Provably fair casino gaming

4 November, 2014

Arguably the most important aspect of any casino game, is that it offers the player a fair and realistic chance of success when compared to real world casino games of the same type. Given that some unscrupulous operators developed games designed to cheat players in the early days, proving that your game was fair became a key issue.

There were two devices put in place to assure players that the games they play at their casino of choice was fair and above board. The first was that casinos had to be regulated and registered with an approved regulatory body (such as those in Gibraltar and Malta) and secondly, their software had to be tested and verified by third parties, such as eCogra, who would check the veracity of the developers claim that the game was fair and random.

If a game passed the test, which involved running millions of simulations of the game, collating the results and analysing them as well as a detailed review of the coding in place to power the random number generator, then eCogra or a similar body, then certify the game as Safe and Fair.

For many years, this has been the process that the top casinos have followed, perhaps believing that there was little other alternative available to them. Players certainly believe the system works as has been shown by the swelling numbers of players all keen to try out online casino gaming.

But now there's a new way to prove that your game is fair that potentially offers a cheaper, more effective and quicker to implement solution for casinos and which players can actually see for themselves just how fair a game is. This solution is 'provably fair' casino games.

What are provably fair casino games?

At the moment, the online casino industry proves games are fair in the following way. A developer develops a game, it is then sent for testing to eCogra, who then verify it is Safe and Fair. The casino then releases the game on the site with the certification in place and players then play the game, knowing that the game has been tested, but unable to verify independently that the game is fair. They have to take the eCogra certification at face value.

With provably fair gaming that is not an issue. A player can check at any point that any particular shuffle of the cards was random thanks to the inclusion of a provably fair button.

Of course, the casino won't show a player the result of a shuffle in terms of the position of the cards, but what they can do is map the shuffle using an algorithm. This then creates a digital fingerprint of the shuffled deck, which the player can view without knowing where the cards are in the pack. A player can do this before the deal if they are inclined to do so.

Before the game starts the deck is shuffled once again using two further algorithms, which ensure that neither the player, nor the casino can now the make up of the deck before the game starts and the player is dealt their cards.

What does this mean for current game verification systems?

While at the moment provably fair casino games are generally found in bitcoin casinos, there is a real feeling that this new technology could eventually do away with the need for an independent third party body such as eCogra to verify the safety and fairness of a game.

This is beneficial for the online casinos in particular as it means that new software can be developed with provably fair systems as an integral part of the process and then, when the software is complete, there is no need to send it to a company like eCogra for a lengthy and costly period of testing before it can be released.

Instead the game can be released immediately and its fairness independently verified by the player at any point.

For casino gamers, the proposed provably fair games means that they can independently verify every shuffle of the cards if they wish to do so. Some casino operators are likening this to being as close to being in a real world casino and witnessing the shuffle at first hand, but there is a small issue that need to be addressed.

The provably fair problem

The main issue surrounding provably fair casino gaming is not to get the technology working, there are already several companies running this type of technology online at present, but in educating the typical casino gamer into what they are actually seeing when they click the provably fair button.

The problem is that understanding the algorithms that allow casinos to show that their shuffles are fair are not the easiest concepts for a typical casino gamer to understand. Add into this the effects of server and client seeds and suddenly, explaining what is essentially a simple complex can become extremely complicated.

Yet, it is important that casinos who strive to implement this technology can do so. If a player doesn't understand how the algorithm fingerprint they see ensures that their shuffle is fair and random, then they are essentially still taking the casino at their word. Therefore, the casinos next task is to ensure that they can explain this information in a simple way for players and then implement a system which shows the shuffle is random in simple, easy to understand terminology on their site.

Will provably fair casino games change the online casino landscape?

It is fair to say that at this present time, companies like eCogra still are the typical casino players most accepted way of ensuring that a casino game is fair.

However, how long that will remain the case is open to debate.

Provably fair casino gaming may well be the next logical development for the online casino gaming industry. This new method will allow casinos to get games online quicker, more cheaply and which can be proved to be fair at any time of the players choosing. Integrating this technology is relatively simple.

The key to its success however does not lie in how effective the technology is, but in educating casino gamers into how and why they can trust this new technology more so than the existing certification system that currently exists.

If online casinos can do this effectively then provably fair gaming me be the default choice for fair games in the very near future.