Payout percentage is one of the indicators that online casino players use to judge the suitability of casino games. It is the percentage of the amount wagered on a set of games during a given period that is paid out as winnings by the online casino. If you wager $100 on a casino game and win $95, then the payout percent for that transaction will be 95%. The higher the payout percent for a game the more suitable it is for wagering, other things being equal. The problem is that other things are never equal. Online casino games that have the highest payout percentages often require a fair degree of skill to achieve those payout percentages and/or they offer very low payout ratios. For example online blackjack variants have payout percentages of 99%, but the highest payout ratio is 3 to 2. Online slots have payout percentages of about 96% but have the top payouts exceeding 1000 to 1.
Listing of Top Payout Online Casinos for US Players Below
Online casino payout percentages need to be calculated over long periods, say at least a month, and averaged over the wagering for all players. Individual players for short periods will be lucky from time to time and record payout percentages greater than 100%. But long term average payout percentages will always be less than 100% or the online casino will go out of business.
Usually independent expert agencies are engaged by online casinos to compute and report monthly payout percentages. From the actual records of the online casino, these agencies extract the amounts wagered across major game categories for that month and also the amounts paid out by the online casino across those game categories. Based on these figures they compute the payout percentages for the various game categories. They also report the payout percentage for the total wagering. From these actual payout percentages the players can get an idea about the fairness of the games offered.
Land casinos incur much larger financial and operating costs. The outlandish casino buildings and physical gaming equipment require large capital, which has to be serviced over time. The maintenance of the fixed assets and remuneration paid to the large number of personnel employed result in high operating costs. Online casinos on the other hand are virtual entities and do not require personnel to conduct the gaming. Therefore the operating costs of online casinos are much lower.
In order to meet the higher costs, land based casinos need to retain a larger percentage of the gaming turnover as compared to online casinos. Therefore they are compelled to operate their games at lower payout percentages. Table games like roulette and blackjack have for all practical purposes the same rules in land casinos and online casinos. Therefore land casinos cannot do much to lower the payout percentages in these games. The material difference in payout percentages is in the slot machines.
It makes more sense to discuss the payout percentages of different game categories separately.
Blackjack: In online blackjack theoretical payout percentages have been determined by computer simulation and these are about 99%. Blackjack games require a fair bit of skill and the theoretical payout percentages assume that players wager using optimum strategy. Computation of actual blackjack payout percentages at US online casinos are a few points lower. This is because many players do not employ best strategy and achieve less than best returns.
Video Poker: In video poker the theoretical payout percentages can be computed using mathematics of probabilities. They are also about 99%. The rest of the discussion on blackjack applies to video poker.
European Roulette: In European Roulette the theoretical payout percentage can be calculated from mathematics and is about 97%. Since no skill is involved the actual payout percent matches with the theoretical one.
Online Slots: In online slots there is no theoretical payout percent. The actual payout percent is mostly range bound between 94.5% and 96.5%.
As you bet on a progressive jackpot slot game, the jackpot amount keeps on increasing. When a player hits the progressive jackpot, the jackpot amount has to be reset. It is never reset to zero but to some fixed amount. This is referred to as the seed amount. If the progressive jackpot slots offered the same payout percentages as the other slot games, then the seed amount would have to be borne by the online casinos, which is not a viable proposition.
In order to create the seed amount from the bets places by the players, progressive jackpot slots offer lower payout percentages. As a player you are compensated by the opportunity of winning much larger payout ratios in progressive slots. As a thumb rule, the larger is the seed amount in progressive jackpot slots, the lower is the payout percent. But the larger is the seed amount, the larger is the average hit size.