Betfair Casino Guide: Understanding Slots RTP and Variance

Understand Slots RTP and Variance in the Betfair Casino guide

Learn everything you need to know about Return to Player and Variance in online Slots in this special Betfair Casino guide

  • Slots RTP and variance are the two most important factors to consider before playing a game

  • 'RTP' is an acronym that stands for "return to player"

  • Slot RTP shows your expected payout in a game for every £1 that you bet over a period of time

  • If the RTP is 95% then the 'house edge' for the casino is 5%

  • 'Slot variance' is another term for 'volatility'

  • High variance games pay out larger sums less frequently, while low variance games have smaller wins that land more often

With a wide variety of titles available, online slots are the most popular games at Betfair Casino. Our slots come in various themes and gaming formats, and you can find plenty of bonuses and promotions to use when playing them.

The majority of other online casinos will provide you with the most basic information about their slot games. However, here at Betfair, we aim to dive a little bit deeper into the concept to show you how the games really work.

In order to determine how much you stand to win, and how often you are likely to receive a payout, Slots RTP and variance are the two most important factors. The RTP is a percentage that shows you the casino's 'house edge' and how much of each bet will be returned to you. The variance shows you how much a game is likely to pay out and how often.

The main purpose of this article is to give you a complete idea of RTP and variance before you start playing. Once you have finished reading this article, check out our guide to online slot symbols and tips to get a better understanding of the games.

What is RTP? The Random Chance of Winning and Fair Payouts

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In short, RTP is an acronym that stands for "return to player". Effectively, it is a percentage that shows you how much of each unit that you bet goes back to you. It also displays how much goes to the casino over a period of time. For example, if a game has an RTP of 95%, then 0.95 of every £1 wagered goes back to your account. The remaining 5% is the profit that the casino stands to make, also known as the "house edge".

This is a measure of how the game works over a period of time, not what will happen with each spin. Slots RTP and variance can be divided into three main categories - low, medium and high. Below, you can find a brief explanation of each of these three categories and how they work.


Low RTP slots are essentially any games with a percentage of less than 93.99%. Although such games will see you receive payouts less often, they do have a couple of advantages. For one thing, online slots with a low RTP tend to have larger jackpots. So although you might not receive payouts as consistently, you have a greater chance of hitting a bigger win.

Moreover, you should also find them to be more entertaining, as is the case with Wolfkin Art. Megaways slots, such as Buffalo Mainia Megaways also have engaging gameplay with multiple different ways that you can win.


Medium slots RTP and variance normally ranging between 94-96.99%. These games offer you a decent balance between regular payouts and hit frequency. In other words, you can expect to win fairly often, but larger wins are also realistically possible.

Dead or Alive is one our top-rated medium RTP slots that you can try out right here at Betfair. This western-themed game is built upon a classic 3 reel and 5 row grid with 9 paylines and an RTP of 96.82%.


Any slot game with an RTP of 97% or greater is generally considered to be high, though these can have a percentage of up to 99.9%. It is likely that players land a lot more wins when playing these games, although of course, jackpots are smaller, as are the winning multipliers in general.

High RTP games also tend to be a bit easier to play - which is great if you are new to slots. Still, they can have a relatively high number of paylines and extra features. Jack Hammer 2 is a game that typifies a high RTP slot. As well as having an RTP of 97.10%, this slot offers 99 paylines and multiple different symbols, including free spins, wild and a scatter.

You can also explore some of the horse racing casino games offered by Betfair in this article to see how the different RTP categories work.

What is the Average RTP Among Slots and How is it Decided?

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The average slots RTP and variance online is around the 96-97% mark, and the ratio is calculated over a number of spins. Typically, the average RTP of a game will be determined with a sample of over 100,000 spins. This means that you won't see the exact result of the RTP for every bet you place.

Ultimately, this keeps things interesting for both you and the casino. For instance, with a 96% RTP, it is expected that the house will make 4% of every £1 that you bet. It is worth noting that this is over a large sample of spins, and isn't something that will happen with every spin.

How does Slots RTP Impact Players?

Rather than just being a figure that the casino can use to calculate its profits, slot machine RTP is also useful to you. Generally speaking, the higher the online slot RTP, the more often you are likely to receive a payout while spinning the reels.

