Pokies in Australia must have a payout percentage (Also known as RTP or Return to Player) of 87% or higher. In most cases you will find games around the 90% mark although you will never know it as individual gambling sessions will vary widely which is actually a good thing.
The listed percentages actually refer to the long term theoretical performance of the machine. That means that over a long time (millions of spins) a machine with a 90% setting will return 90% of money gambled.
One of the most important points to note is that there are no pokies with a pay back set to over 100%. This means that the longer you play the more you are likely to lose. There is no way to consistently win on the pokies.
How the game RTP's are determined
Contrary to popular belief the RTP's are not calculated on the individual spins. Instead, a games RTP is determined by the way the symbols are positioned on the reels. Read our How Pokies Work article to find out more.
Money In Versus Money Gambled
Another point that many players confuse is the money in versus money gambled aspect. The RTP refers to money gambled not money put into the machine. For example if you put a $20 note in a machine and play at 20c per spin you will get more than 100 spins as you will get some wins.
The game payout percentages on poker machines are only determined by the symbol positions and are not affected by any other aspect including the amount of money put into the machine.
The RTP for Individual Gaming Sessions
A games RTP is never going to be reflected in individual gaming sessions. This is a good thing as it would not be too entertaining if you always lost money when you played the pokies. In an individual gaming session some players will win, some will lose and some might break even..
One fact that cannot be escaped is the fact that all pokie RTP's are less than 100% which means if you played for millions of spins you are 100% guaranteed to lose all money put into the machine.
Offline Compared to Online
Pokies in pubs, clubs and casinos in Australia have a minimum RTP of 87% (85% in QLD) which is quite low compared to the games you can play online. This is due to the fact that the traditional gaming venues have higher overheads compared to the online casinos.
Where available we publish individual game RTP's in our game reviews and the average level online is around 94% which is a good 7% higher than the minimum you get at your local gaming venue.
Of course these higher pay back rates do not guarantee you'll win more online but it cetainly cannot hurt to play games with higher RTP's. Over the very long term you should get more action for your money.
Considering playing pokies is all about entertainment this gives playing online an advantage over playing offline.