Trust but Verify: Third-Party Audits in RTP Transparency

Daniel White

Last updated 7.12.2023

Trust but Verify: Third-Party Audits in RTP Transparency

Third-party audits are a cornerstone of ensuring RTP (Return to Player) transparency in online casinos.

They offer a core mechanism for verifying that casino games are operated fairly and according to the advertised standards.

This aspect is especially important in a landscape where thousands of online casinos operate, with varying degrees of trustworthiness. These independent organizations audit online casinos to protect consumers against unfair practices.

Their auditing process involves testing the gaming software and random number generator (RNG) algorithms to ensure that the outcomes of games are genuinely random and fair.

Player Guide to Verifying RTP Claims

Verification StepDescriptionTools/Icons to Look ForExpected Outcome
Locate RTP InformationCheck the game’s settings or information pages for RTP. This figure is the percentage of wagered money expected to be paid back to players over an extended period.Help, info pages, question mark icons, paytable buttons.Understand the potential return from the game.
Review Audit CertificationsLook for seals or certifications from reputable auditing firms like eCOGRA, iTech Labs, or TST on the casino’s website.eCOGRA seals, iTech Labs logo, TST certification.Assurance of fair play and compliance with RTP claims.
Check Casino Website for Payout PercentagesOnline casinos are required to list the payout percentage of all their games. Visit the casino’s website for this information.Payout percentage listings on the casino website.Knowledge of how much each game is expected to return to the player.
Verify License and Regulation ComplianceEnsure the casino is licensed and regulated by a recognized authority. Licensed casinos undergo annual audits and are obligated to match actual RTP with theoretical RTP.Licensing and regulation information on the casino website.Confidence in the casino’s adherence to legal and operational standards.
Access Monthly Audit ReportsMonthly audit reports are often published on the casino’s website, providing transparency on transaction and game history.Monthly audit report links on the casino website.Detailed insight into historical game outcomes, bets, and winnings.

This table offers players a comprehensive guide on how to independently verify RTP claims and understand their significance in online casinos. It helps players identify trustworthy games and casinos, ensuring a fair and secure gaming experience.

Specifically, they focus on verifying that the RTP rates provided by the casino match those programmed by the game’s developers​.

In the past, some online casino sites employed pirated software from reputable providers, with these malpractices only coming to light through licensing and auditing processes.

Third-Party Auditors and Their Impact

Auditor Name: eCOGRA

  • Services Provided: Independent regulatory and testing body focusing on player protection and responsible operator conduct. eCOGRA evaluates gambling websites and software, conducts compliance reviews, tests RNGs, and issues ISO 27001 Certification for information security management.
  • Number of Casinos Audited: Hundreds of online casinos and gaming software providers globally.
  • Notable Findings: Compliance with eGAP framework, ensuring integrity, confidentiality, and availability in business operations. eCOGRA ensures fair gaming, protects vulnerable players, accurate customer payments, and safeguards customer information.
  • Impact on Casino Operations: Increases player trust, combats fraudulent behavior in online gambling, and improves systems and processes for operators. Certification assists in regulatory compliance and player confidence in fair gaming.

Auditor Name: iTech Labs

  • Services Provided: Certification and testing for online casino games, RNG testing and certification, RTP/RNG monthly audits, game rules evaluation, and platform security testing.
  • Number of Casinos Audited: Over 100 online casino sites worldwide, including prominent markets like Australia, Europe, and Asia.
  • Notable Findings: Verification of the randomness and unpredictability of casino games, evaluation of RTP calculations, and game functionalities. Ensures the security of player accounts and banking details.
  • Impact on Casino Operations: Provides a seal of fairness on the website, certifying the casino as fair. iTech Labs’ certification demonstrates to players that the site offers a fair gaming experience, thus building trust and ensuring player protection from exploitation by casino operators.

Auditor Name: TST (Technical Systems Testing)

  • Services Provided: (Referenced from previous knowledge) Comprehensive testing of online casino games, including RNG evaluation, RTP analysis, and game outcome randomness. TST also ensures compliance with international gaming standards and regulations.
  • Number of Casinos Audited: Numerous casinos and gaming software providers globally.
  • Notable Findings: Assurance of fair game outcomes and adherence to advertised RTP rates. TST’s audits often reveal the need for improvements in game fairness and compliance with regulatory requirements.
  • Impact on Casino Operations: Enhances the credibility and reputation of online casinos. TST’s certification is seen as a mark of fairness and reliability, attracting more players and helping casinos maintain regulatory compliance.

