What Is the House Edge with Slot Machines?

Row of Slot Machines on Left and an Online Slots Game on Right

All casino games feature a house edge. Slot Machines are no different in this regard because each one carries a house advantage.

Their house edges can vary wildly based on the individual game and casino. That said, you might have a difficult time determining your odds of winning with a given game

The following guide explains how you can better figure out the slots house edge. It covers the differences between online and land-based games, how volatility factors in, and the importance of the house advantage.

House Edge Differs Between Land-based and Online Slots

Slot machines in land-based and online casinos play virtually the same. They all involve the same process of placing a bet, spinning the reels, and letting fate determine the rest.

However, online and land-based slots differ quite a bit when it comes to the house edge. Generally speaking, online slots feature a lower house advantage and, thus, provide a stronger chance to win.

The reason for this is that online developers don’t have as many expenses. They don’t need to build physical cabinets and ship them.

Instead, they simply develop games and supply them to mobile casinos. Developers and online casinos then share in the profits through an agreed-upon model.

Of course, some land-based slot machines can feature lower house edges than the average mobile slot. Generally speaking, though, you’ll face a smaller house advantage when playing online.

Average House Edge for Slot Machines

As covered above, mobile slots typically give you the best chance to win. What exactly can you expect, though, when playing online or live? Below, you can see the average house advantages in both slots settings.

Online Slots

In the early days of online gaming, internet slots were closer to land-based casinos in terms of house edge. These games commonly featured anywhere between a 5% and 8% house advantage.

Of course, gaming sites were just getting off the ground in these days. They and their associated developers had lots of upfront costs involved.

Vampires Vs. Wolves Online Slots

The online gaming world has refined its processes today, though, and now gives players better deals. As a result, the average online slot features a reasonable 4% house edge.

You can find mobile slots that only carry around a 1% house advantage. Usually, though, you’ll be facing a 4% casino edge.

Land-based Slots

Brick-and-mortar casinos deal with more expenses than their mobile counterparts. They need to hire more workers, cover utility bills, and build grand casino complexes.

They also have to pay developers more for slot machines. After all, a physical slots cabinet and the accompanying game costs thousands of dollars.

Taking everything into account, land-based slot machines don’t usually feature great odds. The average online slot carries around a 6% house edge.

This average can vary greatly from game to game. Some machines feature as high as a 10% casino advantage. Other slots, meanwhile, boast an ultra-low 1% house edge.

Most commonly, though, brick-and-mortar slot machines carry a higher house edge than those in online casinos.

Should You Still Play in Land-based Casinos?

Your chances of winning with slots are lower in land-based casinos. That said, you may wonder if it’s worth playing at brick-and-mortar establishments.

Much depends upon your preference of setting. If you’re somebody who loves the sights and sounds of casinos, then you might not be daunted by the higher house edge.

Assuming you’re a low roller who wants to stretch your bankroll as long as possible, then online slots are the way to go. They’ll see you lose less money on average.

Here’s a comparison to show the differences in theoretical losses:


  • You wager $1,000 total.
  • The house edge is 4%.
  • 1,000 x 0.04 = $40 in theoretical losses

Land Based

  • You wager $1,000 total.
  • The house edge is 6%.
  • 1,000 x 0.06 = $60 in theoretical losses

You can see that online slots games lead to fewer theoretical losses. However, you’re not exactly going to lose a bunch more with land-based machines.

That said, you might still consider playing in brick-and-mortar venues. This is especially the case if you enjoy playing slots live.

Volatility Must Be Considered

The house advantage isn’t everything when determining what kind of slots odds you’re facing. You also need to consider the volatility of any individual game.

High volatility makes it less likely that your short-term winnings will line up with the house advantage. You could win far more or less than the house edge suggests.

Row of Slot Machines

Unless you win big with volatile games, though, you’re probably going to lose your money quicker. A highly volatile slot with a 2% house edge, for example, might not pay as much in the short run as a game with a 5% house advantage.

Assuming you want to win now, then you might consider less-volatile slot machines. These games are more likely to offer consistent payouts.

