Online casinos aim to provide a gaming experience that is as
close as possible to playing in a land based casino. Given that
there are certain aspects of live casinos that cannot be
replicated over the internet, this is not wholly possible.
However, for the most part, online casinos do a pretty good job
of offering a realistic imitation.
The most important thing that online casinos have to get
right is making the games they offer behave in essentially the
same way as they do when being played at the tables. As there
are no real cards being dealt, no real dice being rolled, and no
real roulette wheels being spun, the outcome of these actions
have to be reproduced artificially by the software used to power
online casinos. This is done through the use of random number
Random number generators are a vital component of online
casino software, as randomness is an integral aspect of casino
games. We explain just why randomness is so important below, and
provide a detailed explanation of exactly what random number
generators are. We also answer a commonly asked question – are
random number generators fair?
Please note that many online casinos now offer live dealer
games. These do not need to use random number generators, as
they work differently. They feature real dealers running games
in the same way they would in a land based casino, with the
action streamed to your computer via an interactive video feed.
You can read more about these games here.
Why Is Randomness Important?
Casino games are what are known as games of chance. This is
because it is chance, or luck, that determines whether you win
or lose. The outcome of any game is always determined randomly
in some way. This could be by the turn of a card, the roll of a
dice, or the spin of a roulette wheel. Because these actions
have random outcomes, you can never accurately predict what is
going to happen.
In certain games you can have some effect on the outcome.
Take blackjack, for example. You can choose when you want to hit
and when you want to stand, and this directly impacts the end
results. If you consistently make the right decisions, you can
improve your overall chances of winning. You can still never be
sure what card will be dealt next though. You can work out the
probability of what is likely to happen, but the shuffling of
the deck effectively makes each card dealt a random event.
Of course, the games simply wouldn’t work if it was possible
to know exactly what was going to happen. The whole point of
them is that the results are unpredictable. That’s what gambling
is all about – risking money on an uncertain outcome. It is the
random nature of casino games that largely, if not wholly, makes
playing them so much fun. The excitement comes from having the
chance of winning some money, and facing the risk of losing,
without any direct control over what is going to happen.
Randomness is also what effectively makes it possible to win
at casino games. The house will always win in the long run, as
they have a built in advantage (the house edge) that effectively
puts the odds in their favor. However, because the results of
any given game are random, this advantage only really applies
over a large enough sample size for the laws of probability to
“even themselves out”. In the short term, it is quite possible
for a player to overcome the odds and win some money.
What is a Random Number Generator?
Random number generators, commonly referred to as RNGs, are
basically a type of computer program. They do exactly what their
name suggests – generate numbers that are random. They
constantly produce vast sequences of numbers every second while
they are active, and can be called upon by the relevant software
to provide a single number, or a collection of numbers, from
that sequence at any point.
The numbers that RNGs produce can actually never be truly
random, as computers always have to follow some kind of
instruction or pattern. However, the most sophisticated RNGs are
very powerful. Any patterns that they follow are effectively
indecipherable. They therefore serve their purpose in terms of
producing numbers that are, to all intents and purposes,
How Do Online Casinos Use RNGs?
Online casinos work by using software that imitates the
actions that take place in a live casino, and then displays the
outcomes virtually on your computer screen using graphics. The
outcomes displayed have to be produced randomly in order to
reflect the randomness that is inherent in all casino games.
This is where the use of RNGs comes in.
Any time that the software needs to reproduce a random
outcome, it communicates with the RNG. Whatever number has been
generated by the RNG at that precise moment is then fed into the
software. Each possible number is related to a possible outcome,
and the software displays the relevant outcome accordingly.
For example, imagine you are playing blackjack and decide to
hit. In a real casino, your next card will simply be dealt from
the top of the deck. In an online casino, though, there is no
physical deck to deal cards from. The casino software will
therefore call upon the RNG to provide it with a random number.
The number the RNG provides will determine which card you are to
This is a somewhat simplified explanation of how casinos use
RNGs, but you really don’t need to know all the technical
details. All you need to know is that RNGs are basically used to
recreate the randomness of games which occurs naturally in land
It’s also worth mentioning that RNGs are also used in land
based casinos. Video slot machines use them to determine which
symbols appear on each spin, and video poker machines use them
to determine which cards are dealt.
Are Random Number Generators Fair?
A common concern among online casino players is that the
games they are playing may not be fair, and that casinos use
random number generators to cheat. This is largely an unfounded
concern. In fact, the main reason for using random number
generators is precisely to ensure that the games are fair. If
the relevant outcomes are produced randomly, the results of
games should perform in line with their true probability over
It is possible, in theory at least, for an online casino to
program its software so that it manipulates the numbers produced
from an RNG and “rigs” the games in their favor. However, the
reality is that they simply have no reason to do this. The games
are already in their favor due to the house edge. Of course they
will have to pay out to some winning players, but they’ll make
money in the long run.
There are a handful of crooked operations that are greedy and
operate unethically, but they are very few and far between. They
don’t tend to last long either, as they usually get found out.
This is why the vast majority of online casinos make absolutely
sure that their games are fair. Their reputation depends on it,
and reputation is everything in the online casino market due to
there being so many options for players.
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