Posts Tagged ‘are online casinos fair’

Online Casino Fairness 101: Turning to eCOGRA for Some Answers

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

fist

How about a fair fist! Demand transparency from online casinos!

I don’t know about everyone else out there, but I have to say that I am increasingly becoming frustrated with the uncertainty of getting a fair hand online gambling these days. With more and more online casinos boasting software fairness accreditation claims, yet no mention of monthly payout reports, I’m beginning to wonder what is really going on behind closed doors.

Maybe there’s other affiliate portal sites out there wondering the same. The only thing is that I don’t hear anybody asking the tough questions that need to be asked. Well then, no more I say! And who better to help the industry with these answers than the purveyor of the highest fairness and transparency standards out there today: eCOGRA.

That said, I, Devon Chappell (on behalf of Online Casino Suite), have decided to start a blog series that takes a close look at how online casinos are regulated in the various jurisdictions out there. By means of writing emails to the necessary parties that can aid in our enlightenment (such as eCOGRA), and then publishing consequent correspondences, our aim is to better educate players. I can’t say if we’ll get the answers we want, but you can’t knock the intent!

Without further ado, email #1:  Legitimacy of Software Fairness Certificates (such as TST & CFG) and the Absence of Payout Reports

Dear eCOGRA,

This is Devon Chappell with Online Casino Suite. We are an eCOGRA approved portal site and would first of all like to thank you for all of your hard work in raising the standards for the online gambling industry. Speaking of which, that is precisely why I am writing today. My question does not necessarily pertain to eCOGRA specifically, yet I could hardly think of a better organization suited to know the correct information. We truly take great pride in being advocates for players, which we believe should include educating them about how it is they actually receive a safe and fair wager online – not just telling them they will get a safe and fair bet.

I understand if you don’t have the time to address these questions. However, I would greatly appreciate any feedback.

I’m fully aware of how the RNG works to deliver fair and random betting results, as well as the basic principle behind source code. However, what I’m not sure about is how exactly this interplays with regulation – more specifically, ongoing regulation. I am also unclear about these online casinos claiming to be approved by Technical Systems Testing, CFG or the like. Many of these online casinos don’t even link to certificates, and of those that do, the certificates are generally from a few years back and only state the name of the software and not the online casino. And, you certainly can’t find certificates at the websites of the folks handing out the certificates themselves!

That being said, I was hoping you could help answer these questions:

Does a fairness accreditation of the software necessarily mean the casino is fair, especially if said casino is regulated in a jurisdiction where source code changes are permitted? Would the casino then need to have an accreditation specifically for its own licensed platform – and a monthly one at that?

How does one know if they are getting a fair wager if an online casino does not have any payout percentage reports to show for?

Lastly, does anyone at eCOGRA know anything about the regulatory protocols of Curacao (Netherlands, Antilles)? We have a few online casinos listed at Online Casino Suite that are licensed in Curacao; however, for the life of us, we can’t find any official website that goes into details about the regulatory protocols here. It’s been said that the Netherlands Department of Justice does an initial due-diligence investigation, and we’ve also come across a “master licensor” known as Cyberluck, yet nothing is said as to how ongoing regulation is maintained.

We’ve heard that, depending on the regulatory jurisdiction, online casino operators are permitted to change their source code. Of course, so long as all the numbers match up come audit time, there is nothing wrong with that.  Do you know which – if any – of the non-UK whitelisted regulatory jurisdictions out there allow online casino operators to change source code? Kahnawake? Antigua? Curacao?

Honestly, Online Casino Suite is not so much concerned about the UK gambling commission and its white-listed jurisdictions, such as Alderney and Gibraltar. However, we are particularly concerned about some of the other jurisdictions out there. Also, we do not know if eCOGRA works closely with TST, but we are beginning to have our doubts about the legitimacy of their logo accreditation. I have tried contacting them to discuss these issues to no avail. And yet, they allow online casinos to display the TST approved logo – but with no actual accreditation to show for. The Rome Partners network of online casinos, including Rome Casino herself (highly reputable, all things considered), still links to a press release from almost a year ago, stating they are approved by TST – but there’s no accreditation to show for!

Sorry to get off track and making this long-winded, however, I am getting very frustrated with the industry! Thank you so much again for everything you guys do, and I pray for the day when regulation will open in the U.S. and Online Casino Suite can promote the hell out of eCOGRA and eCOGRA approved online casinos to the U.S. gaming community!

