One of the most common questions asked by newcomers to online gaming is ‘how do I know I’m getting a fair deal?’ And to be honest, it’s a perfectly reasonable question. After all, you’re handing over your hard-earned cash to play a game in the hope that you’ll win. So how do we know that we’re getting a fair deal?
That’s all down to an incredibly effective piece of software called a Random Number Generator or what is more commonly known as an RNG.
In truth, RNGs have been around for a very long time in the shape of that little six-sided cube we call a die. However, in more recent times as the gaming community embraced technology, something considerably more powerful was required.
The British start the ball rolling
The British National Savings and Investments built a machine in 1957 called ERNIE (Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment) and used it to determine the winning numbers in their premium bonds draw. This was one of the first machines of its kind that was used in the gaming industry and set the marker ever since. In fact, the lottery is still using ERNIE 5 to this very day.
Online gaming takes note
When online gaming for cash first gathered pace, there were no assurances for gamers that they were getting a fair chance to win. This all changed when the various gaming authorities around the world stepped in and made RNGs a requirement for any licensed online gaming provider.
This changed how we play online slots by ensuring that the odds for each game cannot be skewed in the casino’s favor. While slots don’t actually use numbers as such, the same RNG technology provides the game developers with the ability to generate truly random spins of each reel. Many of the most famous online slots have made use of this technology for many years now. Games such as Mega Moolah, Cleopatra, and the Vikings mobile game are perfect examples of this tech in action.
So how does it actually work?
An RNG like those used in many online casinos and gaming sites will take a number which is known as a seed and run it through a series of formulas. These formulas are increasingly complex and produce a random outcome. The seed that is used is usually the time that the game is initiated. And because time constantly changes, and the casino can never know the precise second that a player begins a game, the outcomes are random. When a player starts another round, the seed (time) is different and so the outcome will also change.
Other RNGs can also use random actions such as keystrokes, your computer’s running processes, or even the movement of your mouse as their seed. However, this means that the numbers generated while random, aren’t truly random. They are entirely unpredictable and so protect players and casinos, but they aren’t as random as you may think.
True Random Number Generators are actually pieces of hardware like ERNIE. They don’t require seeds because their numbers are not computed values. That’s to say that it’s not a repeatable algorithm that generates them. Now, this is where it gets a little more complicated. Hardware-generated random numbers are derived from snapshots of naturally occurring noise. As there is no set algorithm, the numbers generated are truly random. That’s why machines like ERNIE are often referred to as TRNGs.
But that’s not to say that their software counterparts are lesser RNGs. Software RNGs are simply different yet still perfectly designed for their role, particularly in online gaming scenarios.
So are online slots and games fair?
That’s the million-dollar question right there. Of course, it’s impossible for us to say that every online casino site is safe and secure. But just as we can advise you on how to find the best driver updater, we can also offer a little insight into how you can pick an online casino or gaming site.
In this particular industry much like any other, reputation is everything. So look for the big names and possibly even the ones you have heard of yourself before. Check the reviews online paying particular attention to the provider’s policies on withdrawals and payouts.
Last, but by no means least, make sure that the site in question is fully licensed by the local gaming authority. This licensing information will appear at the bottom of the home page and it’s your guarantee that the provider is using the latest RNG technology for all of its games.
In the past, casinos often had an unfair reputation for stacking the odds in their own favor. Thankfully, those days are a thing of the past with RNGs leveling the playing field, particularly for online gamers.