Some slot machines provide a volatility rating in the info section. Assuming no rating is given, then you can look at the maximum payouts and bonuses to get a read on volatility. Slots with huge max wins and lots of bonuses are the most unpredictable.

Should You Always Play Slots with the Lowest House Edge?

A low house advantage doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a better chance to win in any given session. As covered above, volatility also has a heavy impact on your winnings.

You’re not necessarily going to win more just because you choose games with lower house edges. That said, you don’t have to obsess over the house advantage in every situation.

Nevertheless, you should still be conscious of this matter. You’re most likely to win more money over time when playing slots with low house advantages.

This is especially true if you’re consistently playing games with a 3% to 4% house edge, versus slots with a 5% to 8% house advantage.

Tips for Winning the Most through Slot Machines

If you’re reading this post, you likely care about your slot winnings. Here are some tips that can help you boost your chances of making money.

Research Slots with Low House Advantages

Many online slots developers list the return to player (RTP) for their games. Therefore, you can easily research RTP for most online games.  You could run simple searches such as the “highest-paying online slots.”

Many mobile slots also display their RTP in the info screen. You can look at the payout percentage and judge if it’s higher or lower than the online average.

Mobile Phone With Online Slots

RTP can easily be converted to determine the house advantage. You invert the RTP figure to find the house edge (e.g. 97% RTP = 3% house advantage).

Unfortunately, land-based slots developers don’t list payout percentages for their games. That said, you just need to make general assumptions that most machines feature somewhere around a 6% house advantage.

Concentrate Your Play Online

When given the lower house edges online, you stand a stronger chance of winning at mobile casinos. If you stick to internet slots, then your chances of making money will improve.

You can boost your odds even more by performing research. As mentioned before, simple online searches will help you find high-paying games.

Keep Volatility in Mind

Volatility has a huge impact in slots. It determines whether your short-term winnings will be more consistent or erratic.

Low-volatility games are better for preserving your bankroll. They don’t usually offer big maximum wins, but they do pay more consistently.

High volatility slots, on the other hand, will take you on a wild ride. They don’t offer much indication on how much you’ll win in the short run.

Take Advantage of Rewards

Loyalty rewards help boost your bottom line with slot machines. That said, you should definitely sign up for the VIP program wherever you play.

Most online casinos automatically enroll you in their loyalty plans. They already have your information on file when you register.

Row of Slot Machines

Land-based casinos require you to sign up online or in person. After joining a program, you’ll receive a player’s club card. You enter this card into any slot machine that you play to rack up rewards.

Take Bankroll Management Seriously

Due to their volatility, slots don’t exactly make bankroll management easy. Nevertheless, you can still get a rough guideline on how long your bankroll will last.

Here’s an example:

  • You play 500 spins an hour.
  • You bet $1 per spin on average.
  • 500 x 1 = $500 wagered an hour.
  • The house edge is 4%.
  • 500 x 0.04 = $20 in hourly losses
  • Your bankroll is worth $100.
  • 100 / 20 = 5
  • Your bankroll will theoretically last for 5 hours.

You can plug your specific numbers into this example. This way, you’ll be able to budget accordingly based on your individual situation.

Avoid Using Bonus Buy

Bonus buy (a.k.a. feature buy) is a relatively new concept with online slots. It allows you to unlock the bonus round immediately.

In exchange, you need to bet a certain multiple of your stake. For example, you might have to spend 100x your stake to use feature buy.

The benefit is that you could win big in the bonus round. If you don’t win much, though, then you’re going to lose serious money. As a result, your bankroll will take a big hit.

That said, I don’t recommend using bonus buy. If you are going to employ this option, then do so at lower stakes.

In Summary

The slots house edge is affected by various factors. Most notably, online slots tend to give you better odds than land-based slot machines.

You’ll face around a 4% house advantage with the average mobile slot. Meanwhile, the typical land-based slot machine carries around a 6% house edge.

Of course, you don’t necessarily need to fear land-based machines. You can still play them if you enjoy the live casino atmosphere. However, your best chances of winning normally lie with online slots.

Posted in: Slots

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