American Roulette vs European Roulette

difference between american and european roulette

Roulette today holds as possibly the most popular casino game to play. Many people often find it hard to agree on which variant is more superior than the other. American Roulette and European Roulette hold the same principles within their gaming, yet with a slight twist of difference, in the way the gaming is executed overall. Each option of Roulette will introduce its own rules for the table and wheel and if you happen to look at the variances physically, you will notice first and foremost, the wheel has a different set of numbers in the European option to the American gaming option.

All the information to explain and discuss the differences, will be presented within this guide for your further benefit and reference. You will find that once reading all the facts between the two Roulette options, you should come to a conclusion as to which variant you actually love the most overall. Most players love both equally, yet for beginners that are trying to decide which option to go for, this guide could prove itself to be very useful in the long run of things!

Roulette and its Origins

Nobody can actually agree on the origins of roulette. You will find that betting has been around from as early as the Roman Empire and therefore pinpointing when Roulette first came to be is difficult, as all cultures show similarities in their betting habits. Many do believe however, that the origins of Roulette comes from China and their boards games that required 37 figurines to operate. Yet alas, we can never actually be too sure, perhaps Roulette takes inspiration from all betting strategies throughout history?

The solid rules and gaming procedure was however brought to life by a french mathematician Blaise Pascal sometime within the 17th century.Pascals original invention did relate very closely to the American version, as the zero pockets within the wheel where duplicated, much like today's American variant. Gambling did soon after Roulettes' arrival became prohibited and illegal within France, so it was reintroduced by french brothers Francois and Louis Blanc in 1842 as the European version we know today and the existing ‘one zero pocket’. The game flourished from then on, with casinos in Germany and France showcasing the game in what would have been casino equivalents in the 19th century. It was then from this moment that the term ‘French Roulette’ was unleashed into the gambling casino gaming market.

European Roulette and its use of the name did not emerge properly into the casino gambling environment, until the the 19th century, when European migrants had entered the state of Louisiana and brought bars and social events to life with the introduction of this entertaining game!

The first online casino which launched Roulette in its pages, was in the year 1994. Technology was at its best state ever and many casino fanatics were enabled to play their favourite classical casino game from the comfort of their own home. American Roulette was the first of the variants to allow players to have access to it over the internet and pretty much the rest fully developed from that miraculous innovation. A casino gaming revolution has been in the works since very early on, and led us to where we are today…

Roulettes Game Rules

When playing roulette, the aim of the game is to actually place your bets on number sequences, in hope of the ball landing on your predicted numbers. The bets operate via inside bets, which are more difficult and operate at higher stakes or outside bets which are easier to pick up and operate at lower stakes. Players will not be permitted to bet on the zero pocket of the Roulette wheel, yet the differentiation of this rule due to the game variants will of course differ from each other, depending on the game you play yourself.

What are the European Roulette Rules?

The rules of the game, players can call their bets and announce their betting options to the dealer of the table. The dealer will then immediately place chips on the table, for the amount that you wish to bet and play with. Then of course the bet result will be revealed from the spinning of the wheel and when it finally stops on a random number. The French Roulette option would allow you to extend your bet again without giving the opponents a turn, if you happen to land on an even bet and ball. This rule is rare and will also allow you to split half of your losing bet, meaning you will only lose half as much if you lose. So essentially this feature within the French Roulette, gives you another try, should you want to take it!

American Roulette Rules

American Roulette as you probably are aware of now, has a double zero pocket alongside a single zero. The betting strategy is different within this game, as you can opt for a five number bet, called a ‘top line bet’ which essentially the option to bet on the zeros within the wheel. This option is of course incredibly rare, as they say statistically landing on the zero is not a very high chance and therefore does explain the high bet rates surrounding them. There is double the chance of losing the ball to zero pockets, so it is a very risky move to go for. Not forgetting to mention that the house edge is also at a very high 7.89%!

What are the Main Differences Between the European and American Variants?

