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How do Online Slots Work? – RTP, Volatility and RNG

Online slots are the most popular casino games in the world. Players at both land-based establishments and Internet gambling sites choose to spend their time and money daily playing these simple, amusing games that allow you to relax and maybe win a buck or two.
Jay - The Founder

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Sep 30, 2022

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What makes online slots the top gambling choice?

To begin with, there are no complicated rules, meaning you do not have to possess any prior experience to play. Also, most online casinos allow you to first try the available slots risk-free in demo mode. Further, most machines are quite budget-friendly. Besides, they are packed with entertaining features, come in a variety of themes, and are available to play on the majority of popular desktop and mobile devices.

How Do Online Slots Work?

Now that we have explained how easy it is to play online slots, let us give you a few more details for a seamless start. Most of today’s slot machines still use reels to show the outcome of a single spin. Unlike physical slots, virtual machines employ computers to calculate the results. Essentially, you need to land a line of matching symbols to win. But how exactly does technology decide whether you will win or lose? We will tell you all about it below.

Online Slot Random Number Generators (RNGs)

A Random Number Generator (RNG) is a tool that virtually decides the outcome any time you spin the reels of an online slot. It generates a random number, which governs how the reels will stop, thus forming a winning or a losing combination of symbols.

Simply put, the process is the following: The slot’s RNG produces an arbitrary number. The mathematical algorithm behind the game “reads” the number to determine where the reels should stop. This means that the outcome is decided from the moment you press the “Play” button, and is known way before the reels cease spinning. The spinning itself is used more as an effect to create a sense of thrill and suspense in the player. Once the reels cease spinning, you will learn whether you win or lose.

Of course, you might be concerned about the fairness of RNGs. What you need to know in this case is that you are safe as long as you play at a trusted, licensed, and regulated online casino. The reason is that such operators use independent third-party agencies to have the games’ software tested and evaluated for randomness. These authorities perform a wide range of audits and eventually issue certificates to guarantee that the slots you play adhere to the fairness standards.

In case you fear hacker attacks on the games’ RNGs, these are highly unlikely as well. The reason is again that licensed and regulated online casinos are obliged to apply many incredibly rigorous security measures. Thus, they guarantee high levels of protection against hacker attacks.

Online Slot RTP and How RNGs Affect RTPs

RTP% is the acronym for Return to Player Percentage. This is a theoretical variable that signifies how much of the money you have spent playing an online slot will be returned to you over time. In other words, if a game has an RTP of 96.7%, you might hope to get back $96.7 for every $100 you wagered.

However, when gaming providers calculate the RTP of an online slot, they perform hundreds of thousands, and sometimes even millions of spins. Thus, you might need to play the game for a very long time to be able to catch up with the theoretical RTP.

To elaborate, RTP differs from one slot to another. The industry’s average RTP is 96%. That said, let us examine the connection between RNGs and RTPs. Simply put, a game’s RNG determines its RTP. Thus, the amount of money you will win or lose is again directly connected to the RNG. The reason is that RNGs are programmed to select number combinations that will ensure the consistency of the slots’ RTP.

The Difference Between RTP and House Edge in Online Slots

Players oftentimes find it confusing to differentiate between an online slot’s RTP and the house edge. However, the two are fairly easy to distinguish. As we already said, RTP points out how much the casino is likely to pay you back over time if you play a certain game.

This amount will never be 100% because an Internet betting site is a business that needs to profit to survive. The percentage of your bets the casino will keep is called the “house edge.” For instance, if you play a slot with an RTP of 96.9%, the house edge for the operator will be 3.1%.

Online Slot Volatility: How Does It Influence Your Wins?

RTP is not the only important factor that determines how much – if at all – you will win by playing an online slot. Volatility is another major component of your game. This parameter is also called “dispersion” and is used to describe how much and how often you are likely to win from a certain online slot. Another way to look at it would be in terms of what your risk of losing is.

Volatility can be low, medium, or high. Slots with low volatility will bring you small but frequent prizes. High-volatility games are likely to offer bigger but irregular wins.

Are Volatility and Variance the Same Thing in Online Slots?

Players and experts alike often use the terms volatility and variance interchangeably. However, they are not the same thing. We already explained what volatility means above. In turn, the variance is a concept that describes the deviation from the slot’s theoretical RTP. In other words, the variance refers to the game at a certain point in time and shows how likely you are to win or lose at that particular moment regardless of the machine’s volatility.

In Conclusion

It is obvious that many factors determine whether or not you will snatch the jackpot when playing an online slot. As much as we like to look at the different variables and parameters, however, let us not forget that gambling is best practiced as a fun way to pass some free time rather than as a means of making money. Therefore, while it is good to know all about playing online slots, every once in a while, it helps to simply relax and just enjoy an amusing experience.

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