October 19, 2021 update:
We decided to run a second poll 6 months later to see if things had changed. Once again using Strawpoll running for 7 days, we asked the community directly which of the listed game providers they have the highest trust in. The actual question asked was: Below we have listed the biggest game developers in the industry. Vote for those you have the most trust in, not the ones you necessarily enjoy playing the most. In the iGaming space, this could be fair games, transparency, and sensible marketing. You may choose more than one provider.”
With a total of 340 votes, the result this time was as follows: click to see the poll results.
Which providers do our readers trust the most?
We are now a few decades deep in the online revolution, and for many, the internet has become an essential way of life. A multitude of life’s tasks, such as gambling, are increasingly conducted online rather than off. In many ways, we have come to trust the internet more than ever, as attested by the amount of personal details people are willing to share with complete strangers. Banking, financial transactions, hooking up – it’s all done online now, and it takes a great deal of trust to enter your card details or bare your soul on a dating app.
In other areas of the web, trust is much harder to gain, and rightly so. It’s a delicate thing too, which can be lost in a heartbeat and bring irreparable damage to any brand. When it comes to online gambling, trust is the glue holding the industry together. It’s the unspoken compact between players willing to plough through a bankroll in exchange for having a fair and fun chance of possibly making more than they risked.
Most players are okay not winning multi-million dollar jackpots every time they have a punt as long as they know they are getting a reasonable deal. Fortunately, there are a number of assurances in place to ensure they are indeed getting a fair go. One is regulation. However much some might disparage the heavy-handed nature some regulators display, they have done some beneficial work to tidy up the industry. Licensing and independent testing go a long way to ‘encourage’ providers to make their games perform the way they claim, and since a house edge is built into every slot, there should be no need to trick players into parting with their money. The cold steel of mathematics means in a long enough time frame, operators always win.
While some areas of online gambling are heavily regulated, others seem completely overlooked. One such area is casino streaming. The hot topic right now is fake streamers and their negative impact on players, providers, and the industry at large as we have brought up on several occasions. Many game providers see casino streamers as influencers of the gambling industry and pay large sums for them to play their games. While there’s not necessarily anything wrong with it as long as there is transparency, some providers take it too far.
Online gambling might not be the Wild Western free-for-all gangbang it once was, but there are still plenty of cowboys out there. When there are huge sums of cash involved in any situation, there is always someone with zero qualms about taking advantage of trusting people. With streaming, there is a close parallel to the smoking industry. When cigarette advertising was banned, tobacco companies turned to Hollywood to shill their products in movies instead.
People are naturally drawn to charismatic characters, and many of these streamers are nothing if not charismatic. There’s also the feel-good factor when watching someone win insane amounts of money from a crazy bonus round. The situation can be compared to sports fans witnessing the game-winning goal, basket, or buzzer-beater. You’re there, with them, amidst a crowd of onlookers, in the moment as the stars align, the right symbols hit, and coins are stacking up like there’s no tomorrow. It’s an intoxicating mix.
Building on the sports parallel, the vast majority of fans watching a match know they will never play professional football. However, anyone can play slots, and when witnessing a huge streamer win, it’s easy to think, ‘hey, that could be me.’ This wave of positive euphoria is an emotion that nefarious parties are trying to exploit by amplifying payouts using big bets and making it look easy. It might seem logical for some viewers to think if a guy on Twitch won big 37 times this week, it means I can win big at least once, right?
Tarnishing a provider’s good name?
This brings us to the statistical part of the article, triggered by a recent poll asking, ‘Which of these game studio brands do you trust the most?’ In total, 16 accredited providers were listed for readers to vote for those they trust the most. For increased legitimacy, an external service called Strawpoll was used to conduct the poll. After all the debate regarding fake money crypto streamers, the results were not totally surprising.
The top five spots were occupied by Big Time Gaming, Nolimit City, Push Gaming, Relax Gaming, and Play’n GO. Ending up in the bottom position was Pragmatic Play, which, of course, begs the question, why? Pragmatic Play is based in Europe and holds licenses from the MGA, amongst others, which can be verified in moments by checking with the regulators. Moreover, Pragmatic Play games can be found at well-established, legitimate online casinos and are enjoyed by many players. So why so few votes?
It appears Pragmatic Play’s perceived association with less genuine streamers has had a negative effect on their image. The provider states that any connection with fake streamers is ‘merely a coincidence due to their games being widely played while also offering bonus buy features which the streamers happen to prefer.’ Even taken at face value, it seems the situation has reached the point where, even if completely innocent, the number of dodgy crypto streamers and shady affiliates associated with their games has tarnished their image. At the end of the day, no one likes cheaters or being lied to. Players are not stupid, and assuming they are is incredibly insulting. There are good reasons why doped athletes all lose their sponsors.
What makes a provider trustworthy?
So why do studios like Big Time Gaming, Nolimit City, Push Gaming, and Relax Gaming perform so well in a poll like this? It’s hard to know for sure – it could be simple things, such as the fact that most of them offer fixed RTP. But one thing they have in common is that they regularly interact with the community; they answer questions, they listen to feedback, and they offer transparency through their documentation. When it comes to Big Time Gaming, CEO Nik Robinson has been so active in the community that many community members over time may even have started to regard him as “one of the guys”.
We only review games from studios we trust, and there is a certain criterion to meet in each case. Slots from studios such as GameArt (currently blacklisted) never see the light of day at Bigwinboard because it’s just not worth our time to review them nor readers to play them – particularly so when fantastic games from respected studios are released every other day. Greenlighted studios do things like possess licensees from recognised, respected regulators like the MGA or the UKGC, rather than some distant territory that raises as many concerns as assurances. Proving certification from independent testing bodies, full game sheets, and openness about varying RTP values are other green lights. Fail to produce these, and you have to wonder what else they are hiding.
Then again, all of the providers in the poll fulfil most of the criteria mentioned above, so why the trust issue? In the end, if providers are holding up their end of the bargain, it comes down to perception. Everyone wants to feel like the companies making their favourite games at least give an iota of care about them.