Can You Trust Random Number Generators?

The success of an online casino depends a great deal on its random number generator (RNG). If the RNG is not reliable, players can easily hack games and win big jackpots. Alternatively, the casino can get a higher house advantage, making it impossible for players to win games. To answer the question of whether an RNG can be trusted, you have to understand how RNGs work. This page shows you how RNGs work and how the reliability of online casino RNGs is determined.

Random Number Generator Defined

A random number generator (RNG) is defined as a device or algorithm capable of generating a sequence of symbols or numbers that are impossible to predict.

There are two types of random number generators—hardware random number generators (HRNG) and pseudo random number generators (PRNG).

  • HRNG - These are external devices used in brick-and-mortar casinos to generate random numbers from a complex seed value. They are attached to the USB ports of land-based casino servers. The seed values are continuously changed to make the game results truly unpredictable.
  • PRNG - These are algorithms that can automatically generate long sequences of random numbers, which are usually determined by a fixed value or seed.

Uses and Applications of Random Number Generators

Random numbers are commonly generated in computer programming. They find their application in statistical sampling, cryptography, online gambling, randomized design and several other areas that require the generation of unpredictable results.

Depending on individual requirements, some algorithms generate high degrees of randomness and others generate only a certain degree of unpredictability. For example, an application that randomly chooses sound tracks may appear to be random, but may actually give users an opportunity to control the level of randomness. It may permit users to control the way the music is selected.

A truly random system, on the other hand, will not give users any opportunity to alter the degree of randomness.

How to Generate Random Numbers - Two Methods

Random numbers or symbols can be generated in two ways—measuring disorder or uncertainty in a system and using computational algorithms.

  • Measuring Disorder and/or Uncertainty in a System - The first method to generate random numbers relies on the measurement of uncertainty or disorder in physical phenomenon such as thermal noise, radioactive decay, atmospheric noise, and so on, known as entropy. The speed with which one harvests entropy depends a lot on the physical phenomenon that is being studied.
  • Using Computational Algorithms - Computational algorithms are capable of producing long sequences of results that appear completely random, but are actually determined by a shorter key or seed value. If someone figures out this key, they can easily reproduce the random sequence. For this reason, the method is referred to as "pseudo random."

Some systems use both methods. Whenever possible, they use randomness or unpredictability harvested from natural phenomenon. Moreover, when this is not possible, they use pseudo number generators to generate random sequences of results.

How Online Casinos Use RNGs

Online casinos use software that mimic live casino activities and display the results on computer screens via graphics. The displayed outcomes have to be random to reflect the unpredictability and uncertainly in gambling games. RNGs help online casinos to generate such random results.

Whenever the casino gaming software needs to generate a random result, it uses the random sequence of numbers that the RNG generators. Each number is associated with a possible game result and the casino gaming software displays this result accordingly.

For example, a blackjack player in a brick-and-mortar casino will simply receive a card whenever he decides to hit. An online casino, on the other hand, does not have a real deck of cards. The online casino's software will therefore request the RNG to generate a random number, which will determine the nature of the card the player will receive.

Blockchain Random Number Generators

If you are looking for a reliable random number generator, you have to sign up at a blockchain casino. Such casinos use RNGs that determine outcomes through random number algorithms based on blockchain technologies. Any participant within the network can check the transaction and determine that the number generated is truly fair and random.

An example for a blockchain-based random number generator is GINAR. It is a decentralized RNG that claims to generate fair, transparent, and random numbers with great speed and in great volume. You will find it as a smart contract on the Ethereum blockchain. If you have an Ethereum account, you can become an active participant of the generation process, and this guarantees fairness.

The idea of a decentralized RNG is to enable participants to contribute towards the creation of ultimate randomness and thus ensure fairness.

How to Determine Reliability of a RNG

How to Determine Reliability of an RNG

Most online casinos use pseudo random number generators, which are almost impossible to hack for the following reasons:

  • The RNGs use permutation techniques that make it impossible for anybody to hack them.
  • The basic numbers of the RNGs operating algorithm (seed value) cannot be changed as they are determined well in advance. To discourage hackers, they are replaced by random numbers every now and again.
  • A smart player can always find bugs in the system and win jackpots, but still cannot hack the RNG.
  • Regulatory bodies that grant Internet gambling licenses to operators of online casinos test their software, including the random number generators thoroughly.

Here are a few tips to ensure that the RNG of a new no deposit casino is reliable:

  • Always play at online casinos with RNGs that are periodically checked by independent companies such as eCOGRA, Technical Systems Testing (TST), Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC), and iTech Lab, to mention a few.
  • Check the online casino website for the payout percentages of all the games.
  • Independent software testing labs perform a variety of tests on RNGs and certify that they are indeed capable of randomness. Search for links to such certificates at your online casino and click on them to view the RNG certificate.

How Does an RNG Impact Online Casino Games?

How Does an RNG Impact Online Casino Games

RNG refers to the software that handles the operation of online casino games. It is the online version of the internal mechanism of land-based gaming machines. The RNG makes online casino games truly chance-based. The RNG is totally independent of the rules on which online casino games are based. It is an independent process that makes the game results totally unpredictable. Neither players nor online casinos can modify the way RNGs work and use them to their advantage. This is true no matter what the game - including no deposit slots and poker machines. The randomness of the RNG ensures that you have an equal chance of winning/losing a game irrespective of how many people are playing the game at the moment, the previous results of the game, time of play, popularity of the game, speed of game play.

Random Number Generator FAQs

Q1: Is it possible for an online casino to operate without an RNG?

A: No. An online casino can obtain a gambling license only after its RNG is tested and certified by independent testing facilities such as Technical System Testing (TST), iTech Labs, and eCOGRA. These tests make sure that the results of each game are truly random and not determined by factors such as payouts, bet size, and so on. They also ensure that online casino games have the required minimum payout percentage.

Q2: Do live dealer games require an RNG?

A: Live dealer games do not require an RNG because they are operated by live croupiers. Instead, live casinos implement the same measures that land-based casinos do to ensure randomness and fairness.

Q3: Is it possible to cheat an RNG?

A: The possibility of cheating an RNG is very minute, but it can be done by well-trained experts. For example, Michael Shackleford of Wizard of Odds discovered in 2008 that BLR software had rigged its games to increase house advantage and generate more profit for the house.

The simple truth is that RNG technologies are far from perfect and still in the process of development. The latest RNGs use complex algorithms and multistage protection to make sure that nobody can hack them. Moreover, reputed licensing bodies never grant licenses to operators who fail to use properly tested and certified RNGs.

Look for these licenses and certificates when you sign up at an online casino as they clearly indicate that you have a fair chance of winning the jackpots.

Q4: What is the relationship between an RNG and Return to Player (RTP) percentage of online casino games?

A: RNGs ensure that the RTP of online casino games are consistent and meet the standards established by major licensing bodies. The RTP of a game is obtained by dividing its total payout value by its total accrued turnover. If the result is close to the theoretical RTP of a game, it indicates that the RNG is in perfect working order. If the results do not come close, the RNG needs to be tested.

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