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What is a House Edge During Roulette?



Everybody knows the “house never loses,” but the extent to which that is over-emphasized is perhaps the result of players not quite getting the returns they wanted. For players who are new to roulette or online casino gambling in general, there are a few facts you need to know so you can make an informed decision yourself on whether or not you want to get involved.

In basic terms, and under all circumstances, the house edge is the difference between the likelihood of an event happening and the odds offered by the online casino you are playing at. As a simple, non-casino-related example, the chances of a coin coming down either heads or tails is 50/50 or even odds.

However, if the casino gave you even odds, over time, it would not make any money. So, it would have to offer slightly slimmer odds to those playing (so, for instance, a $5 bet would only bring winnings of $4.90 instead of $5 for the coin toss) and, over time, would make a profit from the difference. Here is a brief guide on the features of a roulette wheel.

The Extra Number on The Wheel

The way this is done in roulette is transparent and is an agreed part of the game which everybody accepts. As you probably know, a roulette wheel has the numbers 1-36 on it (which, curiously, adds up to 666, giving it the less-than-ideal nickname of the “Devils game”) and also has a zero for the house.

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In essence, this means that the chances of your preferred number coming up are 1 in 37, and the odds offered on a single number bet are almost always 35/1, so the house has an edge here over time. This also works if you go for circumstances that are a little more like the coin toss example used earlier.

Red or Black?

At first glance, it would seem that half of the numbers are red, and half are black. Likewise, half appear to be even and half odd. However, once you add the green zero into the equation, this is not the case (putting aside the argument of whether zero is odd or even for the moment). So, the chances of a red, black, even, or odd number coming up is not 18/36 but 18/37, so even for those “safer” wagers on the roulette table, there is still a house edge.

Adding Extra Zero(s)

This edge increases in cases where a roulette wheel has both a zero and a double zero—effectively doubling the house edge. This double zero is more common on roulette wheels in American casinos, with the single zero a distinguishing feature of the European version of the game. This extra zero, while doubling the house edge, is also an accepted part of the game, and because either zero comes up so rarely, it tends to go under the radar.

However, there was a more noticeable change in 2016 when Sands Roulette was also introduced, which had three zeros, giving 39 different possible outcomes and cranking the house edge up even further. Players might be relieved to know, however, that Sands Roulette is used at very few venues.

What Happens at Online Casinos?

It’s probably not a surprise that more online roulette real money games are played than at land-based casinos, so what happens there is of great importance to players.

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Again, the number of zeros on the wheel is likely to depend on where in the world you are playing, so in America, there are likely to be two zeros on the wheel, and in Europe, just one.

Either way, the result will be governed by a random number generator for the video versions of the game, and for live versions, the wheel is spun in front of the players by live video feed, so the house edge will be the same as if you were standing playing the game in person.

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