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Real Money vs Free Play: Why RTPs vary on casino games

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When deciding to play online casino games for the first time, you may have reverted to playing the free versions of your favourite slot, roulette, or blackjack variant before hitting the casino to play for real money.

Playing free games gives you the opportunity to explore the slot features and game volatilities before subjecting your hard-earned money to the casino. The question arises though, are the games geared to react the same in free mode as they are in real money mode?

There are claims that some game providers, like EGT, increase the casino game’s RTP on their demo versions of slots, blackjack and roulette games, in an attempt to entice players to play for real. The ability for any game provider to do this, and by what degree, depends on the regulation jurisdiction the games are being played from.

Stricter casino regulators do not allow for this sort of manipulation, while some set reasonable variance limits and others, like Curacao e-Gaming Commission, set no limits at all. The question remains though, does the RTP change really make as big a difference as we think?

RTP Ins and Outs

RTP stands for Return to Player. It is the percentage of wins that a specific casino game will payout over the lifetime of the machine. The higher the RTP, the more lucrative the prizes will be in the long run.

While RTP can influence the size of the wins to a degree, it will not influence the frequency of the wins on its own. Here, the variance/volatility setting of the game comes into play. High variance games payout less frequently, but the prizes are usually more rewarding and low variance games pay out far more frequently, but the wins are smaller.

Because the RTP has more of a bearing on the performance of a game in the long term, the type of wins available won’t vary too much from those experienced in the game if they are adjusted only slightly. Bigger adjustments may increase the win ratio a bit more. If however, the game provider changes the variance of free playing slots along with the RTP, the gaming experience would differ quite drastically from the original pay for play game, proving to be deceiving for the player.

The result

Providers may change the RTP on a game to make it more appealing to players, but it also aids in showing a player what a title is capable of. If the features trigger more frequently in the free modes, the players are better able to experience them more readily and therefore understand the full potential of the game.

It is important to be aware of the fact that win ratios may differ, but you can resolve this issue (if you want to) by playing demo games in casinos regulated in the UK or Malta for less deviation on this matter.

Published: May 7, 2020

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Article by Kally

CasinoWow Contributor

Hi, I’m Kally and I am proud to be part of the CasinoWow family! The last few years have helped me enrich my insights on the gambling world online and now, I can say I recognise the best casino brands and operators. I am more than happy that I get the chance of helping the players make the right choice when it comes to online casinos.

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