The Differences Between American and European Roulette

The Differences Between American and European Roulette

European and American Roulette are both extremely popular in New Zealand. When the first land-based casinos opened down under back in 1994, roulette quickly became a Kiwi favourite. Players who wanted a change of pace from pokies but weren’t interested in more involved table games would often try either type of roulette for a different kind of thrill.

However, newcomers to roulette would do well to grasp the key differences between European roulette and American roulette before diving in blindly.

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European and American Roulette Bet Types

Neither version of roulette restricts players to betting on what number the ball will stop spinning on. You can also place a bet on whether the ball will land on an odd or even number, or whether it will land on a red number or a black number. You can also bet on low or high numbers, columns, groups of numbers and more.

European vs American Roulette Layout Differences

European roulette (meaning “little wheel” in French) has been around for a much longer time than the American version. Indeed, Gallic physicist Blaise Pascal is credited with inadvertently inventing the game back in 1655. It stormed to prominence at the flagship casino in Monte Carlo during the 19th century, evolved differently once it crossed to the New World. This resulted in significant aesthetic and layout differences between American and European Roulette, but nowadays the layout is uniform across the world.

  • A European Roulette wheel contains 37 numbers, from 0 to 36
  • The American roulette wheel features 38 numbers as it also includes a double zero

In the European roulette version, a croupier spins a wheel featuring 37 pockets and each one contains a number from 0 to 36. The American Roulette wheel is virtually identical to its cousin across the pond, but it features an extra pocket: the double zero.

Return to Player rates and House Edge for American and European Roulette

Anyone weighing between European Roulette or American Roulette needs to understand the importance of the double zero in the American version. Indeed, while the European version has an average house edge of 2.3%, the American roulette house edge is 5.26%. Let’s break that down:

If you’re playing on a European roulette wheel, you simply bet on which pocket the small ivory ball will fall into once the wheel stops spinning. Each number carries odds of 35/1 and if your bet is successful, you get your stake back. This means the house takes an edge of 2.7%, meaning the return to player rate is 97.3% on average.

The same principles apply in American roulette: you bet on which pocket the ball will fall into and each one carries odds of 35/1, while your stake is returned to you if successful. However, while the odds remain the same, your chances of success are diminished as there is one extra pocket. This results in a house edge of 5.26%, and the return to the player is 94.74%.

Return to Player Rates in American Roulette

BET TYPEBET PAYOUTBET PROBABILITYHOUSE EDGERETURN TO PLAYER
Straight35/12.63%5.26%94.74%
Split17/15.26%5.26%94.74%
Street11/17.89%5.26%94.74%
Square or Corner8/110.53%5.26%94.74%
Five Line6/113.16%7.89%92.11%
Six Line5/115.79%5.26%94.74%
Column2/131.58%5.26%94.74%
Dozen2/131.58%5.26%94.74%
Red/Black1/146.37%5.26%94.74%
Odd/Even1/146.37%5.26%94.74%
High/Low1/146.37%5.26%94.74%

Return to Player Rates in European Roulette

BET TYPEBET PAYOUTBET PROBABILITYHOUSE EDGERETURN TO PLAYER
Straight35/12.70%2.70%97.30%
Split17/15.41%2.70%97.30%
Street11/18.11%2.70%97.30%
Square or Corner8/110.81%2.70%97.30%
Six Line5/116.20%2.70%97.30%
Column2/132.40%2.70%97.30%
Dozen2/132.40%2.70%97.30%
Red/Black1/148.64%2.70%97.30%
Odd/Even1/148.64%2.70%97.30%
High/Low1/148.64%2.70%97.30%

Fortunately, most online casinos offer both American Roulette and European Roulette, so you can always find the one you want to play. To try them both out online, check out our recommended best New Zealand Roulette Sites.

Remember: Return to Player rates in roulette is only a theoretical guide based on players' return over hundreds of spins and all the bet types available. You could achieve excellent results with just a few lucky spins of the wheel or conversely in a short spell of playing Roulette you might not see your number come in at all.

American Roulette Pros and Cons

Many gamblers love American Roulette, and it has thousands of fans playing New Zealand who understand how the double zero changes the odds of winning.

Each outcome pays out at even money (2.0), so you double your money if successful and lose your stake if unsuccessful. Yet the double green zero gives the casino an edge on these bets, and that edge is increased when you have a double zero thrown into the mix. In fact, your chances of winning these bets go from 48.65% on European Roulette to 47.37% on the American Roulette wheel. Whatever bet type you choose, your chances of winning are slightly diminished in each instance. Over time, those fine margins can add up.

European Roulette Pros and Cons

After weighing up the pros and cons of American vs European Roulette, many new players choose the European roulette wheel because the single zero roulette wheel layout ensures you have a greater chance of success each time the wheel spins, and because the French Roulette rules give gameplay an extra twist with the player having more agency on outcomes than the pure-luck American version.

These French roulette rules dominated across rest of the old continent and could significantly impact a player's odds of winning. In French roulette, when you make an outside bet and the ball lands on zero, you can either choose between “la partage” and get half your bet back or pick “en prison” to maybe win it all. If you go with the latter option, the croupier marks your bet as “locked” or “in prison” and you make the same bet again, either winning the bet or having to forfeit because of a second loss.

Choosing between American and European Roulette

While most new NZ online casino available from New Zealand offer both American and European variations of live roulette, it always helps to build up a solid understanding of both.

In the long run, it is more probable that you will enjoy success when playing European roulette due to the lower house edge, and the French roulette rules can ensure you at least get a second chance or half your bet back in case you get unlucky.

Both American and European roulette have their unique attractions, to be sure - but whenever the croupier spins the roulette wheel, there is always a tangible sense of excitement which mounts as the red and black colours blur together, before sparking elation if the ball lands on the predicted number!

Remember, if you’re in New Zealand, you can play both types of roulette at live casinos at any time. Just be sure to bear in mind the key differences laid out in this guide!

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