People have used random number generators since early history; since most casino games rely on luck, a random number generator is necessary for its functioning. While a dice was the random number generator in the early days, most RNGs today are digital.
You might think that only online casinos use RNGs but are also used in land-based casinos, driving slot machines, and video poker machines.
RNG systems used by casinos are audited, tested, and rechecked multiple times to ensure they offer a fair outcome but are they truly random? The answer is no.
Pseudorandom number generators
Online casino RNGs, no matter how sophisticated they might be, cannot replicate true randomness. To understand why this is the case, we need to look at how they actually work.
An RNG today is a computer program that generates random numbers using an algorithm and a seed number. It does not require any external output and can generate random numbers as long as it’s fed the seed numbers. Online casinos use an automatic process where random seed numbers are generated for each outcome.
The final random numbers generated by the algorithm and the seed are then used to power virtual casino games like slots, roulette, blackjack, etc.
However, since there is a well-defined algorithm that powers the RNG, it is possible in theory that the system can be hacked if the initial seed number is known since the algorithm acts deterministically and will provide the same outputs if given the same inputs.
So are RNGs unsafe?
In theory, RNGs can be hacked. However, they are also extremely robust, highly secure, and heavily scrutinized. They are also used by every game provider in the iGaming industry because they are the best option.
Additionally, online casinos regulatory bodies like the MGA ensures that all licensed online casinos use a thoroughly-tested and fair RNG system. In fact, in unregulated markets like India, all top licensed international casinos have an advantage as they offer a provably fair platform.
So are RNGs really random?
As stated earlier in this article, online casinos RNGs are not genuinely random. However, it does not mean they are compromised or unfair. It is not possible to scale “true” random number generators that work based on radioactive decay or cosmic background radiation, and certainly not in the context of an online casino that requires fast operations.
For the time being, RNGs used by licensed online casinos are as close to true digital randomness as we can get, even if they are not “really” random.