the world. This is especially true when you’re not risking big stakes.

Try a Game for Free and It Might Be Extremely Fun:

In this case, you’ll want to play it regardless of if the payout percentage is available. I wouldn’t risk too much money on a game that doesn’t show the payback. But most slots still offer a fair payout percentage.

After all the gaming community is collectively good at vetting developers. Slots providers know better than to barely pay, or they risk ruining their entire reputation.

In summary, you most likely won’t get cheated just because you play a slot without publicly available RTP. But you should still be careful with said games and not risk too much on them.


Luckily, the majority of online slots developers show RTP in the info screen. You merely need to select the appropriate button and look for the payout percentage.

But if you’ve played slot machines in land-based casinos, you know that many providers still don’t offer this information. Even some online providers don’t feature payback in the info section.

In these situations, you need to make a choice on whether it’s worth playing such slots. Chances are, you’ll be fine when facing mystery RTP.

Just to be safe, though, you should avoid playing for big stakes and risking too much money. Smaller bets protect you in the rare instances where a rogue developer isn’t playing fair.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for since early 2016. ...

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