Maximum Possible RTP vs Real RTP of Online Slots

Maximum Possible RTP vs Real RTP of Online Slots

Have you known that some software providers declaring RTP of their online slots reveal only the maximum possible RTP whereas real RTP might be much lower.

This is the topic that all casino players must be aware of so with that being said let’s discuss:

  • what I mean by different RTP and how it is even possible

  • why it is happening (I guess you already have a clue)

  • how to avoid lower RTP than it was declared

  • a list of slot producers with changeable RTP slots

On what I mean by “different RTP”


Before moving to the point, I would like to clarify what I mean by “different RTP” in this article.

Some slots go with fluctuating RTP, which means that, for example, during the base game RTP equals X, whereas if you use the buy bonus feature it becomes Y (usually a bit better to incentivize you to do so).

This is not what we are going to talk about in the article. In this article we are going to discuss a situation when an online casino can request different RTP levels on its whim. So to say, there will be situations when at online casino A RTP equals X, and at online casino B RTP equals Y. What is most important I am not talking about tiny fractures of percent. I am talking about, for example, 96% and 87%.

How it is even possible to set different RTP levels

This is actually pretty much simple to make happen. Online casinos do not create casino games of their own. Instead they rent it out from slot producers. Slot producers, being creators of the games, in general can do whatever they want including manipulations of RTP.

Worth to mention that in order to be able to set different RTP levels you have to design the game that way from the very beginning. So to speak, only a tiny portion of software providers resort to such tricks (for example, quite popular Playngo have RTP at 5 different levels).

Then a particular online casino just requests from a slot producer a certain RTP level at their venue, and that’s basically it. At the same time, so many casino players play such slots with the wrong idea that the slot has pretty good RTP when in fact nobody really knows (except for casinos obv) what RTP is.

Why some software providers implement different RTP levels

I guess it does not take a genius to figure out why they are doing it. This is nothing but a trick, and I would say “trick” is not a right word for it. “ Fraud” is what better describes this shady activity. Such casinos scam their customers making them believe in fake RTP to make more money.

Casino players, playing such online slots, have no idea that the game is basically rigged. “Rigged” is not overstatement, because playing at an online slot with 97% or 94 % RTP in fact makes a lot of difference. It is not just 3% worse as some of you may think at first glance. Such a game would be 100% worse, because house edge in 97% RTP slot is 3%, whereas in 94% RTP slot house edge equals 6%.

6% is twice more than 3%, or 100% more.

As a result you are going to lose money in such a slot twice faster having twice less fun and twice less opportunities to win big. So this 3% is actually a big deal, not speaking about situations when the difference is much bigger (for example, 96% vs 87%).

Financial incentives of slot studios to implement changeable RTP in more detail

As I have mentioned briefly, all slots you can come across at online casinos are provided to casinos by third-parties that create these games. We call them software providers in the gambling industry.

Software providers are getting paid by casinos for their services on a basis of amount of money you lose in a particular slot (it is normally 10-15%). So the more money you lose the more money software providers earn. As a result, they are huge beneficiaries of such a scheme, not casinos only.

When a software provider launches a new slot, they normally set RTP to the maximum possible level so that players win frequently and spread the word that this particular slot pays well. Once this slot has become a best-seller, they usually switch the RTP making it much lower. Most players have no clue that such an "upgrade" has took place.

A good example of such tactics is the Starburst slot (Netent). Since this game has become very popular among online casino players, the company and casinos have decided to take an advantage of this fact. Initially Starburst had a RTP of 96,09% which is quite decent by the industry's standards. However, today, at some casinos this slot has a devastating RTP of 90,05%!

Read more about this example here

The best practice how to avoid lower RTP than it was declared

I can not think of anything but playing only slots of reliable software providers. Let’s learn what makes software providers reliable:

  • First of all, a trustworthy software provider is always licensed by a strict gambling commission (yes, not only online casinos do acquire gambling licenses but software providers as well). This is a guarantee that slot producers adhere to high standards including that they do not make fools out of casino players. The UK gambling commission is the gold standard of the industry, Malta gaming authority is also decent (Gibraltar, Alderney, Isle of Man are also cool, but less widespread).

  • Then it must have the RNG of its products tested by third-party testing labs. Not only at the launch of a new game, but constantly. That way we can be sure that the declared RTP is actually there.

Software providers that allow casinos to change RTP

Honestly speaking, the best way to avoid falling for lower RTP than it was stated is to stick to the most established software developers. Those are big international companies (publicly traded at some international stock exchange) with the community keeping a close eye on them. If they did something like that it would be revealed sooner or later.

Here is the companies that certainly let casinos to lower RTP (some of them on all slots, some of some on some slots):

There are definitely some others, but those are the most popular.

Final thoughts

Summing up, when it comes to the online gambling industry, you always have to keep your finger on the pulse. And the fact that online casinos can request different RTP from some slot producers is one more evidence of it.

I know some players who have been playing online slots thinking that RTP is good, but in fact it was absolute garbage.

To avoid this happening to you just stick to software providers from the list above. On top of that you have to verify each time that software is not fake (here is an article on how to do so with 100% confidence). And of course do not forget that a casino itself must be reliable as well, otherwise all that precautions do not make any sense to be taken.

They said that online gambling is easy...