Games offering progressive jackpots and bonus rounds are popular with players, but slots with the best payout rates or payback percentages are considered among the top prizes in the world of gambling. After all, even a couple of extra percentage points can make a major difference when calculating the profitability of an individual slot.
This article examines the definition of “payout percentage” and explains where to find the most generous slot games. While it won’t improve your actual chances of winning, the knowledge that you’re playing a more liberal slot machine should at least boost your confidence.
What Is a Payback Percentage?
The payback percentage—also known as the payout percentage or return to player—is the amount of money deposited into a slot machine that is eventually paid back to the customer. This percentage is not determined in weeks or months, but rather over the life of the machine.
For example, let’s say that $100,000 is inserted into a slot machine with a 92% payout percentage. According to the RTP (“return to player”), the slot should pay back $92,000 of the wager in the form of wins, while keeping the other $8,000 in profit. Keep in mind, however, that the true payout of a slot machine may take millions of spin to determine.
When a machine’s software is written at the factory, this is when the payback percentage is set in accordance with local laws. For example, slots in New Jersey must be set to pay back a minimum of 83%, while games in Nevada have a lower limit of 75%. On average, the payout percentage for most slots ranges from 82% to 98%.
Slots with a high RTP are known as “loose slots,” while their stingy counterparts are referred to as “tight slots.” Since these figures are rarely reported, it’s difficult for a player to accurately determine whether the machine they’re playing is loose or tight.
In previous years, the RTP was set at the factory and any additional manipulation by the casino required the software to be switched. Thanks to advances in computer technology, many casinos can now remotely manipulate the odds and payout, although they must wait until the machine has been vacant for at least four minutes (no mid-game manipulations).
How to Find the Highest Paying Slot Machine
Casinos love to promote their slots as being loose or easy to win slot machines, but they’re tight-lipped when it comes to actually identifying the machines. In most cases, a few loosest slots are sprinkled into rows of tight machines, which still give the casino the opportunity to brag about all the loose slots they offer.
Unless you happen to have a casino manager in your back pocket, it’s going to be difficult to determine a game’s true payback percentage. Gambling forums and chat rooms are often filled with people who claim to know the RTP for various machines, but you should only trust those sources with impeccable credentials. Otherwise, it’s probably an educated guess or outright lie.
Games with Top Payback / Payout Percentages
While it may be disappointing to hear, a so-called list of loose slot machines is useless. There are a couple of reasons for this, which I will explain below.
Varies by Machine – Just because one slot machine from a certain series pays back 96%, another identical machine may only pay back 89%. These differences aren’t listed by the casino, so the player is left to play a guessing game.
Location – Even if you somehow learn that the fifth machine on the fourth row pays back 97%, it’s only a matter of time before the casino changes its physical location.
When searching for the best RTP, the best strategy is to look at the minimum paybacks allowed by law. Any law-abiding casino cannot go below this number, which at least gives you a worst case scenario for the rate of return. Unfortunately, not all states have a minimum, and establishments aren’t always required to disclose their payback setting (especially Indian casinos, who regulate themselves). Still, I’ve included what meager information I could gather.
- Arizona – 83% minimum payback
- Delaware – Their video lottery terminals must pay between 87% and 95%.
- Kansas – 87% minimum (80% at Indian casinos)
- Louisiana – Casino slots must pay no less than 80% and no more than 99.9%. The minimum return at locations other than casinos is 80%, with a maximum of 94%.
- Maine – 89% minimum payback
- Maryland – 87% minimum payout
- Minnesota – RTP must be between 80% and 95%.
- Nevada – 75% minimum RTP
- New Jersey – 83% minimum payback
- New Mexico – Between 80% and 96%, although Indian casinos have a required minimum of 80%.
- North Carolina – Payout must fall between 83% and 98%.
- North Dakota – Slots carry a minimum return of 80%.
- West Virginia – Carries of minimum requirement of between 80% and 95%.
- Wisconsin – Minimum return of 80%.
Slots with the best payback percentage are highly coveted in the world of gambling, so expect a feeding frenzy whenever a game’s true RTP becomes known. This doesn’t happen very often, though, as casinos love to move machines around to keep savvy patrons guessing. Ultimately, your best chance comes from reading the rules, understanding the pay table, and keeping your expectations in check. Once you meet these requirements, you’re a lot more likely to walk away from the casino with a smile on your face.