Random Casinos - Casinos Random Number Generators

Why would an online casino be very interested in how good their RNG is? For the game of blackjack I can't imagine too many casinos caring if they discovered that their RNG formula was slightly biased against the player.

Part 2 - More About Online Casinos Random Number Generators

On the other hand, let's consider the game of roulette. If the RNG function was slightly biased such that the number 9 tended to come up more often than any other number, this could cost the casino if a player ever discovered it. In fact any bias would favor the player in roulette if he knew about it. Because of this a RNG function must be thoroughly tested before being used in casino software. Now let's consider a more subtle case. There are really only so many biases an online casino can test for and if they really wanted to eliminate them all they'd probably never find a usable RNG function. A subtle bias might be something like 0 showing up more often than expected on all spins following a 9. Perhaps there are many different subtle biases like this that would let any player make a killing if they were aware of them. It's interesting that although a biased wheel could be a real problem for a land casino these subtle biases only effect online casinos. Of course an online casino could easily overcome such problems by making their software "non-random" (i.e. "invincible mode") at times against the player.

If online casinos use a fair RNG why won't they release the formula they're using to prove it?

Going back to the roulette example, it would be almost impossible for a player to find subtle biases in the game. It's not unthinkable for the pattern 9, 0 to emerge a few times in a roulette session consisting of a large number of spins. In fact if you were to record a few thousand spins you'd find several number pairs that showed up more frequently than others. Whether this is because of a true subtle bias, or simply chance is difficult to say. The only practical way a player could find subtle biases would be to experiment with the casino's RNG formula. It wouldn't be hard to write a computer program to simulate 1,000,000,000,000 roulette spins at a given casino if you knew their RNG formula and then to analyze the data in search of such subtle biases. This is one of the reasons online casinos might not want to reveal their RNG formulas.

If an online casino is using a fair RNG why would they need to change the formula?

One obvious reason would be that the RNG wasn't really fair to begin with or that they wanted to "rig" their casino. Another possibility relates to the subject of subtle biases. Even thought most online casinos will test their RNG functions against a battery of "randomness tests" passing these tests doesn't insure the function is completely without bias. If a year after releasing their software they discover a subtle bias they might have missed before or they notice a player is winning in a way that seems suspicious it might make sense to slightly modify the RNG formula to destroy the biases. Yet another possibility would be that the casino was in a rush to get their software to market. Because of this they settled for a less than perfect RNG function that failed some randomness tests. It was the best they had at the time and now that they've had some more time to develop a superior function they would like to use the new function.

Is there any way for a computer to obtain truly random numbers?

There's a debate in philosophy over whether such a thing as "free will" (usually thought of as unpredictability) exists or whether our world is a deterministic one. I'm not going to touch this debate, but instead consider "true random numbers" simply to be numbers that cannot be predicted by another person using any mathematical formula.

The answer to this question is yes. Encryption programs commonly obtain truly random numbers by asking the user to type a sentence using the keyboard. By measuring the time between each keystroke essentially random numbers can be obtained. Unfortunately this solution isn't really feasible for online casinos unless they want to employ people to randomly press keys all day long. Another novel approach involves radioactive decay. A geiger counter is an instrument that creates an electrical current every time a charged particle passes through its sensor. Since the time between each radioactive decay (which shoots off a charged particle) in a given material is unpredictable the bursts of current through a geiger counter is also unpredictable. Based on the type of material it is possible to say on average how much time will pass between each decay, but it's impossible to predict exactly how long it will be between two particular decays. Hooking a geiger counter up to a computer would be an ideal method for determining random numbers.

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