Slot Machine Volatility: What Is It?

When talking about online casinos, it’s nearly impossible not to mention slot machines, too. Slots are undoubtedly a classic casino game—and one of the most popular ones out there—so it’s no surprise that it was able to make its way to the online world as well, opening its doors to even more players and possibilities. No matter what kind of online slots you play, whether you enjoy mega slots, multi-pay line slots, mobile slots, progressive slots, and more, the choices are nearly endless.

That being said, no matter your preferences, there’s one thing that you need to keep in mind when choosing an online slots game to play, and that is slot volatility. You might not have considered it, but volatility and variance actually play a major role in influencing our decisions when it comes to casino games we play. In this article, we’ll explain the basics of slot machine volatility, but if you wish to delve into this topic, even more, Casino Gorilla has a great article that you can check out here.

Understanding Volatility

When talking about slot machines specifically, volatility refers to the risk involved i.e., how risky a game is. If you’ve had your fair share of playing slots online, you’ve probably noticed how there are some games that regularly pay out wins, while there are others where you experience a period of time when you don’t win anything at all. Believe it or not, but this actually has nothing to do with being lucky or unlucky. Instead, it has to do with volatility.

When a slot machine has high volatility, it will have very few payouts. However, the upside is that your winnings tend to be very big when you do win. A good example of high volatility slots is the progressive jackpot games that you’ve probably tried playing. This is a type of game that not everyone will enjoy, as it requires players to not only have a considerable bankroll but a lot of patience, too. However, if you enjoy the thrill that high volatility games offer, then this is for you.

On the other hand, low volatility slots are the complete opposite. This type of game pays out wins on the regular, and bonus games are typically activated often. Unlike high volatility slots, low volatility games tend to have wins that don’t amount to much and you definitely can’t expect to find large jackpots too. Still, low volatility games also have its benefits, as it’s ideal for maintaining your bankroll.

Three Levels of Volatility

There are three levels of volatility in online slot machine games, namely low, medium, and high. We’ll explain these varying risk levels in more detail below, so keep reading if you’re interested in learning more.

Low Volatility

As mentioned, low volatility slots give players increased chances of winning, but the jackpots are not that much—probably within 200-250 times the player’s bet. If you enjoy the thrill of high volatility games, then you definitely won’t find low variance slot games to be exciting. However, it’s definitely a much safer option for those who want steady payouts. Other than that, low volatility games also ensure longer playtime, allowing you to manage your bankroll easily, and reduce your losses.

Medium Volatility

Next up is medium volatility slot machine games, which is a great compromise for those who don’t enjoy low volatility nor high volatility games. However, medium volatility slots tend to be a bit frustrating for some players, but they do offer a much higher amount in winnings compared to low variance slots.

Other than that, medium volatility slots also have a bunch of bonus features that are worth checking out. This is a fantastic option for gamblers who casually play for fun yet want to be able to win a decent amount every now and then.

High Volatility

This is the ideal level of volatility for gamblers who wish to become rich—as in the millionaire or billionaire level. If this applies to you, then high volatility games are definitely the way to go. Unsurprisingly, high variance slots are also known as “high risk,” especially since payouts are rare. However, once you do get lucky and win the game, you can expect massive rewards.

If you have a hefty bankroll and you don’t mind it getting a bit depleted during the process of trying to land a jackpot, then high volatility slots are for you. Although, you must also have a lot of time and patience if you want to invest in this kind of game.

But if you are willing to try it out, you can expect to win around 3,000 to 10,000 times your initial bet.

How to Determine a Slot Machine’s Volatility

Without a doubt, not many people have the privilege to invest in high-volatility games. However, not everyone is content with how much low variance games are able to offer either. With that in mind, it’s important to know how to determine what the volatility level of the slots you’re playing is.

Actually, Try Out the Game

Unsurprisingly, most online casinos don’t tell you the volatility level of their slot machines. It’s your responsibility as a player to find out. However, this can take countless attempts—probably around 500 to 1,000 spins—before you can figure it out.

Because of this, we highly recommend that you test out the free or demo version of an online slot game first before investing your time and money. This is because the volatility of a slot machine game doesn’t change whether you’re playing it for free.

Determine How Much the RTP Is

Another way to know is by determining how much the RTP (Return to Player) percentage is. This information is determined by none other than the game developer itself. If a slot machine has a higher RTP percentage, then you can expect increased chances of winning. In other words, the slots would then have lower volatility. On the other hand, a lower RTP rate means it’s more volatile.


We hope this article has helped you understand variance and volatility in slot machine games. This is just surface-level information, and there are definitely other articles out there that discuss this in-depth. Still, we have shared a fair amount of useful information here, and we hope it can help guide you in your online gambling journey.