While some casino games have a skill element in the outcome, some casino games are purely based on chance. Because all online casino games are partly or completely driven by chance, all casino games rely on a random number generator, or RNG in the software that powers the game. The RNG is a mathematical application that does exactly what it says: generates a completely random number. Not all RNGs are the same, and they have to be tested extensively to ensure that the numbers they generate really are random.
In some games, the use of an RNG has an obvious role. In European roulette, for example, the RNG generates a number from 1 to 37 (with 37 corresponding to “0”) on the roulette wheel. The RNG generates a number, the casino stops, and bets are paid or forfeited.
In craps, the RNG has to generate two random numbers simultaneously, and in single deck card games, the RNG has to generate a number from 1 to 52, with each of those numbers corresponding to a specific card. During a single deck card game, the RNG has to “remember” which cards it has already dealt so that they won’t be dealt again. With multiple-deck games like online blackjack, the RNG has an even more complicated mathematical algorithm driving it.
Some RNGs require the user to specify an initial “seed” value, which itself varies randomly. Some of them use the time on a clock as a seed, so that there is no human intervention at all in the RNG. There are some RNGs that actually involve numerous RNGs running all at the same time, with one RNG picking from among the results, creating a sort of super-randomness to the calculation. Of course, these are very oversimplified ways of describing how RNGs work, but it gives you some idea of the “brain” behind the many online casino games you enjoy.
To be deemed as fair, numbers spit out by any RNG have to be unpredictable and unbiased. To make sure that this is the case, internet gaming platforms have to be tested regularly by independent testing entities like eCOGRA. The testing groups have to test the RNG algorithms over millions of hands of card games or millions of throws of dice to ensure that the numbers are unpredictable and unbiased.
In your online research about internet gambling, you may stumble across a person or site telling you that a certain slot machine has a “cycle” that is predictable enough that you can learn when it’s “due” for a jackpot, or that may want to sell you some sort of system for predicting hits. These ploys aren’t gambles at all: they’re just good ways to throw away your money. Save those hard-earned dollars for something else!
When choosing among online casinos, you should look for ones whose gaming software is tested by eCOGRA, Certified Fair Gambling (CFG), Gaming Associates, BMM International, Technical Systems Testing (TST), Price Waterhouse Coopers, or another reputable independent auditor. A casino online that is up front about its software platform and independent auditing is far more likely to give you a fair and fun internet gaming experience.