European vs. American Roulette

You can visit just about any gambling site and find two different forms of roulette. One of these is called European roulette and the other is called American roulette. There’s only one small difference between the two games, but the difference has a profound impact on how much money you win or lose.

The only difference between the two games is that European roulette has a total of 37 numbered slots while American roulette has 38 numbered slots. The additional spot in American roulette is reserved for double zero. The additional spot in American roulette may not seem like much, but it doubles the house advantage in that game.

About those Zeroes

The house advantage in roulette exists because of those pesky zero spots. The reason for this is that all winning wagers are paid as if there were only 36 spots. For example, a bet on a single number offers a payout of 35 to 1 (you get your original wager back).

Additionally, even money bets such as red/black and even/odd lose if the ball lands on the green zero spot. The chance of winning any such bet is therefore slightly lower than 50%. So again, the house is paying slightly less than the odds of winning.

American roulette has nearly double the house advantage because it has two different zero spots (0 and 00). This all results in each form of roulette having the following house advantage on all wagers:

  • European roulette: 2.7%
  • American roulette: 5.27%

Over the long run, you can expect to lose $2.70 for every $100 you wager at a European roulette wheel. That loss jumps to $5.27 for every $100 you wager at an American wheel.

The lesson to take away from this is to always play at a European roulette wheel when given the chance. Your money will last longer and you’ll experience less house advantage over the long run. It’s an easy decision to make. Always play European roulette.

One More Difference

There’s actually one more minor difference between the two game types. American roulette has an extra bet that you can place. It’s called the “basket bet” and it allows you to wager on the group of numbers including 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3. The payout on this bet is 6 to 1.

This is the only wager in American roulette that does not have a 5.27% house advantage. Instead, it has a 7.89% house advantage. This makes it the worst bet in all of roulette. If you do find yourself at an American roulette table, avoid this wager at all times.