Online Casino Random Number Generators
Random number generators are the core of online casino games. When someone makes a wager on any online casino game, a casino random number generator is used to determine the outcome. Unlike what some people may think, the outcomes are not being controlled by anyone and each outcome is independent of the other. How does this work?
In a brick-and-mortar casino, the randomness of the games stems from physics. Take, for example, the roulette wheel. In roulette, the croupier throws a ball into a rotating wheel in the opposite direction. The outcomes of roulette are random because the croupier doesn’t know how hard or when to throw the ball to get a certain number. If you told a croupier to throw the ball so it landed on 00, he or she would not be able to do it. Therefore, the natural probability of the ball landing on any number is the result.
Since using the laws of physics in virtual casino games would be difficult, online casinos instead use random number generators. A casino random number generator is a piece of software that makes numbers based on complicated formulas with one or several seeds, or variables. In the roulette example, the seed would be how the croupier throws the ball and the position of the wheel when it is thrown. In an online casino RNG, the most common variable, or “seed,” is time. Most random number generators use the fraction of a second a wager is placed and run it through a formula. The result is a number that determines the outcome of the wager. Because gamblers don’t know what this formula is, natural probability follows.
Random number generators are not without their flaws, however. The formulas used by an online casino’s RNG have to allow for all outcomes to be equally fair. Suppose someone plays online European roulette. When he or she hits “spin,” the casino random number generator immediately takes the time the wager is placed and runs it through a complex formula to reach the outcome of a number 0-36. If this formula is more likely to spit out a low number than a high one, the game would be unfair. This would be like having a physical roulette wheel with the numbers 1-18 having a larger space. Conversely, random number generator bias could also be in favor of the house.
To ensure that random number generators used by online casinos result in mathematically fair games, there are numerous certification programs that exist. Auditors, as they are called, will periodically be hired by the companies that own online casinos to test the random number generators. If the organization finds that the games are fair, it will allow the casino to put its seal on the website. Look for TST and/or eCOGRA seals before playing at a casino to ensure that the games are fair.
The use of a random number generator is particularly complex with the most popular online casino game: the slot machine. Land-based and online slot machines both use random number generators to create their outcomes. Each reel has several dozens of symbols, and the casino random number generator determines which will be chosen. A fair RNG is just as likely to select one reel position as the next, but symbols with less value are usually repeated on a reel strip much more than high-value and scatter symbols.
Some slot machines differ, however. AWP machines, or “amusement with prizes,” do not play as the result of a truly fair RNG. Rather, an AWP is programmed to pay out in cycles. This means that the spins are predetermined and that the house is guaranteed to make a profit in the short term. Thankfully, AWP machines will be listed as such. If a game does not have “AWP” next to its name, it is a fair slot machine.
While the online casino industry is mostly unregulated, it’s comforting to know that, with the exception of some shady casinos, the games themselves are fair. The outcomes generated by truly fair random number generators are just as random as the tossing of a ball into a roulette wheel. With this knowledge, players can rest assured that the games offered by reputable online casinos are trustworthy.« Online Casino Security Strategies for Beating Casino Odds »