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What is House Edge and RTP? 2024

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House edge and return-to-player (RTP) averages at casino games represent built-in advantages for casino owners and operators. The theoretical house edge of a particular game generally falls between 5% and 20%, while other casino games offer a lower house edge of 2% or less.

New players should understand that RTP and house edge generally reflect each other. For example, when you play blackjack, the house edge percentage of the same game depicts the opposite of its RTP (i.e., a house edge of 2% equals an RTP of 98%).

If you’re wondering what house edge and RTP at casinos are, we’ve got you covered.

What to Know before you start Casino Gambling

Mathematicians and managers design and analyze casino games to perfect the house edge. Third-party companies routinely test casino games to ensure that online casinos and software providers continually portray accurate RTP averages and that games remain fair for players.

Players should recognize a casino advantage when playing casino games at retail locations and online to avoid losses due to the gambler’s fallacy. Understanding the casino house edge, setting limits, and taking advantage of welcome bonuses like deposit matches or free spins helps keep games rewarding and fun.

It’s also important to note that online casino games (slots, blackjack, and other table games) usually offer the lowest house edge. In contrast, land-based casinos require various maintenance fees for slot machines and labor costs for staff, resulting in a high house edge for their casino games.

Thus, online casino providers can afford to offer games with a lower house edge.

How do I Gamble at a Casino?

Close-up of a person showing a pair of queen cards to the camera while playing poker. Poker game concept.

It’s best to learn about ‘house edge’ when you play games at one of our recommended online casinos. While slot games often require a decent bankroll since their house edges typically hover around 5% for an RTP of 95%, you can avoid a high house edge by choosing a table game like blackjack.

The best blackjack game for newbies offers a low house edge of less than one percent (0.50% house edge or 99.5% RTP). Depending on the blackjack game’s rules (which we’ll discuss below), you’ll get the most value from your bankroll by using the ‘basic strategy’ for every hand.

Use one of our affiliate sites to receive a welcome bonus with your first deposit (or a no-deposit bonus from BetMGM or Borgata), and choose a virtual or live dealer blackjack game to start.

Does the House Edge affect players?

The house edge of retail and online casino games ultimately determines any RTP payback potential. When you play casino games, the fixed house edge ensures the casino always generates a profit.

For example, online slots offer house edges around 4% to 6% for inversely theoretical RTP averages of 94% to 96%. A slot game with an RTP of 96% gives the casino a 4% house edge.

In contrast, the casino’s advantage rises for any slot game at land-based locations, which offer lower RTPs and an increasingly better house edge (not better for players). Slots at retail casinos may provide RTPs of 80% to 90% or a bit higher. That boosts the casino advantage to 10% to 20% instead of a more player-friendly 4% to 6% at online slots.

Conversely, most online casino table games provide the lowest house edge for live dealer titles from Evolution Gaming. You can also find plenty of ‘low house edge’ options from virtual table games (IGT, Light & Wonder, NetEnt, etc.) like baccarat, blackjack, craps, roulette, or a video poker game. 

Understanding the differences between the casino house edge at online and retail casinos is essential for keeping your bankroll intact.

What does RTP mean if I see it on a casino game? 

Software providers use computers to generate millions of hands, rounds, or spins for their casino games. Think of it as a computer-generated sports game that uses data analytics to test the probabilities of specific outcomes.

Choosing a casino game with a house edge of 5% means the theoretical RTP is 95%. After testing the game’s software across millions (or even hundreds of millions) of spins and tweaking the random number generator (RNG) for a desired result, casino gaming companies arrive at the RTP average.

The casino’s mathematical advantage gets built into the game, which, on average, returns $95 for every $100 wagered. Meanwhile, the house edge retains an average profit of $5 for every $100 placed into the game or machine. (The RTP and house edge formula works the same for any casino game.)

Retail casinos may also require unique analysis from mathematicians and statisticians to achieve a desired house edge for their games. Casino games must balance a profitable house edge against a favorable RTP that keeps players returning to play, gamble, and have fun.

Tips for Using the House Edge to Your Advantage

Understanding the house edge for any casino game helps to enlighten players. Those who don’t recognize the casino’s advantage may often lose money compared to gamblers who find the best value for their bankrolls at games and wagers with a low house edge.

Test a casino game for free before you bet real money. Check the casino house edge from the information tab of your preferred online casino game. Then, you can browse and learn which games offer better odds than others and find titles with the lowest house edges.

