European roulette is the version of roulette that’s played in most European casinos. The biggest difference between European roulette and American roulette is the number of zeros on the wheel. In the European game, you’ll only find a single zero on the wheel. All the other numbers and colors are the same. In the American version of the game, you’ll find two zeros on the wheel, 0 and 00. This small difference makes a big difference in the mathematics of the game.
What’s the House Edge?
All roulette bets (except one) pay out in a manner that would offer even money odds to the player if the zeroes on the wheel weren’t there. Those zeros are what give the house its edge, and that’s why the casino is profitable in the long term even when players get lucky in the short term.
For example, if you place a single number bet, you’ll be paid out at 35 to 1 if you win. But the actual odds of winning aren’t that good. On a European roulette wheel there are 37 numbers, so the actual odds of winning are 36 to 1. The difference between that 35 to 1 payout and the 36 to 1 odds of winning gives the house an unassailable house edge of 2.7%.
The house edge is expressed as the percentage of each bet that a player is expected to lose over the long term. So if you’re betting $100 per spin, and you play long enough, you can expect your total losses to roughly approach $2.70 for every spin of the wheel. (We use the $100 bet size to keep the math easy to follow, but you can easily re-calculate your expected losses per hour by just scaling down. For example, if you bet $5 per spin instead of $100 per spin, just divide the expected hourly loss below by 20 to get your expected hourly loss.)
It’s important to realize that the difference between European roulette and American roulette isn’t just significant. It’s tremendous. Since the American wheel has another 0, the house edge is 5.26%. That means losing an average of $5.26 per spin. Roulette is a slow-paced game, so most of the time you’ll see 40 spins an hour. The difference in your expected hourly loss in this situation is the difference between losing $108 and losing $210.40. A casino would have to comp us a lot of free drinks to make up for that kind of difference in the house edge.
Other Differences in European Roulette Rules
We should mention that the example above isn’t, strictly speaking, a European roulette game. It’s a “single zero” game, but most players aren’t sophisticated to realize the difference. We’ve seen the two terms used interchangeably for years, especially on the Internet.
True European roulette is, in fact, an even better game for the player mathematically. That’s because a real European roulette has a rule called “en prison”, or (in plain English), the half-back rule. This particular rule only applies to the even money bets on the roulette table. If the player loses, she receives half her bet back. Sometimes, though, she might choose to have the losing bet put in prison. In that case, if the bet wins on the next spin, the player receives her original bet back, but she doesn’t receive any additional winnings. If it loses on the next spin, it’s lost.
This change to the rules reduces the house edge to 1.35%, which is great news for the player. At an average table, this means losing $54 an hour on average instead of $108.
European Roulette on the Internet
PT Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Nowhere is that more true than on the Internet. Every online casino we’ve ever visited offers both single zero and double zero versions of roulette. We can only assume that this is because some players choose to play the American game instead of the European game.
Our first piece of advice is simple. NEVER play American roulette on the Internet instead of European roulette. You’ll only decrease your chances of walking away a winner. You’ll also likely increase the amount of money that you lose during your playing session.
Our second piece of advice is less intuitive. If you’re new to online casino gambling, one thing you need not worry about is whether or not the online roulette game is rigged in some way. Internet casinos don’t have to cheat at these games. They’re already set up so that the casino will win over time inevitably because of the law of large numbers No betting system or so-called strategy can change the mathematical odds behind the game. So it’s easy to understand that not only do the online casinos not need to cheat, it would be counterproductive to do so.
The Fortune Lounge Group
Finally, our third piece of advice about playing European roulette online is to choose a reputable casino. We’re especially fond of a group of Microgaming powered casinos called the Fortune Lounge Group. They’ve been in business for over ten years, and they’re certified and licensed by all of the appropriate entities, so you don’t have to worry about getting cheated out of your payouts if you get lucky and win.
The Fortune Lounge group of casinos offers a wide variety of promotions and casino tournaments for their players. They also offer a tremendous game selection. You’re obviously interested in roulette, and all the casinos in their group offer the game. But they also offer hundreds of other games, especially pokies games. They’re actually quite famous for their selection of progressive jackpot games.
Royal Vegas Casino, Platinum Play Casino, 7 Sultans, and Vegas Palms make up the websites in this group. Each has advantages over the other for certain players. For example, Royal Vegas offers the largest signup bonus ($1200), but Vegas Palms offers a more generous welcome bonus to their more frugal target audience. Deposit $50 and get a 200% matching bonus of $100 to play with.
Gambling is entertainment, and entertainment costs money. Your goal when being entertained at the roulette table should be to minimize your chances of losing and the amount of money you’ll lose over time. The only way to do this is to choose the game that offers the best odds.
And that game is European roulette.