Also popularly referred to as Internet casinos or virtual casinos, online casinos are actually nothing but the online or Internet versions of the conventional brick and mortar, real casinos. Every online casino, for instance the likes of Bet365, enable gamblers to easily place wagers and play different types of casino games via the Internet medium. These casinos provide an extremely popular method gambling on the Internet.
Every online casino normally provides payback percentages and odds which are higher than the ones offered by the land-based casinos. While some online casinos boast of having exceptionally high payback percentages, especially for the slot machines, others freely publish their payout percentage audit reports for everyone to see on their portals.
Casino table games such as blackjack have a well-established house edge provided that the online casino employs an appropriately programmed RNG (random number generator). The payout percentages applicable to these games is decided based on the respective game rules.
A good number of online casinos either outrightly purchase their software or rent them from established online casino software companies such as Microgaming, Realtime Gaming, Amaya, Playtech, International Game Technology and others.
Different types of online casinos
Online casinos can be broadly divided into two different categories, based on the interface used by them. So, an online casino can be either a download-only casino or a web-based casino. Some casinos also provide both these interfaces.
Web-based online casinos
Also popularly referred to as the flash casinos, web-based online casinos are portals where users or visitors can indulge in casino games without the need of downloading any software onto their computers. The games are normally made available in the form of browser plug-ins in Java, Macromedia Shockwave or Macromedia Flash and need appropriate kind of browser support for them.
In addition, the player may need ample amount of bandwidth as all the animations, sounds and graphics get loaded via web, using these plugins. Some online casinos even provide easy gameplay via HTML interface. Please keep in mind that Apple devices such as iPhone, iPad and iPod normally don’t support Flash games since the technology itself isn’t supported by them.
Download-based online casinos
This type of online casino requires the players to download a particular software client on their computers for wagering on and playing different casino games. All interaction with the casino service provider happens via an online casino software and all communication is handled without the need of any browser support. As there’s no browser support involved and also because of some other important factors, the download-based casino games are normally faster than their web-based counterparts. All sound and graphic programs get cached by the software client, instead of getting downloaded from the Internet.
However, please keep in mind that the initial download of such download-based casino software, and its installation, may take a good amount of time (and possibly bandwidth too). Furthermore, you’ll need to be cautious and use a good anti-malware and antivirus software, as there may be a risk of downloading a malware or virus-infected software from the Internet.
Virtual casino games
The outcome of every game played in a virtual casino is mainly dependent on the data rendered by a PRNG (pseudorandom number generator). It is this generator which decides the actual order of cards in different card games, the numbers displayed on the dice in every dice throw and the results produced after every spin of the roulette wheel or slot machine.
These pseudorandom number generators make use of an algorithm (a set of mathematical instructions) for generation of a long number stream that gives an impression of actual randomness. Although this isn’t the same as actual random number generation (since computers aren’t capable of bringing in complete randomness without using some external input source), the results provided satisfy almost all the requirements but in the most stringent ones related to actual randomness.
If implemented in the most correct manner, a PRNG algorithm like the Mersenne Twister ensures that the games it’s used for stay absolutely unpredictable and fair. However, in most cases, the player needs to trust the software for its fair play, when it comes to the matters of the house edge. This is because the inner workings of the software remain invisible to the players.
Independent regulators like eCOGRA are responsible for proper regulation of online casinos. They carry out regular external audits in these casinos, ensuring that their win percentages stay in line with their corresponding published odds. Doing so provides a good amount of assurance to the casino players that the games played by them are fair enough for them to indulge in. However, this can only happen if the player has ample trust in the concerned regulator as well.
Rather than having to trust the software blindly, the players can employ a certain concept known as provably fair concept for verifying if a casino is playing fair and its software hasn’t been rigged. How this is done is that the server creates a particular secret random seed. It shows a hash, for instance SHA146 to the player. Thereafter, the player also provides a specific random seed to the casino server. Then, the player’s seed than the server secret random seed are combined together for calculation of the random number result. The player is able to see both the secret server seed and the final result. The algorithm used for calculation of the final result is known to the player, and hence he/she can verify if the server cheated or not. Such method can be commonly seen in crypto currency casinos. All technical details remain hidden inside an easy-to-use web interface. However, the user is able to carry out verification using local or external tools.
This concept works pretty well when it comes to single player games, however, gets slightly complicated in multiplayer games such as poker, as the house may plant a player having complete knowledge of the others cards, thereby possibly indulging in unfair practices.
Live dealer casino games
These types of games are found in a good number of online casinos these days, including the likes of reputed ones such as Bet365 and others. In this type of game, an actual human dealer performs the task of running the game inside real-world environment, using a casino gaming table. The dealer, the table and the surroundings can be normally seen using a live streaming video link. Thereafter, the players are allowed to make wagers through a console on their respective computer screens, and can use a text chat for communicating with the dealer.
The results produced by such physical transactions (done by the dealer), for instance the dealing of the cards, or spin of the slot machine or roulette wheel, get translated into actual data, used by computer software through OCR (optical character recognition) technology. It allows players to interact with or get engaged in the game almost the same way as in a virtual casino game. The only difference is that the results or outcomes are decided by the actual actions and not by any automated process.
Such live dealer casino games are usually pretty expensive for the websites to host and run, compared to the virtual games, as they require proper staffing and a considerable investment into the pertinent technology. A live dealer online casino normally has many croupiers running different casino games, an IT manager (for ensuring quick resolution of any technical glitches), one or more cameramen and a pit boss who functions as an adjudicator if there are any disagreements between the croupiers and the players.
In majority of cases, such a setup requires a minimum of 3 different rooms – analyst’s room, a software or server room and a room having the actual live studio. How these rooms are configured may vary from one casino to the other, with some casinos having more than one gambling table in a particular room, while others housing no more than a single table in each room.
Considering that there are high operating costs associated with such live dealer casino games, a good majority of online casinos only offer a handful of popular casino games in this format, for instance Baccarat, Sic Bo, Blackjack and Roulette.
The comparative operating costs of running virtual casino games are pretty low and hence a large majority of online casinos, for instance Bet365 and others provide hundreds of different types of virtual casino games to players visiting their portals.
Furthermore, every online casino may adopt a unique approach when it comes to hosting of live dealer casino games. While some may provide such live games using their own television channels, others may offer them exclusively through their websites. When it comes to televised casino games, players are normally allowed to place wagers using their TV remotes or mobile phones, rather than a computer with Internet connectivity. Some of the commonly offered live dealer casino games in online casinos these days are roulette, blackjack and baccarat.
Bonuses offered by online casinos
Almost every online casino offers signup bonuses to new players these days, who make their first deposit/s on the portal. Visit any reputed online casino, for instance Bet365 and others, and you’ll see it running such type of promotion. Many of them even offer bonuses on subsequent play as well. Such bonuses are actually a marketing method that although have a certain amount of cost attached to them, they’re more than justifiable when it comes to customer acquisition. Majority of such new players often become repeat customers who make multiple deposits later. These online casinos normally give away such bonuses in return for player commitments, asking them to bet a certain amount of money before allowing them to make any withdrawals.