Dear eCOGRA, Thanks for listening.

Best Regards,

Devon Chappell

New Online Casino Review at OCS Qualifies for Homepage Listing

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

There’s a new face in the online casino reviews directory here at OCS. In fact, this highly rated Rival Gaming powered online casino even made it to the OCS homepage. How’s that, you ask? What gives one online casino homepage precedence over another? Heck, as strict as we are at granting listings in our reviews directory, period, how is it that some online casinos are listed, while others – albeit equally qualified – are not.

Errrrrrrrrrr!!!!! (sound of screeching car tires) Hold it right there! What’s that you say? Two equally qualified online casinos may not get equal exposure here at OCS? One may not even get any exposure at all? Well, pray do tell, what gives?

First of all, these are some great questions. How do you know that we aren’t a conglomerate working on behalf of all the online casinos listed at OCS? For that matter, how do you know we are not Russian spy’s working on behalf of the President Pootin (I mean Putin) and his submissive love buddy ice skating pal, Evgeny Plushenko (who won the gold medal in Vancouver, by the way)? Seriously though, this would entail a conflict of interest and some serious bias would it not? And as much as I want to say, “Rest assured, OCS does not work for any of the online casinos listed on our site”, we fully understand that the most skeptic of the skeptics still might have some reservations trusting our word.

That’s why we always encourage our skeptic readers to do some further research and find out what others are saying about a particular online casino. And believe me, there is plenty of information out there. Google is your best friend! The only thing is that much of this information isn’t backed up, but is simply hot air. That’s precisely why you will find lengthy and detailed reviews of each of the online casinos listed at OCS. Not hot air, mind you, but rather, facts and objective observations.

But this still doesn’t necessarily explain why two equally qualified online casinos may not get the same amount of exposure on our reviews pages, does it not? Well, here’s the thing. OCS is not a directory of online casinos. In other words, we are not exhaustive, as opposed to a site like Online Casino City, which albeit, more exhaustive, does not provide the detail and comprehensive nature which our reviews provide. If we comprehensively reviewed every online halfway decent online casino in business today, we would be more like the Wikipedia of online casinos and overwhelm our readers with too many choices.

The other aspect you must consider is that while two online casinos are equally qualified in their credentials, that does not mean they are equal in areas of bonuses, payouts, customer service, loyalty rewards and a host of other factors. OCS takes into consideration the overall package. Believe us – It’s not about money. That’s precisely why we don’t accept paid advertising.

And yes, we take into consideration the fact that some online casinos are more willing to work with us than others. This is a good thing, for our selectiveness gives us more say when dealing with potential player complaints. Online casino operators know how hard it is to get listed at OCS. They would be foolish to not amicably deal with player complaints that potentially come through OCS. In other words, they are more willing to work things out with players when OCS is involved. When our referred players are happy, that makes us happy. Mind you, that doesn’t mean we are always going to take the side of the player. But if there is a dispute, a lag in customer service or any grey issue that needs resolving, we will always jump to the defense of the player.

In conclusion (let’s bring this back full circle, shall we?), that new addition to the OCS online casinos reviews section and homepage I talked about in the intro paragraph, certainly qualifies for a featured listing at OCS. The site is none other than Ruby Royal Casino, and as mentioned, is a licensee of Rival Gaming software. There are many Rival Gaming licensees in business today, and here at OCS we have just six Rival Gaming powered online casinos listed on our site. They all stand out for different reasons – And for Ruby Royal, it’s the fact they are the first – and currently – only Rival online casino to be given an operator TST approval.

For those not familiar with what a TST approval is, it means that the Ruby Royal Casino software platform has undergone extensive testing to ensure it is safe, fair and cannot be manipulated. TST, by the way, is an internationally recognized software testing facility. Furthermore, Ruby Royal Casino submits itself to ongoing payout audits, thus confirming payout percentages, which are verified by the actual TST reports linked through the Ruby Royal website. Considering the history of Ruby’s management team – Bonne Chance NV/Silverstone Overseas Ltd (which has been in business for nearly ten years), and the promotions offered at Ruby Royal – 200% up to $1,000 Free Welcome Bonus on a single deposit with 15x play-through – it’s pretty obvious to us that Ruby Royal Casino deserves to be on the OCS homepage.

