Online casinos are quickly gaining foothold in the internet gaming industry. Wider coverage and exposure are the perks of doing business online. Also, online casinos offer a more convenient, more dynamic and faster gameplay than their land-based counterparts. Thanks to the steady technological progress we experienced over the recent decades, a very large number of games and business have either transitioned or expanded to the online platform. Casino owners have also realized the vast potential of going online and decided to offer an online version of their business venture. Convenience and easy access have contributed to the fast proliferation of online casinos and steadily rising numbers of players in different countries across the world. It’s fascinating how online casinos have become successful online business ventures in a short period of time. With the current reach and influence of online casinos in the gaming world. Most of us may be curious about how online casinos work their magic to become the success stories that they are now.
What’s an Online Casino?
This could be one of the most common questions asked by first-timers, the uninitiated or simply those who are not familiar with this type of gaming. By general definition, online casinos (often referred to as virtual casinos) are websites where players from around the world can wager money or bet on casino games. These websites allow anyone, as long as they are permitted under their respective laws, to enjoy gambling in the comfort of their computers and mobile devices and without having to venture into land-based casinos and gambling establishments.
The follow-up question would most likely be: How is it different from a land-based casino? To start off, the basic principles of their games remain the same. However, there are notable differences when it comes to playing in an online casino and in a land-based one. Online casinos do not require you to travel. All you need is to use your computer or mobile device that has a connection to the internet. Going to a land-based casino needs travelling and comes with extra costs. Online games have a ton of different games to choose from. They have many variations to the regular table and card games in a brick-and-mortar, but essentially they still follow the same rules and principles. Also, online games have faster gameplay and bigger and better prize options. In addition, online games are always available, so you don’t have to wait for your turn at a particular game that you love to play. Online games also offer flexible payment options and bets. There’s no need for you to dig in to your pockets to get cash or swipe your card and acquire chips. In online casinos, you can play table games for as little as $1 or play slot machines for less than a dollar.
How Do Online Casinos Operate?
Different casinos are under different licensing jurisdictions and have their own rules and measures in place, but the majority of online casinos follow the same sets of principles when it comes to delivering their services to players:
- Players create their casino accounts, and deposit funds (money) into their accounts;
- Players choose games they wish to play, and decide how much to wager on each game;
- If a player loses their funds, the casino retains them – if a player wins, and ends up in profit, they can withdraw their funds back into their bank account (or other payment processors).
Going to the business and operational side of things, online casinos should apply for a license to operate as an online gambling website or virtual establishment under the different regulatory authorities that have jurisdiction over the area from which they operate. Also, online casinos are required to adhere to the local gambling laws of the respective localities they operate from.
Are They Legal, Licensed and Regulated?
Legality and reliability most likely come at the top of the list of questions in every online casino player’s mind – and rightfully so. The early years of the online gambling industry saw a rapid growth rate, but also attracted criticism due to the lack of regulation and monitoring which resulted in unfair and unlawful practices and loss of revenue of cities where they operated. But all that changed as the years went by. Today, online casinos are generally well-regulated to ensure fairness of the games, implement player-protection measures and adherence to guidelines from tax authorities.
Not all online casinos are created equal and while there are plenty of reliable and well-regulated online gambling and casino operators, there are still unscrupulous and unsafe ones that need to be avoided. If an online casino has been licensed by special licensing and regulatory commissions, it indicates that the website operates legally, follows local rules and regulations and contributes appropriate taxes. The players also benefit if the online casino is legitimate and regulated. Casinos are required by regulatory commissions to have a separate account made specially for players only in order to protect players’ money from insolvency. Also, if players have complaints against a gambling or casino operator, they can direct their concerns to the regulatory body and have the problem resolved in a fair and timely manner.
How Do Online Casinos Provide Games?
Some of us may think that casino games are hosted by the owners or the establishment itself. While this may seem like the ideal scenario for the operators’ end, online casinos choose not to self-host casino games. Instead, they “rent” or purchase license for their games from software developers (companies who develop the games). This means that when you play the numerous games offered in an online casino, you are actually connected to the game developer’s server, rather than to the server in the online casino. This allows for fast loading times for players and this scenario actually saves operation costs for the casinos. Another benefit this setup provides for players is a measure of protection and fair play, as casinos themselves have no influence on the games or their outcomes. Some of the prominent names in the interactive gambling industry are Microgaming, Playtech and NetEnt among others. Many renowned online casinos may team up with more than one developer to give their players a wider choice of games and diversity when it comes to themes, graphic design and betting limits. Thus, it won’t be surprising if you come across an online casino offering games that are courtesy of more than software provider.
