Those who have yet to get fully involved with playing online casino may be hesitant for a number of reasons. There is an element of myth and conjecture surrounding the industry, particularly when it comes to questions over fairness and the likelihood of actually returning a profit.
Are casinos rigged? That’s a common question among new players and those who sit outside of the industry so we would like to take the opportunity to address a number of concerns.
What is RTP?
If you read a number of slot reviews, many will make reference to RTP. These initials stand for Return to Player and the percentage figures shown indicate how much, on average, a slot player can expect to receive in return for their stake.
For example, if a slot is showing an RTP of 95%, that means that for every £1.00 staked, 95p will be paid out. That is a fair sum and at Unibet, our slots carry an average RTP of 97% which is comfortably in excess of the UK Gambling Commission’s recommended minimum of 70%.
On slot machines with random payouts, that average is taken from a minimum of 100,000 spins so that’s a lot of games required for those percentages to be determined. However, it is important to remember that this is only an average and it’s certainly not a guarantee as to how much you can expect following a stint at the reels.
Potentially, you may hit the average which means you take back a small loss. Alternatively, you could hit 100% RTP and break even or, you may be one of the lucky players who will add a profit to their bankroll. It’s all about random payouts and that’s another important measure of fairness at the online slots.
Online slot machines pay out in a similar fashion to the very early mechanical games that pre-date the internet. These were mechanical devices that employed a random number generator to trigger cash prizes at intermittent points in play. There were no predetermined stages as to when a win would land - it was entirely at random.
In the modern day, with new technology at the hands of developers, it’s easier than ever before to install that random feature to every slot that makes its way online. Machines are officially tested for this element but, because casinos have to be open and transparent, it’s relatively easy for players to do this in hindsight.
Take a look at Progressive Jackpot payouts for a slot such as Mega Moolah or the intriguingly named Lucky Larry’s Lobstermania 2. Figures are laid out and it’s easy to see when the jackpots trigger. Follow this pattern over an extended period of time and you can see that the process is completely random. Jackpots may become ‘swollen’ but there is no specific point at which they are due and the same factor applies for all slot wins from the smallest to the biggest.
Back in the Real World
Another popular misconception surrounds the fairness of slot machines in the physical world as opposed to online games. Are slot games at bricks and mortar casinos more likely to pay out? Can you second guess them and form a strategy based on previous patterns of play?
If you happen to sit in a bar or a casino and watch a player take on a slot then it’s fair to say that you may just have an advantage here. Those who have time on their hands can watch a player at a specific slot game and, if they plough in a stack of money with little in return, maybe it’s time to act and take over. Remember, that there is an average RTP in play in the physical realm too so, while there are no guarantees of a win in this scenario, the average percentage payout may mean that the odds are tipped slightly in your favour.
Of course, in the online world this pattern is much harder to spot. You could look at the frequency of payouts but in the time it takes to do that research, another account holder may have stepped in to claim the jackpot.
In summary, it may be possible to spot playing trends in the physical world and therefore, shrewd players of those slot machines may just have a slender advantage. However, it certainly doesn’t mean that bricks and mortar casinos are fairer than their online counterparts.
Another common myth involving online casinos relates to safety. It’s perfectly natural for players to ask whether their funds and personal details will be secure, especially if they are getting on board with a new operator.
Established brands can offer more peace of mind but in all instances, certain points can be checked on the brand’s website. Firstly, look for full details of the company license and, if you’re playing from the UK, be sure that the casino in question is approved by the Gambling Commission.
This is the only organisation that is allowed to license and approve gambling operators so you must be certain that the company has their seal of approval. In addition, the UK Gambling Commission insists on certain checks from approved third party organisations which monitor both safety and fairness. Look for references to companies such as eCOGRA, GLI and iTech Labs to confirm this point.
This information is normally shown openly at the bottom of an operator’s homepage but if it is absent, check on the About Us link before taking your custom elsewhere. Safety is a major priority for online casino providers and these points can be easily checked before you sign up for a new account.
Analysing Casino Strategies
Strategies apply to many casino games but are they exclusively for the poker and roulette tables? The application of mathematical probability has been applied to many a player’s plans at the wheel or on the baize but is there an equivalent method for the online slots?
At a very basic level, a player could look at the relevant RTPs for a choice of slots games. Clearly a game listed with a 97% return to player level is more likely to pay out that a title with the UK Gambling Commission minimum of 70%. However, you will find that the majority of slot games at Unibet carry very little variation once they hit 95%.
Another question that players often ask relates to a factor known as volatility or variance. This characteristic is frequently shown on slot reviews and it covers the likelihood of a game paying out. Low variance slots should pay out more frequently but the wins are likely to be smaller. In contrast, players may have to wait longer for a cash sum on a high variance slot but the rewards may be more lucrative.
One strategy that all players can take advantage of relates to online casinos and their offers and promotions. Free spins can be involved which could lead to a cash prize at the end of the sequence but, as with all deals of this kind, it’s imperative to look closely at the terms and conditions.
The spins in question may be restricted to certain games such as Starburst or Gonzo’s Quest. The choice may be limited and there is also the likelihood of a high rollover requirement before any profits can be withdrawn.
Aside from free spins, welcome and reload bonuses give players a matched percentage on their deposits. In these cases, the rollover terms may be lower and there will be fewer restrictions in regards to which casino games can be played.
Strategies do exist and they can be successful at times but do keep in mind that random nature of slot machine payouts which cannot be altered.
A Question of Timing
Another theory regarding slot machine play relates to the time of day when a player logs in and takes a few spins. This may have developed from suggestions that poker players might be advised to enter a room at night when there are fewer, and potentially weaker players available.
It’s an interesting concept but, if there is any substance behind the poker theory, can it possibly be translated into the online slots? This question is asked quite frequently in online forums and there are a number of contrasting responses but, many of those who specify a certain time to play state that they do so out of pure superstition.
Let’s ask another question. Do you think that an online slot machine knows what time it is? Is this a sentient being that consciously decides when to pay out based on whether or not it’s dark outside. Hopefully the answer in each case will be an obvious ‘no’.
Once again, it all comes down to RTP and the random nature of slot machines. That percentage RTP, whether it’s at the minimum of 70% or the Unibet average of 97% will apply no matter what time of day it is so there really is no advantage to playing at a certain time of day. In short, this is another casino myth.