For more information, read the OCS Ruby Royal Casino Review

Questions About Technical Systems Testing Online Casino RNG Certifications

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
TST Provides Core RNG Fairness Certification for Online Casino Software

TST Provides Core RNG Fairness Certification for Online Casino Software

Today marks the first post in a series of email’s we are sending out to anyone in the industry with a finger in how fairness and transparency standards are set and maintained in the online gambling industry. Of course, we will be seeking answers to questions (which we hope to post as blog comments) aimed at helping us all understand how this industry operates, thereby informing one’s level of overall trust in the industry. However, we will also be seeking to lobby, or perhaps a better word – encourage – the industry, namely regulatory bodies, software developers, casino operators and third party accreditation companies, to raise current levels of gaming operator responsibility and industry transparency standards.

We begin this series with a letter to third party online casino software fairness testing house, Technical Systems Testing. TST (as they are more commonly called), is a highly reputed, internationally recognized testing facility and consultant for the iGaming industry. Providing ongoing RNG certification and payout auditing for both the land-based and online gambling industry, TST’s labs certified the fist Provincial online lotteries in Western and Eastern Canada, and was the go-to testing house to certify the first online casino systems to go live in reputable gaming jurisdictions like the UK, Alderney, Ise of Man, Philippines and First Cagayan.

Below is the email sent to Technical Systems Testing @ tstglobal.com

[BEGIN email]

email Introduction omitted to spare you the boredom

…We have noticed two kinds of TST certificates being linked to from online entities – namely, online casinos and software developers. One type of certificate is an RNG certification, which we imagine would be in the best interests of a software developer. In effect, it states the software platform delivers fair and odds and unpredictable results. However, we also notice online casinos linking to the same document. While it is understandable an online casino would have such a certificate to show the software platform powering it’s games has been tested for inherent fairness, I would think an updated RNG certificate would be in order to verify that the source code has not been changed and the RNG is in current working order.

Therefore, our question is this:

Does an RNG certification of the software platform necessarily mean an online casino using that very same software platform is delivering odds based on the RNG certification (even if such a certification is several years old)?

Secondly, are you aware of any regulatory jurisdictions that allow online casino operators to change their source code? If so, would that, in effect, give a software RNG certification less credence than say an RNG accrediation of the actual platform being used by the online casino? A good example would be Rushmore Casino, which is powered by Real Time Gaming software and links to the following certification for RTG – not specifically for Rushmore. http://rm.cdnng.net/certification_letter.pdf

In order for an online casino to possess the highest degree of transparency in terms of fairness, what would this entail in terms of TST accreditations? A monthly RNG accreditation? Monthly payout/audit reports? Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

On a side note, we were under the impression that the Top Game Software platform has received an accreditation from TST. However, all of the Top Game online casinos link to a TST logo that lands on a press release from October 2009, stating that Top Game had been certified by TST, but yet there is no RNG certificate to show for. Is Top Game software, in fact, certified by TST?

[END email]

We are just waiting for a response at this point, and when we have one, granted permission to post, we will include TST’s reply at the bottom of this post in the blog comments section. To check back and/or to read other email posts making up OCS’s campaign to raise the bar in gaming operator transparency and fairness, visit the tag: Responsible Online Gambling Standards.

Curacao Online Gambling Licensing Authority – Cyberluck Curacao NV

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

curacao_egamingContinuing our series on the top internet gambling regulatory jurisdictions in operation today, we will now take a closer look at one of the more popular jurisdictions for USA online casinos. Perhaps due to the presence of Vegas Technology Software, which is home of the English Harbour Gaming Ventures (EHGV) network of online casinos (a large network of the top U.S. facing online casinos in business today), as well as Hambledon N.V.’s small network of popular sites (Go Casino, Online Vegas and Crazy Slots), Curacao Gaming Control Board is certainly on the map these days.

More precisely, it is Curacao’s oldest and only original Master License provider, Cyberluck, which is permitted by the central government of the Dutch Antilles to operate and provide internet connectivity from within the government’s international telecommunication center since 1996, that dishes out the licenses subjecting online casinos to the regulatory protocols originally held by the Curacao Gaming Control Board before 2002 (National Ordinance Offshore Games of Hazard). Cyberluck is also permitted by the central government to award online gambling licenses to casino operators after conducting due diligence investigations.