Today, auditing serves as a critical safeguard against such unethical practices, enhancing player safety. Players can often verify the presence of such audits by checking for auditor names like eCOGRA, iTech Labs, or others at the bottom of a casino’s homepage.

Fair Gaming

Auditing entities like eCOGRA play a particularly significant role. They oversee aspects like fair gaming, player protection, and responsible operator conduct.

Their examination encompasses testing for prompt payments, safe storage of information, honest advertising, and ensuring that games operate as intended, among other factors.

For a comprehensive RTP audit, firms like eCOGRA undertake data monitoring, output measurements, and testing of game RTP and RNG. This process verifies that a game generates its theoretical rate of RTP and compares it with actual game results to ensure fairness.

RTP Audit Planning and Preparing

The methodology includes planning and preparing months in advance, monitoring policies and procedures, and conducting substantive testing. The outcomes of these audits are critical, as they either award approval and a seal of legitimacy to the casino or deny it based on the findings, which are then published​​.

Third-party audits are indispensable for ensuring RTP accuracy and transparency in online casinos. They not only verify the fairness and randomness of game outcomes but also instill confidence among players that the casino games they engage in are operated ethically and in compliance with advertised standards and legal protocols.

RTP in Online Casinos

Return to Player (RTP) is a core metric in online casinos, representing the percentage of wagered money that a slot machine or casino game is statistically expected to pay back to players over time.

It is calculated by dividing the total amount returned to players by the total amount wagered, then multiplying by 100. For example, a game with a 95% RTP would, on average, return $95 for every $100 wagered. RTP is essentially the inverse of the house edge, the casino’s profit margin over the player.

RTP in Online Casinos

Significance of RTP for Players

RTP provides an estimate of a game’s fairness and the potential returns a player can expect.

It’s significant for players as it helps in understanding game fairness and aids in making informed decisions about which games to play. Higher RTP rates often indicate better odds for the player, while a lower RTP signifies a higher house edge.

Calculation and Display of RTP in Online Casinos

RTP rates can vary widely among different casino games:

  • Online slots typically range from 92% to 98% RTP.
  • Video poker games range from 95% to 99.5%.
  • Blackjack can range between 99% and 99.6% when using a basic strategy.
  • European Roulette typically has an RTP of 97.3%, while American Roulette is slightly lower at 94.74%.
  • In Baccarat, RTP depends on the bet placed, with the banker bet typically around 98.94% and the tie bet significantly lower at around 85%.

Attributes of RTP

Factors influencing a game’s RTP include game design and rules, bet size, betting strategies, variance and volatility, and the presence of progressive jackpots.

These factors make RTP a dynamic measure, reflecting the statistical average over an extended period and a large number of plays.

It is important to note that RTP is not a guarantee for individual gaming sessions. In the short term, a player’s actual return can vary significantly from the game’s RTP. Despite high RTP, luck and randomness still play a significant role in determining each game’s outcome.

RTP is a core consideration in online casinos, providing players with an estimate of game fairness and potential returns.

Understanding Third-Party Audits

Third-party audits in the online casino industry are regulated, independent assessments carried out by specialized firms.

These assessments are designed to verify the accuracy of a casino’s RTP claims, ensuring not only their accuracy but also their compliance with regulatory standards.

Methods and Nature of Third-Party Audits

Third-party audits involve various methods, each tailored to address specific aspects of online casino operations. Key areas of focus include:

  • Checking Random Number Generators (RNGs): RNGs are essential for ensuring that game outcomes are random and fair. Auditors check RNGs to ensure their integrity and lack of bias. The goal is to confirm that game outcomes are left to chance, without any predictable patterns or possibilities for manipulation.
  • Verifying Payment Method Safety: Auditors evaluate the safety of deposit and withdrawal systems. This includes ensuring the protection of player information and financial details, and verifying that player funds are secure and can be recovered if the operator closes down.
  • Testing Payout Percentages: Auditors verify the accuracy of published payout percentages, using actual game outcomes. This includes checking that slot machine RTPs are as advertised, and ensuring that these rates are based on fair games.
  • Security Audits: These audits focus on the overall security measures implemented by casinos. This includes assessing compliance with security protocols established by licensing authorities, covering software, payment methods, and customer funds protection.

