Can You Trust Online Slot Machines?

For some, even experienced, gamblers, internet gambling is nothing but a scam. Without physical cards, a roulette wheel, or actual buttons to press on a slot machine, there is just no way a company would host fair games, right?

row of slot machines bathed in purple light

Well, no. Not at all. These players fail to see the bigger picture. Online casinos aren’t doing anything new. They’re providing digital versions of games that are built to favour them. The games aren’t rigged any more than they are at a real-world casino – they all just give a mathematical advantage to the house.

Over the course of many thousands of bets placed, the house is expected to win. For the house to receive many thousands of bets, enough players need to trust it. The best way for it to generate trust in the platform is by playing fair (even if the odds are in their favour). The fastest way to ensure that trust is broken is for the company to get caught out rigging its games. Put simply, it makes no sense for a casino to cheat.

Why do People Think Online Slots are Rigged?

Despite this clear incentive to play fair, many people still insist that slots are rigged. There are a lot of different reasons why they hold these beliefs, including:

Small sample sizes

For players to realise the expected return-to-player ratings advertised on online slots, they must make tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of spins. Very few do.

Most play shortish sessions of 100 or 200 spins. In this time, it’s quite possible to not hit any big wins or bonus features. The odds of hitting jackpots on online slots are tiny too, so mathematically, most people should never see one.

Bad beats

Even experienced players have wild theories about the random number generators at online poker sites. One of the most popular is that the shortstack/underdog always wins their first all-in. The theory is that if the player were to bust out, they might not place any more bets that night and the operator wouldn’t make any more money from them.

The reality is though that bad beats do happen and, as humans, negative experiences tend to stick out in our minds more than positive ones. We don’t remember most of the times that our Aces won versus the desperate five big blind shove of a player holding J, 9 off-suit. It’s the (fewer) times we lose in that position that stay with us and form the basis of rigging allegations.

The Casino Does Have an Advantage

The casino is expected to win more often than the player. It has an edge. It’s mathematically more likely that you’ll bust out before you double up. It’s important to remember that!

Previous examples

Perhaps the best argument (but still a flawed one) to suggest that some online slots might be rigged is that is has happened before. Admittedly, not with online slots but with other casino games.

In 2013, two providers were found to be running a coin flip game that claimed to offer no house edge but in fact did. Similarly, in 2007, Absolute Poker was investigated for rigging their games. Players in on the scam managed to profit to the tune of $1 million from unsuspecting victims who gambled against them at their tables.

Why it makes no sense for a Casino to Rig its Games

As mentioned, online casinos have an incentive to not rig their games. Sure, they could scam a few folks out of a bit of money before people got wise to it but it wouldn’t last long.

Not only would the business fail quickly but the owners might face criminal charges, fines, or even jail time. Alternatively, they could present a fair casino, build trust, and continue to profit in a rapidly expanding and highly profitable industry.

How to Be Sure You’re Playing at a Reputable Online Casino

We’re not saying that there don’t exist online casinos with rigged slots. However, in 2020, they’re very rare. It’s also very easy to protect yourself from such shady operations so you never need find yourself at one.

Licensing

In the very early days of online casinos, the platforms weren’t often regulated. This, coupled with the relative obscurity of the first online casinos, meant there was a much greater risk of signing up to a casino offering scam games.

These days, casinos work with licensing agencies from around the world. These agencies thoroughly inspect and test all aspects of the service provided for fairness and will grant them a licence if they pay a hefty licence fee and satisfy certain criteria.

Casinos possessing licences from the largest agencies on the planet are incredibly safe. However, it’s important not to just take the venue’s word for it. Just seeing the UK Gambling Commission or Malta Gaming Authority’s name on a website isn’t enough to ensure a fair game. If the casino isn’t an instantly recognisable name, you might want to cross reference its claim to be licensed with the agency in question’s database. It’s easy to do and you should be able to search for the casino on their website.

It’s worth noting that it’s not just the casinos themselves that receive licenses from the MGA and UKGC. Companies like Playtech, NetEnt, Microgaming, and others all demonstrate their commitment to fair play by working with regulators. Agencies test the games they create for fairness and honesty in the reporting of details like RTP rating, payment structure, and other features. Games such as the Great Albini for example, have unique features that all require a random outcome. Therefore, random number generators are particularly well-scrutinised.

The game design studios also pay a large fee to the agency they hold a licence with. The biggest names will, therefore, only work with reputable casinos that hold licences. Again, reputation is crucial in gambling and successful companies must never jeopardise the level of trust they have already built up.

Hallmarks of a Fair and Legitimate Casino

There are a few things to look out for that should assure you that you are indeed playing at a legitimate and trustworthy iGaming venue. They include:

  • Licence (of course!!)
  • Works with reputable iGaming companies and slots providers.
  • Supports major mainstream payment options.
  • Has multiple customer service options and is open about how to find them.
  • Works with other fair play organisations or testing agencies.

Stay Safe When Gambling Online

As you can see, these days, online gambling and using virtual slot machines is pretty safe. Well, you’re very unlikely to get outright scammed anyway. Licensing and a robust incentive structure to play fair ensure that players are protected. You still might lose and lose heavily gambling online but this is the nature of gambling anyway.