Are Casino Games Fair or Rigged?

Casino Games, Rigged, Cards, Table, Chips, Money, Casino

Are casino games rigged? That’s a question most of us have asked at one point or another.

Whether it’s after a slot machine swallowed our entire bankroll without a single winning spin or after a roulette wheel suddenly flipped from red to black after we started betting on red, many of us have wondered if there’s some sort of scam designed to part us from our cash.

I’ve been playing casino games both online and in the real world for more than 20 years now, and I’m going to answer this question once and for all in this post.

Are casino machines rigged? The answer is yes, but not in the malicious way most people think. They are simply designed to profit the casinos. Let me elaborate on that.

Why Casinos Don’t Have to Rig the Games

Most casino games aren’t rigged in the sense that they’re not designed to cheat you. However, they’re “rigged” in another way, and casinos admit it openly.

Every single game gives the house a mathematical advantage known as the house edge. This ensures that come what may, the house always wins.

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Let's look at blackjack, for example. If you play blackjack perfectly without any mistakes, the house edge is 0.5%. That's tiny compared to some other casino games, but it still means that even with perfect gameplay, the casino makes $0.50 on every $100 wagered in the long run.

Other games like keno can have a house edge as high as 25%. That means that for every $100 wagered, the house makes a whopping $25. Remember that this figure is an average. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll win or lose in line with those percentages every time, but overall, that’s how the math shakes out after a long number of players visit the tables.

Given the existence of the house edge, casinos don’t have to rig the games to cheat you. They’re making plenty of money as it is. Just look at the Las Vegas strip and see if you think there’s a lack of cash floating around!

Why Casinos Could Rig the Games

Even though all casino games give the house a guaranteed mathematical advantage, there are some greedy operators out there for whom that isn’t enough. Some of them do run rigged casino games that will quickly separate you from your bankroll.

We know for a fact that both live and online casinos have cheated their customers in the past.

How can you avoid falling into this trap? Avoiding the sites on our online casino blacklist is a start. Playing at well-established online casinos with good reputations is the key. And that leads me nicely to my next point.

How to Find Casinos That Don’t Rig Their Games

Thankfully, the vast majority of online casinos are run by legit operators who play fair. They understand that players are their customers, and screwing over customers isn’t good for business in the long run.

Based on my decades of experience, here are some signs that a casino is legitimate.

Gaming Licenses

Whether you’re playing at real-world casinos or online, a huge sign that a casino is legitimate is that it has either one or multiple reputable gaming licenses.

In gaming meccas like Nevada, casinos will display their licenses, and you can check whether they’re real or not online. Online casinos also display their licenses from institutions like the UK Gambling Commission and the Malta Gaming Authority.

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Licenses mean a casino is being monitored and watched by a regulator who forces it to play by certain rules designed to protect players. For example, keeping player deposits separate from operating capital is one stipulation of many gaming licenses. That can only ever be a good thing, right?

Are there any legit casinos without a gaming license? Sure, there are, and that’s especially true for US-friendly online casinos. Many of them were chased offshore after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (2006), and they found it difficult to obtain licenses.

In those cases, you’ll need to rely on the reputation of the casinos in question. You’re safe if they have been around for a while and are owned by reputable companies.

Casino Reputation

One way to find out if a casino plays fair or not is to ask those who have played there before. You’ll need to ignore the odd disgruntled player who is hell-bent on shaming a casino into giving him his losses back, but on the whole, previous players can be a good source of information about casinos.

Where can you find player reviews? For real-world casinos, you can find plenty of them on sites like Tripadvisor. When it comes to online casinos, you can rely on expert casino reviews like those on our site. We play at every casino we review, so we know if they’re the real deal or not.

In the absence of a gaming license, you’ll have to rely on the reputation of a casino alone. In the best-case scenario, the operator will have a valid iGaming license and a solid reputation.

Game Providers

After being in this industry for decades, I’ve seen more fly-by-night software companies than I can count. These shrewd operators set up shop, rinse players for as much as they can, and vanish without a trace. Often, they pop up again somewhere else under a different brand name.

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Thankfully, legit game providers have been around for years or decades. Firms like RTG, Microgaming, NetEnt, Evolution, and Betsoft have catalogs of hundreds of games at thousands of online casinos, and they are known to run fair, player-friendly games.

Don’t know which operators are legit and which aren’t? That’s not a problem – we spell it out for you in our casino reviews. If you see any of the names above offering games at an online casino, that’s a good sign.

Oh, and the same applies to brick-and-mortar casinos. If you see slots from time-tested providers like Scientific Gaming, WMS, and IGT, you can be sure you’re dealing with a legitimate casino.

Terms & Conditions

It’s amazing what you can find in the small print of online casinos. If only most players would bother to look! Many times, a casino will tell you it’s going to screw you over in black and white. This gives operators cover in case players take legal action against them.

What should you look for? Casinos that charge dormancy fees on your account, reserve the right not to pay winnings at their discretion, and can boot you out without warning for any reason they dream up are bad news. Those clauses certainly aren’t in there for your benefit.

Strapped for time? You don’t need to sit and read through pages upon pages of legal jargon, but a quick glance over the small print to see if anything jumps out could save you from falling victim to rigger casino games. It’s worth a few minutes to save yourself from being ripped off.

Of course, you could save yourself a bunch of effort and stick with the safest online casinos identified by our experts. We’ve assessed them according to the criteria outlined above and then some.

Before you go and play casino games at some of the verified safe sites, here are some other articles you might find useful. These are about specific casino games and whether they’re rigged:

So, are online casino games rigged? Only at rigged casinos! In fair ones, every game has a house edge that gives the casino a mathematical advantage, but they won’t cheat if you win.

Gavin Lucas
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About Gavin Lucas
Hi! I’m Gavin Lucas, a gambling enthusiast with a particular love for video slots and live casino games. I have been writing about gambling online since 2015, and am always keen to try new games as soon as they’re released. Other than gambling, I’m obsessed with technology and I've written numerous articles for CoinGeek on the topic. I’m fascinated by how online gambling will be changed by blockchain technology, micropayments, and the Metaverse. Having tested several blockchain casinos already, I believe I can see what casinos will look like 10 years from now, and I enjoy sharing that vision with others.