Should Slots Display Profit Rates?

Slots Stocks Question Mark
Slots Stocks Question Mark

Some slots developers list helpful information in the pay table. Online developers are especially good about doing so.

They may list the return to player (RTP) and/or hit frequency in the pay table (a.k.a. info screen). I’ll discuss more on these terms and why they’re helpful later on.

Unfortunately, slots providers don’t give any indication on how often you can expect to win per round. You’re completely in the dark regarding the rate of spins that will be profitable.

The latter refers to something that I like to call “profit rate.” Going further, I’d appreciate seeing this figure included in the info screen. I’ll discuss more on profit rate along with how it can benefit you and other gamblers.

Slots Focus on RTP and Hit Frequency

Slots developers are primarily focused on displaying the RTP and hit frequency. Not all developers offer this information, but many online slots providers do.

RTP refers to how much a game will pay back in the long run. A slot with 97% RTP, for example, will deliver $97 for every $100 wagered on average.

Hit frequency determines the likelihood of any payout occurring in a given round. A game with 25% hit frequency, for instance, will see you win on a quarter of your spins.

You can see that both of these figures are helpful. RTP provides an indication on how much money a game will pay out over time. Hit frequency shows the percentage of spins that will result in a prize.

I appreciate when slots providers offer both of these numbers. My complaint, though, is that they only concentrate on these figures.

Even when RTP and hit frequency are available, you still have no indication on how many times you’ll actually collect a true win. By true win, I mean one where you’re earning more money than you spend on the round (e.g. $1 payout on a $0.25 spin).

Profit Rate Doesn’t Exist Yet but Here’s What It Would Be

Software providers don’t currently offer a profit rate. In fact, the latter term doesn’t even exist in the gaming world.

I’ve made it up as a way to describe your odds of netting a profitable spin. This term is similar to hit frequency, but it’s not entirely the same.

As previously covered, hit frequency defines your chances of winning any prize. A hit can include as little as a $0.01 payout.

It’s always nice to win in slots. However, I’d hardly call earning a penny to be a real win, especially when betting a dollar or more. Profit rate ignores these tiny payouts that don’t even cover the spin cost. It only refers to rounds that deliver a profit.

Here’s an example of a successful round:

  • You bet $0.50.
  • You win a $2 payout.
  • This spin as results in a $1.50 profit.

Profit Rate vs. Hit Frequency

Hit frequency shows how often you can expect to win with each spin. A hit counts as anything ranging from a game’s smallest prize to the jackpot.

Slots with larger hit frequencies see you win more often. Anything between 30% and 40% hit frequency is considered high. In contrast, low hit frequency alludes to anywhere between 10% and 20%.

Profit rate doesn’t show how frequently you can expect to win. Instead, it only measures how many of your spins will be profitable.

Given that profit rate doesn’t currently exist right now, there’s no set standard on this figure. Based on my experiences with playing slots, though, the average figure falls somewhere in between 10% and 15%.

RTP vs. Profit Rate

You should refer to RTP if you want to know your long-term chances of beating a slot. Payback shows what percentage of money you can expect to win back versus what you’re risking.

Here’s an example:

  • A slot offers 96.5% payback.
  • You wager 1,000 on this game.
  • 1,000 x 0.965
  • You’ll theoretically win back $965.

RTP isn’t a figure that’s realized within a handful of rounds. Instead, payout percentages refer to the average payback over the course of hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of spins.

The average RTP for an online slots is 96%. The average payback for a land-based slot machine is around 92%.

Profit rate doesn’t explain your actual chances of beating a game and how much you’ll win back over time. It merely indicates your short-term chances of performing profitable spins.

Why Is a Slots Profit Rate Important?

Losses disguised as wins (LDWs) represent the most deceiving aspect of slots. An LDW refers to a win that’s not really a win.

Instead, it represents the times where you earn a prize that’s worth less than you bet. Games ring out with triumphant sound effects and show exciting animations during your “win.” Nevertheless, you’ve still experienced a loss.

A profit rate would help you cut through the deception to see when you actually win a round. If you collect a $2 payout against a $1 wager, then you’ve had a profitable spin. If you only earn back $0.05 on a $1 bet, you’ve suffered a loss.

Slot machines do a good job at disguising when you truly win and lose. But as long as you know the profit rate, then you’re less likely to be fooled by LDWs.

Beyond this, you may simply want an estimation on how many rounds will be profitable. A defined percentage would give you an indication on how many spins will deliver profits.

You can see how profits rates can generally benefit players. Now, I’ll go deeper into the advantages of listing this figure.

Help Players Understand the Odds of Real Wins

Most slots players have no idea how often they actually win money in each round. They simply spin the reels and take in the sound effects and animations.

This scenario is fine from an entertainment perspective, but it can leave gamblers in the dark regarding their odds of profiting. Many players would benefit from knowing how often games produce truly successful rounds.

Expose Losses Disguised as Wins

LDWs keep gamblers spinning the reels and oblivious to whether they’re really winning or not. Lights and sound effects make it feel like a nickel win is something special.

It’s nice to recoup some of your spin costs through partial wins. However, you don’t want to be fooled into thinking that a $0.20 payout amounts to a win when you’ve risked a dollar or more.

A profit rate can reinforce just how many spins actually result in losses. Furthermore, you’re less likely to be tricked by losses disguised as wins.

Deterrent to Overplaying

The biggest problem with LDWs is that they create the false impression that you’re winning again and again. A slot with 30% to 40% hit frequency can make it seem like you’re collecting payouts left and right.

However, most of these prizes don’t cover your bet size. Profits rates would help you realize this and perhaps motivate you to play shorter sessions.

Will Developers Ever Add This Information?

Prestigious gaming jurisdictions take great steps to protect problem gamblers. After all, they don’t want their gaming industry suffering a PR disaster due to countless slots addicts.

Jurisdictions like the UK Gambling Commission, for example, require developers to list the RTP. They want players to fully understand their actual chances of winning.

It’s questionable whether so many developers would be generous with this information if they didn’t have to be. Therefore, gaming governing bodies motivate slots providers to offer RTP and other helpful figures.

However, I don’t see jurisdictions crying for anything similar to profit rates. Developers aren’t going to suddenly choose to invent and offer this figure if they don’t need to.

Of course, LDWs are becoming a bigger dilemma than ever. Research shows problem that these fake wins can cause the problem that these fake wins can cause.

Governing bodies may eventually see what a predicament LDWs are causing. They might eventually want developers to list something like a profit rate.


Unfortunately, profit rates don’t exist in slots. But they’d certainly be of service to players if they did.

Most gamblers don’t realize that their true chances of winning real money playing slots is low. They feel like partial wins are real wins due to the ensuing sound effects and flashing animations.

A profit rate wouldn’t completely solve the LDW dilemma. However, this figure could be a start in solving an issue that’s causing lots of gambling addiction.

Whether gaming jurisdictions require developers to ever list such information remains to be seen. Hopefully, they’ll consider doing so at some point in the future.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for since early 2016. …

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