Games at online casinos often provide a pay table for players to view how a slot pays. Most table games also show which wagers offer better odds (i.e., higher odds equal lower payouts, while lower odds offer higher payouts). There’s also a casino edge for various side bets at baccarat, blackjack, and craps.

Retail locations may allow players to ask dealers or managers about house edge for any single casino game.

Other than baccarat, blackjack, and craps, we also recommend games with the lowest house edges for better chances of winning bets, such as roulette with a European wheel, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, and video poker.

Below, we’ve reviewed some of the most popular casino games and their house edges/expected RTPs.

Slots

As one of the most popular games at online casinos and brick-and-mortar locations, there are often hundreds or thousands of slots. With various symbols and themes, players can select a slot, provide a balance, set a bet amount, and click spin.

An ‘i’ button or in-game settings tab usually includes information on RTPs, which may reflect a house edge between 2% and 15%.

Blackjack

Traditional blackjack games require players to get as close to 21 without going over, while natural blackjack comes from getting 21 on the first two cards. Blackjack usually pays 3 to 2.

Some variants may stipulate a ‘dealer stands on 17,’ while others might require a dealer hit on 17, which offers a slightly higher house edge.

Depending on how many decks get used (fewer decks provide a lower house edge) and how well a player implements the basic strategy, the game’s house edge hovers around 0.25% to 2%.

Baccarat

Baccarat is a popular card game with three main bets: player, banker, and tie. Players must wager on the banker or player to get the closest to nine from two or three cards (depending on card totals).

Twos through nines retain their face values, while face cards equal zero and Aces equal one. Card totals above ten must subtract ten (7+7 = 14 – 10 = 4). A player’s bet stands on 6 or 7 and draws on lesser values, while an 8 or 9 equals a natural hand.

Player and banker bets each pay even money, and there’s a 5% commission on any banker wager that wins. Tie bets pay either 9 or 8 to 1.

House edge at baccarat ranges from 1% to 15% (1.06% for banker bets, 1.24% for player bets, and 14.4% for a tie bet). Like in blackjack, there are side bets with a high house advantage.

Keno

Keno is a relatively obscure game that usually offers a high casino house edge. Players choose up to 15 numbers from 1 to 80 on a card sheet.

Bet amounts determine payouts for a drawing of 20 numbers for each round. You may need to match at least five numbers for an even-money payout.

While keno might offer a house edge of 25% to 45%, online casinos provide keno games with RTPs closer to 95% for a significantly reduced house advantage of around 5% (based on how many numbers you choose).

Roulette

The roulette wheel was invented in 17th-century France by French mathematician Blaise Pascal. The house edge for modern roulette depends on the variant.

With a single green-colored zero (0) pocket and numbers from 1 to 36, European and French Roulette may offer an overall house edge of 2.70%. American Roulette includes two green-colored pockets, zero and double zero (00), providing a higher house edge of 5.26%.

Roulette payouts depend on particular wagers for inside (one, two, three numbers, etc.) and outside bets (even/odd, black/red, high/low).

Poker

Poker (or “carnival games”) include card games like Caribbean Stud, Four Card Poker, Let It Ride, Pai Gow, and Ultimate Texas Hold’em. Unlike traditional poker, where players receive hole cards and compete against each other, carnival games use face-up community cards for a player-versus-dealer betting style.

Players may be required to wager an ante to receive a two-card hand and then engage in betting rounds to see the flop, turn, and river.

The house edge of poker games may hover around 4% to 8%, with some titles offering a casino house edge of 3% or less.

Video Poker

Video poker is a straightforward casino game with a house advantage that may surprise even the most advanced players. A popular version of video poker from IGT is Game King Video Poker.

There are nine video poker games, including Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Joker Poker, and six types of Bonus Poker. Players can switch bet amounts to adjust payouts ranging from even money for a 3 of a Kind to 800x for a royal flush.

Game King Video Poker RTPs range from 98.98% (1.02% house edge for Double Double Bonus Poker) to 99.72% (0.28% house edge for Deuces Wild Poker).

Click the ‘Deal’ button for a five-card hand and pick the cards you’ll keep for your draw.

Craps

Craps is a complicated game for beginners, but it’s one of the few options offering true odds. However, those true odds come attached to bets on the pass/don’t pass and come/don’t come lines. Players start on the come-out roll to establish a point.

