Monday, December 3, 2012

Are All Online Casinos Corrupt?


A recent comment on a post by Lincoln, though in bad English, asked whether we think if all online casinos are corrupt and crooked. Lincoln has insinuated as much, and while I cannot speak for him — I'm sure that he will weigh in soon enough — I wanted to answer the question in a full post.

No.

I do not think that all online casinos are corrupt. I think that all online casinos are potentially corrupt, though, and the difference is important. Essentially, all online casinos are run by people who would happily screw their user base into next Tuesday, where Wimpy is paying for all of those hamburgers, if they felt safe doing so. The difference between good casinos and bad casinos is their safety level.

The perfect thief steals without letting the person know that they have been stolen from. That way, the mark keeps coming back and the thief does not risk capture. All thieves thus have a limit of thieving at which they stop feeling safe. Now, imagine that this thief can earn money from the mark without any risk whatsoever. Some non-zero percentage of all thieves would choose that strategy even if there was a great deal of money to made with more extreme forms of thieving.

And so it is with online casinos. They are all run by thieves, as it were, but some of them have safety limits that render them 100% legitimate gaming operations. Granted, at this level, the difference between a completely honest casino and one which is ever so slightly corrupt is going to be positively lilliputian. All I can assume is that if a casino is willing to venture so near to absolute legitimacy as to enter this category, then there is strong motivation to simply go the whole way and thus never risk being exposed as corrupt.

As Lincoln discussed in two earlier posts, there are a multitude of ways to cheat players while being nigh undetectable. But they are still detectable. They can still be found out. There is always some way to figure out any form of cheating. And that means that there is always some degree of risk, no matter how cloaked the thieving may be.

So how do we know which casinos are run by thieves who are so averse to capture that they become legitimate? We don't. There is no way to know. The only time we know anything is if a casino has been revealed as corrupt. Before that time, we can always assume that they are corrupt and have simply not yet been caught, or assume that they are legitimate.

At this point, it seems like we are left with no recourse. Any casino could be ripping us off. But if we think about it for a moment, we realize that we are in the same situation as anyone shopping for anything. We can only ever base our decisions on the best data available and can never be fully confident in our decision.

But just as with any product, though, the best data available may be on different levels. For example, when playing at physical casinos, our data include rigid governmental regulations demanding that all numbers are out front and available to customers. Those are some really good data and brings us about as close to confidence in the integrity of the casino as is likely possible.

So we as players are left with a difficult situation. Indeed, the only way to be mostly sure of rectitude in the games we frequent is to exclusively play at land-based casinos in countries with strict gambling laws. And then, in many situations, we are left with piss-poor RTP numbers. So our choice becomes guaranteed poor RTP, or possibly poor RTP. Ugh.

I think that we have a middle ground. We may not have the ideal — Consumer Reports for online casinos — but we are not without testing labs, player stories, certification groups, and other such things. None of these are perfect, mind you. They are all open to corruption and none of them are disinterested third parties. Hell, eCogra was founded by Microgaming! Still, they are brands, and they likewise risk being caught if they choose to be lax or corrupt. That seed of fear gives us a foundation of uneasy trust.

A small foundation it may be, but it is all we have, and it is important. Again, those that operate casinos are those who would happily screw you six ways from Sunday if they thought that they can get away with it. The fewer the restrictions they place upon themselves, the lower the risk that they will be revealed as crooked, thus increasing the likelihood of them actually being crooked. As such, any casino that refuses to release data, refuses to be certified, refuses to be as transparent as possible, is practically saying "Yes. We are crooked and you are stupid for playing here."

Anyone who wants to play is thus left with a choice: play or do not play. If you play, you risk being swindled. But if you don't play, you don't play. I want to play. I like it. By avoiding casinos that hide behind terms & conditions, don't release certified and analyzed data, have histories of poor behavior, and rely on crazy bonuses to suck in the suckers, I feel relatively safe.

Are my chosen casinos corrupt? Possibly. All I can say is that I am confident enough that they are not to continue playing.

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