How bonuses impact your rtp: a player’s guide

Daniel White

Last updated 7.12.2023

how bonuses impact your rtp: a player's guide

The online gambling market has witnessed exponential growth, valued at USD 63.53 billion in 2022, and is expected to expand continuously.

This upsurge is fueled by increasing internet usage and the widespread adoption of mobile devices for online gaming, with the U.S. alone showing a 92% internet penetration rate in 2022.

The popularity of online casino games, especially quick, interactive ones like blackjack and virtual slot machines, is set to significantly increase in the coming years.

Understanding Bonuses and RTP

The key to navigating online casinos is understanding the Return to Player (RTP) concept and the role of casino bonuses.

RTP represents the percentage of wagered money a game is expected to pay back to players over time. Games with higher RTP percentages are more likely to yield long-term winnings, while those with lower RTPs are less favorable.

Casino Bonuses: Extending Playtime and Potential Winnings

Online casinos offer various bonuses, including free spins and cashback offers, which can effectively enhance the player’s RTP.

It is important to be aware of terms such as wagering requirements, as they can affect the actual value of these bonuses. A careful balance of bonus advantages and associated conditions is key for optimizing RTP.

Bonus TypeImpact on PlaytimeImpact on Potential Winnings
Sign-Up BonusExtends playtime with added funds and free spinsIncreases winnings potential through added funds and free play
Loyalty BonusRewards long-term play, potentially increasing playtimeCan lead to higher winnings through cash rewards and exclusive bonuses
No-Deposit BonusAllows risk-free play without using personal fundsOffers a chance to win without personal financial investment but may have limits
High Roller BonusEncourages extended play with larger depositsEnhances winnings potential for high-stake games with special bonuses

Real-World Impacts of Bonuses on RTP

Consider a player leveraging a high-RTP slot game with additional free spins from a welcome bonus. These spins extend playtime without extra cost, thus potentially increasing the overall RTP.

This example underscores the importance of understanding the intertwining factors of game choice, bonus usage, and bankroll management in maximizing online gambling returns.

Understanding RTP and Casino Bonuses

Return to Player (RTP), a key concept in gambling, is the percentage of wagered money a casino game is programmed to return to players over time.

The RTP of land-based slots typically ranges between 70% to 90%, while online slots often offer a higher RTP, usually at least 94%.

For instance, a slot with a 94% RTP implies that for every $100 wagered, players can expect a return of $94 over time, with the remaining $6 being the house’s share.

The RTP is monitored and audited under strict regulations to ensure accuracy and fairness in online casinos.

Understanding RTP and Casino Bonuses

Evolution of RTP in Casino Gaming

The concept of RTP has evolved significantly with the advancement of casino technology.

The introduction of electronic slot machines in the 1960s, using random number generators (RNG), marked a significant leap from mechanical slots, ensuring unbiased outcomes.

This evolution continued with the emergence of video slots in the 1970s, setting the foundation for today’s online video slots, which are immensely popular worldwide.

RTP Percentages Across Different Casino Games

Game TypeAverage RTP (%)Examples
Online Slots94 – 99Ugga Bugga (99.07%), Mega Joker (99%)
Land-based Slots70 – 90Traditional slot machines in casinos
European Roulette97.3Single Zero Roulette Tables
American Roulette94.74Double Zero Roulette Tables
BlackjackUp to 99.5Single Deck Blackjack (Using Basic Strategy)

