Why the US Sucks for Roulette Players

Bets on a Roulette Table With a Dealer Placing the Ball In the Wheel

The United States has tons of roulette wheels. You can go to almost any local casino and find a few roulette tables.

With that said, this game’s availability is certainly good in American casinos. Even still, the US roulette scene isn’t the best out there.

I’m going to discuss why American casinos are the worst places to play. First, though, I’ll lay the groundwork for this discussion by covering what exactly makes a good roulette game.

What Separates One Roulette Game From the Next?

You might not be able to tell much of a difference between roulette variations. The reason why is because any such differences are slight.

For example, only one pocket separates American and European roulette. The former features 38 pockets, including a single and double zero. The European version offers 37 pockets, including just a single zero.

French Roulette plays on a European wheel. At first glance, you won’t have any idea if you’re playing French or European Roulette.

The French version, however, offers a special rule called la partage. The la partage rule, which applies to even-money wagers, returns half of a losing bet when the ball lands on zero.

The minor differences in each variation affect the house edge. Below, you can see the house advantage for each type of roulette:

American

  • 38 numbers, including a 0 and 00 (favor the house on most bets)
  • 2 (zero pockets) / 38 (total pockets) = 5.26
  • American Roulette features a 5.26% house edge

European

  • 37 numbers, including a 0
  • 1 / 37 = 2.70
  • American Roulette offers a 2.70% house edge

French

  • Same math on the European wheel applies
  • Pays half back on losing even-money bets when the ball lands on 0
  • 7 (European house edge) / 2 (la partage) = 1.35
  • French Roulette features a 1.35% house edge (even-money wagers only)

American Roulette Is the Most Prevalent in the US

As seen above, French Roulette offers the best deal. If you can’t find this game, then the European version makes for a nice alternative.

American Roulette is definitely the last option you want to choose out of the three. Unfortunately, it’s the most common variation in US casinos.

Many US gaming establishments only offer the American wheel. If you want to play roulette in these casinos, you’ll need to suck it up and deal with a 5.26% house advantage.

Closeup of a Casino Roulette Wheel

Contrast this to the European gaming scene, which provides access to many European wheels. Some players in and around France also enjoy the preferred French variation.

If you had to pick somewhere to play roulette, then the US is definitely not the best choice. Many European countries give you a better chance to win.

A Triple Zero Wheel Is Even Making Its Way Into American Casinos

The American wheel is the worse that it can get with roulette…or so it seems. As if the US roulette scene wasn’t bad enough, a triple zero wheel is beginning to enter casinos.

The American wheel is so bad because it has two zeros instead of just one. As you can imagine, adding yet another zero to the wheel doesn’t help matters.

Triple zero roulette features 39 pockets, including a single, double, and triple zero. This setup leads to an atrocious 7.69% house edge (3/39).

Luckily, most casinos don’t hate gamblers enough to offer this game. You will, however, find the triple zero wheel in some Vegas casinos.

4 Queens, ARIA, Bellagio, and Caesars Palace are examples of Vegas establishments that feature this terrible game. Fortunately, they all have American wheels for those who want to avoid the triple zero variety.

Are European and French Roulette Available in the US?

You won’t find an abundance of French and European roulette games in US casinos. Nevertheless, both variations are available to a small degree.

As with the triple zero wheel, you’ll mainly find these games in Las Vegas. Here’s a look at some of the Vegas casinos that offer one or both variations:

European

    Roulette Neon Lights

  • Caesars Palace– $100 minimum stakes
  • Cromwell – $25 minimum stakes
  • Plaza – $10 minimum stakes

French

  • Aria – $100 minimum stakes
  • Bellagio – $300 minimum stakes
  • Encore – $100 minimum stakes
  • MGM Grand – $100 minimum stakes
  • Mirage – $100 minimum stakes
  • Treasure Island – $50 minimum stakes

French Roulette is definitely the most desirable game in terms of the house edge in roulette. As seen above, though, it also requires incredibly high stakes.

Treasure Island offers the cheapest French stakes at $50. You’ll need to wager at least $100 to play this game in all other casinos.

European stakes are more reasonable. You can enjoy this game at Plaza and Cromwell for $10 and $25 per spin, respectively. These minimum bets are close to being on par with American roulette.

Unfortunately, you’re not going to find many French or European tables beyond Las Vegas. Unless you’re planning a Vegas trip or live here, you won’t be traveling to Sin City just for better odds.

