Note: This page is about online slots with the highest payouts, meaning the best payback percentage (RTP). If you’re looking for the highest jackpots, check out our list of online slots with the largest top prize.
Loose slots are those that pay out frequently and generously. Everyone knows that all slot machines pay out less than they take in. That’s obvious because otherwise, the casinos wouldn’t be able to stay in business. They’re certainly not making a profit on the free drinks they’re handing out.
But some games offer smaller payouts on a more frequent basis. And some games offer slightly larger payouts more frequently, too. These are the loose machines, and when you can find them, you stand a better chance of winning. And in the long run, you’ll lose less money compared to the amount of time you spent playing them, too.
The payback percentage
Slot machines are designed with a specific payback percentage in mind. Also known as RTP (return-to-player), payback percentage refers to the theoretical amount of money that’s returned to the player over the long run. This number is always less than 100%. If it were 100%, the machine would break even in the long run. If you were a casino manager or a slot machine designer, you wouldn’t see much point in that. And if the payback percentage were greater than 100%, the player would be guaranteed a profit in the long run. Guaranteeing a player a profit in the casino business is to a casino manager what kryptonite is to Superman.
Generally speaking, the higher the payback percentage, the looser the slot machine. But payback percentage isn’t the only factor to consider when deciding whether or not a slot machine is loose or tight. Hit frequency matters too.
A slot machine’s hit frequency determines how often you get a winning result. Some modern slot machine games award the player a winning result on almost every spin. After all, how could they not? With five reels and sometimes as many as 50 pay lines, you’d almost have to win something on almost every spin, wouldn’t you?
But having a high hit frequency isn’t necessarily a good thing for the average slots player. On many machines, those frequent wins are smaller than the amount you wagered. This is a subtle psychological tactic that the game designers and casinos use to ratchet up the average time a player spends in front of the machine. This is called “time on device”, and in the world of slot machine design, it’s the #1 predictor of how profitable a game is going to be over the long run.
Here’s an example. Suppose you’re playing a game for a penny per spin per pay line, and the machine has 50 pay lines. You’re wagering 50 cents every spin. You might win a small jackpot on one or two lines almost every spin, but the payout is based on that penny that went toward each of those winning pay lines. Even if you hit three pay lines for a win of 10 to 1, you’re only winning 30 cents. Since you originally wagered 50 cents, you netted a loss of 20 cents.
But it FEELS like you just won something. Psychologically, you want to keep playing. This is how slot machine manufacturers increase the average time on device. They encourage players to feel like they’re in a “flow” state. Studies have shown that slot machine players become addicted to gambling in 1/3 to ¼ of the time of other gamblers. The solitary nature of slot machine gambling, combined with a large number of bets you can make per hour, combined with this “state of flow”, resulting in an addictive experience for many people with low levels of impulse control.
Where to find the loosest games
If you’re looking for the loosest slot machine games to play, the best approach is to play the highest denomination game you’re comfortable with. Casinos can make more profits with a machine that charges $5 per spin with a 95% payback percentage than they can make with a machine that charges a nickel a spin with an 85% payback percentage. So they loosen up the payouts on the higher denomination machines in order to entice players in that direction.
That being said, don’t play above your limits just because you want to find the machine with the highest payback percentage. Even a slot machine with a high payback percentage guarantees the edge to the house. If you have a bankroll of $200, playing a $5 spin slot machine will probably result in a very short gambling session.
Yeah, some slot machines are looser than others. But slots are still a hugely profitable game in any casino. Some estimates place the amount of profit that a casino makes from the slots as 85% of their overall profit.
Even if you’re able to find a game that’s looser than others, in the long run, if you keep playing, you’ll eventually be a net loser. The goal is to have a good time while doing so. And it goes without saying that any money you wager on slots should be money you don’t need for other purposes (like rent, groceries, or insurance.)