Reputable Third-Party Auditors and Their Criteria

Reputable third-party auditors, such as eCOGRA, iTech Labs, TST (Technical Systems Testing), Gaming Laboratories International (GLI), and others, use stringent assessment criteria. Their methodology includes:

  • Months of Preparation and Planning: Before undertaking a thorough review, auditors spend considerable time planning and preparing. This involves assessing the casino or game developer’s policies and procedures, followed by detailed testing.
  • Regular Financial Checks: Auditors ensure that online casinos have sufficient funds to cover all player deposits, which is a requirement for maintaining an online gambling license.
  • Accuracy Verification: They verify that the advertised payout percentages are accurate, considering factors like the casino house edge and standard deviation.
  • RNG Testing: Regular audits of RNGs are conducted to guarantee their correct functioning and protection from unauthorized interference, ensuring game outcomes are random and fair.

Contributions to Audit Credibility

The credibility of third-party audits is bolstered by several key characteristics:

  • Independence: Auditors are not affiliated with the casinos they evaluate, ensuring unbiased assessments.
  • Rigorous Methodology: The thorough and systematic approach to auditing ensures comprehensive coverage of all critical areas, from game fairness to financial security.
  • Impartiality: The auditors’ neutral stance guarantees that their findings and conclusions are based solely on factual data and compliance with established standards.

Third-party audits are indispensable in the online casino industry, providing a frontline service that ensures the accuracy of RTP claims, the integrity of gaming operations, and the overall trustworthiness and safety of online gambling platforms.

The Importance of Third-Party RTP Audits

Third-party RTP audits are processes conducted by external organizations to ensure the integrity and accuracy of the RTP (Return to Player) statistics advertised by online casinos.

These audits are critical in verifying that the games offered by the casinos are fair and operate as promised.

Building Player Trust and Confidence

Third-party RTP audits are fundamental in building trust and confidence among players in the online gambling sector. These audits demonstrate a gambling website’s commitment to fair play and trustworthiness.

When casinos subject themselves to such audits and display their results, often through seals or certificates of approval, they signal to players that their gaming experience will be fair and transparent.

This assurance helps in attracting new players and retaining existing ones, fostering a loyal customer base that trusts the casino’s operations.

Contributing to Safe and Responsible Gambling

These audits are imperative for promoting safe and responsible gambling. By ensuring that online casinos comply with industry standards and regulations, third-party audits protect players’ interests.

They assess key aspects such as player protection, responsible gambling practices, and data security.

This comprehensive evaluation process helps in identifying and weeding out unscrupulous operators, thus supporting the development of a responsible and trustworthy online gambling industry.

Emphasizing Transparency, Accountability, and Trustworthiness

The terms “transparency,” “accountability,” and “trustworthiness” are at the core of third-party RTP audits’ significance. These audits provide a transparent view of the casino’s operations, particularly in terms of payout percentages and game fairness.

They ensure that the odds of winning are clearly communicated and that the games are not unfairly skewed in favor of the house. This level of transparency fosters a sense of fairness and reassures players that they are participating in games where their chances of winning are genuine and unmanipulated.

Third-party audits serve as a deterrent against fraud and cheating, ensuring that the financial transactions on the site are legitimate and that winnings are paid out promptly and accurately.

By holding gambling operators accountable, these audits significantly reduce the likelihood of fraudulent activities, upholding the trustworthiness of the online gambling industry.

Third-party RTP audits are essential in ensuring that online casinos operate fairly, transparently, and responsibly. They not only enhance player trust and confidence but also contribute significantly to the overall safety and integrity of the online gambling industry.

Auditing Casinos

Examining case studies of online casinos that have undergone third-party RTP audits reveals the impact of these audits on their operations, compliance, and improvements. This analysis employs “assess,” “confirm,” and “demonstrate” to articulate the thoroughness and results of these audits.

