Among the many questions that Antonio sent me for the Roulette Interview, were scattered many questions which reflected gamblers’ mistrust. I got the feeling that Antonio wanted to relieve that mistrust and persuade the gamblers that they are safe and protected, as long as they play in legitimate licensed and regulated gambling sites.

But there is an innate problem with this thesis: gambling sites are established to relieve gamblers from their money. The trade, arguably, is entertainment for cash. Also, the role of the regulator, any government regulator, is to tax companies and individuals for using whatever may be considered national property. There is no inherent motivation for either gambling site or regulator to protect the gambler. Of course it is better that the governments will tax and regulate gambling sites, than allowing unregulated casinos and bookies to rob the punters blind, but this does not make it a moral choice.

So I tried to provide the best answers I could to these questions, without debating any ethics. I think it is up to the players to decide how to spend their money.

As for fraud against the house: this is a risk that any business carries, some more, some less.

Fraud and Regulation

Q: Can a real, physical roulette in a casino be rigged?

A:  Absolutely. There are many ways that you can rig any machine to provide you an “edge”. If you will be creative, you can come up with new ideas yourself.

You can influence the wheel using a magnet, or you can use a specially designed wheel with a hidden control to direct the ball to or away from a certain hole. You can use a specially designed wheel with a hidden button that will get the ball to a specific number. You can read about it here and here.

I honestly don’t know of any case in history where the casino actually deceived the players, but I know one story: Leonard Kleinrock and Larry Roberts, two of the fathers of the Internet back in the 1960s, had an “experiment” in a casino in Vegas, where they came with recording equipment, hidden in the jacket and under a cast around the arm, to win against the roulette. What they did was to analyse the Doppler effect of the spin to predict roughly where the ball will land. This is documented in the PBS documentary and book Nerds 2.0.1, by Robert X. Cringely.

Q: Some casino players say that regulators take bribes from casino operators for keeping a blind eye to misconduct. Can you explain what controls are used to keep the games fair?

A:  OK… As far as I know, they can all be working for the Mafia… What do you think?

Seriously, the whole idea of regulation authorities around the world is to take the money that was once used for illegal activity, and channel it to tax payment following a set of rules and regulations. Casinos are paying a lot of money: they are paying the testing companies, they pay for filing the request for license, they pay legal consultants who are experts in regulation and they are paying for the actual licence and the gambling taxes.

A casino usually takes ~3% from the total transaction done. The total expenditure, including the licensing and taxation, is taken from that 3%. Now, why would you pay bribes for something that the law already allows you to do?

So, do they pay bribes? It definitely could be the case. I am not a detective. I simply don’t see a reason for a respectable company to act this way.
 

Q:  There is a famous rumour in the online casino forums, saying that the games are rigged to make the players win at the beginning of their game, to induce higher stakes. Later, when the players are already hooked, the games will make them lose.

A: There is a common supposition among players that the “fun” mode games, before you join the casino to play for real money, are designed to be more “sympathetic” to the player, so that the players will be tempted to convert into real money playing. I cannot tell you anything intelligent about this practice, but I believe it is a false promotion and I also believe that several regulations such as Alderney and AAMS are forbidding this practice.  However, what I am discussing is real money gambling and there is no “progressive behaviour” programmed into these games. By progressive I mean that the games in some way are learning the preferences and the history of the players’ play and are adapting to give a result which will be causing the players to lose over many games and that the house will win. There is no such programming, as the advantage of the house is intrinsic to the game. If you step into a casino to play games of chance, you have a better chance to lose than to win…

Q: Surfing the internet today, can a player come across fraudulent casino software?

A: Of course you can find fraudulent casinos. I will divide these into two kinds:

1. Online scams, where there is a casino that basically steals money from potential gamblers and cheats them out of their money.

This type of casinos and other types of gambling (sports betting, bingo and poker) were more widespread in the early days, but they cannot stay active for a long time, because people are always testing the house and are more inclined to trust the jurisdictions that issue the license than the casino itself. If there is a casino that takes money and provides a “rigged” game to the players, it will be discovered pretty soon.

2. Illegal Websites

These are websites of criminal organisations, which run “under the radar” and allow people connected to these organisations to gamble. Sometimes, the money circulating in these websites is not transferred online: in Israel, the police caught last year a big operation that ran for 5 years. The money was delivered cash via messengers and taxi drivers. This sort of thing happens all over the world and the money is unreported and untaxed.

 

Q: Is it technically possible to create a fraudulent casino?

 A: It is technically possible to create almost anything.

I saw some fraudulent casino games, which were coded so that if the random number generator (RNG) returned a result, and the game server found that one player has a really big win (like 77777 in slots), the game server will immediately request a new result. This was many years ago when we received gaming software from a bankrupt company and wanted to see if we can use it. In this case, the correction was simple: delete the conditional in the code and make sure that the game behaves according to the rules of fair-play.

 

 

Every new game requires a testing and authorization by the regulator. This checks not only the code, but also the help and rules pages, the graphic design of the game and the proper financial transactions during and after the game.

Italian regulation by AAMS are considered extremely tough, because they require transmission of system data with every game session by any player. If anything changes in the system (the critical components of the game server,) the data will not be the same and the regulating server (SOGEI) will not approve the operation.

That is it: there were many questions and very long answers, spanning over 8000 words. Reading through them all, it looks more like a technical guide for a casino’s compliance officer, than for regular people who just want to have clean fun. So here is an advice for having fun: don’t gamble.

 

Posted by Samuel Miller

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