To maintain their integrity and fulfill often stringent licensing conditions, online casinos do their utmost to assure players their products are fair and safe. Licensed casinos are required to ensure customers’ personal information and payment details are kept safe, and that all games use algorithms that ensure completely fair and random game results.
Regulators meticulously ensure these requirements are met before granting a license, and when it comes to game fairness, they work with selected testing companies. In fact, each game a casino offers must be approved by an accredited test house before it is made readily available to customers. With that being said, most players do not know much about testing companies and how they work. In this article, we will cover what it actually is these companies test and how they do it. We will also discuss why game testing is so important, what additional services testing companies offer and reveal the names of the industry's most reputed online casino software companies.
There are several accredited testing companies that assist with online casinos and the numbers vary depending on which jurisdiction the casino operates in, and the licenses it has to obtain.
In the UK for example, there are currently nine accredited testing companies helping the UKGC certify licensees are offering fair games. In other words, these testing companies play an essential role in ensuring UK casinos are fair and safe.
To better understand what testing companies do, you first must understand what defines a fair game result. To put it simply, a fair game result means that the outcome of a game round is not predetermined, but entirely random.
To assure a fair game result on every round, game developers use something called RNG (Random Number Generators). These generators are essentially algorithms that ensure each spin or hand has a completely randomised outcome.
Casino games also have an in-built RTP (Return to Player) which ensures the house gets a small margin of the stakes. If a game has an RTP of 97%, for instance, it means 3% is the casino’s profit.
The remaining 97% of placed stakes are distributed as wins amongst the players. Therefore, RNG engines and RTP percentages are the two most critical things for a test house to examine and verify.
In a nutshell, testing companies ensure RNG engines are working as they should and that RTP percentages are accurate and up to date.
By conducting extensive and elaborate tests, these companies verify that game results in a particular game are, in fact, completely random. They will also monitor an incredibly vast amount of spins or hands to verify that the RTP percentages given by the game developer or casino are accurate. They will then publish these figures in regular reports for the sake of transparency and customers' peace of mind. You usually access these reports by clicking on the company's logo, which you will typically find in the casino’s footer.
Apart from these essential tests, many testing companies offer additional services. It's not uncommon for these companies to provide consultancy and management services which help operators overcome the many challenges associated with multijurisdictional operations and compliance.
There may be varying conditions from one jurisdiction to another, and it is important for a casino to stay compliant in all jurisdictions in which it operates. For instance, some jurisdictions, such as the UK, have incredibly stringent rules when it comes to Responsible Gambling practices and marketing. If a casino fails to comply with these rules, it might receive hefty fines, or at worst, have its license revoked.
Testing casino games is an elaborate, time-consuming and complex process. If there were no testing companies, there would be no way for players to know whether they have had a fair chance of winning. Simply trusting a casino's game results are fair isn't good enough, and just like in many other businesses, independent third-party auditing is warranted.
There are several approved testing companies working closely with various licensing bodies.
Here is a summary of the most prominent ones:
Established in the UK in 2003, eCOGRA is one of the most respected testing companies in the industry. The eCOGRA seal has become synonymous with fairness and trustworthiness and can be found on hundreds of casino sites.
eCOGRA has been awarded the United Kingdom Accreditation Service's ISO accreditations and is also an approved testing agency in several online gaming jurisdictions. Currently, the agency is accredited in 27 jurisdictions across the world, and so far, eCOGRA has never had an application for accreditation by a national regulator rejected, suspended or revoked.
TST (Technical Systems Testing) has been around since 1993 and is one of the oldest testing labs in the world. The company has offices all over the world, including Manilla, Macau Vancouver and London. TST offers its services to both online and land-based operators and has been part of GLI since 2010.
Launched in 2004, iTech Labs is a world-leading testing and certification agency based in Australia. And just like with eCOGRA, you can find iTech Labs’ seal of approval on hundreds of reputed casino sites.
As a leading testing house, iTech Labs offers its services in gambling jurisdictions across the world, including Australia, Asia, South America, Canada and several European jurisdictions.