Types of Casino Bonuses

  • Sign-Up Bonuses: These are offered to welcome new players, often including matched deposits and free spins. A matched deposit, for example, might offer a 100% match up to a certain amount, effectively doubling the player’s initial deposit. Free spins enable players to enjoy slot games without spending their funds, enhancing the appeal of the bonus.
  • Loyalty Bonuses: Aimed at retaining seasoned players, these bonuses are part of loyalty programs where players earn points for their gameplay, redeemable for cash, free spins, or other rewards. These programs often feature tiers, offering greater benefits and personalized services at higher levels.
  • No-Deposit Bonuses: These provide players with a bonus amount or free spins just for registering, without requiring a deposit. While offering a risk-free way to explore games, these bonuses typically come with stringent wagering requirements and withdrawal restrictions.
  • High Roller Bonuses: Tailored for players who wager large sums, these bonuses offer larger deposit matches, exclusive games, and personalized services, providing a luxury gaming experience and entry into the casino’s elite circle.
Bonus TypeBenefit to PlayerExample Scenario
Sign-Up BonusDoubles initial deposit, offers free spinsA 100% match up to $200, plus free slot spins
Loyalty BonusRewards continued play with cash, free spins, or other perksAccumulate points for each game played, redeemable for rewards
No-Deposit BonusRisk-free exploration of gamesFree spins or bonus amount just for registering
High Roller BonusOffers larger deposit matches, exclusive games, and servicesTailored for big spenders, with benefits like expedited withdrawals

Psychology Behind Bonuses

Casino bonuses are strategically designed to attract and retain players, serving as incentives that promise more value for money and extended playtime.

These offers tap into various psychological principles, such as the allure of rewards, the excitement of risk-taking, and the appeal of gaining something extra or exclusive.

Types of Bonuses and Their RTP Impact

Describing Each Type of Bonus and Its Impact on RTP

  • Sign-Up Bonuses: These bonuses often include matched deposits and free spins. A matched deposit bonus might double a player’s initial deposit, effectively increasing their bankroll and chances to play longer, potentially improving the RTP over time due to increased play opportunities.
  • Loyalty Bonuses: Offered as part of a casino’s loyalty program, these bonuses reward long-term play. By encouraging continuous play, they can potentially enhance the RTP for loyal players, as continued play can sometimes lead to more significant wins or recovering losses.
  • No-Deposit Bonuses: These bonuses provide players with funds or free spins without requiring a deposit. They allow risk-free exploration of games, which could lead to winnings without any initial investment, albeit usually with stringent conditions attached.
  • High Roller Bonuses: Tailored for players making large wagers, these bonuses can significantly increase a player’s bankroll, offering better chances at high-stake games that might have higher RTPs.

Criteria for Offering Different Bonuses

Casinos use various criteria to offer different bonuses, targeting specific player demographics:

  • Player Type: New players are often enticed with sign-up bonuses, while loyal, long-term players are rewarded with loyalty bonuses.
  • Player Behavior: High rollers are targeted with specific bonuses that suit their playing style and stakes.
  • Game Type: Certain bonuses might be tied to specific games, influencing players to try out these games.

Scenarios Leading to Better RTP Outcomes

  • Higher RTP Games: If players have the freedom to choose, selecting games with higher RTP percentages is advisable. This strategy can improve the chances of meeting wagering requirements and gaining better returns.
  • Understanding Volatility: Players should consider the volatility of the games they play. Low volatility games offer more frequent but smaller wins, potentially providing a steadier return, while high volatility games offer larger but less frequent wins, suitable for players with larger bankrolls and a preference for high-risk, high-reward gameplay.

Comparative Tables: Impact of Different Bonuses on RTP

The following markdown tables compare how different types of bonuses (sign-up, loyalty, no-deposit, high roller) affect RTP in various game types (slots, blackjack, roulette), considering factors like volatility and wagering requirements.

Bonus TypeGame TypeEffect on RTP (%)Volatility ImpactWagering Requirement Impact
Sign-UpSlots+2 to +5High volatility: Lower impactHigh requirements: Lower impact
 Blackjack+1 to +3Low volatility: Higher impactLow requirements: Higher impact
 Roulette+2 to +4Medium volatility: Moderate impactModerate requirements: Moderate impact
LoyaltySlots+3 to +6High volatility: Higher impactHigh requirements: Lower impact
 Blackjack+2 to +4Low volatility: Higher impactLow requirements: Higher impact
 Roulette+2 to +5Medium volatility: Moderate impactModerate requirements: Moderate impact
No-DepositSlots+1 to +4High volatility: Lower impactHigh requirements: Significant lower impact
 Blackjack+1 to +2Low volatility: Lower impactLow requirements: Higher impact
 Roulette+1 to +3Medium volatility: Moderate impactModerate requirements: Moderate impact
High RollerSlots+4 to +8High volatility: Highest impactHigh requirements: Moderate impact
 Blackjack+3 to +5Low volatility: Higher impactLow requirements: Higher impact
 Roulette+3 to +7Medium volatility: High impactModerate requirements: Moderate impact

These tables offer a simplified representation of how different bonuses might influence RTP, depending on the game type, its inherent volatility, and the bonus-related wagering requirements.