Should You Play French and European Roulette When Available?

If the house is the only thing you’re focused on, then you should definitely play European or French roulette when they’re available. Both games provide a much stronger chance to win than the American version.

However, you have to consider more than just the house advantage in many cases. You also want to think about the stakes and travel involved.

Las Vegas is by far the best place to visit for these games. You’ll have to plan out the itinerary and budget for the trip, though, to get here.

Assuming you do make it to Vegas, your best bet in terms of theoretical losses is European roulette. It offers a combination of a reasonable house edge and low stakes.

Here are examples of your theoretical losses with each variation:

American

  • You bet $5 per spin (commonly the cheapest in Vegas)
  • The table sees 50 spins an hour
  • 50 x 5 x 0.0526 = 13.15
  • You’ll theoretically lose $13.15 per hour

European

  • You bet $10 per spin (available at Plaza)
  • The table sees 50 spins an hour
  • 50 x 10 x 0.0270 = 13.50
  • You’ll theoretically lose $13.50 per hour

French

  • You bet $50 per spin (available at Treasure Island)
  • The table sees 50 spins an hour
  • 50 x 50 x 0.0135 = 33.75
  • You’ll theoretically lose $33.75 per hour

Triple zero

  • You bet $5 per spin (commonly the cheapest in Vegas)
  • The table sees 50 spins an hour
  • 50 x 5 x 0.0769 = 19.23
  • You’ll theoretically lose $19.23 per hour

French Roulette is the most worthwhile game if you’re a high roller. Provided you’re willing to bet up to $50 or $100; you’ll get the most value per dollar wagered from this variation.

How to Overcome the Stacked Odds With US Roulette

Even with French and European roulette games available in Las Vegas, the US roulette scene still sucks. American Roulette is the only game that’s commonly available throughout the country.

American and European Roulette Wheels

That said, you may feel that the odds are stacked against you in the US. You can, however, boost your chances of winning with the following tips.

Play Low Stakes European Roulette

If or when you visit Las Vegas, you should consider European Roulette above all. Again, it’s the only game that provides the combination of low stakes and a fair house edge.

I showed earlier how your theoretical losses will be lowest with the European version. Assuming you’re not a whale who can bet $100 per spin, you should definitely look towards low-stakes European Roulette.

Look for European and French Roulette Online

You don’t have to stay confined to land-based casinos when playing this game. Instead, you can always look towards online casinos.

The vast majority of the best US online gambling sites offer French Roulette. Going further, they only require you to bet $1 per spin.

A few online developers offer French roulette, including Microgaming and RealTime Gaming (RTG). They only require a $1 minimum wager.

You’ll enjoy the lowest theoretical losses when playing online due to the dollar minimum stakes. However, you do need to tone down your play rate. Online roulette gives you the opportunity to play hundreds of spins per hour.

Only Play American Roulette for Low Stakes

I’ve railed against American roulette quite a bit throughout this post. However, it’s not the absolute worst casino game in existence. It’s especially not bad so long as you keep the stakes low.

$5 wagers on the American wheel aren’t going to bankrupt you. If you’re worried about the potential losses, you can even take every other spin-off. Even when deciding to bet every spin, you won’t lose that much money on average.

Here’s a look at how far your bankroll could stretch with low bet sizes:

  • You wager $5 per spin on American Roulette
  • The wheel sees 50 spins an hour
  • 50 x 5 x 0.0526 = 13.15
  • Your bankroll is worth $200
  • 200 / 13.15 = 15.21
  • Your bankroll will theoretically last for 15.21 hours

Our Conclusions About Playing Roulette in the US

US casinos don’t provide the best roulette opportunities. Nevertheless, you probably won’t lose much money in American casinos when keeping your bets low.

American Roulette is the dominant variation in the US gaming scene. While this game may feature an unfavorable 5.26% house edge, it also comes with low stakes. The low minimum bets allow you to play without risking too much.

European Roulette is the best deal in terms of house edge and stakes. It leads to the fewest theoretical losses when accounting for the $10 minimum bet (Plaza) and 2.70% house advantage.

The French version is the king regarding the house edge (2.70%). However, you must bet at least $50 (Treasure Island) to play it in the US.

Overall, you’re better off playing in European land-based casinos. If this isn’t possible, then you might consider checking out online roulette casinos.