Provably Fair Gambling: Explained
It’s happened to nearly all of us, and all the more if you have siblings.
Von Christoph Miklos am 06.10.2021 - 13:30 Uhr - Quelle: E-Mail




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It’s happened to nearly all of us, and all the more if you have siblings.
Someone has the great idea to play a board game, and everyone is excited for the chance to enjoy each other's company, build camaraderie, and take part in a contest of skill and chance. That is until someone starts to cheat.
This can take many forms. For instance, the person who is teaching the game to newer players suddenly “remembers” additional rules that just happen to always benefit them. Or maybe a player constantly moves their board piece one or two spaces more than the dice have allowed. Most devious of all is the player who stashes extra Monopoly money before they even suggest the group plays, demonstrating a level of evil genius that will probably serve them well as a Bond villain. Or a lawyer.
One thing is certain, regardless of what type of cheating takes place: Once you know the game is unfair, the game is no longer fun. And what is the point of playing at all if, instead of friendly competition, there is mistrust and uncertainty? And with all types of cheating, the mistrust never goes away, and the games are ruined permanently.
The Problem: Trust Issues
Online casinos have followed a similar path in the last decade or so. Physical casinos, especially those in well-regulated countries, carry with them a certain amount of trust that they will play fairly—if only because the financial consequences would be heavy if they were caught. However, online casinos can originate from any number of “regulation-light” countries. Some legitimate online casinos do this in order to reduce their costs and offer more to the players. Others do this in order to scam their customers. And with most websites having the look and feel of a legitimate casino, it can be hard to tell them apart. This is incredibly frustrating to many players who don’t have access to casinos where they live and want the excitement of gaming. While online casinos have been on the rise, a handful of very large casino scams may have caused permanent damage to the industry.
Thankfully, blockchain technology might have solved one of the biggest problems with online casinos: having to trust. Through the technique of “provably fair” gaming, certain crypto gaming sites aren’t trying to rebuild trust; rather, they are removing the need for trust at all.
The Solution: Remove the Need for Trust
It may sound counterintuitive, but the best way to ensure trust isn’t broken is to take trust out of the equation. Not in the sense that you mistrust the other party, but in the sense that there isn’t a place for trust or mistrust. Let me explain.
If you are able to verify every move made by your gaming opponent after the fact, and there is no way for them to cheat, then trust becomes irrelevant. Instead of the adage “Trust, but Verify”, you verify so there is no need for trust. This is provably fair gaming.
Provably Fair Gaming: Intuitive Example
Before we dig into the technical description, let’s start with a hypothetical example. Say you are at a physical casino. You are about to play Blackjack, but the rules here are slightly different. There is a deck of cards on the table. The dealer shuffles the deck a certain number of times. Then each player decides a number, and the deck is shuffled that many more times. The play begins. At each point, you take a special X-ray of the deck, which will allow you to view (after the game) the order of the cards during each turn. After each turn, you develop the X-ray photo, and after the game is over you are given a special set of glasses that allow you to see the photos, to ensure that the deck was played correctly throughout the game. You don’t have to trust the dealer or other players, because you are able to confirm fairness because of the untampered evidence you gathered during the game. This is provably fair gaming in principle, but thankfully blockchain makes it much easier and makes it possible from across the world.
Provably Fair Gaming: Technical Example
Now we can use the previous example and add some technical terms.
1. In our Blackjack example, the site creates what is called a seed number. This is used to generate random outcomes. In some ways, this is effectively shuffling the deck. 2. The site then hashes or converts into a cryptographic code, the seed number. This is sent to the player, who adds their own seed number (equivalent to further shuffling the deck). 3. The combination of seeds are fed through a certified random number generation algorithm, which generates the plays of the game. 4. At each play, the result is captured so that, after the game, the site and the players can use the seeds to calculate the hash function using special programs. 5. The decrypted information then allows players to see the chain of evidence from initial seeds to randomized numbers, to how the deck of cards stayed consistent throughout the game.
The key to this process working is blockchain. The sensitive information is encrypted during the game so that players can’t use it to their advantage, but it is placed on the blockchain so that players can access it later and know for certain that the information wasn’t tampered with. This is because of blockchain’s ability to hold data immutable. In other words, the data simply cannot be changed without everyone being able to tell immediately. This creates pure transparency without a third party that must be trusted for the process to work. The third party is the blockchain, and since the entire process is public, the data cannot be secretly changed. Provably fair gaming is, quite simply, a revolutionary innovation.
What it All Means
Provably Fair gambling may have saved the online casino by removing the need for trust. While veterans of the blockchain gaming industry, such as Fortunejack, have been honing this process for several years, the industry as a whole is starting to take notice. Without the accountability of a physical casino, online gaming sites need to find a way to reassure their players that what they see is what they get; no surprises, nothing hidden, full transparency, and a fair chance at winning. By utilizing provably fair gaming the fun factor can skyrocket without the fear of cheating.
If only family game night could benefit from provably fair gaming. For now, we will have our fun at the blockchain-protected tables.
Christoph Miklos ist nicht nur der „Papa“ von Game-/Hardwarezoom, sondern seit 1998 Technik- und Spiele-Journalist. In seiner Freizeit liest er DC-Comics (BATMAN!), spielt leidenschaftlich gerne World of Warcraft und schaut gerne Star Trek Serien.

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