Are online casino games rigged? Here’s everything you need to know

  • Just how fair are your favorite casino games?
  • How unregulated casino sites put your safety at risk

It is a common claim online that “online casino games are rigged” or that a “site’s games are all fixed”, and this is often heard from angry players who are on a losing streak.

Are online casino games rigged?
Are online casino games rigged?

But can these hunches be written off as false?

The answer, of course, is that if players play at reputable online casinos, in a well regulated jurisdiction, then they can be confident they not being screwed over.

The majority of online casino games in these environments are run by trusted, regulated operators in a fair and safe manner, and players can play with confidence.

However, playing at an unlicensed online casino can mean risk.

There is a possibility that the unregulated site taking your bets has fixed the game against you so you have no chance of winning – and even worse, there is often very little you can do about it, except write off your loss and move on.

It’s probably not worth the gamble.

But let’s drill in to the detail a little more.

Online games and RNGs

In a land-based casino, the games play out in front of the players’ eyes. The odds are given upfront, the house edge is clear, and players can see the cards, dice or wheel for themselves so they know the game is as fair as can be.

While devious players and casino staff could tamper with the equipment to rig the game in their favor, this is uncommon thanks to state of the art security systems, and tight regulations.

starburst-slot-game
Slots are as random as they can be thanks to RNGs

With online casinos, the games are simulated by a computer. An algorithm based on random number generators (RNGs) determines the outcome of every hand, roulette number and slot combination landed by the player.

These RNGs are extremely complex, factoring in the odds of each particular outcome and balancing the regularity of large and small wins accurately. While they can not be truly random, since they are a product of human design, they are as near to random as is possible, and will still provide the given house edge thanks to play testing over millions of spins.

This difference can cause players to trust online games less than they do physical ones. Without actually seeing the game play out in front of them, players must have faith that the computer processor is doing right by them.

It would be easy for a dishonest operator to adapt the RNG system so it took much more from the player than it paid out, and to provide games that guaranteed the player would lose. But are these rigged games really that common – and what can you do to prevent getting taken in by one?

Look for the license and verify your safety

In regions where gambling is legal, there will be an authority responsible for licensing and regulating the industry. In the UK and other European nations there is usually a national Gambling Commission, while the USA’s states with legal gambling have their own Gambling Boards or Gaming Authorities.

Tim Miller Gambling Commission
A seal of approval from the UK Gambling Commission can give you peace of mind

These agencies are tasked with protecting players, and also the casino industry. Where relevant, these authorities also oversee online gaming services.

If a casino operator is licensed by the appropriate regulator, they will carry a seal of approval in the form of a check mark, logo or other symbol.

Any casino displaying this sign without holding the correct license will face legal action and be banned from operating in that jurisdiction. For added safety, a list of licensed operators is usually available from the regulator, or published online. Licensed casinos are required by law to offer fair games, so you can be as sure as possible that you’re getting the best chance against the house.

Who makes online casino games?

As well as the licensed casino site you visit to play, make sure that the games you choose are run by a trusted software team who are also licensed and approved. Most online casinos do not develop and run the games themselves – they simply host content from third parties. However, a licensed operator is required to ensure that they only use trustworthy game providers.

Some of the leading names in game development for casinos are NetEnt, Microgaming, Yggdrasil, Playtech and Konami.

NetEnt’s Planet of the Apes slot game has been hotly anticipated and has now landed.
NetEnt’s Planet of the Apes slot game – a trusted game from a trusted game maker.

These companies – and many more – provide content for top casino brands on the web. Like all businesses within the gambling industry, regulation is strict and developers must ensure their games are fair and honest – their reputation depends on it.

Rigorous play testing is undertaken to make sure that payout rates are as they should be.

If your favorite casino provides games from a licensed developer, you can be sure they are safe to play.

Conclusion

Some just will not be convinced that games are wholly fair.

This possibly is derived from the gambler’s fallacy – the notion that, for example in roulette, if the wheels turns up 10 blacks in a row, the next outcome must be red. That’s simply not true – there is still the same chance it will be black. Unfortunately, or fortunately, games will always have streaks like this – it is just probability in action.

In order to play safely online, you need to chose a reputable site offering reputable games. If a site looks too good to be true, with its bonus offers, for example, then it probably is.

Look out for gaming licenses from trusted authorities and you’ll be playing safely.

Read our safe casinos guide if you need help finding a trusted online casino.

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