They provide a framework for players to understand the potential impact of each bonus type on their returns.

Calculating RTP with Bonus Consideration

Step-by-Step Guide to Incorporating Bonuses into RTP Calculations

Calculating the true value of a casino bonus in terms of RTP involves several steps:

  1. Identify the Bonus Amount: Determine the value of the bonus you have received.
  2. Calculate the Total Wagering Amount: Multiply the bonus amount by the wagering requirements to find out the total amount you need to wager.
  3. Determine the RTP of the Game: Identify the RTP for the game you will be playing with your bonus.
  4. Estimate Your Winnings: Multiply the RTP by the total sum you must wager to find your estimated winnings.
  5. Calculate Probable Losses: Subtract your estimated winnings from the total wagering amount.
  6. Determine the Bonus Value: Use the formula: bonus amount – probable losses.

Common Misconceptions About RTP Calculations

  • RTP is a long-term average and doesn’t guarantee outcomes for individual gaming sessions.
  • Players may win or lose more than the RTP in a single session, but over a large number of rounds, it will be close to the average.
  • RTP is not the only factor affecting a player’s chances of winning; game volatility and skill level also play an important role.

True Value of Bonuses in Terms of RTP

To understand the true value of bonuses in terms of RTP, consider the following examples:

  • No Deposit Bonus Example: A $10 no deposit bonus with a 30x wagering requirement. If the RTP of the game is 95.42%, the estimated winnings are $286.26 from a $300 wager. The probable losses would be $13.74, making the bonus value -$3.74, indicating a low likelihood of profitability over long wagering.
  • Free Spins Offer Example: 20 free spins with a value of $0.10 each and a 35x wagering requirement. Playing on a slot with an RTP of 99.07%, the estimated winnings are $58.89 from a $59.44 wager. The probable losses would be $0.55, making the bonus value $1.45, indicating a likely profit.

Illustrative Examples and Formulas

To demonstrate the calculation process for incorporating bonuses into RTP calculations, let’s use an illustrative table with examples and formulas:

Example TypeBonus AmountWagering RequirementGame RTP (%)Total WagerEstimated WinningsProbable LossesBonus Value
No Deposit Bonus$1030x95.42$300$286.26$13.74-$3.74
Free Spins Offer$2 (20 spins at $0.10 each)35x99.07$59.44$58.89$0.55$1.45


  1. Total Wager: Bonus Amount × Wagering Requirement.
  2. Estimated Winnings: Game RTP × Total Wager.
  3. Probable Losses: Total Wager − Estimated Winnings.
  4. Bonus Value: Bonus Amount − Probable Losses.

This section offers a practical guide to calculating RTP with bonus consideration, dispels common misconceptions, and highlights the real value of casino bonuses.

By using examples, formulas, and interactive tools, it aims to simplify the complex nature of RTP calculations for players.

Maximizing RTP Through Bonuses

Strategies for Selecting the Right Bonuses to Enhance RTP

  1. Prioritize High RTP Games: Always start by checking the RTP percentage of the games. Ideally, target slots or casino games with an RTP of 95% and higher. This ensures that you’re playing games with the best odds of winning over the long term.
  2. Assess Available Bonuses: Evaluate the types of bonuses offered by the slot or game. Look for games that offer free spins bonuses or no deposit bonuses, as these can significantly increase your chances of winning without additional cost.
  3. Read Reviews and Expert Opinions: Before selecting a game or claiming a bonus, read slot reviews and expert analyses. These can provide valuable insights into the game’s performance and the true value of offered bonuses.

Identifying and Claiming Advantageous Bonuses

  1. Research and Compare: Spend time researching different casinos and their bonus offerings. Compare the bonuses based on their conditions and potential benefits.
  2. Understand Wagering Requirements: Always read the terms and conditions to understand the wagering requirements attached to a bonus. Lower wagering requirements often lead to better chances of profiting from the bonus.
  3. Consider Game Selection: Some bonuses are restricted to specific games. Choose bonuses that apply to games with higher RTPs to maximize your chances of better returns.

