Reputable internet casinos have their games audited by independent, third-party auditing organizations to ensure fairness to players. Auditing is a requirement enforced by the various licensing authorities and is also done to show players their business is fair and reliable. One of the main auditing firms is eCOGRA, which stands for e-Commerce Online Gambling Regulation and Assurance. It’s a non-profit organization that was established in 2002 for self-regulation of online gambling. eCOGRA makes its auditing reports available to the public, and if you’re new to online casinos, you should consider looking at these reports before choosing a casino.
eCOGRA offers three types of certificates that online casinos can earn. One certificate demonstrates that the operator’s games are fair, and that the business is responsible and safe. Another certificate is related to the casino’s random number generator (RNG) and demonstrates the fairness of the RNG used in games like blackjack, roulette, and video poker. eCOGRA analyzes casinos’ RNGs over a six-month period to ensure that the numbers are indeed random and game outcomes are unbiased. eCOGRA also creates the Percent Payout Review, which tells you average payout percentages for several game categories. They’re done monthly and represent average payouts.
How do you interpret the numbers on reports like eCOGRA’s Percent Payout Review? Well, if you find that a particular web casino in a particular month had an average percentage payout of 95.66%, it means that for ever $100 wagered in the games category you’re looking at, the casino kept $4.34. You may notice that with some games, the payout percentages are higher. In games like poker, strategy and skill play a part in the outcome, whereas for slots, winning is based on luck. So if you’re a new poker player and are excited to see a poker average payout of over 99%, keep in mind that there may be some very skilled players accounting for that high percentage payout.
eCOGRA is not the only independent auditor out there, however. Some of the other independent, respected online gaming auditors include Technical Systems Testing (TST), BMM International, Gaming Associates (Australia), Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC), and Certified Fair Gambling (CFG).
The backbone of internet gambling is the software that runs the games. The software is what determines if the games are fair, and playing at casinos where the software has fairness certifications is a great first step in ensuring that you’re treated fairly when you play online. If the software is deemed and certified to be fair, then the next step to assure yourself that you’re playing at a reputable casino online is to check the monthly payout percentage audits and ensure they’re being done by a reputable, independent auditor.
Online casinos are a huge business, and most of them want to play by the rules and treat their customers fairly, because they want loyal players. They also know that if they are treating players unfairly, word can spread quickly, and they could be out of business in a hurry. There are, unfortunately, a few rogue casinos on the web, and you can help yourself avoid these by checking to see that any casino you play at has recognized, high-quality software (like that from Vegas Technology, Rival Gaming, or Realtime Gaming), and that audit reports are available for the casino’s monthly payout percentages.