Casino games almost always favour the house. If you look at any online slot machine, you'll see that the RTP (return to player rate) is lower than 100%, which gives the casino sites a chance to make a profit. This is, of course, part of the fun of gambling – you place your wager and hope that luck is on your side today.
If there were a way, however, to tilt the odds in your favour, would you do it?
A group of friends in New Jersey, America, have done precisely that. By exploiting a well-known loophole in an online slot, they managed to win over £600,000 in a week. How did they do it? Read on to find out.
How Was it Possible?
The slot they chose to play was Ocean Magic, a game developed by IGT. This is a slot which is relatively well known for being exploitable. In-the-know gamers have been doing this for some time at bricks and mortar casinos yet, as online casinos are usually quicker to spot if a game is being exploited, it wasn't until last month that anyone had tried it online.
Enter a group of friends playing New Jersey. They knew that if they played the game online, they could benefit from placing larger wagers (the maximum bet for the slot in a physical casino is usually around $500, whilst online you can wager around $3,000 on every spin).
The Ocean Magic Loopholes
Many slots fans seek out games where they know there's a way of getting the odds to work in their favour. This is called ‘advantage playing' and Ocean Magic, as we've just mentioned, has been known by avid slots fans as a game which works particularly well with this type of play.
This is down to two main features of the slot:
- Ocean Magic's wild bubble feature means that if you can start a game with the wild bubbles in certain positions, you give yourself an edge over the casino.
- Moreover, Ocean Magic is a ‘dependent trial game': with each spin, the wild bubbles move to a new location, until they leave the board. As such, if you work as a team, you can play when the bubbles are in prime location.
In bricks and mortar casinos, advantage players may walk around the casino looking for machines where the previous player has left the wild bubble in a particular place.
Online, however, the friends needed to work together to make sure they could exploit the slot successfully.
The group of friends did a lot of research beforehand, including hiring an actuary to run the math for them. They worked out that, due to the loopholes mentioned above, they could achieve an edge of 125% in a single spin. They then went about setting up multiple accounts at various different online casinos.
They had to make sure they worked quick and inconspicuously, as online casinos are very good at spotting irregular player behaviour.
With their first casino account, the players won $220,000 (around £165,000). They then continued to pocket over $900,000 (around £676,000) by using 13 different online casinos.
The friends were able to withdraw $400,000 without any issues. However, on February the 2nd, the first online casino they played at removed the Ocean Magic slot.
Other casinos followed suit, now aware that this slot was a target for advantage players. Furthermore, the friends are now experiencing problems with getting their hands on the rest of their winnings.
The friends insist that everything they did was perfectly legal, and so are pushing the sites to give them their winnings. However, some online casinos are still not paying out.
Is Advantage Playing Legal?
Advantage playing, by its very definition, is legal:
Advantage play is the act of legally exploiting weaknesses in casino games, in a way that generates an edge over the casino.
Advantage players, therefore, may play a variety of casino games including table games and slot machines. They may also take advantage of promotions, cashback offers and loyalty benefits. They may also look for casinos which have misunderstood the rules of games or new slots which offer features which can be manipulated.
That being said, many online casinos impose terms and conditions which are intended to curb advantage playing.
Casino Terms and Conditions
Whilst advantage playing is legal, the casino has the right to refuse you your winnings if they have stated somewhere in their terms and conditions that they do not accept this type of playing.
Terms and conditions related to advantage playing may include:
- Withholding funds if you are found to be colluding with other players
- Withholding funds if you are found to have more than one account at the casino
- Withholding funds if you are found to be playing in an unnatural pattern
Moreover, some casinos are even vaguer in their policies, so that they can refuse to pay out in circumstances like these. This may mean that you could be blocked from withdrawing for simply playing in a way which the casino thinks is ‘inappropriate' or if they ‘suspect' you of cheating in some way.
These kinds of rules protect the casino against advantage players and ensure that the casino can still operate for those players who wish to play as normal.
Advantage Playing: Our Verdict
Advantage playing is a complicated subject. On one hand, there is nothing legally wrong with this method of play and it can feel like a fair thing to do if the casinos are mindless enough to not protect themselves.
On the other hand, advantage playing can ruin casino games for other players. Not only does this type of play mean that online casinos are becoming very strict about their terms and conditions, but it also puts our much-loved welcome bonuses and promotions in jeopardy.
At the end of the day, the beauty of gambling is not knowing the outcome of your actions. It's all about risk and reward and the thrill of knowing you could achieve a big win at random. Advantage playing is more calculated and thought-out.
We won't go as far as saying its fundamentally wrong, but we do thing advantage players are shooting themselves in the foot a little bit – they're removing the fun and excitement from online casino games.