The online gambling industry, technically known as iGaming, is now an international behemoth both in terms of revenue and participation. Ever since the first online casino and betting sites started going live in the late nineties, more players, operators, games and innovations have flooded the market. In fact, according to the stats, iGaming is forecast to reach a value of $56.05 billion by 2018 which is more than double what it was worth in 2009.
Unsurprisingly, the thing that’s fueled this online betting revolution has been technology. Giving players around the world instant access to a suite of games via their desktop and mobiles has made betting a regular pastime. Indeed, while games such as blackjack, poker and bingo used to be reserved for those who went out to a local casino or betting venue, today’s players now come from all walks of life.
Gaming Has to Be Random and Secure
However, for every technological advancement that makes iGaming more efficient, interactive and accessible, there needs to be something else in place to ensure players are safe. In every situation where someone is wagering money on the outcome of any unknown event, there’s an element of trust that the game in question is fair.
Now, in places like Las Vegas that have built their reputation on gambling, the “fairness” of a game is overseen by the local gaming authority (i.e. the Nevada Gaming Control Board). Pre-inspections of all equipment, background checks on gaming suppliers and random visits to each casino help to ensure consumers are able to enjoy games where the outcomes are random and not skewed in any way.
In the online world, things are very similar. Licensing bodies such as the Malta Gaming Authority or the UK Gambling Commission are designed to regulate and oversee industry operators. In addition to licensing companies in various territories, regulators set and aim to maintain proper standards of operation. However, unlike live casinos where the integrity of a game can be measured by inspecting a roulette wheel or a deck of cards, online games don’t have any physical attributes.
Technology Used to Increase Randomness and Efficiency
Except in instances where live tables are used (known as live dealer casino games), operators have something in place known as a random number generator (RND). Essentially the lifeblood of the iGaming industry, RNDs produce random results across a variety of games. For example, let’s take the game of bingo. In the real world, the outcome of a game is determined by a caller randomly picking balls out of a drum.
Naturally, online operators don’t have an army of people locked in a warehouse somewhere drawing balls from drums in order to power their games. In fact, even if this was possible, the callers wouldn’t be able to draw balls quick enough to match the pace of some popular variants. For example, the Showboat Room at Sun Bingo is where “speed” players go when they want some high-octane action via their desktop or mobile.
Each game of bingo in the Showboat Room is over within a couple of minutes which means players can move from one game to another in the least time possible. In contrast, the average live game of bingo would take at least 10 minutes to complete as the caller would not only have to deal with pulling numbers, but check each winning ticket all while entertaining the crowd.
This is where RNDs come into effect. According to Random.org, RNDs typically fall into one of two categories: Pseudo-Random Number Generators (PRNGs) and True Random Number Generators (TRNGs). The latter option uses physical inputs to tell a processor when to spit out a random outcome. For example, a user could click a mouse and the moment the click is made is when the RND will produce a result. Because the timing of the click isn’t known beforehand, the result that’s produced would be random.
Although effective, this method isn’t particularly efficient at producing a lot of numbers in quick succession. In contrast, PRNGs use a mathematical formula or pre-calculated lists. Although the sequence is already known by the system, it isn’t known by the user and this, in essence, makes it random. Naturally, this system is better for producing lots of results in a short space of time, as you’d need in a game of speed bingo.
iGaming Offers a Safe and Fair Way to Play
Combinations and variants of these RNDs are used throughout the gaming industry to ensure players get an efficient yet fair system at all times. And, just as is the case in the real world, RND companies are checked and verified by independent testing bodies like eCOGRA. When an online operator launches a site, they must ensure their RND software is tested (and regularly audited) by a recognized tester. Only once the software has been tested and certified will a company be given a license by an official regulator.
In essence, technology has provided an answer to certain problems posed by technology. When the idea of online betting first became a reality, the natural question everyone asked was: is it fair? While it was easy to recreate games like bingo, poker or blackjack in a virtual setting, there was no way of telling whether the results were random or not. Technology in the form of RNDs has answered this question. Although live casino gaming is still popular, more people are now choosing to ante up online because it offers a quicker, more accessible and, more importantly, more secure way to play.