5 things you never knew about online casinos
Considering that the online casino has only been in existence for such a short time, relatively speaking, the unstoppable rise of the sector has been nothing short of incredible. To get an idea of just how popular it is, you just need to look at the statistics issued by the UK Gambling Commission. Between April and September 2020 a total of £3.1 billion was spent on online gaming, over 50% of the £5.9 billion total for all forms of gambling.
But despite how popular online casinos are, there are still many things people don’t know about them, from how they work to which games, statistically speaking, will potentially be the most profitable to play.
So in no particular order, here are five facts about online casinos that will leave you better equipped to make the most of the time you spend playing on them.
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1. Slots are the favourite for casinos and players
While the word casino might conjure up games like roulette and blackjack, it’s not these classics that are the real favourites. For that, we have to look at an invention that’s been with us for over a century and which has evolved to be more involving and immersive than ever before.
The best online slots offer a huge variety of themes to appeal to almost everyone, are easy to play and can offer some truly huge prizes if you find yourself playing one with a progressive jackpot. This is surely why they are the most popular casino games out there.
On a more practical level, pretty much all online slots show their Return To Player, or RTP for short. This is the percentage of stake money that is paid back on average, usually somewhere between 85 and 95%. So players can choose the game they’re going to play with a pretty decent idea of what they might possibly win.
2. Online casinos perfectly replicate the randomness of the real world
One aspect of online casinos that some people question is just how accurately an online game of blackjack or roulette can be like the “real” thing. After all, in roulette, the laws of physics dictate where the ball falls on the wheel, and in blackjack, there’s a deck, or several decks, of cards that are randomly dealt out.
In online casinos, the action is computer-generated, so it would be theoretically possible to programme certain outcomes. But the action is actually controlled by a clever piece of software called a random number generator. As the name suggests, this is an algorithm that is constantly creating a string of numbers which have no logical sequence.
When a card is dealt or a roulette wheel spins online, the RNG stops on a particular random number that generates the value of the card or the number on which the ball lands. Online casinos are also subject to frequent monitoring to ensure that everything is fair, and random, in the way that they run the games in question.
3. Live casinos really are live
The live casino element of online sites is one that is becoming increasingly popular – and it’s also a form of play that doesn’t rely on an RNG. That’s because these involve games that are controlled by a real dealer, and streamed in real-time. Here, the cards dealt or the number on the roulette wheel is instantly turned into digital data.
This means that there is no delay at all between the action occurring and it is streamed directly to the player’s smartphone, tablet or PC. Compare this to some TV and radio broadcasts where there can be a few seconds delay even on supposedly live events and it’s easy to see why live casinos really do live up to their names.
4. Playing blackjack gives you the edge
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Learning basic blackjack strategy can put you streets ahead.
Study casino culture and you’ll always come up against the phrase “house edge”. This simply means the profit that a casino makes on a particular game. With slots, it varies by game depending on their RTP – so one with a 93% RTP has a house edge of 7%.
But when it comes to blackjack, the house edge is a much smaller – 0.4% or 0.5% assuming the player knows what they’re doing.
This is because it’s a game that pits you directly against the dealer – whether real or virtual - and relies on both of your decision-making skills to play. Not only can you influence the outcome, but good players can also tip the odds a little more in their favour by learning the so-called “basic strategy”. This is a set of rules that dictates the most beneficial ways to play any given hand - and you’ll find plenty of books explaining it, including several by the man who originally devised it, Edward O.Thorp.
5. All roulette wheels are not created equal
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Always choose European over American roulette
Even small changes to how a game is set up can marginally favour the casino edge. In roulette this change comes with the American version of the game, which features both 0 and 00 spaces on the wheel. Because this means there are 38 spaces on the wheel compared with 37 on a European wheel, it reduces your chance of winning and increases the house edge in the process. So always look out for the European version of online roulette.
To sum up
Of course, there are many more things to be discovered about online casinos. But hopefully, this has given you a good starting point to know more about them, and maybe to even be more successful when you play.