Online Casinos – Casinova’s Research

Casinovas will be a research site for experienced players and newbies alike looking for online casinos that are trustworthy. With so many online casinos on the web, it’s fair to say that a few are places that you wouldn’t like to trust with your money! Although these are dwindling fast as the online casino industry stabilizes, it is important to know which casinos are good, and which should be avoided.

Casinovas research will delve into the background information that most online casinos do not publish on their sites. Cashout speeds, ownership information, the fairness of games…stuff that online casinos base their reputation on.

A Brief History of Online Casinos

The first online casino was The Gaming Club, released onto the Internet in 1995. It was quickly followed by Intercasino, both of these brands still remaining in high standing today. It lead to an avalanche of casino operations, many of which unsurprisingly were fronts for organisations of dubious repute. By the year 2000, there were an estimated 2,000 online casinos plying their trade on the web. Today in 2006, this number has dwindled in terms of actual “casinos”, although with the advent of “skins”, the number may not be dissimilar. The difference being that a number of online casinos that appear to have different names, are actually just doorways to the same casino.

As a result of this self-regulating industry becoming higher profile with money being pumped in from all angles, a number of software providers have come to the fore, with four or five of these supplying some 90% of the “reputable” online casinos. Consequently this means that players will find similarities between online casinos as they shift their loyalties, but it has the advantage of meaning that most online casinos can now be relied upon to provide fair games that have been certified and tested. Additionally, the focus for a casino in retaining a player is how heavily reliant on customer service, whether it be through support services, incentives or the methods of paying players their winnings.

Naturally some “big name” online casinos have appeared through focused marketing techniques, not all of which are what you might term ethical. Names like “888” and “Golden Palace” will be known to many people, even those who have not played at online casinos before. Both these brands however have been scrutinized by the player communities for the way in which they try to attract players. Whether disrupting Olympic events or paying Spam experts to drive in traffic is acceptable may be open to debate, but either way it is not helping the online casino industry.

Although the Big Boys have huge exposure, these tactics coupled with their sheer size restricting the personal service that they can offer to players (888 for example take 5 days to pay out winnings!) means that smaller online casinos can compete with far superior customer service, while still offering the same fair casino games. Big isn’t always best!

The legal situation surrounding gambling in general is obviously an area that has garnered much attention, even since the inception of the first online casino back in ’95. The USA seems intent on trying to re-introduce “Prohibition” (after all it was so incredibly successful when they tried it with alcohol!) while the UK by way of contrast is looking to regulate the industry and attract online casinos back to it’s shores where it can benefit from tax revenues and introduce a program of education for gamblers. Very different approaches. As a consequence of such varied legislation around the world, players will need to check what the situation is in their country of residence, and also check the “Terms & Conditions” at online casinos they wish to patronize to check that they are eligible to play and, more importantly, cash out!

Are Online Casino Games Fair?

This is one of the first questions a “newbie” is likely to ask…after all, the history of gambling doesn’t exactly instill confidence when it comes to playing fair. The good news is, that in today’s world of stricter controls and in an industry dominated by a handful of top quality software vendors, most games use sophisticated Random Number Generators (“RNG’s”) which, at the high profile end of things at least, have been certified through licensing organisations. But it’s not all sweetness and light 🙂

Fair Games & The House Edge

As I’m sure you are aware, every game in a “Land” casino (or a “B&M;” – Bricks And Mortar – casino) has a “house edge”, which is a tilt of the odds in the casino’s favour. It’s no different in the world of online casinos, but because overheads are generally lower, you are more likely to find better odds for the punter in many online casino games compared to their B&M; counterparts. For example, a slot in a B&M; casino in Vegas may have it’s payout set to 85%, where you are more likely to find in an online casino that it is between 90% and 95%. Of course this varies, and is only served up as an example based on the published payouts by online casinos I have researched.

Traditionally, games of chance have tended to offer larger “jackpots” than table games like Blackjack, Roulette and Craps. As a result, the House Edge on games of chance in any casino will not be as favourable as playing traditional games. But you do stand to win higher payouts, so it’s a question of “You pays your money, you takes your choice”.

Most Online Casinos of good repute will be using software provided by a dedicated software vendor, of which there are several high profile companies with sterling reputations. In these days of big business, the top companies are straight-up when it comes to dealing a fair game, and subsequently their software is probably used by about 90% of all online casinos.

The names to look for are: Microgaming (arguably the top software provider), Cryptologic (or their casino brand Wagerlogic), Playtech, Realtime Gaming (“RTG”), Chartwell, Wagerworks and Boss Media. If you are playing a casino using any of the above software to provide the games, you are working with a good quality and fair RNG. Any stories you read of the odds being “fixed” or the RNG being “rigged” are more likely a result of a punter having an “off day”, or perhapsnot happy with the customer service.

But it is very important to remember that with so many casino games vying for your money, a lot tend to be “high variance” – that is they require a larger bankroll and more of your time to hit the big wins, especially with Slots and Wild Card variants of Video Poker – so consequently you will often encounter long losing streaks. One would hope this is followed by one or two sizable payouts which make it worthwhile, but if you mis-manage your budget, you may not get that far before you are wiped clean! So prepare for streakiness when playing these games. Hell, in fact you can streakiness on all games! I guess that’s Lady Luck for you!

But Not All Casino games Are Fair!

While I quote a number of the larger software providers above, there have been instances in the past where an online casino has NOT dealt a fair game. However one would like to think that this is a technical glitch rather than a question of integrity. Hmmm. there was one high-profile instance of this recently at a casino called English Harbour, where a punter had a gut feeling that when you chose to Gamble a win in a Double-Or-Nothing scenario, the software was not using a 50/50 math sum to determine the outcome. After a few other punters via the forums became involved, his initial suspicions were proved correct, with more like a 33% chance of winning. The casino (eventually) admitted there had been a mistake, putting it down to the wrong piece of code being loaded. Everyone has their own opinion…until this point it is fair to say that the casino operator, and the software provider (“OddsOn”) did have a good record, but still…it ain’t good. Even if it was an honest mistake, it doesn’t say much for their security procedures!

So there you have it. The moral is to make sure you are playing a good online casino, by which I mean one that uses one of the main software platforms to serve the games up. On the plus side, these are not hard to find, but try to check before you play to cover your ass! And of course, just because the games are fair doesn’t mean the service of the casino will be good!!