Additionally, a higher RTP slot tends to have simpler gameplay and rules that are easier to follow. On the other hand, medium and low RTP games usually have more paylines, bonus rounds and ways that you can win. However, this is offset by the fact that you won't land winning combos as regularly.

For example, Megaways slots, which have expanding reels and multiple ways to win, have a low RTP, as bigger win multipliers are available. By the same token, smaller 3 or 5 reel slots tend to have a high RTP and will pay out to you more often.

What are the Highest RTP slots?

For online slots RTP and variance, the vast majority of games have a ratio that is greater than 90%. The highest slot RTP tends to have a ratio of 97%+. Generally, slots with basic reels, a smaller number of paylines, and lower maximum wins, will have a higher RTP percentage.

With high RTP slots, more of your stake will be returned to you as you play the game, and the casino's house edge is lower. That's why you will find that games with a high RTP are usually designed to payout with more regularity. However, they will usually not have too many jackpots and bonus features.

When it comes to the highest RTP slots you can find at Betfair Casino, Chameleonaire is a good example, with a 97.11% RTP and just 20 paylines. On the other hand, if you are looking for a slightly more complex high RTP slot, then Money Cart 2 is worth checking out.

You can read this article to discover some of the best rtp slots you can play online at Betfair.


RTP and Variance Playing Different Types of Slots

Slots RTP and variance are two standalone terms and each slot offers a unique balance that suits different types of players. For instance, the high variance of Megaways slots will benefit you if you are a more adventurous player. For less experienced users, basic 3x5 reel video slots with a high RTP and low variance might be better.

Below, you can take a look at the essential information about the most popular slot types, including the RTP variance, volatility and other key features. Ultimately, this can help lead you to the best RTP slot to suit your preferences.

Video Slots

Video slots are modern-day developments derived from the classic slot machines found in Las Vegas casinos. Like the classic machines, video slots contain between 3 to 5 reels - the only difference is that they are only available online. Additionally, these online games also have extra features and different ways to win, such as bonus reels and free spins.

As it is quite a broad-ranging genre, the RTP of video slots can range anywhere from 90-99.9%, though the average is somewhere around the 95% mark. Typical features of video slots include extra bonus games, 3D effects, and additional paylines. You can therefore expect the volatility rating to be higher than with classic slots. Two video slots that you can give a go in our slots lobby are Money Train 3 and Rise of Atlantis.

Progressive Slots

With progressive slots, a small portion of each wager that you place is used to contribute to the jackpot prize fund. This jackpot keeps on growing as you and other players wager in the game until one lucky person wins it and receives the big payout. As you can see in the Age of the Gods progressive slot, the jackpot figure rises in real time on your screen.

In terms of slot RTP and variance, progressive jackpots tend to have a higher house edge and a high volatility rating. As you can see in Vault Cracker, the RTP is 92.67% and the game has a high varience rating. While you have a low chance of hitting a winning combination, there are larger wins available, especially if you hit the jackpot.

Jackpot slots

Unlike a progressive slot, jackpot slot games offer a fixed amount that doesn't increase each time you spin the reels. The jackpot slot Bass Boss has a fun fisherman theme and a daily jackpot that is reset every 24 hours. The RTP is 92.67% and the game's variance falls into the high category.

The majority of jackpot slots, like the Good Luck Cluster Buster have an RTP payout rate of 92-94%. Like progressive slots, jackpots tend to have a high volatility rating and a low hit frequency. This is required to balance out the fact that larger payouts are possible.

Megaways slots

Megaways slots were invented by Big Time Gaming in 2015, and all have a unique randomized reel mechanic. Ultimately, this means that there are far more winning combinations you can hit when compared to regular online slots. Most Megaways games have over 117,649 different ways to win as the reels can expand. Also, when you play a Megaways game you will see that the number of symbols changes for each spin.

In terms of slot RTP and variance, Megaways games tend to be in the medium (94-97%) range. As there are many ways to win, Megaways slots mostly have a high hit frequency. That being said, they are still considered to be highly volatile as big winning combos are rare. Great Rhino Megaways and Power Fishing Megaways are two good introductory games for you to test the waters.

What Does Variance Mean in Slot Machines?

Understanding the meaning of RTP alone will not help you to find the slots with the best payouts. Additionally, it is also vital to understand slot machine variance, which tells you how often a game is likely to pay out and how large the average payout is.

