Why reputable casinos don’t need to cheat

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Image: Alan Cleaver, Flickr

When footage emerged of a BetOnline blackjack dealer getting tricky with his hands during a live dealer game, the Internet was rightly up in arms. The dealer appeared to switch cards at a crucial moment with a sleight of hand technique, caught on live video stream, which for many players, confirmed some of their worst fears. Conveniently, the switch was in the dealer’s favour, and helped prevent the house from losing the hand. Had the cards been dealt as fate had intended, the house would have lost, and the player would be quids in - a little too convenient for some people’s liking.

The debate about whether this was accidental, or a conscious attempt at cheating will no doubt rage on. The video seems pretty damning at first glance, but perhaps not enough to say with crystal clear confidence that the dealer knew what he was doing. For some players, sadly, this will confirm their suspicions about online casinos, and leave them feeling disillusioned at the potential for widespread cheating by casino operators.

In reality, while there may be one or two bad eggs in the casino industry, reputable casinos have absolutely no need to cheat. In fact, it’s contrary to their own interests, undermining their reputation and the faith of their players for the sake of a fast buck.

Still, some players are not convinced. So what’s the score with cheating online casinos? Do they exist, and is there any real advantage in cheating players out of winning hands, or otherwise, as a legitimate online casino business?

The Online Casino Business Model

The thought that online casinos are cheating players isn’t new. Players are often inherently more suspicious of software, especially when things aren’t going their way, and they can feel as though the casino is deliberately working against them to make sure they lose. But while there can be some sympathy for this view, it stems from a lack of understanding about odds, probability, and the business models casinos use in order to make money.

When you’re playing any casino game, there’s always a house edge. The house edge is the difference between the game’s payout percentage and 100%. So in the case of most slots, that’s around a 5% difference, while in the case of roulette, it’s under 3%. This is an inherent disadvantage to players, and means the casino is guaranteed to make money over an infinite number of games.

It doesn’t mean you can’t win - the probabilities of winning and losing are shared across every player who bets, and some will be up while others will be down. The house edge is purely a mathematical advantage that means over time, say £5 out of every £100 wagered will be the casino’s margin.

To put that another way, all casinos have to do to make money is to encourage players to get involved. The more players who play, the greater the casino’s profit, in terms of house edge. Anything else is just cash flow for the casino, so when they are up (due to more players losing than expected), they realise that is only a temporary state of affairs. The fixed portion is the house edge, and that’s what casinos are guaranteed from every game they operate.

Why Cheating Makes No Sense

So while it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to lose when gambling, these mathematical facts mean that casinos will always make money, regardless of variances in their temporary cash flows by the ups and downs of chance. So for casinos to cheat and screw a player out of their money just doesn’t add up.

Take a company like partycasino as an example. As one of the leading names in online gambling, their reputation is crucial to building and maintaining their base of players. And it’s that base of players that is essential if partycasino, or indeed any other casino, wants to make money. Without players, there can be no business - 5% of nothing isn’t enough.

At the same time, competitors lie around every corner, and players can skip over somewhere else with a single click. Far from cheating or trying to limit their players’ chances of winning, partycasino wants to encourage players to stick around, and wants to build on the fantastic reputation they’ve worked so hard for so long to create.

There are no doubt still some dodgy casino operators in the market - as there are rogue elements in every other industry. But when you play with a reputable, recognised online casino, you can be certain they are not cheating you - even if you find yourself on a losing streak. 

Maths and probabilities work over the long term, and sometimes it can feel like you’re hitting a brick wall. This is more a case of bad luck than it is a case of casinos cheating, and understanding the specifics of the casino business model should help go some way to putting your mind at rest - for reputable casinos, cheating players simply doesn’t add up.

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