Apart from the mandatory testing of RNG and RTP numbers, iTech Labs offers several quality assurance services, such as functionality testing, multilingual testing and integration testing.
Having been involved in the gambling industry since the early 1990s, Gaming Associates (GA) is a testing house with vast and well-documented experience.
The agency is an internationally recognised Accredited Testing Facility (ATF) and offers a full range of services to both land-based and online gambling companies. The company’s services are not limited to sheer RTP and RNG analysis, but also include cybersecurity services and platform and integration testing.
Gaming Associates currently audits gambling operations in several European jurisdictions, the US, South America, Asia and Australia.
GLI is an American testing agency, established in 1989. Since its inception, the company has certified more than 1.7 million items and carried out tests in more than 480 jurisdictions.
The company started by obtaining a machine-testing contract with the state of South Dakota to oversee the implementation of the US' first organised video lottery system. In the following decade, the agency expanded into the US casino business and opened a testing laboratory in Australia. The same year, the company also expanded into several other US states, including New Jersey.
In the late 90s, GLI set up a fourth international testing lab in The Netherlands, and a decade later, GLI expanded its operations even further as it set up laboratories in several US states and European countries.
The company covered a critical milestone when it received full accreditation by the UKGC in 2008. Since then, GLI has continued to grow at a relentless pace and cemented itself as one of the world's leading testing companies.
With more than 38 years of experience, BMM Testlabs is one of the oldest testing agencies in the industry.
This testing house was established in 1981, and today, the company has 14 offices in 13 different countries. BMM Testlabs offers testing as well as regulatory consultancy and field services to gambling companies.
BMM Testlabs is recognised in more than 400 jurisdictions and offers its services to gambling companies operating in all verticals. With a comprehensive list of services, the company provides services tailored to the various needs of both the land-based and online gambling industries.
When it comes to online operations, BMM splits its testing into two stages – Pre-compliance and Ongoing Live Operations. The latter comprises quarterly audits, compliance reviews and support services. At the Pre-compliance stage, the company carries out RNG algorithm implementation and tests a wide range of functionalities which are required for a casino site to go live.
Expleo is a group of companies specialising in 'integrated engineering, quality services and management consulting for digital transformation'.
Apart from the gambling industries, this agency deals with several other sectors such as aerospace and defence, automotive and transportation, banking, financial services and insurance.
In the gaming sector, Expleo was formerly known as SQS, and the company has been offering quality assurance and testing services to game developers and operators for more than a decade.
Trisigma is a Dutch test house, providing its services to both land-based and online gambling operations.
Founded in The Netherlands in 2010, the company opened a testing land in Spain in 2018, to support South European regulators as well.
Trisigma holds ISO accreditation and performs a wide variety of testing, such as RTP and math analysis, performance testing and simulation analysis. The company focuses on the European market and is recognised in 16 European jurisdictions so far.
An internationally recognised testing facility with ISO accreditations, offering its services to land-based and interactive gambling, wagering and e-commerce industries.
When it comes to online gambling, QALab carries out field data analysis, as well as RTP and RNG testing. The company also has a dedicated quality assurance department and offers compliance consulting and support.
The Slovenian Institute of Quality and Metrology (SIQ) is an independent testing agency offering its services in a wide range of fields.
The company has a history dating back more than 50 years and initially started out in metrology.
Since then, SIQ has applied its experience in various other fields, and today, the company has a subdivision solely dedicated to gaming. SIQ is recognised in more than 70 jurisdictions in Asia, Europe and North and Latin America.
Quinel has been around for almost a decade and has laboratories in Malta, Italy, UK and Argentina. The company holds international accreditations and focuses on online gaming and security, as well as land-based operations.
In the online domain, Quinel tests various aspects such as game mathematics, multi-jurisdiction compliance, as well as the standard RTP and RNG tests. The company is recognised in 26 jurisdictions across the world.
Betica is a software testing company based in the Philippines. The company provides key compliance services to both small and large international operators, and services include audits, pre-certification, and mathematical analysis. The agency is the first of its kind in the Philippines and holds international ISO accreditation.