Being the owner and operator of the only co-location data center synced with the government’s direct internet connection point to the internet, online casino operators do not have to connect to intermediary internet connection points. What makes this privilege uniquely beneficial for both operator licensees and players is that uptime connection is less prone to disconnects due to isp attacks and overloaded servers. Along with being the only authorized Caribbean distributor of CyberGuar intrusion software, Cyberluck, provides one of best online gaming licensing solutions available today.

Since 1996, Cyberluck has been authorized by the Netherlands Antilles Department of Justice to provide online gaming licensing authority and co-location hosting services, and has established itself as one of the longest standing reputable online gambling jurisdictions in business today. Their active membership with the Curacao Internet Gaming Association (CIGA) is a prime example of Cyberluck’s commitment to developing and maintaining responsible online gaming standards, as well as their position at the forefront of developing Curacao’s online gambling regulatory jurisdiction. It is provides a token of confidence and assurance for players who choose to wager at Cyberluck’s online casino licensees, as deemed by the tenets below:

All CIGA Operator Members agree to the following tenets:
– To operate according to an Internet gaming license provided by the Netherlands Antilles Government.
– To maintain a full audit trail of individual wagers and financial transactions for every depositing player.
– To avoid and prevent the creation and spreading of false, misleading and otherwise unethical advertising and marketing.
– To refuse any and all wagers from anyone under the age of 18 years or residents of the Netherlands Antilles.
– To make all gaming systems, including backend software logs available to independent, third party auditors, and within a reasonable amount of time.
– To maintain minimum financial resources for the paying of any and all player winnings.
– To assist with the development of consumer confidence and customer service standards within the online gambling sector.

Being an advocate of responsible gambling standards ourselves, Online Casino Suite urges players to contact us directly with any complaints about Curacao licensed online casinos.

Cyberluck can be contacted directly at the following url for issuing complaints and disputes:

Cyberluck Contact Page

Cyberluck’s point of contact:

Cyberluck Curacao, N.V.
Pletterijweg Oost
Ara Hilltop Building
Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles
phone:+5999 465 1134
fax:+5999 465 1136

CIGA also processes and forwards complaints at the following url:

CIGA Contact

The Basics of Verifying a Safe and Fair Online Casino

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

How do you really know that an online casino’s games are fair and that you are not being blindly stolen from? For that matter, how do you really know a brick ‘n mortar casino is on the straight and narrow? Well, I suppose nobody really can know 100% for sure they are getting the fairest hand possible. The number of “skeptic” questions and conspiracy theories, is – theoretically – endless.

Who’s to say casino management hasn’t changed out the source code chip in the specific machine you  are playing, and in reality, is only paying off 10 percent? Who’s to say the source code of an online casino doesn’t get manipulated after having received a fairness accreditation from a third party testing house, or that fake players or employees are not given “accounts with special benefits” generating higher than average payouts so that overall payouts are balanced out come audit time?

Sounds bleak doesn’t it? Well, although these are legitimate questions (questions you should be asking yourself, mind you), there are legitimate answers that should ease any doubts of players thinking that they might be getting an unfair hand. Here is the minimum of what to look for when searching for a safe online casino to play at.

Software: While software can be altered after it has been licensed to online casino operators, there are certain gambling jurisdictions that do not allow for RNG manipulation. Just as there are tamper-proof mechanisms that land-based casino auditors use to tell if a brick ‘n mortar casino has altered software source code on a slot machine, online auditors and testing houses can identify the same. Go with a third party accredited software platform to ensure you are getting the fairest odds possible. Respected third party auditors include Technical Systems Testing (TST), Certified Fair Gambling (CFG), Price Waterhouse Coopers, Gaming Associates and BMM International.

Regulation/Licensing: To ensure that an online casino is being properly regulated, it is important that it is licensed by a reputable, accredited gaming jurisdiction. Costa Rica is NOT a reputable gaming jurisdiction. England, Gibraltar, Alderney, Isle of Man, Kahnawake, Curacao (Netherlands, Antilles) and Malta are.

Payout Percentages: Many online casinos, such as eCOGRA certified online casinos, will publish payout percentages for the previous month on their website. These should be prepared by third party auditors, such as those mentioned above. Payout percentages confirm the amount of money paid out in relation to the amount of wagers made. Anything under 90% is totally unacceptable, although the more competitive number is around 96%. If an online casino using a fairness accredited software platform does not publish payout reports on their website, contact their customer support center to receive last month’s copy. If they will not supply it to you, think twice before playing there.