The whole point of gambling games is that they contain an element of chance. However, it is often skewed against the player, which is why some people feel the need to try and readdress the balance. Some tactics just push the boundaries of acceptability, while others are downright despicable. From dealing off the bottom of the deck to loading dice, cheats have perfected methods over centuries.
But now that the gambling industry is moving online, these tried and tested techniques are no longer applicable. The cheats have had to move online too, using their own software and hacks to get one over on the online casinos.
Like in real life, some games are easier to cheat at than others. Online slots have to be hacked and digitally manipulated, which isn’t something that most players have the knowledge to do. However, games that have human players are simpler to control, and cases of blackjack and poker cheating are more common than casinos would like to admit.
One old-school method which still works online is collusion. Multi-player collusion involves two or more people playing at the same table and sharing information with each other. While this used to have to be done covertly in casinos, using code words and micro-gestures, the digital age has made it much easier. Screensharing, video calls, or even having multiple people logging on from the same room, all make it possible to talk and share information about what cards you have and what plays you should make. This type of cheating is also known as gnoming.
Colluding gives players an unfair advantage because it gives them a greater knowledge of the cards in play than the other players around the table. This can make it easier to see through bluffs and predict which cards will be dealt next. Online casinos have also given birth to a new form of cheating – self-collusion. This involves the same player playing with multiple accounts at the same time.
Another sign of collusion is chip dumping. This is where one player intentionally loses to another, as a way of transferring money. In competitive play this can mean that one player is essentially playing with twice the bankroll of the other players, giving them a distinct advantage. Chip dumping is also a common form of money laundering since gambling winnings are considered legal income. One player deposits money made from illegal means and loses it to another, who is now in possession of legal winnings.
Online casinos deal with collusion in much the same way as land-based casinos: security software is used to observe and track the behavior of players. The sort of things that set off red flags are:
- The same players always at the same table
- Unusual betting patterns
- Illogical play, such as folding pocket kings when pocket aces are in play, but that information could not have been known to the folding player.
This behavior is then reviewed by fraud teams who can investigate further, using digital records to see what hands were played.
One of the greyer areas of cheating involves the many bonuses which online casinos offer. Often casinos will offer to match a percentage of your deposit in bonus chips. While these are often non-cashable, if you use the money wisely you can turn it into a profit. Nothing wrong with that so far. The issue comes when you have bonuses that can be withdrawn after a certain number of bets have been wagered.
If you play these bets solely against a friend, you can both end up just losing a few hundred hands of poker and walking away with 100% of your bonus, as well as the value of all your bets. Again, casinos are aware of these strategies and are always on the lookout for colluding behavior, so it’s unlikely that anyone attempting bonus fraud will get away with it.
No matter how sophisticated and modern the software is, with anything digital there is always a small risk of hackers being able to infiltrate the system and manipulate it to their advantage. Whether this is awarding themselves credit, tweaking the probability of winning a game, or gaining illegal access to other people’s accounts, being caught hacking carries some serious penalties as it is against the law.
To help safeguard their customers, online casinos invest in security measures like end-to-end encryption. By encrypting data from both the sending and receiving end, even if it is intercepted, hackers have no way of accessing it without the encryption key. This ensures that customer’s bank details and personal details are always kept safe. Online casinos also have to abide by strict security regulations in order to gain a license to operate in the UK. These measures should give customers the confidence that they can use these sites safely.
Online casinos have many different security systems in place to make sure that players aren’t able to cheat their games. With a combination of detection software, encryption software, and highly trained anti-fraud teams, they have their bases covered. Keeping cheats at bay should be easier than in land-based casinos because of the digital nature of the games – full records of every hand and transaction are kept and can be analyzed for anomalies.