There is a complex mechanism with a science behind it that determines the variance of a slot machine. In total, there are four levels of variance - high, medium, low medium and low. Usually, the slot mechanism has been programmed so that games with larger jackpots pay out less frequently. On balance, those with smaller payouts will land on wins more regularly to keep the player engaged.

For example, a game with a high online slot variance, such as Punk Rocker, will pay out larger amounts in the event of a win. On the other hand, such games will have a lower hit frequency, so you will land winning combinations less often. With low variance slots, the hit rate is higher, but the payout amounts you receive are smaller.

High Variance vs Low Variance Slots - How to Pick the Right One

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When it comes to slot RTP and variance, players are faced with a number of choices - high, low and medium. Generally speaking, high variance slots are better suited to players with larger budgets who are more prone to taking risks. While the potential payouts might be larger, wins are hit less, so proper bankroll management is essential.

If you are a more casual slot player, we recommend giving low or low-medium variance games a try first. Although you might not have the chance to hit a big jackpot, there is a greater chance of hitting smaller wins more frequently. Ultimately, this is better for maintaining your bankroll.


Those of you who are a bit more experienced and are playing with a larger budget might prefer high variance slots. While these games might hit winning combos less often, those that you do land are likely to yield bigger payouts. Added to that, most high variance slots have a lot of bonus features and ways that you can trigger higher multipliers.

They also offer all the standard features like free spins, wild symbols, and scatters that trigger bonus games. On top of that, you may find expanding reels and other unique quirks that enhance the gameplay. If you are looking to try out a classic high variance game at Betfair Casino, they don't come much better than Book of Dead.


If you want to moderate things slightly, but still have the chance to land bigger wins, then something with a medium slot RTP and variance might suit. These games provide you with a steady balance of reasonably high payouts with a decent hit frequency.

In terms of the gameplay, medium variance slots are usually less complex than most high variance games, but still have some extra features. For instance, when you play Hell's Kitchen slot, you can trigger a bonus mode that activates two reels at the same time.

Low Medium

At first, you might find the roller coaster ride of high and medium variance slots to be a bit much. At the same time, the steady and reliable nature of low variance games may also have run its course for you. That's where low-medium variance comes in, as they can provide you with a bit more fun and better value for money.

Slots with a low medium variance mostly have a simple grid with 3 reels, 5 rows, and a relatively small number of paylines. Additionally, you should find the bonus features on these games to be easy to follow, but also engaging enough to keep you coming back. Give the Starburst slot a try, and you might be lucky enough to land on an expanding wild bonus.


If you prefer playing for smaller amounts, low variance games are ideal. They offer you more frequent wins that make it easy to maintain your bankroll. On the flip side, your payouts will be lower and the chances of hitting a jackpot are quite slim.

Low variance slots will generally have a simple grid with 3 reels and 5 rows. Usually, they have 9-12 symbols and fewer paylines. Furthermore, you will find extra bonus features such as scatter symbols and free spins. Book of the Irish is a great example of a low variance slot that has a dual-functioning wild and scatter symbol.

What is the Difference Between Variance and Volatility?

You could easily be forgiven for thinking that variance and volatility are essentially the same thing, but they do have some slight differences. Variance is linked more with the RTP, as it shows the likelihood of the shorter and longer term outcomes when playing a game.

For example, slot variance will tell you how many times you are likely to win out of 100 spins. In most cases, a game that pays out more often will also see more money returned to you over time.

Slot volatility, on the other hand, displays how frequent and how sizeable your wins are likely to be. When you play a high volatility game, you might not rack up as many wins, but you will notice that bigger payouts are possible. High RTP low variance slots will usually also have a low volatility rating, and vice-versa.

How is Slot Volatility Calculated

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Much like slot RTP and variance, volatility is calculated by determining the risk vs reward ratio. To do this, two main elements have to be taken into account - the value of the game (win-loss ratio) vs how often these wins occur. Highly volatile games have larger potential wins, but also payout with less regularity. When you play low volatility games, you are likely to land smaller wins on a consistent basis.

Calculating a slot's volatility can be tricky, but the best way to do it is by sampling the game yourself and tracking the data. For example, if you play 100 spins of a slot and find that you receive payouts on more than 30 of those, then the game has a low volatility rating. Anything between 15-30 would be considered medium while 15 or less is high.

