RTP stands for “return to player”. This is the amount a machine is programmed to pay back to its players, compared to what the machine takes in. It is a theoretical percentage, mind you. A 95% RTP does not mean that for every $1 you wager, you will win exactly $0.95 back (i.e. lose $0.05 per $1.00). It means that, over a very, very long period of time (we’re talking decades here), the game will pay back exactly 95% of its intake as wins.
RTP definitely matters when choosing a slot machine. However, you can’t expect a progressive game to have an RTP as high as a non-progressive. For example, most of Microgaming’s online slots come with RTPs between 95% and 97%. They’re flagship progressive, Mega Moolah, only has an RTP of 88%.
88% may not sound as appealing as 97%, but the Mega Moolah reseeds its mega jackpot at one million every time it strikes, and the larger it grows, the higher the RTP becomes. You won’t see the actual RTP displayed anywhere in the rules – only that lowly 88%. But that’s the unique thing about progressives. Their actual RTP silently fluctuates.
When a machine has just paid its progressive, the RTP drops, because the machine is now ahead of the curver, so to speak. In its current state, it has paid out more than its RTP was programmed to. As the progressive grows larger and larger, its RTP rises. If the jackpot exceeds a certain amount – it varies by machine – the RTP can actually rise to above 100%. this doesn’t guarantee you’ll win it, of course, but it sure does increase your odds.