What does RNG mean for casino players?

A Random Number Generator or RNG is a computer function that determines what the outcome of a spin or a hand will be. The program uses an algorithm – a sort of mathematical formula – to ensure that the combinations that land are 100% random.

One of the most important aspects of a casino game, in a land-based casino or online, is that the game in question is fair. And for a game to be fair, it must be completely random. This is why dealers spend a long time learning how to properly shuffle playing cards, for instance. Shuffling them poorly reduces the randomness of the dealt hands and therefore the fairness of the game.

When it comes to online casinos, it is computer software that determines which symbols appear on the reels or how a hand of blackjack is dealt. Casino games use a Random Number Generator to ensure that every round is completely random and fair.

How does RNG work?

RNG is widely used in all sorts of games, not just gambling. In video games, for example, it is an RNG that will randomly pick what item a player receives when their character opens a box or whether their shot is on target. Indeed, you don’t even require a computer for the purpose – average dice are considered mechanical hardware random number generators.

Today we will be focusing on online casino games and the role of RNG. First, we should point out that the software behind random number generation is extremely complex. Game developers spend a lot of time and effort ensuring that the software powering their games is up to scratch.

The aim of an RNG is to produce a unique sequence every time the program is run. Now, the sequence may be of symbols in a slot game, the cards in a hand of poker or blackjack, or the numbers drawn in a lottery. Each time a player spins a slot or draws a hand in a table game, the RNG will produce a completely random outcome.

In theory, a computer program may not be completely 100% random but in real terms, the probability of an RNG producing a set of sequences that follow a discernible pattern is infinitesimally minute.

Can the RNG be beaten?

The short and quick answer is no. The long answer requires a brief detour into the history of slot machines. Back in the day, your standard one-armed bandit, stood in the corner of a dusty bar some time in the mid-twentieth century, was not powered by what you would call cutting-edge tech.

The ‘program’ that determined what symbols landed was fairly simple and experienced players could figure out roughly when a machine was about to drop. After all, a machine only has a finite amount of space for coins so eventually, it would have to empty itself to allow more play.

These players will have identified the pattern of the machine’s payouts and would only play when they knew a jackpot win was close. Of course, this was hardly fair but at the time, that was the best available.

These days, predicting an RNG sequence or pattern is impossible. It simply cannot be done. Even physical slot machines in land-based casinos are now powered by this software. But the idea that a slot game can be ‘figured out’ persists.

Some players still believe that a slot has a pattern of wins and playing within a particular timeframe will increase the chances of winning. There are also unscrupulous con artists who profess to have this special knowledge and will attempt to sell it to clueless players. This is just a creative way of parting the naive from their money.

Can RNGs be trusted?

As casino players, we often don’t think much about the mechanics behind the games we love to play but in fact, this industry is based on the players’ assumption that they are getting a fair experience. No trust equals no deposits equals no profits.

An audit process exists to ensure that games are truly fair and random. In regulated jurisdictions such as Malta and the UK, games may only be released to market if they have been proven to be random by an independent auditing company.

These companies put the game’s programming through a rigorous battery of tests, specifically designed to ensure that the outcomes being generated are totally random. If the game passes all of these tests, the auditor will then certify the game as ‘fair and safe’, and it may be launched to the public. If it doesn’t pass, the developer must reprogram and the game will be tested again.

Auditing companies are carefully chosen by regulators and only the most rigorous ones make the cut. The most highly regarded companies out there at the minute are Technical Systems Testing (TST), Price Waterhouse Coopers and eCOGRA. Look out for their logos when visiting an online casino to guarantee that the games on offer have been thoroughly tested for fairness.

To conclude

Random Number Generator software powers most, if not all, modern casino games, from slots to table games and others. It is important, when deciding whether to play at a casino, that the site only hosts games that have been audited and certified as safe and fair.