Are Online Casinos Rigged?
A common question amongst both new and experienced players is whether or not online casinos are 'rigged' or fixed in some way. This is also a question that gets asked about once every other day on Yahoo answers. So we thought it was high time to answer it.
Before we start, we should point out that by their very nature all casinos games have a payout that is lower than the theoretical 'full odds' of the game (resulting in the 'house edge'). This fact is no secret and one that is not hidden by the casinos - it is also how casinos, both online and brick and mortar, stay in business. This topic has already been covered in the previous article, which you can read here.
With this in mind, when we talk about a casino being 'rigged' we mean one which operates outside of the laws of probability - ie: the outcomes of a game, rather than the payouts, are not as we would expect. For example, if you were to roll a dice 100 times and each time the dice rolled a '6', there is a strong chance that the dice is fixed in some way.
So what about online casinos? Most people that complain about the legitimacy of an online casino do so after a string of losses - either a large number of spins on a slot machine without a significant win, or a run of loses at the blackjack or roulette table. But do these loses related to some kind of manipulation of the game?
For roulette, many players scream 'fraud' when faced with a run of 10 reds in a row whilst they're betting on black - but does this point to a fixed game, a statistical anomaly or a relatively common occurrence? The odds of losing 10 bets on black in a row, which includes both spins that are 'red' as well as spinning the green zero, can be calculated as follows:
The probability of losing one spin is 19/37 - there are 37 numbers on a single zero roulette wheel and 19 of them would result in you losing your 'black' bet (18 reds + 1 green zero).
The probability of losing two spins in a row can be calculated by taking the odds of losing one spin and multiplying it against itself:
19/37 x 19/37 = 1 in 3.79 (or P = 0.26)
Similarly the probability of losing 10 spins in a row can be calculated by taking the odds of losing one spin and multiplying it by itself 9 times, which is written as:
19/37 ^ 10 = 1 in 784 (or P = 0.0013)
To put this in perspective, this means that if you were to spin the roulette wheel ten times in a row and then repeated this set of 10 spins another 783 times (for a total of 784), you would expect one of those spin sets to be all losses.
A one in 784 occurance isn't really that rare at all, in fact you have much better odds of facing a run of 10 consecutive losses at the roulette wheel than you do of correctly picking 4 numbers on the lottery (1 in 1,032).
Please note: The odds quoted above are for a full set of 10 spins before any of the spins have occurred. If you have already spun to nine losses, the probability of losing the next spin is 19/37. Chance has no memory and the numbers that have come up previously have absolutely no influence on the next number. If you need this principle explained, read this article.
If players were faced with such a run at a brick and mortar casino, they would likely accept it as 'bad luck'. But because an online casino is essentially a graphical representation of a computer generated random number, people tend to be a bit quicker to jump to the conclusion that a game is fixed.
In reality, the games at a reputable online casino are exactly the same as the ones you would find at a brick and mortar casino. In fact many online casinos actually offer a higher payout percentages (RTP) than their land based brothers - a perk that can be offered thanks to the reduced overheads of not needing to have a physical presence.
A final point to consider is that casinos (both online and offline) do not need to be rigged to ensure themselves a long term profit - this is acheived by the house edge. What a casino does need is volume - the more bets a casino takes, the more profit they will make. A casino where everybody loses simply isn't fun - and if the gaming experienced offered by a casino isn't fun, most players wont return. In this respect, a fair game is much better for business.
Obviously we are not saying that all online casinos are 100% honest - there are people in the world that have questionable morals and there is a chance that some of these people probably do run rigged online casinos. But if you stick to reputable licensed online casinos you can ensure that you're getting a fair game.
The following simple advice should help you find a safe, trustworthy online casino:
- Stick to large well known brands that are regulated in the UK (or an approved UK jurisdiction) such as 32Red.
- Play at casinos powered by trusted online casino software, such as Microgaming or NetEnt.
- Look for proof of third party audits of a casinos payouts and random number generators.
- Use guides, such as the one found on this site, to get recommendations of reputable online casinos.
Finally, remember that casino gambling is a form of entertainment that comes with a cost. In the long run, the house really does always win - so play for the thrill and enjoyment, but never bet with any money that you can't afford to lose.