Advantages and Disadvantages of eCOGRA Reports

Published on: April 14, 2010 

Many online casinos carry eCOGRA’s “Safe & Fair” seal. This seal indicates that the online casino is being audited monthly by eCOGRA and that it is a safe and fair place to wager in. For most players the presence of the seal is indication enough and they do not bother to evaluate further. However, clicking on the seal reveals the monthly reports submitted by eCOGRA to the online casino. These are summary reports and do not reveal all the results obtained by eCOGRA. Therefore they do not answer all the questions a player may have. Not many online casinos published the reports of the auditors in public domain. Therefore eCOGRA’s reports can be viewed as better than nothing at all. This article highlights some of the advantages and disadvantages of eCOGRA’s summary reports.

Four reports are published by eCOGRA. Three of these pertain to the suitability of the random number generator for blackjack, roulette and video poker games. This review is carried out by eCOGRA every six months and these reports are important only in their existence. They do not enable the player to make any choices or understand the games better. If suddenly these reports stop appearing then the player should look out for another online casino. This could indicate that the reports are not satisfactory and therefore they have not been placed in the public domain.

The fourth report, which provides the percentage payout review, is more useful. However, it is necessary to first understand what percentage payout is. A percentage payout of 98% indicates that for every $100 wagered by the players the casino has paid back $98. Some games like slots and roulette are games of pure chance and in these the actual percentage payout would not differ from the potential percentage payout. However games like blackjack and video poker involve both skill and chance. In such games the actual percentage payout is lower than the potential percentage payout because many players do not play the games in an optimal manner. eCOGRA reports the actual percentage payouts based on actual wagers and payouts.

The percentage payouts are reported across slot games, table games, video poker games and all games combined. The percentage payouts reported for table games are not helpful. This is because the table games contain games of different nature with different payout potentials. Craps are dice games and the payouts differ from wager to wager. The payouts of roulette also differ considerably depending on the variant. In blackjack the actual percentage payout depends on the skill of the players and therefore does not provide any information about the games.

In general the average payout ratio of slot games varies from 94% to 96%. Therefore the payout percentage reported by eCOGRA can indicate where the slot games of the casino compare against this range. But online slots players would be more interested in the payout percentages of individual slot games so that they can decide which one to play. Unfortunately this information is not provided in the eCOGRA reports.

The average payout ratio reported by eCOGRA for video poker can be used in a more practical manner. Good video poker players will be able to perform better than the average players because of their superior skill. Hence they can reasonably conclude that they will be able to fetch a higher percentage payout than that reported by eCOGRA.

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