If you or someone you know gambles online, the gamble may be bigger than they think. What stops the "house" from fiddling with the cards? Not much.
In a real casino, you are watching the dealer and the House is watching both of you. The rules are know and are followed. Cards are dealt fairly, according to the rules of the game. The fact they are physically present, in front of you, makes it difficult to cheat. None of this is the same online.
With computers dealing the cards, they select what you and the others get. A computer program, written in secret, decides what you get. You put your faith in the website to be honest. You trust them with all your gambling money. Here are two scenarios that would profit the house – after all, they make money when you play. Win or lose, they just want you to keep on playing.
Scenario 1 – The online casino deals out "good" cards more than "bad" cards. Let’s say you’re playing poker. When you get good cards, you expect to win and you start betting more, you feel lucky. If the casino also deals good cards to the other player, you’re not going to win more, you’re just going to feel "close" to winning more and want to keep on playing. The house cheats. The House wins.
Scenario 2 – The online casino deals good cards after bet more. This encourages you to bet and win. You play more. The House wins.
Scenario 3 – The online casino has a secret "super player" category (for friends and people who pay for it) where you get better cards. You win and the house wins.
Scenario 4 – The online casino puts in its own player now and then. Their player gets winning cards and walks away with the money.
Since I’m not an online gambler, I’ll present this as hypothetical. A skeptic could call it a "conspiracy theory". The thing is, business practices that pay off are generally followed until the penalty outweighs the payoff. With online casinos, where’s the penalty? Who is going to do the work to investigate and prosecute such activity? All you’re going to have is anecdotal evidence, people saying one online casino had luckier cards than another.
So you’ve been warned. Other examples of choices in regulated vs. unregulated services:
- banks are regulated and your money and transactions are protected by law. Online payment systems are not banks and you don’t have those same protections.
- credit cards are regulated and you are protected by law against fraud. Debit cards are not credit cards and it is bank policy that decides how much your money is protected against fraud.
- telephones are regulated. With cell phones, the conversations are broadcast through the air where they are essentially unprotected. On the internet, the same privacy laws do not protect you.