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Understanding Server-Based Gaming

 Understanding Server-Based Gaming

Server-based gaming was merely a concept when it was put forward as a cost-efficient solution for casinos. Manufacturers first broached the idea in 2005, but it took a long time before its use in the casino industry became widespread. The reality was that, because of the economic conditions during the first decade of the 21st century, the period was hardly the most opportune time to invest in the latest innovations in gaming technology.

Thus, many are interested to know more about server-based gaming and its capabilities, as the long years of waiting created an information gap among operators and players alike.


A server-based gaming system comprises a central system called server and a number of gaming terminals connected to the server. In an establishment like a casino, the server is located at the back-office. Access to the server is restricted to authorized personnel in-charge of monitoring the interactivity between the central system, and the gaming machines located in the casino floor.

The system departs from the traditional electronic gaming machines (EGM) that limit the choice of the EGM user to a single game. The server has a database of multiple game programs, deployed individually to each EGM but based on the selection made by the player. This denotes that players can request access to all selections included in the casino’s game portfolio, which they can view from a menu that displays the images and brief descriptions of the game.

However, the deployment of a game program includes only the user components, since the server remains in control of the core components such as the game logic and the random number generator. In a modern casino floor, gaming terminals tend to be more compact and space saving. The machines are slimmer because they merely function as display units, capable of communicating and interfacing with the back office server.

To make interaction and communication possible between the server and gaming terminals within a building, a server-based gaming system requires Local Area Network (LAN) cabling system that includes one or more switches as basic components. In comparison to an online gaming system supported by server-based technology, the connectivity between a remotely located server and user terminals such as PCs and laptops requires the Wide Area Network (WAN) of an Internet service provider.


Most operators and players in the casino industry considered the widespread use of server-based technology as well worth the wait, in view of the following benefits:

  • Casino operators became capable of continuously updating their portfolio of game offerings, to which they now have hundreds to offer their customers.
  • Customer satisfaction was enhanced by the convenience of being able to choose from an extensive assortment of games, which they can quickly access.
  • Presentation of game offerings on a more personal level, since the menu selection can be modified according to personal preferences.
  • Player profiles are obtained as the system has the capability to track the gaming activities of customers, to ensure the prevalence of responsible gaming.
  • Multi-channeling of games became possible whether by way of land-based, web-based or mobile platforms.
  • Cash prizes in progressive slots became much bigger in which a network of casinos all over the world, linked their gaming machines and progressive slot players; thus, a massive number of contributions accumulate as jackpots.
  • The use of the system entailed lower costs in acquiring and maintaining electronic gaming machines.
  • Centralized security verification measures and game controls cover a plurality of remote EGMs.
  • It permits closer supervision and control over the gaming operations and player terminals, as real-time monitoring allows for the quick detection and termination of game manipulations.
  • The system also serves as medium of communicating promotional offers and rewards programs as a way of instilling customer loyalty.
  • Minimize if not eliminate the occurrence of game piracy, since the server has control over the critical components of the game.

Server-based gaming systems are allowed in most jurisdictions that recognize gambling as legal, but subject to regulations and close supervision of their respective gaming regulatory bodies and accredited independent testing agencies.

In US jurisdictions, a server-based gaming system supplied by a licensed manufacturer must first be submitted for laboratory testing and on-site inspection to the Gaming Laboratories International (GLI). The results of the testing processes provide the basis for GLI’s issuance of a compliance certification.

Significance of GLI Certification

Although server-based systems present a host of advantages for both gaming operators and end-users, state regulators require licensed gaming manufacturers to secure an independent certification issued by GLI. The purpose of which is to ensure among other things that:

  • The server-based game system meets all the standards set forth under GLI 21 Re: Client-Server System.
  • The analysis and certification of the game operation occurring in the client terminals is free from bias and unwarranted requirements.
  • The server-based and server-supported games are fair, secure, properly operated and readily available for inspection or audit.
  • The standards that affect the reliability and trueness of client terminal gaming have been complied with, based on the point of view of the players and for purposes of revenue collection reports.

Distinguishing Between Server-Based Games and Server-Supported Games

In addition to the standards, GLI 21 establishes distinctions between a server-based game system (SBGS) and a server supported game system (SSGS).

In an SBGS, the server retains the entire or critical components of the game content, while the SSGS allows the transfer of the entire game program to the user terminal, though not necessarily on a regular basis. SSGS transfer entails downloading the game program to give users or players, the capability of playing a game even without connectivity to the server.

The primary difference between the systems creates a condition in which SBGS games cannot function in the event that a player’s terminal loses its connection to the server. On the other hand, lack of connectivity between the server and the player’s terminal will not affect the functioning abilities of SSGS games.

In view of these key differences, the player terminals for SSGS games must have a Random Number Generator, as the remaining functions performed by the server include content distribution, game analysis and management only.