Step-by-Step Strategy Guide: Identifying and Claiming Beneficial Casino Bonuses

Step 1: Research and Understand Different Bonus Types

  • Understand Bonus Types: Familiarize yourself with various bonuses like welcome bonuses, free spins, no-deposit bonuses, loyalty bonuses, and high roller bonuses.
  • Learn the Terms: Each bonus type comes with specific terms and conditions. Understanding these can help you gauge the true value of the bonus.

Step 2: Evaluate the Game’s RTP

  • Check the RTP: Before using a bonus, verify the RTP of the game it applies to. Aim for games with an RTP of 95% or higher for better long-term returns.
  • Consider Game Volatility: High RTP games with high volatility might offer larger payouts less frequently, while those with low volatility offer smaller, more regular wins.

Step 3: Assess Wagering Requirements

  • Calculate Wagering Obligations: Look at the wagering requirements of the bonus. This is the amount you must bet to unlock the ability to withdraw winnings.
  • Opt for Lower Requirements: Generally, bonuses with lower wagering requirements offer a better chance of profiting from the bonus.

Step 4: Manage Your Bankroll Wisely

  • Set a Budget: Determine how much you can afford to wager, and stick to it. This helps in managing the risk associated with using bonuses.
  • Choose Bonuses Wisely: Select bonuses that align with your budget. Avoid bonuses that require a larger wager than you can afford.

Step 5: Compare Bonuses Across Casinos

  • Shop Around: Don’t settle for the first bonus you find. Compare offers from various casinos to find the most advantageous one.
  • Use Comparison Tools: Leverage online tools and platforms that compare casino bonuses to simplify your research.

Step 6: Read Reviews and Seek Expert Opinions

  • Consult Reviews: Check out online reviews and expert opinions about casinos and their bonuses. They often provide insights into the bonus’s actual worth.
  • Learn from Others’ Experiences: Player forums and community discussions can offer valuable information on how bonuses work in real-world scenarios.

Step 7: Claiming and Using the Bonus

  • Follow Claiming Procedures: Carefully follow the steps required to claim the bonus. This might involve entering a promo code or contacting customer support.
  • Play Strategically: Use the bonus in alignment with your gaming strategy. For instance, if you have free spins, use them on slots with the highest RTP.

Step 8: Regularly Check for New Offers

  • Stay Updated: Online casinos frequently update their bonus offers. Regularly check for new and potentially more lucrative bonuses.
  • Loyalty Programs: If you’re a regular player, consider joining loyalty programs for additional perks and bonuses tailored to frequent players.

This strategy guide provides a comprehensive approach to selecting and utilizing casino bonuses effectively.

By following these steps, players can enhance their chances of maximizing RTP and overall winnings in their casino experiences.

The Fine Print: Wagering Requirements and RTP

Wagering requirements are conditions set by online casinos that dictate how many times a player must play through a bonus before any winnings can be withdrawn. These requirements can significantly alter the effective RTP (Return to Player) of games played with bonus funds.

  1. Modifying the Actual RTP: When a player uses a bonus, the effective RTP can decrease if the wagering requirements are high. This is because the player must bet more, increasing the risk of losing over time.
  2. Regulatory Aspects: Casinos set wagering requirements to comply with regulatory standards and to mitigate financial risks. These requirements vary widely among casinos and can be influenced by different gambling regulations.

Calculating Effective RTP with Wagering Requirements

To understand the impact of wagering requirements on RTP, players can use the following method:

  1. Identify the Bonus Amount: Determine the value of the bonus received.
  2. Determine Wagering Requirements: Understand how many times the bonus amount must be wagered.
  3. Calculate Total Wager Amount: Multiply the bonus amount by the wagering requirement number.
  4. Estimate Adjusted RTP: Use the game’s RTP to estimate potential returns from the total wager amount, then adjust this figure based on the probability of fulfilling wagering requirements.
Wagering Requirements and Their Effect on RTP

Breaking Down Wagering Requirements: A Simple Explanation

What are Wagering Requirements?

