If you have ever been shopping around for an online casino, you have surely heard the term “payout percentage” thrown around. You may have thrown it around yourself! And rightly so, for an online casino’s payout percentage is a reflection of how much money is going back to players in the form of winnings (calculated by dividing the sum of payouts by the sum of deposits, multiplied by 100%). Of course, a high payout percentage doesn’t guarantee you are going to win. The only thing that can do that is Lady Luck…and she’s a flighty one at that! In other words, playing at an online casino with a 97% payout average on all games does not mean you will have better odds of winning at an online casino with a 93% payout average on all games?
So why keep emphasizing payout percentage? If it doesn’t guarantee anything, why all the fuss? I mean, some online casinos don’t even bother to publish their payout percentage, and they seem to be doing just fine. Obviously, the bulk of players out there don’t pay it that much mind – or else they wouldn’t be playing. Perhaps it’s that most players don’t know any better. Well, if that’s you, my friend, please listen up.
An online casinos payout percentage report is important for several reasons. You’ll notice that I said payout percentage report and not just payout percentage. Again, some online casinos will claim they have a particular (high) payout percentage, but they don’t always back it up with an accredited report prepared by a third party (see the image to the right). Whose to say they are lying? Sure, they could get in big trouble and lose their license for doing that. But if the licensing jurisdiction is a lax one, who’s ever going to know?
This is actually one of the pro’s of gambling online – the high speed dissemination of information. If you see an online casino publishing a payout percentage report and want to check it’s validity, contact the auditor (listed on the report) by email and send them a link to the published report for verification. You should have an answer same day or next. Of course, you want to make sure the auditor is also legit. No worries there, for the online gambling industry is actually a close knit one and those of us in the know….well, we know who is accredited and who is not! You could also contact the licensing jurisdiction. For a list of internationally respected, third party auditors and licensing/regulatory jurisdictions, keep reading.
What I’m trying to get at is that just having an online casino publish a payout percentage report on their website says something. It shows that the online casino is transparent and understands the importance of earning player trust. Watchdog groups like eCOGRA actually require all of their approved online casinos to provide a link to such reports every month of the year. Payout reports for Go Casino and All Slots Casino are seen below:
For those online casinos that do not publish their payout reports, you will often see a software fairness verification document instead or a statement relating to the same. These are often prepared by the same auditors, and while they still hold credence, more questions remain. These reports show that the software platform being licensed by the online casino produces fair playing results in line with accepted norms, and that winnings can not be predicted (that’s why they call results generator a Random Number Generator, or RNG). Below is a verification report for Real Time Gaming Software (applicable to all RTG powered online casinos under regulatory licenses prohibiting source code manipulation). Immediately below this report are statements of certification for Aladdin’s Gold Casino and VIP Slots:
Now, any of the above is really all an online casino would need to divulge for adequate transparency if their regulatory license DOES NOT give the casino operators permission to change the RNG source code, which in turn, would change the payout percentage. Indeed, some licensing agreements allow this. Regulatory jurisdictions allow it as well. However, such regulatory jurisdictions will also require casinos to subjugate themselves to ongoing payout percentage reports to ensure the numbers are not being over-manipulated and running too low (FYI, the minimum payout percentage required for land-based casinos in Nevada is 75% (slots) and 83% in Atlantic City). If you are not sure if the online casino has a license allowing source code manipulation or not, contact the licensing jurisdiction to find out! And if the online casino does not publish payout reports, software accreditation document, nor licensing credentials (nor will provide any documentation upon request), be weary of playing there! On that note, further below is a list of of the most widely recognized and trusted regulatory jurisdictions and auditors you should know about. Immediately below are license certificates for English Harbour Casino (licensed in Antigua) and All Star Slots (licensed in Curacao; Netherlands, Antilles)
Reputable third party online casino auditors:
Price Waterhouse Coopers
Technical Systems Testing
Certified Fair Gaming (Elliot Jacobsen)
Another name worth noting is that of actuary Michael Shakelford, aka, The Wizard of Odds.
Reputable online casino licensing/regulatory jurisdictions:
United Kingdom (The UK Gambling Commission)
Malta (Malta Lotteries and Gaming Authority)
Gibraltar (Gibraltar Regulatory Authority)
Curacao (Netherlands, Antilles Department of Justice; Cyberluck);
Isle of Man (Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission)
Alderney (Alderney Gambling Control Commission)
Tasmania (Tasmania Gaming Commission)
Antigua and Barbuda (Financial Services Regulatory Commission’s Division of Gaming)
Other Jurisdictions (less regulation – casinos should be considered on a case-by-case basis)
Panama (Gambling Control Board of the Republic of Panama)
Kahnawake (Kahnawake Gaming Commission)
Costa Rica (Costa Rica Commerce, Industry and Economy Ministry)
Cyprus (Cyprus Government)
Note that only a small handful of online casinos licensed in Costa Rica and Kahnawake are approved and reviewed on the OCS online casino reviews page. All other approved listings come from jurisdictions in the topmost group. Also, the above list is not exhaustive. There are nearly 60 known licensing jurisdictions regulating various forms of remote wagering. The above mentioned jurisdictions are some of the more prolific.
The other thing about online casino payout percentage you should know is that (as I mentioned before) while a higher casino payout percentage does not guarantee you will win, it can give you better theoretical odds. For example, if Online Casino “A” consistently returns an average of 97% payout on its slot machines month after month, your long-term theoretical return will be higher than playing at Online Casino “B”, where a 90% payout is consistently returned. Granted, it’s not going to be a noticeable difference, and certainly won’t be for payout differences of just a few percentile. In other words, if Online Casino “A” is only offering a 100% welcome bonus worth $100 Free and Online Casino “B” is offering a 400% Bonus worth $500 Free, Online Casino “B” stands to be just as good a contender for opening an account (assuming all other things equal). Now, if an online casino is consistently returning the bare minimum of required payout percentage, you might as well find another place to play, which AGAIN brings up another advantage of gambling online.
As much as land-based online casinos hate to admit it, online casinos simply provide better payouts. The payout percentage reports speak for themselves. Most Vegas, Atlantic City and UK casinos skirt by the minimum required payouts, sometimes boosting up their numbers when they need some good advertising (land-based casinos can change the odds on their slots, so long as it meets the minimum payout), whereas licensed and regulated online casinos are known to deliver consistently high payouts in the upper nineties percentile. But don’t take my word for it. Now that you know the importance of online casino payout percentage and payout percentage reports (not to mention how to go about verifying the numbers), make your own informed decisions. Of course, if you need a little help in narrowing down the best of the best online casinos, I would be doing the OCS online casino reviews section injustice if I did not say it is a great place to start your search.