What Are Bingo Return to Player Percentages (RTPs) and How Do They Work?

How can bingo players tell what their online game stakes will earn them if they register a win after wagering a certain amount of money? The answer lies in return to player rates and percentages or RTPs as they are popularly known. 

Traditionally, RTPs feature in online slots and video slots titles and punters can identify them in the game details or instructions. But in recent times, most game providers develop online games that have RTPs as part of the online games’ functionality.

The best definition of RTPs is the ratio between the return on investment from the games on online gaming machines or gaming sites and the amounts that punters wager on a particular online game.

To avoid ambiguity, the UK Gambling Commission and many other regulated jurisdictions require gaming sites to list RTP percentages for all the games in their library in the terms and conditions for punters to access. Some gaming sites go the extra mile to display and signpost the return rates on or beside the game icon for visibility and transparency. Players can readily see it as they launch the game in the catalogue.

Game providers design online games with an RTP that is worked out over thousands of games. Punters can’t be certain that their gameplays or sessions, whether real money or bonus plays, will have an RTP  equal to the return rate of the online game at hand and have no way of validating the accuracy of the RTP.

Luckily, bettors have regulators such as the Gambling Commission and third-party testing agencies to screen online gaming logs and reports and gaming site payout distribution patterns.  This level of regulatory scrutiny checks for a positive correlation between the payouts and the prevailing online game RTPs.

Pit RTPs side by side and buy tickets or cards to the numbers games with the highest return on your wager. Seeing as different online games hold varying RTPs, casino titles and bingo games RTPs play a role in determining the online site’s profit margins.

Slots are a good case in point. Most have RTPs of between 90% and 99.9%. For example, if a slot game has a 95% RTP, 95% of wagers in the slots pot go back to players in the form of winnings, and the online site retains the 5% to itself. Numbers games have lower RTPs that typically range between 70% and 85%, but the calculation and distribution of the 75, 80, or 90 ball pot are more or less the same.

Sometimes the distribution of the winnings to bingo punters is slightly off the RTPs ratio and with good reasons. We’re talking about online numbers games here, so some games will have more ticket holders in the room than others.

The ticket or card prices vary and largely depend on the game in the schedule. Some cards or games are high stakes, while others are low-cost games, with tickets going for as little as 1p, especially if the game is a chat room game.

Card prices will definitely dictate ticket sales. Besides, some punters practice the heavy depositor effect where they pre-buy tickets to high stakes games and secure a slot in the bingo room long before the time lapses on the games scheduled.

Other players like to buy multiple tickets because some online sites allow as many as 96 tickets per game per player. Not that it makes much of a difference, but holding multiple cards per game does, to some extent, tip the odds in your favour.

Jackpot games will also affect the payout structure because each player hopes to win big, so a jackpot will likely attract more players. The RTP for most 75 ball and 80 ball games usually stands between 70% and 85%. On the other hand, 90 ball games are longer, with more gameplay sessions, and tend to have a stable and average RTP of 80%. 

It’s now crystal clear that RTPs are significant as far as online games and your winnings go, but how are they really calculated?

How Online Gaming Sites and Game Providers Calculate Bingo Payouts

The RTP is just what online gamers see on the surface, but behind the scenes game providers also consider the following factors:

  • Minimum jackpot guarantees. Some numbers games guarantee participating players will win a certain minimum amount of the running jackpot. For such games, bigger ticket costs mean a higher minimum guarantee.
  • Ticket sales. This is pretty much self-explanatory.  More ticket sales result in a bigger online game pot. These tend to be high stakes games or jackpot games, or multiplayer games, with higher payouts than usual and where the prize is almost always entirely pegged on the ticket sales.  
  • Other game prizes. Some numbers games rules allow for multiple winners. For instance, in a 75 ball game, there will be line winners, pattern winners, 1TG, 2TG, and 3TG winners, and, of course, the punter who’s lucky enough to call full house. All these winners represent smaller payouts that the online game must cover. Smaller prizes end up affecting the main prize payout structure.
  • Progressive jackpots. The prize for progressive jackpot numbers games is smaller than your usual one-time jackpot or prize pool. The online site must carry a portion of the progressive jackpot pot to the next round of gameplay and increase the progressive jackpot as the game continues.

A crucial side note for punters: real money and bonus plays will affect the RTPs that reflect on your bankroll after having a session of online games. There are wagering requirements on the deposit, no deposit bonuses, and any other form of bonus funds such as free spins and free plays that the online gaming sites advance to you.

Some sites will even impose a play-through on winnings from your bonus funds plays an “X” number of times before converting them into a capped amount of a real money minimum withdrawable balance.

Next time you log into your account to play your treasured numbers games,  remember to employ this RTP knowledge before buying any bingo tickets to a room and make the most out of your bingo payouts.

Citation References

Gambling Commission website – Gambling Commission

The purpose of game certifications in 2021 – Slotegrator

RTP: What Is RTP In Slots And Gambling? (Updated 2021) (roger.com)

Game Mathematics / Percentage Return to Player (% RTP) Analysis – Gaming Labs International