Technology has changed the way almost every industry operates. Musicians no longer have to sell their products in physical format. Instead, fans can stream as many of their songs as often as they like for a small monthly fee.
Retailers operate very differently in the internet age too. They can serve customers from the other side of the planet, shipping products directly to them in a matter of days.
Other industries have been born out of the internet. Social media services could not have existed in an era without the World Wide Web. Similarly, the iGaming industry, which lets millions of customers around the world bet on card games, slots, and sports betting, is only able to exist because of the internet and other complementary technologies. But what about online casinos, as well as poker and betting sites? Below you’ll learn about the most crucial and influential technologies that have helped the iGaming industry.
Random Number Generators
It’s no secret that most casino games have what’s known as a “house edge”. This is a small statistical margin in a game’s odds that means when a game is played over a long period of time, the casino keeps more bets than it pays out.
Some players have developed strategies and techniques that can help to reduce this edge, such as card counting in blackjack and roulette strategies like the Martingale and the Fibonacci.
However, aside from this important and legitimate element that allows casinos to pay their staff and other expenses, the games are completely fair. Without the trust between the casino and its players, it would quickly go out of business.
In physical casinos, ensuring the fairness of a game required mechanical techniques. Dice would be weighed, cards would be physically shuffled, and machines inspected to ensure they hadn’t been altered.
Online casinos can’t offer this same physical demonstration of fairness, so they have to deploy a technical solution. For most operators, this involves a “random number generator”.
How RNGs Work?
The digits that random number generators come up with dictate the order in which cards are shuffled or the number that a roulette wheel lands on.
Normal computer software can’t generate truly random numbers as it would always be possible to reverse engineer the code that is used to produce each number, allowing someone to exploit the system.
That’s where random number generators come in. They work by using something other than computer code to generate completely random variances that are then translated into a data stream that a machine can understand.
One of the most advanced techniques is called “quantum RNG” which fires a single photon at a surface that is semi-reflective and measures whether it bounces off or travels through. Other true random number generators use sources like lava lamps, atmospheric noise, and “quantum fluctuations of a vacuum”.
Processing Data From Multiple Sources
Many third-party sites like OddsChecker produce content to help bettors without taking bets themselves. For example, they provide guides like this BetMGM Sportsbook review that can help users decide which bookie is right for them. This type of content is relatively simple to implement as it’s static, so could be handled by an off-the-shelf content management system.
Unlike others though, OddsChecker goes further by comparing the odds from major sportsbooks. This is much more technically demanding and requires proprietary software to pull data feeds from multiple sources.
It’s not totally unheard of, though. In the e-commerce sector, sites like Google Shopping perform a similar task by pulling product feeds from many retailers to allow consumers to compare prices before deciding where to shop.
Many sites in the iGaming industry also show live scores from games in a range of different sports to help their customers follow along while they place bets.
In each instance, huge computing resources are required to do this in real-time and provide fast loading times to customers on the front end. The two main ways to achieve this are for the company to set up its own server farm (a big building full of interconnected computers) or two outsource this to a cloud company like Amazon Web Services.
In reality, many companies are likely to use a combination of both, keeping the most sensitive data in house, and using cloud services to optimize data delivery and “load balance”.
Cryptography and Digital Security
iGaming companies store and process a lot of personal data, including the contact information, payment details, and identification documents of their customers. They need this to provide the services they offer and to meet strict legal requirements designed to prevent money laundering. In pursuit of the latter, they conduct something called “Know Your Customer” (KYC) checks, which often require them to request a passport, identity card, or driving license from their customers.
They also control large sums of money, taking custody of it while a wager is in play and while it’s sat in a player’s bankroll.
For this reason, digital security that protects customer data and prevents unauthorized access is essential. The level of defense that is required is akin to that of a bank or other financial institution, with 256-bit encryption of all connections and data necessary.
Most companies now use two-factor security too, providing protection against brute force attacks, data breaches, phishing attempts, and keyloggers.
Even More Security Measures
Most regulators also require the creation and implementation of a robust data security policy that complies with international standards like ISO 270001. For example, in Great Britain, the Gambling Commission also stipulates that license holders must also have annual audits performed on their IT systems, using the ISO standard as the framework.
Many larger iGaming companies go further still, using penetration testing, a process of having authorized people attempt to gain unauthorized access to their systems and software so that bugs, holes, and flaws can be identified and fixed before someone with bad intentions has the opportunity to exploit them.
In 2018, a number of high-profile iGaming brands were struck by Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, designed to overload their servers and take them offline. This led to them canceling poker tournaments and having to refund customers.
Services like Cloudflare can help iGaming brands (and other digital businesses) from DDoS attacks and keep their services running as their customers would expect by blocking access to bad actors and having powerful infrastructure that’s capable of withstanding the attacks.
The iGaming industry hasn’t just been altered by technology but has been created by it. Without the internet online casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks simply could not exist. While as a player, you may see the mobile apps and video feeds of live games, few realize that these technologies work silently in the background to make it all possible.