If you’ve ever played at an online casino before, you’ve probably come across the term “random number generators” or “RNG.” You probably have a good idea of what they are, but you may not be entirely sure how they work. Fortunately, in this article, we will try to explain them to you, as they are a critical part of online casino games.
Random number generators are not just limited to the world of online casinos. In fact, they can be found in various industries around the world. Some are used in video games, some are used in lotteries, and of course, some are used in online casino games. Whether we are talking about “pseudo-random” number generators, “trul random” number generators, or “casino random” number generators, they all do relatively the same thing. But what is that?
The purpose of random number generators — The RNGs
In the world of casinos, the purpose of random number generators is to control casino games. They form a piece of software that decides when the reels will stop spinning in slot games, what cards are dealt with in a table game, etc. As long as the random number generators have been designed fairly, the basic idea is that they will generate completely random results in the game, making everything in the game possible, increasing the fairness of the game.
If you knew that a game was programmed so that you could never receive two cards that add up to “21,” you would not play blackjack online. If you knew that a slot machine was tampered with a program to ensure that 5 higher pay symbols never appeared on the same pay line, you would not play, would you? Random number generators guarantee that a random card will be drawn from the deck and that random symbols will appear on the reels.
That said, they do so within certain parameters, of course. In slot games, such an example is the RTP (return to player) rate, which decides how often a player is likely to win, but not how much they will win.
Random number generators are designed to ensure fairness, they are regularly verified by independent third parties (so they are not tampered with by casinos and developers), all to help provide more realistic chances of winning.
Random number generators of yesteryear
Random number generators are nothing new and they are definitely not an invention of the world of online casino games. When the first slot games were created, mechanical gears spun the reels once the lever was pulled. The reels spun in order, left to right. They kept spinning until the lever returned to its original position, at which point the reels stopped one by one in the same order they started spinning. This generated random symbols on the reels and was generally the fairest system at the time.
Digital random number generators
Naturally, this original system could not be used for online slot games. Instead, another system needed to be developed, which resulted in modern (and digital) random number generators. Instead of gears, the use of microchips allows the random generation of the cards or symbols.
Slot machines are no longer dependent on gears, and in this way, a much higher range of randomness could be achieved. Before this system, a reel could only have so many symbols (depending on the size of the reel in relation to the slot that contained it). Today many hundreds, even thousands of symbols can appear on reels, all represented digitally, of course.
Can they affect the gameplay?
What you really want to know is how you can be sure that the random number generators are not tampered with. Random number generators do not literally generate random numbers. Everything is determined (by reference to a specific number), and those numbers determine what happens. If you knew those numbers, you could predict what would appear on the reels and modify it.
It is for good reason, therefore, that those numbers are kept locked away (not even casinos have access to them). The only ones who have access to the starting numbers are the game developers themselves, and this implies that since the casino does not have the ability to manipulate the games, they are really fair.
Of course, nothing prevents developers from creating unfair games.
Generally speaking, if you are playing games with a well-known developer, you really don’t have to worry. All of your games will be verified by third parties (as we have mentioned above) to ensure that the random number generators are doing what they are supposed to do and that they are not manipulated.
One of the largest groups responsible for checking is eCOGRA, and if you are playing at a casino with games from an eCOGRA certified developer, you can feel safe knowing the games are fair.
So can random number generators affect gameplay? In short, the answer is no, not if you believe in fair play.