The phrase of the week (O.K., year) in the gaming industry is undoubtedly — Electronic Table Games.
It’s amazing how one little virus (not to diminish the impact) can alter the landscape of the casino so tremendously. Over the past 10 years or so, we’ve seen some of these games work their way into some casinos. But I really think it would be hard to say that they have been received warmly by players. I have no doubt that part of this is just because the average player is a bit older and more set in their ways and a bit more of a phobia about electronic games.
But along comes a desire to keep people further apart from one another, potentially remove the cards and the chips off the table for sanitary purposes and suddenly, electronic table games don’t look so bad. There are a variety of existing style of these games. Some just allow a handful of players to sit around the playing area and use gigantic dice for Craps. Others allow for a nearly infinite number of players to sit around a series of large flat screen monitors which show the results of each game type. In some of these cases, players sitting next to each other can be playing different games.
Undoubtedly one of the fears that some players will have is whether they can trust these electronic devices to be as fair as their live counterparts. I have been asked this question for years about video poker machines. I firmly believe that yes, they are as true as using a live deck of cards.
Theoretically, is it possible to rig an electronic deck of cards? Absolutely. Realistically, is it going to happen? Not a chance. First, casinos have no need to rig a game. The games by their design are essentially rigged as they have house advantages. Very few players even achieve the theoretical payback due to poor strategy. Why cheat when you can make a fortune by not cheating?
Second, these are not mob-controlled casinos. These are massive corporations who would be risking billions of dollars if they were ever found cheating players by using non-random decks. It’s simply not worth it.
Third, while it is theoretically possible, it would take multiple people to make it happen (programmers and testers) and it would somehow need to get past the regulators. That is a lot of people who would have to stay quiet about a major scandal. Nowadays, it just is not going to happen.
Next week, I’ll discuss how some of these electronic table games can deal dozens of hands of blackjacks to the players without burning through the shoe after just a couple of hands. It is a novel approach in which you are really playing one-on-one against the dealer and are completely not impacted by what the other players do.
Mathematically, it doesn’t matter anyhow. I know it is frustrating when the guy at third base hits a 14 into a dealer bust card, but this really doesn’t impact how you will do over the long run. With electronic table games, this psychological impact has been eliminated in some versions of the game.