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8 Major Differences Between European and American Roulette

8 Major Differences Between European and American Roulette

Roulette has been played in casinos since the dawn of time. It is the most prestigious of all casino games, attracting millions of players every year to the floor and online. 

The two main variants of the game are European roulette and American roulette. While the rules are pretty much the same for both, there are a few important differences to be aware of. If you don’t know them, it’s easy to think you’re playing one game when, in reality, you’re in the other.

So with that being said, here are the eight major differences between European roulette and American roulette.

1. Number Of Zeros

This is the most obvious difference between European roulette and American roulette. Zeros on a roulette wheel are green. It’s these numbers that give the house an edge over the players. Now, on a European roulette wheel, there is a single zero, but on an American roulette wheel, there is a single zero and a double zero. This means that there are more numbers on an American roulette wheel (18 red, 18 black, and two green) than on a European roulette wheel (18 red, 18 black, and one green).

You may also notice that the numbers on both wheels are not in the exact same order – but we will come to this later.

The added zero on an American roulette wheel also affects the house edge, which brings us to the next major difference between European roulette and American roulette.

2. House Edge

Lucian Marinescu, partner at OnlineCasinoGems, describes house edge as “the advantage the casino has over you as a player. It’s a number that represents how much the casino will make from you as you play the game.”

In American roulette, the house has a 5.26% edge over you, whereas, in European roulette, it’s only 2.7%. Interestingly, the American roulette edge is almost double that of the European roulette. Now, while the difference may seem subtle, it has a huge impact on the results of each game. In American roulette, the odds of selecting the correct number are 1 in 38. In European roulette, the odds are 1 in 37. But, no matter if you are playing American roulette or European roulette, the payout remains the same at 35 to 1, according to Gamblers Daily Digest. So even though the chances of getting the right number are less on an American roulette wheel than a European roulette wheel, you will still be paid the same. As such, this will impact how you play the game.

If you are looking to maximize your chances of winning, you are always better off playing at a European roulette table as there is one less number present, reducing the house edge.

3. Different Number Of Pockets 

Since there is another zero on an American roulette wheel, there is another pocket on the wheel too. So, where European roulette wheels have up to 36 slots, American roulette wheels have up to 37. Note that this added slot counts as an extra bet.

4. Different Arrangement Of Numbers

The color of each number is the same on each wheel, i.e., every red number on a European roulette wheel is also red on an American roulette wheel, and the same goes for the black numbers.

However, the numbers are arranged differently on either wheel. On an American roulette wheel, each number is diagonally opposite its successor, so 1 is opposite 2, 3 is opposite 4, and so on. On the European roulette wheel, the numbers are randomly assorted. The only thing you can be sure of is that a black number follows every red number. This randomness does allow for called bets, something that is only possible in the European version.

5. The Basket Bet

Another difference between European and American roulette is the types of bets you can make. One bet that is specific to American roulette is the basket bet, a wager where you bet on the numbers 0, 00, 1, 2, and 3. For obvious reasons, this bet cannot be made on a European roulette wheel since there is no 00 available according to GNM. Note that the house edge on this bet is 7.89%, but if you get lucky and call it correctly, the payout is a very rewarding 6 to 1.

6. En Prison

This next difference between European and American roulette covers a variant of the la partage rule, namely en prison. En prison is an opportunity to recover your bet after the result of the previous spin was a zero, provided the bet was even-odds. Now, the main advantage of en prison is that it can save you money on your bet and reduce the house edge by 1.35%. 

While this has a big impact on American roulette, it has an even bigger one on European roulette since the house edge is already smaller. And any advantage you can get is always worth taking! However, not many online casinos accept en prison for this reason. If you wanted to use this rule, some of Las Vegas’ biggest properties can fulfill your needs, including the Bellagio, MGM Grand, The Mirage, The Rio and The Wynn.

7. Different Chip Colors

Since roulette is so popular, casinos must have a way to establish which one you are actually playing. Therefore, European and American roulette tables have different chip colors. In European roulette, al the chips you play with are the same color, but in American roulette, all the chips come in different colors.

8. Name Of The Games

This is the final difference between European and American roulette. American roulette is only known as American roulette. Sure, in local American casinos, it’ can be referred to as roulette, but you get the idea. On the other hand, European roulette is called French roulette in some casinos. But that’s the only difference. So if you ever see a casino advertising that they have French roulette on offer, just know it’s another name for the standard European roulette.


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by Harvey Carr // Harvey Carr is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.