Specific Casinos and Impact of Audits

  • eCOGRA Audits: eCOGRA, one of the most recognized testing labs, has audited over 100 casino sites, including industry giants like NetEnt and Microgaming. They specialize in testing and certifying online gaming software and systems independently of the developer or casino. Their rigorous testing ensures that the games meet licensing requirements and are fair and responsible according to their ‘eGAP’ framework.
  • Audit Outcomes: The results of these audits often include verifying that a game generates its theoretical rate of RTP and comparing it with actual game results. eCOGRA’s process involves months of planning and preparation, followed by monitoring of policies and procedures and substantive testing. Casinos that meet the criteria are awarded approval and a seal, which is displayed on their websites.

Analysis of Audit Results

  • iTech Labs Audits: iTech Labs has been providing testing and certification services since 2004 for various games and online gaming platforms. Their methodology includes RNG testing and certification, monthly RTP/RNG audits, games certification, annual and security audits, and platform testing/certification. This comprehensive approach ensures that games operate exactly as intended and that online casinos keep up with compliance standards.
  • Transparency and Fairness: Players can directly check audited rates of RTP and other relevant details by clicking on the iTech Labs logo on casino websites. This transparency and fairness in online gaming are essential outcomes of these third-party audits.

Third-party RTP audits conducted by reputable firms like eCOGRA and iTech Labs play a significant role in ensuring the integrity and fairness of online casinos.

They assess, confirm, and demonstrate the compliance of these casinos with industry standards, thereby enhancing their credibility and trustworthiness in the eyes of players and regulators.

How Players Can Verify RTP Claims

Players can independently verify RTP audit certifications and understand their significance by investigating specific elements provided by online casinos.

These certifications are key in ensuring the transparency, authentication, and verification of the casino’s adherence to fair play standards.

What to Look for in RTP Audit Certifications

Players should look for visible signs of RTP audit certifications when choosing an online casino. Key indicators include:

  • Seals of Approval: Look for seals or certifications from reputable auditing firms like eCOGRA on the casino’s website. These seals indicate that the casino has been audited and found compliant with fair play standards.
  • Published RTP Rates: Casinos must specify the RTP of a game within its settings. This information is typically found in the help or information pages for the slot, often marked by question mark icons, info symbols, help, settings, and paytable buttons.
  • License and Regulation Compliance: Ensure that the casino is licensed and regulated by a recognized authority. Licensed casinos are subject to annual audits, and their actual RTP must match the theoretical RTP published.

Accessing Specific RTP Information and Audit Results

Players can access RTP information and audit results through:

  • Casino Websites: Monthly audit reports are usually published on the casino’s website, providing transparency. These reports often include transaction and game history, historical information on bets, game start times, amounts won, and detailed game results.
  • Direct Links to Auditors: Players can click on logos of auditing firms like iTech Labs on casino or software developer sites to directly check audited rates of RTP, creating an additional layer of transparency and fairness in online gaming.
  • External Audit Firm Information: It’s important to know which third-party casino auditing firm is responsible for external auditing of the preferred site. Players should avoid casinos that lack audits by reputable firms.

Players can verify RTP claims by looking for audit certifications, checking published RTP rates, and accessing detailed audit reports.

By doing so, players can ensure they engage with transparent, authenticated, and verified online gaming platforms, thereby enhancing their gaming experience and safety.

Third-Party RTP Audits in Online Casinos

Third-party RTP audits are a cornerstone of transparency and trust in the online casino industry.

They’re key to ensuring that the Return to Player (RTP) percentages advertised by casinos accurately reflect the actual gaming experience. These audits verify the integrity of game outcomes, providing players with a reliable measure of a game’s fairness.

The importance of third-party audits in the online casino sector cannot be overstated. They are instrumental in ensuring fair play and maintaining the overall integrity of the industry.

By rigorously testing and validating the RTP claims of online casinos, these audits protect the interests of players and uphold the reputation of the industry.

They foster a secure and trustworthy environment, enhancing the continued growth and sustainability of online gambling platforms.

Daniel White

Daniel White, based in London, UK, serves as the dynamic Editor-in-Chief at Best-RTPCasinos.com. With a sharp eye for detail and a deep understanding of the online casino industry, Daniel specializes in RTP analytics and player-focused content. His leadership has transformed the site into a go-to resource for players seeking the most rewarding online gaming experiences in Europe and beyond.