Are Online Slots Fair or Rigged?
Published on by Adam
You win some, you lose some as the old saying goes. But how appropriately can this concept be applied to online slots and casino gaming? We thought it was about time that we had a closer look at the technology behind your favourite games to show you how they work and reassure you that your chances of winning big are just as high as anyone else’s.
What Are RTPs and RNGs?
Any discussion about the credibility of online slots should start with a couple of abbreviations – RTPs and RNGs. These terms refer to Return to Player (Rate) and Random Number Generator respectively, and they are absolutely crucial to understanding how online slots are designed to be fair and just in the prizes they pay out.
Return to Player Rates (RTPs) and Online Slots
The RTP is a definitive indication of the odds on you winning on any given slot. It is typically expressed as a percentage, so you may see something like ‘Expected RTP: 95%’ attached to a slot. But what exactly does this mean? Well, it’s telling you exactly how much a slot is expected to pay back to players who play it. The percentage is more easily understood if you relate to an example, so think it like this. If a slot has a 95% RTP rate, then for every €100 used on the game, €95 should come back to the player.
Variance and RTP Rates in Online Gaming
In theory, the higher the RTP rate, the less chance you have of losing significant sums, particularly over a long period of time. However, they should only be used as a guide, and you should be aware that machines with a slightly lower RTP rate may also offer increased opportunities for bigger one-off wins.
This is due to the impact of ‘Variance’, which describes the type of pay outs expected from a particular machine. A machine with high variance will pay out less regularly but at bigger sums, while a machine with low variance will pay out more often but in smaller amounts. However, the RTP is a really useful reference point, and no matter what sort of player you are, you should generally look towards games with a minimum of 90% RTP and preferably 95% or more.
Random Number Generators (RNGs) and Online Slots
Every online slot is driven by an algorithmic computer system known as a Random Number Generator, or RNG for short. RNGs ensure that your fate is fairly determined when playing an online slot, and that each player has the same opportunity to win. The RNGs feed back a different set of ‘number’ every time you click ‘spin’ on an online slot, and these numbers are translated into the results you see on the reels.
The most important thing to remember when playing online slots is that the computer system does not know of you and your prior history on the slot. It does not have a memory, even though it might seem like it does if you get on a losing streak. Similarly, if you win big once, there is no reason why you won’t do so again on the same slot. Ultimately, the result of every spin is in the hands of mathematical equations that are not controlled by any individual. It’s a level playing field for everyone.
Leading Games Providers Are Licensed to Produce Fair Games
Of course, the online casino games you play have not just been spat out of an all-conquering computer system, they are designed by humans who are also responsible for ensuring that computerized components like RNGs and RTPs work correctly. Leading games providers like NetEnt focus a lot of energy on this, as you would hope. But you don’t just have to take their word for it.
That’s because NetEnt and other leading providers of online casino games have to be licensed by independent regulatory authorities who are there to look after players interest. There are many different authorities, and NetEnt are licensed by the UK Gambling, renowned for being one of the hardest to please. This means that they have been heavily vetted by independent sources to ensure that the games they provide adhere to stated RTPs and use fully-operational RNGs to ensure fair play.
Casinos and Gaming Licenses
Games providers aren’t the only types of company that needs a license in order to operate. All the platforms you use need to have a trustworthy casino license by a recognized body too, to ensure that they come up to scratch and meet the requisite standards of security, safety, responsible gaming, customer service and, of course, fair play when providing services to you, the player.
Licensing Authorities will check loads of different criteria to ensure that they do their job properly. They will look into the ownership of a casino to ensure that they have sound credentials across a broad range of indicators, from financial clout and business competence to integrity and non-criminality. Casinos must prove that they have policies in place to ensure that they have everything in place to ensure that games are fair and any registered player has the chance to win.
Should You Care About Casino Licenses?
The answer to this question is a resounding ‘yes’! Casino licenses do not exist to suck the fun out of gaming, they are there to allow you to enjoy playing with the utmost peace of mind. Remember that they are provided by third parties who perform vigorous checks on casinos and games providers. Any casino operating without a license is an illegal entity and should be avoided at all costs.
There are many different regulatory bodies but licenses granted by any of the authorities we have listed in our Licensing Section can be trusted. We consider the processes of the UK Gambling Commission and Malta Gaming Authority to be amongst the most stringent and therefore trusted, but licenses from other territories provide a trusted seal of approval too. UK players should note that the UK is a ‘regulated’ market, meaning casinos can only operate there if they have a UK license.
So How Can You Be Sure the Games You Play Are Fair?
Online slots and casino games are meant to be fun, and you don’t need to fret about fair play. There are a few steps you can take to ensure that you benefit from an fair gaming experience:
- Only plays games from a respected, licensed games provider by NetEnt. NetEnt have the seal of approval from the UK Gambling Commission and are committed to transparency. You can find the RTG figures for all NetEnt games in the Games Section on this site, for example.
- Only play at licensed casinos. There are a number of reasons you should do this – licenses not only confirm the casino’s commitment to fair play but also the security of your personal data. They are absolutely crucial, and you can easily find licensing information on most casino sites.
- Follow our recommendations! We only partner with the best online casinos on this site, and they all need to be sufficiently licensed. You can be sure that our list of online casinos contains only credible firms that you can trust, and we love NetEnt not only because they design the best games, but because they are such a respected provider too.
Play With Peace of Mind…And Have Fun!
There are few reasons to be concerned about online slots being rigged or unfair as long as you are sensible. The industry is closely regulated to ensure fair play, and online casinos are there to provide you with enjoyment. So decide what sort of player you are, pick the slots that best suit you and follow our steps to ensure fair play and you will have a fun and pleasurable gaming experience.