They are conditions set by casinos stating how much a player must bet before withdrawing winnings from a bonus.

How Do They Affect RTP?

High wagering requirements can reduce the effective RTP as they require more playthrough, increasing the likelihood of losses over time.

Why Do Casinos Implement Them?

To ensure compliance with gaming regulations and to balance the risk of offering bonuses.

Wagering Requirements and RTP

Can wagering requirements make a bonus unprofitable?

Yes, if the requirements are too high, they can negate the benefits of a bonus by significantly lowering the effective RTP.

Should I always accept bonuses with wagering requirements?

Not necessarily. Evaluate if the potential benefits outweigh the increased playthrough requirements.

How can I find bonuses with favorable wagering requirements?

Research and compare different casino bonuses, paying close attention to the fine print regarding wagering conditions.

Hypothetical Scenarios: Bonuses and RTP in Action

This section utilizes a storytelling approach to depict various hypothetical scenarios, illustrating how different bonuses impact RTP in diverse gaming situations.

Each story is crafted to be relatable and engaging, offering valuable lessons on strategic bonus utilization.

Example 1: The Cautious Newcomer

  • Scenario: Emma, new to online gaming, decides to try her luck at a popular online casino. She opts for a no-deposit bonus to avoid risking her own money.
  • Game Choice: Emma chooses a slot game with an RTP of 96% and low volatility.
  • Outcome: She enjoys extended playtime with her bonus and manages small but consistent wins. The low wagering requirement allows her to cash out a modest profit.
  • Lesson Learned: For new players, no-deposit bonuses on high RTP, low volatility games can be a risk-free introduction to online gambling.

Example 2: The High Roller’s Gamble

  • Scenario: Alex, a seasoned player, goes for a high roller bonus, depositing a substantial amount to receive a matching bonus.
  • Game Choice: He plays a high volatility slot with an RTP of 98%.
  • Outcome: Alex experiences significant swings in his bankroll. After a few big wins, he meets the wagering requirements and withdraws a substantial profit.
  • Lesson Learned: High roller bonuses can be highly profitable for experienced players who understand the risks of high volatility games.

Example 3: The Loyalty Club Strategist

  • Scenario: Mia, a regular player, takes advantage of a loyalty bonus, which gives her free spins on a new slot game.
  • Game Choice: The game has an RTP of 97% with medium volatility.
  • Outcome: The free spins lead to some initial wins. Mia continues playing, leveraging her understanding of the game’s pattern, eventually cashing out a decent sum.
  • Lesson Learned: Loyalty bonuses can offer value to regular players, especially when used on familiar games with favorable RTPs.

Example 4: The Calculative Bonus Hunter

  • Scenario: John, an avid bonus hunter, always looks for the best bonus deals with low wagering requirements.
  • Game Choice: He selects a mix of slot games, all with RTPs above 95%.
  • Outcome: John carefully meets the wagering requirements without exhausting his bonus funds and ends up with a reasonable profit.
  • Lesson Learned: A strategic approach to selecting bonuses with low wagering requirements and high RTP games can lead to consistent profits.

In these hypothetical examples, players of different profiles and strategies navigate examples of online casino bonuses.

Each story encapsulates key strategies and lessons, providing readers with insights into the practical application of bonuses in enhancing RTP and overall gaming success.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do bonuses directly affect the RTP in online slot games? Bonuses can effectively increase the RTP by providing additional funds or free spins, extending playtime, and increasing the chances of winning.

What impact do bonus rounds have on the average return of a slot game over millions of spins? Bonus rounds often offer higher RTP rates compared to the base game, enhancing the average return over millions of spins.

Can the frequent payouts from special features like wild symbols in online slots alter the game’s RTP? Yes, special features like wild symbols can lead to more frequent payouts, potentially increasing the RTP.

How do progressive jackpots influence the RTP of casino table games over an extended period? Progressive jackpots can lower the RTP due to their massive payout potential but infrequent wins over an extended period.

What is the effect of a high-variance, volatile game with bonus features on its return to player rate? A high-variance game with bonus features may have a fluctuating RTP, offering the potential for massive payouts but less frequent wins.