Wager a Pass Line bet if you think the player will roll a 7 or 11 on the come-out roll (or their point number before a 7). Use the Don’t Pass Line if you believe the player will roll a 2 or 3 on the come-out roll (or a 7 before the point number). The same methodology applies to the come/don’t come lines, including individual bets for and against point numbers (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10).

With no house advantage, the Odds bet (true odds) applies to the pass/don’t pass and come/don’t come lines. You can also wager Place bets on point numbers to hit before a 7 or Don’t Place to bet against the shooter (crapping out). Buy and Lay bets equate to Place/Don’t Place bets with 5% commissions and different payout odds.

There are even more side bets in craps, including Any Craps (pays 7 to 1), Seven (pays 4 to 1), and Field bets (3, 4, 9, 10, 11) with a double payout for a 2 and triple payout for a 12.

Depending on the craps game and how much value you can add to an Odds bet, there might be a house advantage of around 0.25%. Overall, there’s a house edge for craps ranging from 1% to 16%.

Casino Tips for Beginners

3d image of a roulette wheel and with gambling chips placed on a gambling table ready to bet.

You can view the in-game settings, game rules, or pay table to learn about the house advantages of online casino games. While land-based casinos don’t openly show the house edge for their games, software providers offer information for any online casino game.

You’ll usually see progressive jackpot slots along with other featured titles. Remember that higher payouts mean lower odds, so stick to relevant and suitable games for your bankroll and betting style.

Some online casinos provide information about volatility. Games with low or medium volatility pay out frequently in small amounts, while high-volatility games pay out less frequently in higher amounts. If you prefer slots, we recommend playing games with an RTP of at least 95% to 96% and high volatility.

Use your best judgment and stick to wagers representing 1% to 5% of your bankroll. Only gamble what you can afford to lose. And if you need to observe before you start playing, that’s another valuable way to learn by watching rather than losing money.

Online casino companies use Responsible Gaming (RG) practices to ensure players have fun and avoid problem gambling habits. Contact 1-800-GAMBLER if you think you or someone else may have a gambling issue. You can also set limits on deposits, sessions, and losses through your account dashboard or enact a “cool off” period for 72 hours or up to a year.

Contact your casino to voluntarily place yourself on an in-state self-exclusion list for an extended break or permanent ban.

The Difference Between RTP and the House Edge

Online gambling should be a form of entertainment for beginners, while experienced players may continually return to test their strategies. Whether you’re new to online gambling or an advanced player at land-based casinos, it’s essential to understand the difference between RTP and house edge for the best chances of winning.

For example, professional blackjack players who’ve perfected card counting might scoff at the idea of playing slots. Once they’ve implemented the basic strategy and reduced the house advantage to near zero, spending their profits at games with a house edge of 5% to 10% or higher may be foolish or laughable.

In contrast, tourists who come to gamble with large bankrolls can afford the randomness of their favorite slots while enjoying the thrill of winning a single number at American Roulette.

Players with smaller bankrolls must consider RTP averages for better chances of winning. Depending on shorter gaming sessions, they’ll be more susceptible to variance.

The best thing a player can do if they win big is to know when to walk away and thus enjoy their profit rather than the casino winning it back.

Calculating the RTP VS the House Edge

Savvy players understand how a slot machine functions and realize that games with high RTPs and volatility often pay best at max bet. That’s why 88 Fortunes remains popular online and at retail casinos.

With an RTP of about 96%, players might earn, on average, $96 for every $100 they spend at the slot machine. The longer they play, the closer they reach that theoretical 96% RTP.

In contrast, the 4% house edge represents the casino’s built-in advantage to earn a profit, generating an average of $4 for every $100 played out each day.

The same applies to other games, like baccarat, blackjack, craps, and the roulette wheel. However, the house edge applies to how you bet (wagers you chose).

Using the optimal strategy at blackjack helps keep the house advantage around 0.50%, which means you’d lose, on average, $0.50 for every $100 spent.

RTP Percentage and Online Slots

Each slot machine contains an RNG that provides a random sequence every time a player presses the spin button. The RNG works instantaneously, as the flashing lights and sound effects entertain gamblers and create an atmosphere of luck.

However, the RTPs of slot machines immediately reflect the potential outcomes determined by the casino and software provider.

We recommend playing these high RTP slots and table games to get the best chance of winning.