Online Casino Bonuses
Almost all casinos offer some type of bonus to players, and this is usually the case when a player first registers or joins the site and making a deposit. While it is tempting to join online casinos and claim your bonus, it’s important to understand how these bonuses work because not all of them have the same set of terms and conditions. Some may have stringent and specific conditions, that is why due diligence is very important when claiming a bonus. There are different types of casino bonuses, which we are going to discuss in the following sections.
Types of Casino Bonuses
The most popular form of casino bonus is the welcome bonus. It works by offering first-time players a “matching” amount of their first deposits. In other words, a certain percentage of the player’s first deposit (usually 100%) will be matched by the casino, allowing the player to start with twice the fund amount they put into their account. The most common form of welcome bonus is through online casino promo codes, which is offered by many online casinos for first-time players with first deposits. Another form of welcome bonus is through prizes from wheel spins or free spins on one or several slot game titles.
No Deposit Bonus
As the name implies, this type of bonus is given to players without them needing to deposit real money into their account. This is usually in the form of free casino credit or free spins. This type of bonus is less common than welcome bonus and tend to be much smaller, but it still provides added value for players. This bonus type can be a good way of trying a casino without having to risk your own money. If you like what you find, then you can proceed in making a deposit.
There are other types of bonuses that have appealing offers and prizes. Sometimes they are not monetary but are still tempting to have such as vacations, gift items, free tournament entries and tickets for exclusive events.
The casino software plays a very important role in the improvements we see in online casinos nowadays. Basically, the online casino software is developed to ensure that the games are fair. The software at online casinos use a computer program known as random number generator (RNG), which we’re going to discuss further later on. In essence, the RNG is a program that constantly produces random strings of numbers, having no discernible pattern, and the software communicates with this program to produce outcomes such as which card is dealt next or what symbols appear following a spin on a slot machine. This makes the outcomes of the games completely random and ensures that the games are perfectly fair. Your odds of having a winning hand in blackjack or winning in any game you play, are the same in both an online casino or in a land-based one. Casino software is broadly categorized as downloadable, instant play and mobile. Many different games are available in these categories, which means you can play them from different devices connected to the internet.
Most downloadable software from online casinos are only compatible with PCs running on Microsoft Windows operating system. This software is easy to access and download over the internet, and once you have downloaded it, you will have full access to a wide collection of games. You just have to load the software up, login and start playing.
Instant Play Software
This type of software is becoming increasingly common in online casinos. It enables you to play games directly from your web browser, without having to download anything. The software commonly uses Adobe Flash, meaning it is compatible with a wide range of devices and operating systems. Many Instant play games can be accessed from smartphones and tablets.
Another software type that is finding wide usage among casino players is the mobile app. Mobile devices can access instant play software and can also install apps that are specifically designed for mobile devices. These apps can be downloaded from the appropriate app store or direct from the website of the casino.
Random Number Generator
Simply put, RNG is a computer program that spits out results in a random manner. Random number generators have different types and uses, and the ones casinos use are pseudo random number generators. These programs are specifically designed for online casinos because they don’t need any external input (numbers or data) to produce an output. They only need an algorithm and seed number. New seed numbers and results are generated every millisecond. This is simply done by taking the last number or numbers produced and using a mathematical operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, etc.) to create a new “random” outcome. This is especially useful in virtual games where there’s no dealer.
How does RNG work? Let’s take slot games for example. It follows the following idea: a value is assigned to each symbol on a reel. If say, there are 12 symbols per reel and the machine is a 5-reel one. The RNG will come up with a value of 1-12 for each of the 5 reels. The result would be 5 different symbols. And if those 5 random symbols line up and make a winning combination, you’ll be paid according to the assigned chart of prizes.
How Do Online Casinos Make Money?
Casinos, whether land-based or online, exist to make money. As casinos are businesses or corporate companies that have stakeholders, investors and employees, generating profit is a requirement. So how do casinos accomplish this?
It’s called the “house edge”, and all casinos basically have this to make a profit. All casino games (table games, video slots and others) are built to be profitable to the casino first and foremost. Over time, the games can earn casinos a profit even though the casino edge is relatively low. Card games for example, have a relatively low casino edge – often as little as 95%, which means that for every $1 wagered, the casino can expect to pay $0.95 to players and make $0.05 profit.
Another main source of profit generation is the natural tendency of players finding that “big break” or winning the jackpot. Even though the odds are heavily stacked against players, they most commonly turn to luck to turn the losses around and most of the times this doesn’t happen. More than that, players who visit online casinos for fun will get hooked on the prospect of making more winnings after a few lucky draws or spins.
The operation of online casinos also follows the same stringent procedures as land-based ones. There are licensing and regulatory authorities that monitor and audit casino operations to ensure that players are protected and the games are fair. Overall, online casinos work in the same manner as land-based casinos, but they offer a wider range of options, great variations to the games, colorful and rich graphics, faster gameplay and various bonuses and promos.