Real Money Slot Payout Percentages

At every slot machine, a single number determines each player’s fate. That number is the payout percentage, and it regulates the money in-to-money out ratio in online slots.

In this article, we’ll explore the inner workings of payout percentages. What determines them? How can we calculate them? And what do they mean for our bankrolls? We’ll answer all of these questions and more below.

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What is a Slot Machine Payback Rate?

A payout percentage is the amount of money a player can expect to win playing a game. For example a slot machine with a 97% payout percentage will return you 97% of your gross bets in the long run. Conversely you can expect to lose 3% of your gross bets at a machine with a 97% payout percentage.

Note that payout percentage is a long-term measurement. It can’t be used to guess how much you’ll win or lose in a particular session. All a 97% payout means is that given a sufficiently large number of spins – a couple million, maybe – you should expect to have kept 97% of your money.

Short-term fluctuations happen, and they’re what makes slots fun. You’re bound to have winning streaks where you win much more than expected. You’re also bound to have losing streaks where you win a lot less than expected. Over time, your big wins and big losses meet in the middle; and the place they meet is at the payout percentage for a particular slot.

Calculating a Slots Payout Percentage

In order to calculate a payout percentage at slots, you need some set of data that describes the behavior of a slot machine. There are two types of data that would work:

  1. A weight table for a slot machine’s virtual reel, as well as a complete pay table
  2. A large sample of spins and outcomes

The first type of data would be best, as it would allow us to calculate a slot machine’s payout percentage exactly. We’d just need to do a bit of simple math, and we’d know our expected outcome. Unfortunately most casinos guard the details of reels and weights closely, so we can almost never calculate payout percentages in this way.

The second type of data is hard to gather. We’d need to meticulously document outcomes for at least tens of thousands of spins – more likely hundreds of thousands of spins – before we could draw any meaningful conclusions. Theoretically if we could gather such a sample, we’d know with some accuracy what a slot machine’s payout percentage would be: the percentage amount we won or lost over the sample. But in reality, there’s little chance of anyone sitting at a slot for weeks on end just to calculate a payout percentage.

Do We Need to Calculate Payout Percentages at Slots?

The good news is that it’s not really necessary to manually calculate payout percentages at slots. Most online casinos publish rough payout data as part of their monthly auditing process. So if we want to know how likely we are to win at slots at a particular casino, we could just look at that casino’s audit data. The majority of online casinos set payout percentages at 94-98% overall for slot machines. Looking at a casino’s overall payout can give you a good idea of your expected winnings.