Understanding eCOGRA Audit ReportsBy: Ryan Alders, Thursday October 29th 2009
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All online casinos get their games audited for fairness by reputed independent agencies. This is not only a requirement imposed by their licensing authority but also serves to demonstrate to their customers that they are operating a fair business. eCOGRA is one of the most commonly used agencies by online casino operators. Their reports are usually displayed in the public domain by the online casinos. Players who are just starting out at online gambling should take a look at these reports and understand what they imply.
There are three sets of certificates that are given by eCOGRA. The first certificate is issued after to the initial audit. This certificate asserts that eCOGRA is satisfied that the games are fair, the casino operates honestly and behaves responsibly and monetary deposits are safe.
The second set of certificates pertains to the Random Number Generator in the various online casino games. These certificates are issued separately for blackjack, roulette and video poker. The certificates pertain to a six month period. All the outcomes in all the games during the six month period are analyzed by eCOGRA for randomness based on standard statistical tests. The certificates state that the Random Number Generator guarantees that each card in blackjack and video poker and each number on the roulette wheel have an equal chance of being selected.
The most important and useful a report is the Percentage Payout Review. This is conducted on a monthly basis by eCOGRA. The report displays average percentage payouts for various game categories. The report states "The figures reflect the percentage of total player unit winnings to the total unit amount wagered by the players in the month under review." The data is presented for the following categories: all games, slot games, table games and poker games. The individual categories are the important ones and merit separate discussion.
It needs to be first clarified that these figures are the actual average percentage payouts obtained during the month. They need not reflect the theoretical payouts of the games based on the mathematics involved on the configuration of the games. However, in games that do not require players to make decisions apart from the amount wagered the actual payouts and the theoretical payouts will not differ significantly. The average percentage payout for slot games at Platinum Play casino was found to be 95.60% in September 2009. This means that for every $100 wagered on slot games players were paid out $95.60 and the casinos retained $4.40. Given the nature of slot games, where no player decisions are required, players can expect this kind of return from slot games.
The poker games referred to are the video poker games. The report indicates an average percentage payout of 99.51%. This needs further elaboration. Video poker games require strategic decisions from the players. Players who are able to make optimum decisions all the time will realize average percentage payouts that are more than the specified number. However players who are not good at video poker games may realize average percentage payouts that are significantly below the reported number. Hence new players should not blindly assume that they will be able to get the return of around 99.5% on video poker games.
The table games are the most difficult to decipher. They usually include games like roulette and craps in which no strategic decisions are required. They also include games like blackjack in which players’ decisions play a major role in determining the average payout ratio. Hence it would be unwise to draw any conclusions about individual games from this report.
As players continue to wager at an online casino they should make it a practice to check out the Percentage Payout Review and follow the trend. If nothing else it would give them satisfaction that they are wagering at an online casino that is fair to its customers.
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