Online Casino Random Number Generator. What It Does and How It Works
Online casino players often complain about games being rigged. Their reaction is understandable as it’s hard to stay calm in the face of long losing streak. But knowing how everything works can give you some relieve and certain degree of trust in what’s going on after you press Play button.
The heart of each online casino game is RNG (random number generator), or PRNG (pseudo random number generator) to be precise. PRNG is based on certain math formulas that produce random results. These results are then translated to their respective slot symbols so that we can see nice pictures instead of bare numbers.
PRNG ensures fairness for players and casinos. It’s important to note that operators are users themselves. Game providers don’t allow them to their game files and settings. They just give them the opportunity to host games on their sites and accept wagers. While all the processes are performed on developer’s servers.
Can You Hack PRNG?
In theory there’s such possibility. But it would be extremely difficult to succeed, because methods used to generate numbers are far from primitive. Developers definitely don’t want anyone to know their algorithms and do everything possible to eliminate any threat of hacking.
There is evidence of at least one case when player figured out how exactly PRNG algorithm worked and used this knowledge to collect as many winnings as was necessary. Russian known as Alex bought Mark VI slot machine by Aristocrat and had plenty of time to examine it. After finding out what method used to generate results, he was able to know exactly when the slot would give winning combinations. This was a relatively recent case that took place in 2011.
Pseudo Random Number Generator
By default, people say “RNG” when referring to online casinos. But this isn’t accurate in most of the cases. Results aren’t completely random, and it would be more accurate to say pseudo random.
There are many methods of generating pseudo random numbers. Examining one of the earliest algorithm can help understand the principle of the process. It was developed in 40s by John von Neumann. Square number of the four digit seed data is used to get first random result. Then four digits from the middle of the sequence is taken and multiplied by itself. The process goes on like that until seed data is changed.
For example, square number of 7839 is 61449921. This would be a result of one spin. Then you take four digits from the middle of the sequence and square it to receive 20241001 (4499*4499) – this is the result of another spin. That goes again and again.
As you can see, knowing the seed number and mathematical formula would be enough to know the results of a series of game rounds. But to make hacker’s job harder, the seed number is changed from time to time.
It’s unlikely any serious business uses John von Neumann’s method as it’s too simple and won’t provide a lot of random numbers. The sequence comes to an end too early. Suppose you get 23000000. Square number of four zeros is zero and this won’t change. As a result, you’ll indefinitely have zeros, which isn’t acceptable. Today developers use much more advanced math formulas that are far more sophisticated.
Truly Random Number Generator
This method produces truly random results. RNG incorporates hardware and that adds another layer of unpredictability. The source of seed data can be something no one would ever guess. One of the options is to measure noise of a sound card or processor temperature. These values would be used as seed numbers.
The problem is that this method is significantly more expensive and demands investment of more time and resources to set up and maintain. Moreover, it works slower. That’s why most of the times casino games are built using PRNG and the chances of hacking are still possible.
What Algorithms Game Suppliers Use?
Based on two iTechLabs reports dated 2012 and 2015, NetEnt uses Fortuna algorithm that is built on the constant change of the seed data. These seed numbers come from various external sources such as computer mouse movements, cooler noise, etc.
Other suppliers might use other methods. According to Wikipedia, one of the most popular algorithms is Mersenne Twister. But there are plenty of other choices.