Slot Games with a High RTP

  • Bloodsuckers
  • Starmania
  • Rainbow Riches
  • Double Diamond
  • Medusa Megaways
  • White Rabbit

Table Games with a High RTP

  • American Blackjack
  • Ultimate Texas Hold’em
  • Craps
  • Roulette
  • Baccarat

How to find the best Casino Games Online

To find the best casino games online, create an account using one of our recommended options. In addition to welcome bonuses for first-time players and ongoing promotions for existing users, casinos reward loyal customers through generous rewards programs.

For example, MGM Rewards (BetMGM, Borgata) and Caesars Rewards (Caesars Palace Online Casino) provide exclusive benefits for players who earn tier credits and loyalty points by gambling in-person and online. Redeemable rewards include bonuses at online casino games, complimentary dining, entertainment, hotel stays, and more.

Head to your casino of choice via the offers above, and follow these steps to get started:

  1. Visit one of our recommended casino sites or download a relevant mobile app from the App Store or Google Play. Click ‘Sign Up’ or ‘Register’.
  2. Enter your email, create a password, and provide a promo code (optional).
  3. To confirm your identity, type in various personal details, including your name, address, mobile number, and the last four digits of your SSN.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions for know-your-customer (KYC) protocols (if necessary).
  5. Create your account and make a qualifying deposit to receive your deposit match.
  6. Confirm your location in a legal jurisdiction.
  7. Pick a game and make your first bet.
  8. Have fun!

To get started with iGaming, we’ve listed the following legal jurisdictions for online players.

Michigan

The Great Lake State legalized internet gaming, including online poker and sports betting (online and retail), in December 2019. In-state operators launched in Michigan on January 22, 2021. Within three years, in 2023, the state generated nearly $2 billion in iGaming revenue from up to 15 regulated casinos.

New Jersey

The Garden State legalized internet gaming in February 2013 to keep up with online poker legalization in Nevada. In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a prohibition on sports betting in favor of New Jersey, ending the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. That verdict changed gambling forever, with NJ becoming a centerpiece in the online gambling market with more than 30 casino sites authorized by the Gaming Division Enforcement.

Rhode Island

In 2024, Rhode Island became the seventh state to legalize iGaming. The Bally’s Corporation launched the state’s only online casino platform and mobile app.

Pennsylvania

The Keystone State legalized Interactive Gaming in 2017. By 2021, the state’s Gaming Control Board issued licenses to 10 certificate holders for 19 iGaming sites. There are now around 20 available online casino options in PA.

West Virginia

West Virginia became the fifth state to legalize iGaming in early 2019. Per legal requirements, five in-state casinos may partner with up to three online gaming sites in the Mountain State for a maximum of 15.

Connecticut

Connecticut legalized and launched internet gaming in 2021. With partnerships between the Foxwoods Casino Resort and DraftKings and the Mohegan Sun Casino and FanDuel, only two options exist for iGaming in the Nutmeg State.

Delaware

Delaware became the first state to legalize internet gambling in 2012, about eight months ahead of its northeastern neighbor, New Jersey. However, there are only three available iGaming sites in the First State, with BetRivers taking over 888 Holdings’ in-state operations in 2024.

House Edge and RTP percentage FAQ

Want to learn more about the House Edge and RTP percentages? Read these common questions and answers we’ve compiled below.

You can learn the house edge percentage of any casino game from its return-to-player (RTP) average. These percentages are often available from the in-game settings of an online game or by asking dealers or managers at a retail casino. If a game has an RTP of 95%, the house edge is 5%.

Return-to-player (RTP) averages generally come from individual games. However, you can contact an online operator or land-based casino for its overall RTP average, which they may know from monthly and yearly audits.

U.S.-regulated casinos offering interactive gaming platforms and mobile apps provide similar titles, while land-based operators may choose various games to suit their profit margins. For the lowest house edge, we recommend using an optimal strategy at blackjack, even money bets at French roulette, or the banker bet at baccarat. Some poker and video poker games offer low house edges of around 1% or less.

The house edge is a built-in casino advantage that allows owners and operators to remain profitable. Check out some of our how-to-play guides, glossaries, and reviews to beat the house edge. Gain confidence by learning how games work, playing high RTP titles, and practicing bankroll management.

While a few slots may offer RTP averages higher than 96%, you’ll typically find the best RTPs from particular bets and strategies in baccarat, blackjack, craps, roulette, and video poker.

The house edge represents the casino’s built-in advantage of their games. Return-to-player (RTP) averages reflect how much a game pays out over time, usually based on a random number generator (RNG). A game with a house edge of 5% equates to an RTP of 95%.

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