How Do Online Casinos Work? The Software Behind Online Casinos, Explained

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An online casino is the sum of many parts. It starts with a platform, and on that platform, payment providers, game providers, and more work harmoniously to deliver an online casino experience. Understanding how these sites and apps work can help you identify new and exciting opportunities – or, at the very least, scratch the itch of your curiosity.

For more tips, insights, and guides, check out our online casino school for everything you need to succeed.

Online Casino Structure

The structure of online casinos starts with a base platform and builds upon it. To introduce you to how everything comes together, we’ll cover the layers of an online casino.

1

Platform Provider

To start, an online casino will either create its own platform or hire a platform provider. If the online casino does decide to create a platform in-house, then it would be considered its own platform provider. The platform provider essentially creates the technical infrastructure for the online casino to run, quite literally a platform on which to build. This consists of the website and/or app itself and the functionality, including navigation, registration and account management, and cashier, among other things. As an example, the platform provider for BetMGM Casino is Playtech.

It’s worth noting that online casinos generally use the same platform for their websites and mobile apps. However, many mobile apps don’t offer all of the features and games that players can find on the website. BetMGM Casino is an exception. You’ll find the same features on its app and website.

2

Brand or Skin

Once a platform provider has been chosen and a platform has been built, the next step is the branding or “skin” of the online casino. In the previous example, Playtech is the platform provider, and BetMGM Casino is the skin. Some online casinos, such as Bally Casino and Virgin Casino in New Jersey, are separate “skins” that utilize the same platform.

3

Payment Provider

The next layer is payment providers. These third-party payment providers are integrated into the platform to allow for deposits and withdrawals. Common payment providers you’ll find include PayPal casinos, eCheck casinos, and PlayPlus Casinos, among many others.

4

Games and Game Studios

Once the platform, skin, and payment providers have been established, it’s time to add the main event—games. Many studios produce online casino games. These include names you probably know from the land-based casino industry and names that may be less familiar. Game providers such as IGT, NetEnt, High 5, and Light & Wonder stand out as some of the most common. It’s at this point that an online casino chooses which games it would like to integrate into its platform. Relationships with game studios are important, as they may lead to deals that include exclusivity rights and early releases.

How Online Casino Games Work

Random Number Generator (RNG)

At legal online casinos, random number generators (also known as RNG) serve as the backbone of all games. This requirement is strictly enforced by regulating bodies to ensure that all game outcomes are random and fair. Put simply, an RNG is exactly what it sounds like. Every time a spin is made on a slot or a hand is dealt on a table game, random numbers are automatically generated on the backend to establish the result. This guarantees that games at legal online casinos aren’t rigged.

RNG in Retail Casinos

Online casinos aren’t the only place you’ll find RNG. You can also find random number generators at retail casinos in games such as video poker, video slots, and electronic table games. These work with the same idea in mind—generate random numbers that create random and fair results.

Progressive Jackpots

Progressive jackpots offer some of the largest potential wins in the online casino world. They begin with a certain “seed” (the minimum amount contributed by the online casino). The progressive jackpot then grows by a certain amount with every spin by every player until it is eventually won. These lucrative yet elusive progressive jackpots can grow up to over $1 million.

Digital Vs. Physical Table Games

Now that you’ve learned more about the inner workings of online casino games, you may be wondering what the difference is between digital table games and real table games. Put simply, not much. By utilizing RNG, they are essentially the same in terms of outcomes. Looking in more detail, the biggest difference you’ll find is that digital table games have you playing on your own instead of with other players (except for live dealer games), and digital table games that feature cards use an automatic shuffler between hands. That being said, many casinos on the Vegas Strip have also begun using automatic shufflers on their real table games, further increasing the similarities between digital and retail table games.

How Do Live Dealer Games Work?

As mentioned in the previous section, live dealer games are a bit different from anything else you’d find at an online casino. Essentially, you’ll see a real table and a real dealer being live-streamed to you and your fellow online players (who can communicate via chat). Live dealer games are best for players looking to capture the land-based retail casino experience online. What happens on the table automatically gets applied to the digital game via scanners and camera technology, making it almost as if you were there in person.

The most common live dealer game provider is Aristocrat Gaming, which offers many options—from typical table games such as blackjack and roulette all the way to prize wheels such as Dream Catcher.

Get the Most Out of Online Casino Software

Reliable Connection

Online casino software uses constant data transfer to keep you in the game. For that reason, a strong and reliable internet connection is vital to help you make the most of your experience. Take steps to ensure your connection is solid, such as sitting near your Wi-Fi router if your signal is low strength.

Update Your Software

As with anything on computers and mobile devices, making sure you have the latest updates is vitally important. Always make sure that your operating system, whether it be Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android, is up to date. Along with that, ensure that your casino app is updated and that you have the latest geolocation software if you’re playing on a desktop. It may also help, in the case of any issues, to clear your cookies and cache semi-frequently to ensure the website is displaying its latest version.

App Rating

While many casino app ratings may be a bit skewed by people experiencing unrelated issues, you can still get a good idea of the reputation of casino apps by looking at the stars. For example, it’s likely that an app with a 1.2-star rating will end up being buggier, clunkier, or generally harder to use than an app with a 4.8-star rating.

Legal, Licensed, and Regulated

Always ensure that you’re playing on legal, licensed, and regulated online casinos. Illegal online casinos can’t back up a guarantee of protecting your personal and financial information, because they’re under almost no oversight or regulations. As we mentioned earlier, offshore casinos may even rig their games by failing to utilize true RNG. And, even if you do win, there’s no guarantee that they’ll allow you to withdraw your money.

Biggest Online Casino Platform Providers

While visiting different online casino brands/skins, you may notice a lot of similarities. The truth is that many online casinos utilize the same platform providers.

For instance, Playtech is the base platform for both BetMGM Casino and Bet365. Elsewhere, the Kambi platform proves popular; Unibet and BetRivers both use it. GAN is another big online casino platform provider, found on sites like FanDuel, Parx, and Betfair.

The bottom line is that you may see some similarities among online casinos due to a shared platform, but every experience will be different thanks to the skin, game providers, and more.

What’s Next?

Now that you know how online casino software works, you may be interested in exploring what we believe are the best options available to US players.

About the Author

Craig Corbeels

Craig Corbeels

Craig Corbeels is a lead writer and gambling expert for Bonus.com. He has been involved in the online gambling industry since 2013. Previously, he worked for Gamesys and Bally's Interactive as a copywriter and social media strategist for multiple North American online casinos.
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