The other aspect that you have to look at is the payout multipliers. Generally speaking, a slot with a high volatility rating will have a maximum payout of 10,000x your stake. For medium volatility slots, this is between 5,000-10,000x. Anything with a maximum payout multiplier of 5,000x or less is considered low.

How to Make use of RTP and Variance When Choosing Your Next Betfair Casino Online Slot

Slot RTP and variance might be two concepts that are very much interlinked, but they are not one and the same. For instance, having a high variance doesn't necessarily mean that a game will have a high online slot RTP.

As part of our guide to playing online slots, we first recommend looking at the RTP of the game. If you prefer shorter and more casual gaming sessions, then high RTP games are better. On the contrary, if you have a bigger budget and prefer playing for longer and the chance of larger wins, then a lower RTP slot might be for you.

On top of that, slot machine volatility and variance also have to be taken into account. As a final reminder, low volatility slots mean less risk but smaller wins, meanwhile, high variance slots offer you larger wins but less consistent payouts.

Key takeaways

  • RTP shows you how much of every unit you bet will be returned to you over time.
  • The industry average RTP for online slots is 96%
  • Games with a higher RTP are less volatile and therefore a better option if you are a beginner.
  • Slots with a lower variance are better if you are a casual player using a smaller budget
  • If you are player who enjoys a slightly more thrilling and dynamic gaming experience, high variance slots are the way to go
  • The slot RTP and variance are the two most important factors to consider before choosing a slot to play

You Like What You Read?

Now that you know everything about slots RTP and Variance, why not take a look at our guide to playing slots? It teaches you a basic understanding of how slots work, such as how to play, how the reels function, and the different types of slot. To follow on from this you can check out this guide to different slot types.

If you are a fan of other casino game types, then you might also want to take a look at our advanced strategy guide for roulette. There is also a roulette beginner guide if you are new to the game. Additionally, we have other table game articles to learn how to count cards in blackjack and how to play baccarat.

Slots RTP and Variance FAQs


The meaning of RTP slot is Return to Player, which is a measure in percentage that is used to calculate the number of casino payouts that the online slot will give back to players for each unit that is wagered over time.


Online slot volatility allows players to understand the likelihood of a spin landing a winning payline and what the payout could be. Slots are classified as having low or high volatility.


Volatility is a term that has been associated with slots since the time of slot machines in land-based casinos. On the other hand, variance is a term that is often associated with poker but has since also been used to refer to slots. Both words are synonyms in the slot world and are used interchangeably, so they have the same meaning.


While there is no official value for what make a slot of high RTP, many reviewers argue that the highest online slot RTP percentages start from the 97.00 or 98.00% mark, with medium RTP slots ranging from 94% to 96.99%, and anything below 93.99% is classified as a low RTP slot.


Yes, players can find a decent selection of high RTP slot games at our online casino, including Rainbow Riches Pick 'n' Mix and Jack Hammer 2.


High volatility slots are more likely to land winning combinations with big payouts but this happens less often. This makes them the preferred slots of high rolling players, and also include several bonus rounds and features and even progressive jackpots.


Yes, there are quite a handful of high volatility slots at Betfair Casino, including Raging Rhino, Book of Dead, and Dead or Alive, but it is strongly advised that such slots are played responsibly and with a well-planned budget


RTP is a measure that helps players identify which are potentially the best payout slot games, while volatility allows players to better manage their bankroll for a more effective gaming experience.


The average RTP for online slots is between 96 and 97%, though some games can have an RTP as high as 99%. Generally speaking, most online slots have an RTP of at least 90%. A good example of a medium RTP slot at Betfair Casino is Who Wants to be a Millionaire?


A high RTP won't necessarily increase your chances of winning. However, it may see you recieve smaller wins more often. Effectively, there is less chance of losing when playing a high RTP game.


If you are a casual player, then slots with a high hit frequency are better as they will see you win smaller amounts more frequently. While these games pay out less overall, they are also less risky.


There are four different types of variance - low, low-medium, medium and high. High variance games are riskier but have larger payouts, while the opposite is true for low variance games.


The slot volatility can be determined by playing 100 spins of a game and calculating the hit rate. Anything with 30% or more would be considered a low volatility game, while highly volatile games have a hit rate of 15% or less.

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