Are Casino Games Rigged? RTP, House Edge, and More

Online Casino Games Logo And Live Dealers

Many casino players ask themselves, at some point, “are casino games rigged?”

New players wonder this because they’ve heard the popular expression, “the house always wins.”

Some experienced players also ask themselves this question because they’ve experienced overall losses when they calculate their profits and losses over time.

In this piece, I’ll answer the question with facts about casino games. As you will see, casino games are rigged to favor the house. But as long as you’re playing legit games at trusted casinos, you can still win.

Allow me to explain…

Understanding House Edge and RTP – How Casino Games Are Rigged

Before we can discover whether casino games are rigged or not, we have to define what rigged means.

If you’re asking whether it’s true that the house will always win, the answer is yes.

The casino will always make money on its games in the long term because it has a mathematical advantage.

However, if you mean rigged as you can’t win, no matter what you do, the answer is no.

Legit casino games aren’t rigged to cheat you.

There’s a chance that you can win, but even if you do, the casino will still make money because other players will lose enough to cover your win plus deliver some profit.

When playing casino games online, it’s important to understand two concepts.

  • House Edge – This is the casino’s mathematical advantage. It varies from game to game. The house edge on slot machines is usually 4%, whereas, in blackjack, it can be as low as 0.5%.
  • RTP – This is the average amount of money returned to players. For example, on slot machines, it’s usually 96%, whereas, in blackjack, it might be 99.5%.

You’ll notice the relationship between the house edge and RTP numbers. The house edge lets you calculate the casino’s profit on the game. So, does the RTP, but it tells you how much the casino will return to players. They’re two ways of expressing the same thing.

Examples will help clarify these concepts further:
The house edge on a slot machine might be 4%.

That means out of every $100 wagered on slots; the casino will make $4.

The RTP on a slot machine might be 96%.

This means that of every $100 wagered on a slot machine, players get $96 back.

In this example, do not make the mistake of thinking that the casino will only keep 4% of your money or will return $96 out of every $100 wagered by you. It’s possible that 10 players could lose $100 each, then one lucky player would win $40 on a $1 spin. RTP and house edge figures are averages.

Likewise, if you win a jackpot, you can be sure that the casino has either already taken more than that in profits or will do in the future. That’s why the house always wins. In this sense, casino games are rigged in favor of the house.

The House Edge for Popular Casino Games

Now that you understand the concepts of house edge and RTP, let’s look at the house edge for some popular casino games. Learning these will help you decide the best casino game to play to reach your goals.

Before we begin, note three things.

  1. First, the higher the house edge, the bigger the potential payouts.
  2. Second, different bets within a game can alter the house edge.
  3. Lastly, the house edge can be affected by what game variant you play.
Game House Edge
Blackjack Between 2% and 0.28% depending on strategy and player experience.
Baccarat 1.06% on player bet. 1.24% on banker bet. 14.3% on tie bet.
Roulette 2.7% on European Roulette. 5.26% on American Roulette.
Slot Machines Variable is 96% average. Up to 15% on progressive jackpot slots.
Keno Variable is 20% to 30% depending on variant.
Video Poker Variable depending on variant.
Craps Variable depending on bet. 0% for taking the odds, up to 13.89% for 2, 12, and hard hops.
Sic Bo Between 2.78% and 33.33% depending on what bet you place.

As you can see, slot machines, keno, and some craps bets have the highest house edges. Casinos make most of their money on these games. That’s one of the reasons they’re almost always permitted in casino bonus terms and conditions. However, these games also offer you the largest potential returns.

Video poker almost always has the lowest house edge. It does vary depending on what variant you’re playing, but there are some games such as Jacks or Better have a house edge as low as 0.46% and can even have a negative house edge when played with a perfect video poker strategy.

So, knowing this, you have to decide:
Do you want to play games that offer potentially massive payouts but that have a bigger house edge, or do you want to play games that allow you to slowly grind out smaller profits but that give you a much better chance of winning?

Avoiding (Actual) Rigged Casino Games

You now understand that all casino games give the house a mathematical advantage, the extent that they do so depends on the game variant and often how you play it, and that even if you win a jackpot, the casino will still make money in the long game.

However, sadly, this isn’t enough for some greedy casinos. Rogue operators aren’t content with steady profits of 4% or greater on slot machines or double digits on keno.

These greedy merchants aim to lighten your wallet by running rigged casino games in a literal sense. While it saddens me to have to report this, I believe in being positive.

Therefore, I’d like to focus on two things:

  1. There are far more honest, legit online casinos than there are rogue ones. I’d say it’s at least a 10:1 ratio.
  2. You can avoid rigged casinos by being aware of them and learning how to spot them.

Here are some clues that casino games might be rigged.

  • The games aren’t powered by legit and verified safe software providers like NetEnt, Microgaming, RTG, or Evolution.
  • You lose more frequently than you statistically should. The house edge table above will give you a clue as to how many hands, rolls, or spins you should win out of 100.
  • The casino operator doesn’t have a valid gaming license. This is a red flag, and you have to ask yourself why.

There are also cloned casino games that appear to be from legit software providers. With experience, you can easily spot these because there will be glitches and other tells. They just won’t be of the same quality as authentic casino games.

Look out for rigged casino games, and if you have any doubt, avoid them. They’re bad for you, the casino industry, and even the scammers who run them. They’d be much better off in the long-term if they ran honest, legit casinos that stood the test of time.

Rigged Casino Games – Frequently Asked Questions

I often like to wrap up my blog posts with three or four related questions I’ve encountered often. I’ll do so here on the subject of rigged casino games.

  • Are slot machines rigged?

    As I’ve outlined in this post, every slot machine gives the casino a mathematical advantage. It’s well known that casinos make most of their money from slot machines. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t win a jackpot. If you play at honest online casinos, you have a fair shot at winning big.
  • If all casino games are rigged to favor the house, what’s the point of playing them?

    Some people would argue that there isn’t one. However, I believe that’s a negative view of casino games. First, they’re a form of entertainment. I’ve played slot machines for hours with a $100 bankroll and find the ups and downs to be thrilling. Second, the idea is to get in and get out. The existence of a house edge means you’ll lose if you keep playing forever. If you get lucky and hit a jackpot or big win, and you stop playing or dramatically reduce how often you play, you can come out ahead.
  • Are there any strategies I can use to reduce the house edge?

    Yes, but only on specific games. Games like slots and keno are down to pure chance, and strategies don’t work. However, if you play video poker, blackjack, or poker online, you can impact the game outcome with effective strategies.
Gavin Lucas / Author

Gavin has been writing about online gambling since 2015. He developed a love for it when it enabled him to travel the world while working from his laptop. Since then, he’s settled down, and his traveling days are over, but his love for casino games never left. Gavin is based in the UK and is a regular slot and roulette player. He’s deeply interested in cryptocurrencies and their intersection with gambling. He also obsessively follows politics and often writes about betting on elections and other political outcomes.