Payout percentage principles

It is advisable that serious gamblers make themselves aware, where possible, of what the payout percentages are for the various casinos and casino games they choose to play at and participate in. Of course, one should look for games with the highest payout percentages (i.e. the lowest house edge) in order to maximise winnings.

What is a Payout Percentage?

This is the theoretical percentage of funds that a machine or game at a casino will pay back to the player over time. The machine/game may give a payout percentage of much higher, or much lower, than that stipulated in the first few rounds of the game, but the longer the player plays the game, the closer he/she will get to the theoretical pre-determined figure. For example, a slot machine may advertise itself as having a 95% payout percentage. If, on his first spin, a player bets £10 and wins £20, the payout percentage for that spin is 200%. However, the longer he plays, the closer the average payout percentage will creep to 95%, i.e. over time he will lose, on average, 5% of every bet he plays.

Typical Payout Percentages

In slot machine games, an integral part of all land-based and online casinos, the payout percentage generally varies between 85% and 98%. A value of 85% is very low and casinos or games that offer this kind of payout percentage should be avoided. On the other hand, 98% is considered to be excellent and will ensure that you stay in the game for longer, because you’ll lose less. Typically, payout percentages will be higher on the higher denomination slot machines. A good payout percentage to aim for in all types of casino games is around 95 or 96% – look for games that offer this kind of payout percentage.

Managing Payout Percentages

Payout percentages generally need to be audited and verified by approved gambling monitoring boards; details vary from casino to casino and country to country. Normally, if a casino wants to change the payout percentage for a particular game, they need to go through a formal process with the gambling authorities before this will be permitted. Because of this complex process, casinos tend to stick with their existing payout percentages and will only change them in rare circumstances.

View our various pages on casino game mathematics for more information about how to use mathematics to make considered decisions when gambling. See our Gambling Mathematics glossary for an overview of the most important concepts.