What are Casino Payouts?



The term ‘casino payout’ seems obvious to some players but it is definitely still worth getting a full understanding of exactly what it means and its implications, particularly if you an avid slots player. In this article we will define the term, explain it’s context in different casino games with a focus on online slot games and conclude with our own advice.  

When discussing casino payouts we need to be clear that roulette payouts and blackjack payouts are quite different to slots payouts. The main difference is that slot payouts are calculated using a percentage whereas table game payouts are better defined as odds, for example, roulette odds and blackjack odds, which are more traditional. Let’s briefly define roulette odds and blackjack odds before getting into the meat of this article which is really about slot percentage payouts.

Roulette Payouts

Roulette payouts are much more simple to understand. In fact it would only confuse matters if we use the word ‘payouts’ with roulette because the only word we need to associate with roulette is odds.

Roulette odds are just like any betting odds with X to 1, X being where you place the chip on a roulette table.  So if you place your chip on a single number known in the industry as ‘straight up’ then your chance of winning is 35 to 1 (a £1 straight up bet would win you £35). In our How to play Roulette game guide we have detailed all the roulette odds so you can see all the other X to 1 payouts.

Blackjack Payouts

Blackjack payouts are similar to roulette payouts in that we don’t need to refer to winnings in terms of percentages but in terms of odds. Blackjack has one of the easiest odds to learn, you win whatever you bet. So for example if you place a £5 bet your winnings will be £5, it’s a 1 – 1 bet.

It gets more complicated when you introduce double down, split and insurance as we describe in our How to Play Blackjack game guide. Not to mention the outside blackjack bets such as perfect pairs. But they are all calculated using blackjack odds not payout percentages.   

Slots Payouts

A payout is a percentage that is associated with a slot machine that provides the player information on how likely they are to win on that slot machine. A slot machine payout is also called Return to Player or RTP (more information on RTP here).

So if you visit an online casino such as Casimba and navigate to their Slots page you will see hundreds of slot games you can play. Let’s assume you clicked on Starburst which has a payout percentage of 96%, what does that mean? Let’s explain the theory first before we get into the reality.

A slot machine with a payout percentage of 96% means that on average, usually calculated over 10,000 or 100,000 spins the player will win 96% of the time and the house will win 4%. Therefore the house edge on that particular slot machine is 4%. So it maintains what everyone already knows which is that the casino will always win in the long run. 

Now, that doesn’t mean if you spend £1 you will only win a maximum of 96p. The percentage payout is programmed to return that 96% over a very long number of spins. You can easily bet £1 and win £10,000 if you manage to find a slot game that hasn’t paid out in a while, equally if a slot game has just paid a jackpot you are unlikely to get another jackpot win from the same game in the same session as it needs to balance out it’s win loss ratio to 96%. 

Why is there a Payout Percentage?

There are 3 main reasons for having a payout percentage

  1. Fairness. Regulation by gambling commissions dictates that slot machines are programmed to allow players to have a fair chance of winning. Imagine a slot game with a 10% payout, your chances of ever winning even a small jackpot are extremely slim so why should you play
  2. Transparency. There is transparency for the player to know what each slot game pays. There is no statutory minimum payouts for slot games but regulation does mandate that payouts are clearly labelled so make sure you have a look at your favourite slot game and ensure the payout is at least 85%, most slot games by reputable gaming providers average between 90% – 97%
  3. House Edge. We all know that all casino games have a house edge otherwise casinos would not be in business. By programming each slot game with a payout percentage they can ensure that they maintain a winning edge in the long and stay in business

Are the Odds Stacked Against You?

It’s all about the house edge. A game with a house edge of 2% or less is a very good indicator that you have the best chance of winning in that game versus other game with a higher house edge.  Blackjack has the best house edge so unless you are very unlucky you are unlikely to play 5 hands and lose all 5, because the house edge is low.

Going back to slots, if you find a slot game with an RTP of 85% or less you are playing a game with a high house edge so the chance of playing 5 spins and losing all 5 in a row is higher than playing a slot game with a 96% RTP.

Of course all casino games have odds stacked against you in the long run. But choosing a favourable RTP slot will increase your chance of stacking the odds in your favour.

How is the Payout Percentage Calculated Online?

The payout percentage is determined by the gaming providers, the companies that develop the slot games. For example, Starburst is a game developed by NetEnt. They have built a mathematical algorithm that pays at 96%.  That is programmed into the game and should be clearly visible when you choose to play it.

So it is not a mathematical formula that is calculated, it is simply a number that is chosen by the game developers that is programmed into the random slot generator.

In Conclusion

Now that you know what a casino slot machine payout is, you can scroll through our best casino offers, select a casino, navigate through their slot game selection and select the highest RTP value slot game. That will give you the best chance of winning mathematically over a short to medium run of 100 to 500 spins.

If you are only planning to play less than 100 spins on any particular game then it probably doesn’t matter as luck is playing a bigger part so you might as well play the slot game that takes your fancy with interesting characters and funky colours.

If you’re planning to play for a long period on a particular slot game, something in the region of 1000 spins or more then don’t ask what happened when you find that you haven’t been able to increase your bankroll by the end!  

Remember to have fun first and foremost and make use of the free spin bonus offers, and don’t forget luck is going to trump all odds.