Over the last three decades, the variety of offerings found on Las Vegas casino floors has grown by leaps and bounds, and it’s all thanks to the rise of table game side bets.
Beginning in the 1990s, the casino game design industry started turning its collective eye toward a new way to spice up the table game pit—side bets. Rather than devising a completely new game, these designers realized that recreational gamblers would be more comfortable with optional wagers attached to games they already know and love.
Blackjack became the first proving ground for side bets, with clever additions like the Lucky Ladies, providing premium payouts on various 20 value hands, and Perfect Pairs, rewarding players for matching one or both of their hole cards with the dealer’s up card.
Table games which utilize cards seem to be the best avenue for side bet integration. But, over the years, roulette operators have dabbled with a few interesting twists on the classic wheel-spinning gamble.
This page is devoted to one of the more unique and entertaining wagers I’ve ever encountered, Touchdown Roulette.
Introduction to the Touchdown Roulette Side Bet
The first installation of the Touchdown Roulette side bet, which was produced by game design firm Interblock, took place in 2013 at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City.
At the time, Interblock’s director of sales Danny Ouellette issued a statement celebrating the company’s first successful placement of Touchdown Roulette
“The first installation of Touchdown Roulette at Borgata is an exciting one for us as this launches a great bonus feature that the customers as well as operators are sure to love.”
As for the higher-ups at the Borgata, Vice President of Slot Operations Tim Burke praised Interblock for developing an intriguing addition to roulette’s basic gameplay:
“We are thrilled to be the first property to add Touchdown Roulette to its gaming floor.
Borgata is consistently at the forefront of new and innovative initiatives and, through working alongside Interblock and the Division of Gaming Enforcement; we are pleased to offer our customers yet another new and creative gaming feature.”
As the side bet’s title suggests, Touchdown Roulette takes its theme from the gridiron of American football. I’ll explain the intricacies of Touchdown Roulette’s gameplay in the next section. But, as you probably suspect by now, the goal is to spin your “team” down the field to score a touchdown.
Using a state-of-the-art specialized display screen attached to a dealer-less electronic roulette table, Interblock designed Touchdown Roulette to be a full-fledged side game which supplements standard roulette spinning. Up above the wheel, you’ll see a virtual football game unfold on the large high-definition screen, with the red and black teams each trying to gain yards and go for the goal line based on a four-spin session.
How to Land a Winner on the Touchdown Roulette Side Bet
After sitting down at one of Interblock’s special automated double-zero wheel roulette machines, you’ll have the option to place an optional wager of between $1 and $5 on the Touchdown Roulette game.
From there, your hoping to see the silver ball bounce and tumble its way to one of the wheel’s green spaces (“0” and “00”). Any red or black number (1-36) that isn’t 0 or 00 will cause the Touchdown Roulette bet to be a loser, but hitting a green space activates the football-based side session.
Once the Touchdown Roulette game has been activated, you’ll be prompted to choose either the Red or Black team. When you’ve tagged your chosen team color, the rest of the game plays out onscreen during the course of the next four spins.
With a pending Touchdown Roulette bet in play, you aren’t required to place base game wagers on these subsequent four spins, so you can sit back and focus on the football fun. Furthermore, whenever a player at the machine is engaged in a four-spin side game session, you’ll have to wait until it concludes before placing your own bet on Touchdown Roulette.
After you’ve decided to back the red or black team, the result of the next spin will cause one of the teams to move the ball forward on the digital football field. All games of Touchdown Roulette begin with the ball placed on the 50-yard line, so the objective is to gain as many yards of forward progress as you can within the span of four spins.
On the left-hand side of the field you’ll see a red football helmet symbolizing the red team’s end zone, while the black team’s end zone is to the right-hand side of the screen. Here’s how the yardage gaining system works when you play Touchdown Roulette…
Touchdown Roulette Yardage System:
|Color/Number Combo||Forward Yards Gained|
|Red 1 through 10||3 Yards Toward Red End Zone|
|Black 1 through 10||3 Yards Toward Black End Zone|
|Red 11 through 20||5 Yards Toward Red End Zone|
|Black 11 through 20||5 Yards Toward Black End Zone|
|Red 21 through 30||10 Yards Toward Red End Zone|
|Black 21 through 30||10 Yards Toward Black End Zone|
|Red 31 through 36||15 Yards Toward Red End Zone|
|Black 31 through 36||15 Yards Toward Black End Zone|
As you can see, the wheel offers five chances (Red 1-3-5-7-9 and Black 2-4-6-8-10) for each team to move the ball three yards forward, five chances for each team to progress five yards up the field, and five more chances to gain 10 yards.
But when the ball finds one of five spaces (per color) numbered between 31 and 36, the associated team will gain a whopping 15 yards.
Obviously, you won’t be reaching the end zone after every four-spin football game, as most of the possible outcome combinations don’t add up to 50 yards. And because the ball moves in either direction based on the colors that show up, you’ll usually wind up in a back and forth battle for field position just like an actual football game.
When the ball is located closer to the red team’s end zone, red bettors will win a payout based on exactly how far they moved the ball forward. And when the ball ends up closer to the black team’s goal line, bettors who backed the black side score a payout.
