"Fair Gaming" is a term that comes up a lot in regards to online casinos and poker rooms. Many new players are concerned that the internet gives unethical players or even sites an advantage over honest patrons. The bad news is that cheating does happen and on both sides of the fence. The good news is that these occurrences are very rare and that honest sites and organizations are working hard to ensure a fair gaming experience for ever player.
How Sites Prevent Players from Cheating
One of the most common forms of player cheating is collusion. Collusion is limited to card games like poker where knowing more than your own hand offers players a statistical advantage. In collusion, two or more players will sit at the table and communicate their cards to each other via messaging services separate of the poker room. Their increased knowledge of other players' hands gives these players an unfair advantage. Collusion is an old problem and is actually more common in live casinos than it is online. Why? Because online casinos not only have live surveillance but also have anti-cheating software that can track irrational moves or patterns in players (or groups of players).
How Organizations Prevent Sites from Cheating
When online casinos first started popping up, there were a handful of high-profile scandals in which casinos used unfair practices to cheat their members out of money. Today there are many watchdog organizations within the online gaming industry that specialize in preventing these occurrences. By far the largest and most respected of these organizations is eCOGRA (eCommerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance). Through regular auditing and quality assurance reviews of online casinos and poker rooms eCOGRA has significantly improved safety and fairness standards in the industry. The organization itself is subjected to these same stringent reviews to prevent corruption at every level.
Another fair gaming concern that many online players have is that the computer programs dealing them cards, simulating slot machines, or controlling arcade games are not as random as their real counterparts. The truth is most modern online casinos endeavor to provide the most realistic gaming experience possible, right down to the randomization of their software. In fact, with a little research you can find disclaimers on a large number of sites attesting to the fact that they use randomization software to ensure fair gaming to their clients.
Casino and Poker Site Licenses and Affiliations
If you have concerns about the fairness of any particular site, then check its licensing or professional affiliations prior to playing. Most sites post this information right on their front pages. They may be approved by their base country’s gaming authority, or they may be approved by a multi-national gaming authority designed specifically for online gaming. Some sites are approved by both. The best sites also have cooperative partnerships with watchdog organizations like eCOGRA. These sites will post the auditing company’s icon as proof that they meet fair gaming standards.