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There is an element of the unfamiliar about online casinos that makes them appear mysterious, exotic, or downright difficult to understand. The concept seems nebulous. The idea of sending money online or withdrawing money from a website seems strange to just about anyone. And if the games are software, how can they be trusted? Can’t a roulette ball be programmed to land anywhere the casino wants it to? This is because casinos—the regular casinos you can walk into, touch and feel—are most familiar to us. We are used to the idea that we hold our money in our hands and physically hand it over to a person who we can turn to in any eventuality. In a real casino we can actually see the roulette ball bouncing around and landing according to the whims of physics. Not just roulette, but all games take on a dimensionality in the real casino that we respond to viscerally.
But is an online casino any less real? It most certainly exists somewhere. Money goes in and money goes out. For all intents and purposes, online virtual casinos are just as real as any other gambling establishment. They have added advantages. Privacy, for example, or convenience, are primary features of online casinos. And proximity—there is no need to travel long distances. Online casinos are more than an evolution. They are a revolution. They have completely upended the gambling industry.
Today’s gamblers can choose to play their favorite games whenever they want and from wherever they happen to be. It could be daytime or nighttime because hours are meaningless in the virtual world of the internet. The only doorway a player needs to step through is the log in screen. The freedom from schedules is particularly important, but not for the obvious reason. Traditional casinos are also open around the clock. But most people are not free most of the time. Online casinos can be accessed from home computers, workstations, or even cellular phones. A few hands of blackjack no longer require a long weekend and a plane ride. All one needs is internet access and a few free minutes. Online casinos operate on the individual person’s schedule, and not the other way around.
There are things to miss as well. The energetic atmosphere (it is a well known fact that casinos pump oxygen into game rooms to keep people awake and energetic) and the frenetic pace of casinos is very difficult to replicate. The gasps of excitement, the friendships formed. Trysts in hotel rooms. And the perks—the free-flowing alcoholic drinks. The magic shows. The service. These are all things to miss. Online casinos cannot pretend to replicate these nuances of reality. And if that is the purpose for gambling, it is true that no online casino can match the experience offered in a brick and mortar casino. This is not to say that online casinos don’t have some tricks up their own sleeves to lend themselves their own appeal.
Whereas all the things that make traditional casinos fun and exciting are appealing on the surface, they come at a cost. Traditional casinos have high operating costs. The bartenders and waitresses, the dealers and croupiers, the pit bosses and security, the janitorial teams and hotel staff…they all get paid salaries. Not to mention the air filtration and air conditioning, and the electricity, and the water, and the alcohol, and the list just goes on and on.
The casinos spend a lot of money to provide that perfect atmosphere. It is important to keep in mind that casinos are not generous and they’re not charities. Those costs are not absorbed by the casino, but rather, they’re shifted on to the players and guests in the form of a high house advantage in games. Losing players pay for all that glamour. And traditional casinos make it so that it is more likely for players to lose. It is a mathematical necessity.
Now take a look at the average online casino. The production values are often excellent. But the truth of the matter is that the entire casino exists on a set of servers that exist in an office building somewhere in the world. Overhead costs are minimal. A few computers, a few employees and some low rent. Online casinos are lean, and this allows them to get by with much less. They could go for the gold, and set their house edge the same as regular casinos do, and it would still work out for them because of the sheer convenience playing online poses to players. But they don’t. They set the house edge to be minimal. And this is the key difference between online casinos and regular casinos that makes online casinos, like Jackpot City, so irresistibly appealing.
Players win more at online casinos. This is a mathematical certainty and it is by design. In fact, this answers one of the early questions I posed in the beginning. If the casino is a piece of software that can be programmed (and indeed, it is) then how can it be trusted? The software in question is something called an RNG, or “random number generator”. It is a very sophisticated formula run by powerful computers, that allows for results that function exactly as expected by a truly random system. They model the physics of reality through math. The accuracy of their randomness can be programmed and also verified through software. An online casino operator chooses what the odds of winning per game will be and sets them on a game to game basis. Each game has its own set of odds, which the casino advertises as a payback percentage. The results of the machine are set that a particular percentage of the money that goes into the machine goes out of the machine as wins. The casino keeps the rest. If the machine has a 97% payback rate, the house has a 3% advantage.
The random number generators are highly regulated in the industry, and they are tested for accuracy on a regular basis by independently contracted agencies as a requirement for state licensing. It is completely optional for a casino to seek licensing, but only a fool would play at an unlicensed casino. Licensing means that the casino answers to a government authority, and players are protected by consumer rights. If one were to choose a casino licensed in the EU, for example, that player would enjoy protection rights equal to anyone in the European Union. This is a smart strategy for an online casino because being a known and trusted entity ensures a larger clientele. It is definitely beneficial to read up on some European and US/Canadian/Australian casinos.
Online casinos also often feature much greater rewards. These range from massive progressive jackpots that are pooled over a network of individual casinos to exotic prizes such as vacations and store vouchers offered to preferred players in a system not unlike airline miles. Between the promotions and large bonuses offered to new players, often ranging in the thousands of dollars, as well as the security and their convenience, online casinos have a lot to offer to anyone. They are well worth a look by anyone who has heard of them, but never tried one.