One of the most critical challenges of traditional online gambling is to gain the trust of players by ensuring them that the system is not being manipulated by the casino operator, to generate one sided bet outcomes. After all, the players cannot physically view the playing card deck being shuffled in front of them or the distribution of cards on a poker table before each round. For most players, the only choice is to rely on the reputation of the online casino website and trust in the system to generate fair payouts in each round. When gambling online with live dealers, you receive instantaneous visual feedback of the fairness at work, right there in front of your eyes, reassuring you of honest operations, however a majority of online casino game operations (at least where ‘true randomness’ in mathematical calculations is required) are handled by software and algorithms. With growing concerns about online casino malicious activities, so called ‘arbitrary’ digital results are no longer seen as fair.
That is where the Provably Fair system comes into play.
What is the Provably Fair system?
The rise of blockchain technology gave way to the development of the Provably Fair system, which has revolutionized the realm of online casino games. The word ‘provably’ refers to the concept of a “prove-able” gambling platform where an operator can prove to all players that there is absolutely zero manipulation in the outcome generation of every bet. Algorithms (programming code for random seed generation, number generation, and hashing) and blockchain technology are used to ensure that there has been no foul play or modification along the way. Simply put, if an online casino makes use of a Provably Fair system, players can feel confident in knowing that they have not been cheated on. It is a relatively new breakthrough in the world of computer science and cryptography space that takes online randomization to a whole new level. What is interesting about the Provably Fair algorithm is that it can be validated by players to verify that the result of any bet placed was predetermined, meaning that the result could not have possibly been changed (after the fact) to favour the operator..
How does the Provably Fair system work?
When you play traditional online casino games (ones that you do make use of Provably Fair mechanics to operate) you are relying on a random number generator to ensure fairness of play. The problem with these random number generators (or ‘pseudo’ RNGs) is that they are not truly random. They make use of time-based seeded numbers that are then run through a series of mathematical operations to create a new result that appears relatively more random than it is. However, we know from an applied understanding of statistics for casino games that running the same inputs through a set of equations yield identical results each time. If players knew the seed numbers and algorithms being used, they could potentially cheat their way to millions of dollars!
While it is true that a majority of online casinos employ incredibly complex randomness algorithms (that a majority of players are incapable of cheating their way through), the only aspect holding players back from unfair wins is access to information. On the flip side, when casinos decide to become more secretive than usual about their inner workings players start to lose trust in the casino website. They begin to suspect that the system is rigged to ensure unfavorable playing outcomes in the long run or other malicious activities such as predicting players’ betting patterns. The Provably Fair system addresses this issue by letting players manually verify the randomness of the game using a commitment scheme (chosen value kept hidden at first and later revealed to confirm fairness of play) and encrypted keys. The bottom line is that the Provably Fair system effectively overcomes trust barriers presented in the world of online gambling.
There are three crucial components that are relevant to outcomes of the Provably Fair algorithm:
- Sever seed.
- Client seed.
The server seed is a public hash of the seed which can be revealed to players without hurting the legitimacy and fairness of the game. The server seed cannot be changed once it has been produced by the server so the casino website cannot manipulate it, this is the operators commitment to ensuring no results generated are manipulated to favour them, commonly referred to as the “commitment scheme”. Additionally, players cannot decrypt it yet so they cannot cheat their way through either. The client seed is the value which is controlled by players themselves. The casino website has no idea of knowing which seed value the player will choose which lends the Provably Fair system its characteristic appeal in being more random than traditional online casinos. Both the server and the client seed are incorporated together to generate a chain of randomness, iterated by a factor known as the “nonce”. With every passing hand or bet, a new nonce is processed through this iteration along the randomness chain. Each time a new server seed is produced, the private key to decrypt and un-hash server seeds to check for fairness.
Online gambling can be exciting and the prospect of winning big is tempting for all. However, the hype is only worth it if players can be guaranteed that the system is fair and that they stand a reasonable chance of winning each time. The Provably Fair system has shown promising results and may send waves through the world of online gambling as more casino websites begin to embrace this highly disruptive innovation in the gambling industry. However, it is worth noting that the explanation above is a simplification of the Provably Fair system. In reality, there can be hundreds of hands being played or bets being made in each session so manually verifying results can be a bit of a challenge. However, on an individual level (as a player), you can use the provably fair verified to determine the fairness of gameplay.