eCOGRA: What it is, and Why You Need to Care
All types of online casinos, including UK online casinos, run on specialized software that simulates real life random occurrences. This software is referred to in the industry as a random number generator, or RNG. It is a spectacularly complex piece of computer engineering that allows casino software to work in the exact same way as the real world counterpart.
The games are meant to be indistinguishable from their physical versions. Thus, if you put a roulette wheel alongside a virtual roulette game that uses a sophisticated RNG, the results would be statistically identical. The numbers wouldn't be the same, of course, but the frequency of any particular number occurring would be statistically the same. This is the foundation of what makes an online casino a truly viable option to a brick and mortar casino. Do not underestimate its importance. Casino software simulators on home computers a mere twenty years ago would not have been capable of producing truly random results, and thus would not have been allowed to operate using real money.
As with all things digital, software has the unfortunate tendency of being vulnerable to tweaking, hacking, and generally changing the fundamental way in which it operates. A software simulation can be tuned to operate using any number of variables. In fact, this is exactly how casinos change the odds on their various games. There is a mathematical formula that governs the expected outcomes. For example, a slot machine can be set to pay back at a rate of 80 cents to the dollar, or 99.5 cents to the dollar, or even 101 cents to the dollar over a long period of time. This is what's called the payback percentage, and online casinos advertise the percentages for each of their games on their websites. Think of the remaining percentage as the house edge. On an 80% payback percentage machine the house edge is 20%, on a 99.5% payback percentage machine, the house edge is 0.5%, and so on. It is extremely important that what the casino says is the payback percentage on a game, actually is the payback percentage. Any deviation would be dishonest. This is where independent auditing companies come in.
eCOGRA is one such company. It is a not for profit organization founded in 2002 by two of the industry's most trusted names, The Golden Riviera Casino and Microgaming. eCOGRA is an acronym, and it stands for e-Commerce Online Gambling Regulation Assurance. It came to be because the online gambling industry reached a point where it needed to self regulate if outside agencies such as governments were not going to step in. In the early days of online gambling there were many rogue casino that were independently operated by crooks who would use cheating software to fleece customers of their money. This was an enormous threat to the legitimate casinos, and the solution was that any trustworthy casino had to willingly subject itself to monthly random examinations of their software to make sure that it was operating as advertised.
Nowadays, casinos are regulated by various international governments, many that are part of the EU. The licenses granted by a government stipulate that the casinos must operate at a high standard of fairness and provide a large degree of customer protection. Part of the requirement placed on casinos is to undergo regular audits by independent third parties such as eCOGRA, which is now the de facto industry standard. Any time an eCOGRA Seal of Approval is displayed, it is a sure sign that the casino in question is safe, fair, and honest.
In order to grant the seal of approval, eCOGRA runs a series of benchmark tests using powerful computers that can calculate the true odds in a random number generator software package. The numbers are then compared to what would be expected in a real world environment. If the software passes the test, however, it is still not clear to be granted the seal of approval. It must also undergo a thorough audit of its finances and customer relations calls. Customer complaints are logged, all deposits and withdrawals are examined to make sure the occur in a reasonably fast fashion. eCOGRA also examines safety precautions, such as firewalls, encryption systems, and all the defenses the casino has against hacking. One of the key points of the seal of approval is that customer data, personal and financial information, are kept safe. Furthermore, if there is any sign of illegitimate money passing through the casino, the seal of approval is rescinded. It is a massive undertaking, and it is to eCOGRA's credit that its record is impeccable. Try now at a protected eCOGRA casino by visiting JackpotCity Casino and others.
When choosing an online casino it is imperative that there is ample proof that it is an honest and reputable institution. An eCOGRA seal of approval is a shortcut toward making sure that a casino fits that description.