Should the ball find its way back to the 50-yard line starting point after four spins, the game ends in a tie and both teams receive a payout.
As for those payouts’ value, check out the two primary pay tables below to see what Touchdown Roulette players have on the line.
Touchdown Roulette Pay Tables:
|Yard Line||Table #1||Table #2|
|Touchdown||500 to 1||1000 to 1|
|1 to 10||250 to 1||200 to 1|
|11 to 20||75 to 1||75 to 1|
|21 to 30||50 to 1||50 to 1|
|31 to 40||25 to 1||25 to 1|
|41 to 49||10 to 1||10 to 1|
|50||5 to 1||5 to 1|
|Lose the Football Game||1 to 1||1 to 1|
Yep, you read those pay tables correctly! Touchdown Roulette offers “jackpot” payouts of 500 to 1 or 1,000 to 1 AND you can’t lose your bet once the football side game is triggered.
Even when you play your way to a loss on the field, you’ll still earn an even money payout of 1 to 1 on your money. Manage to stalemate with a 50-yard tie and the payout for both teams stands at 5 to 1. From there, the payouts escalate from 10 to 1 to 200 or 250 to 1, depending on the pay table, when you move the ball forward but fall short of a touchdown.
To visualize how this process would play out on the screen, let’s run through a quick example game of Touchdown Roulette.
After landing a green 0 or 00 space to trigger the football side game, you choose the red team and hope for the best. On the first spin of the four-spin session, with the football placed at the 50-yard line, the silver ball finds red 14 to give you a 10-yard forward play. The football now sits on the 40-yard line closest to your red end zone, so you’re in good shape.
The next spin, however, produces black 8 to give the other team a three-yard forward play. That means the football moves three yards closer to the black end zone, sliding “backward” from your perspective to the 43-yard line.
On the third spin, you spike gin and hit a red 36 for a sweet 15-yard forward pickup. This play pushes the football from the 43-yard line to the 28-yard line closest to your red end zone. If the game were to end here, this football placement would result in a 50 to 1 payout (on either pay table).
For the fourth and final spin, however, the silver ball lands in black 2 to give the black team another three-yard gain. This pushes the football backward to the 31-yard line, so using the pay tables shown above, you just earned a 25 to 1 payout.
For bettors who opt for the minimum of $1 that equates to a $25 reward, while $5 maximum bettors collect $125 on the Touchdown Roulette gamble.
Probabilities and House Edge Rates for the Touchdown Roulette Side Bet
Speaking of gambling, you’re probably wondering how the probabilities behind Touchdown Roulette really shake out.
Well, as the table below makes clear, it all comes down to triggering the football side game by landing a 0 or 00 green space.
Touchdown Roulette Side Bet Probabilities, Expected Returns, and House Edge Rates:
|Football Outcome||Probability||Expected Return|
|1 Through 10 Yard Line||0.041 Percent||0.082241|
|11 Through 20 Yard Line||0.181 Percent||0.135622|
|21 Through 30 Yard Line||0.477 Percent||0.238650|
|31 Through 40 Yard Line||0.873 Percent||0.218217|
|41 Through 49 Yard Line||0.924 Percent||0.092416|
|50 Yard Line for Tie||0.258 Percent||0.012896|
|Lose the Football Game||2.502 Percent||0.025026|
|No 0 or 00 to Trigger Game||94.743 Percent||-0.947368|
|House Edge||7.89 Percent|
So, here’s why Touchdown Roulette presents players with a double-edged sword of sorts. After you place the side bet, you’ll see the silver ball land in a red or black space, causing you to lose the wager straight away on almost 95% of spins. That means you’ll only get to play the football side game roughly 1 in every 20 spins.
Obviously a 5% side game rate isn’t very attractive, so the designers of Touchdown Roulette ensured that players who finally get there are rewarded for their patience. The average win once you reach the football game comes to $16 for every $1 wagered, which is quite lucrative all things considered.
Traps to Watch out for When Playing the Touchdown Roulette Side Bet
When it’s all said and done, Touchdown Roulette offers players a house edge rate of 7.89%.
When compared to the 5.26% house edge found on standard double-zero roulette bets, playing Touchdown Roulette at all presents the most dangerous trap. That 7.89% house edge is exactly the same as you’d incur on a Triple Zero Roulette wheel, which should give you an idea of how unfavorable this side bet is for players.
On the other hand, you won’t have an opportunity to win premium payouts ranging from 50 to 1 all the way up to 1,000 to 1 unless you hit the field and give Touchdown Roulette a try.
As a football fan who loves to splash chips around and court Lady Luck while spinning the wheel, Touchdown Roulette was a sight for eyes the first time I saw the machine.
Sure, you’ll wind up losing the original wager more often than not, but if you’re a 0 and 00 bettor by nature, trying to tackle that juicy pay table on offer from Touchdown Roulette is far from a Hail Mary play.
You’ll definitely have fun once the football side game gets underway, so get out to the South Point, Bellagio, or MGM Grand in Las Vegas to give this creative side bet a shot.