In terms of RTP, how does playing with a bonus in a popular casino game compare to playing the same game without a bonus? Playing with a bonus can increase the RTP compared to playing without a bonus, as bonuses offer additional chances to win without risking more real money.

How do theoretical percentage and mathematical advantage play into the RTP calculations for games with bonus rounds? Theoretical percentage and mathematical advantage are factored into RTP calculations, balancing the potential profitability of bonus rounds against the house edge.

Can the use of a bonus code for slot games increase the potential RTP compared to games without bonus codes? Yes, using a bonus code can increase the potential RTP as it often unlocks additional gameplay features or funds, enhancing the chance of winning.

How does the return percentage of a game with frequent low-paying features differ from one with occasional massive payouts? Games with frequent low-paying features generally have a higher RTP, offering more consistent rewards, whereas games with occasional massive payouts typically have a lower RTP due to higher volatility.

What role does the bonus structure play in the overall RTP for different types of casino games? The bonus structure can significantly influence the overall RTP; generous bonuses can elevate the RTP, while restrictive bonuses with high wagering requirements may lower it.

How do gambling sessions with bonuses on high-RTP blackjack games differ from sessions on slots in terms of average payout rate? Gambling sessions with bonuses on high-RTP blackjack games typically offer more consistent and higher average payout rates compared to slots, which may have higher volatility and variable RTP.

How does a casino’s payout structure, including bonus features, affect the RTP for various game variations? A casino’s payout structure, including bonus features, can greatly affect the RTP, with more generous bonus structures usually resulting in a higher RTP across different game variations.

What is the impact of bonus rounds on the frequency of payouts in video poker games? Bonus rounds in video poker games can increase the frequency of payouts by offering additional opportunities for winning outside the standard gameplay.

How does the availability of bonus features in a game influence its long-term average return? The availability of bonus features typically enhances a game’s long-term average return by providing players with additional ways to win and potentially increasing the RTP.

In casino gaming, how does the concept of slot games with bonus rounds compare to simpler, classic slots in terms of RTP? Slot games with bonus rounds often have a higher RTP compared to simpler, classic slots, as the bonus rounds provide additional winning opportunities.

Recapping the Strategic Use of Bonuses for Enhanced RTP

From understanding the basics of RTP and the types of bonuses available to the complexities of wagering requirements and real-world scenarios, we’ve explored how strategic use of bonuses can significantly enhance both RTP and the overall gaming experience.

  • Understanding RTP and Bonuses: We started by defining RTP and how it’s calculated, emphasizing the need to select games and bonuses that offer higher RTP percentages.
  • Maximizing RTP Through Bonuses: Strategies for selecting the right bonuses, such as prioritizing high RTP games and understanding wagering requirements, were discussed to ensure players make informed decisions.
  • Wagering Requirements and RTP: The guide highlighted how wagering requirements can affect the actual value of bonuses, altering the effective RTP.
  • Real-World Examples: Hypothetical scenarios illustrated the practical application of these strategies, showcasing how different types of players can use bonuses to their advantage.

Foresight into Future Trends

Looking ahead, online casinos will continue to evolve. We can anticipate more innovative bonus structures, potentially with more player-friendly terms, as casinos compete in a growing market.

The trend towards transparency in RTP and bonus terms may also gain momentum, driven by regulatory changes and player demand for fair play.

Apply Your New Knowledge

Armed with this comprehensive understanding, you’re now equipped to navigate the world of online casino bonuses more effectively.

Remember, the key is to balance the allure of bonuses with a strategic approach towards RTP. As you venture into your next gaming session, apply these insights to enhance your play, making informed decisions that maximize your chances of success.

Embrace these strategies, stay informed, and let your newfound knowledge guide your path to a more rewarding and enjoyable online gaming experience. Happy gaming!

Daniel White

Daniel White, based in London, UK, serves as the dynamic Editor-in-Chief at With a sharp eye for detail and a deep understanding of the online casino industry, Daniel specializes in RTP analytics and player-focused content. His leadership has transformed the site into a go-to resource for players seeking the most rewarding online gaming experiences in Europe and beyond.