So, imagine you are in a casino and you are not too sure of which variant of Roulette you are currently facing. The best way to identify one from the other, is by immediately looking at the green pockets within the wheel.  If you see two are present, then you are playing American Roulette! If however you only see one, you will know then that you are facing a European Roulette wheel. Yet, there are also other comparisons that you can lookout for in terms of how you play and general characteristics of the game.

  • Counting the pockets, you will find that there are 38 pockets in the American Roulette versus 37 in European.
  • The house edge of each game is much higher in American Roulette with 5.26%, in comparison to 2.7% for the European variant.
  • There is a smaller payout percentage in American Roulette than European, with 97.3% for European versions and 94.7% for the American variant.
  • There are always two croupiers within European Roulette and only one in American.
  • The pace of the American variant is at a faster pace than the European.

It is very obvious to see by payout percentages and house edge, the American variant can be considered as the more difficult variant to play on and perhaps should be approached from a more experienced Roulette background?

The Odds in the Games

The odds within each game are not too much different, yet why go for the statistically harder option, when you are just starting to come to terms with Roulette and its game rules. As we briefly mentioned above, with our comparisons of the payouts, the American variant showed itself to be the harder choice, with house edge percentages being much higher and thus the return to player following in pursuit with a lower percentage. If you select the American gaming option, you will need to understand the betting strategies that can be employed to reduce the house edge to as low as it can go. Keep in mind that, for every one coin you bet on for the European versions, you will find that you are expected to lose 0.027 for 37 spins. In the American variant, it is twice as much with 0.00526!

Make sure to check out our strategy guide for roulette, which explains how to do this and bet correctly to aid your game.

Roulette Wheel Table Differences

The table for roulette is placed in a way, so that players will not knock the table and affect the results when gambling. The table is stablised and the wheel sits on its own structure to ensure that the wheel will never be disrupted in the process. On the table itself you will find ashtrays, drink holders etc to aid your entertainment and allow you to play as casually and freely as you like. Of course services provided will always come down to the casino itself and is not so much a must or rule.

American roulette’s tables are rectangular in shape, and the wheel is always based on the shortest side of the table. European Roulette tables on the other hand, will always be bigger in their dimensions and essentially have the wheel positioned on the shortest side of the table, near where the dealer actually sits. A second dealer will also be present to collect the chips from the table, using the rake.

Throughout history, Roulette has been a great form of entertainment for the masses. France in particular, really did and still does enjoy the game. It is the perfect combination to add to any social gatherings and can really bring large groups of people together. The French Roulette wheel lays perfectly for gatherings, as the table is centred within the middle and therefore large groups of people can centre themselves all around the table.

Betting Options in American and European Roulette

Coming to one of the most important aspects of any gambing game-knowing the kind of bets there are to place! Below you will find all the different types of bets that we would vary from game variant to the other, make sure to read through the odds and payout ratio.

  • Red to Black Bet: This pays out 1:1, meaning you will win exactly the same amount you bet. The odds of winning this bet in American Roulette is around 47.37%, whereas in the European, it is slightly higher at 48.65%.
  • Even and Odd: The same ratio and odds as the previous bet.
  • Low and High: The same ratio and odds as the previous bet.
  • Dozens: This bet brings a 2:1 betting ratio, with American Roulette sharings odds of 31.58% and the European Roulette sharing 32.43% odds.
  • Columns: The same ratio and odds as the previous bet.
  • 6 Numbers (6 line): This bet has high betting ratios of 5:1 and odds of 15.79% for the American version and 16.22% for the European version.
  • 5 numbers: This is a 6:1 bet ratio and currently is only present in the American Roulette game with a odds percentage of 13.16%.
  • Square Bets: The betting ratio for this bet is 8:1 and holds a 10.53% odds for the American variant and 10.81% for the European.
  • Street Bets: Street bets hold a 11:1 betting ratio and a 7.89% odds for American Roulette and 8.11% for the European.
  • Split Bets: Split bets bring a 17:1 ratio and a 5.26% and 5.41% percentage odds for the American and European variants respectively.
  • Straight Bets: Considered the most difficult bet to win, this has high ratios of 35:! And only a 2.63% and 2.7% chance of winning for the American and European Roulette games.

What about the French Roulette?

Obviously, we did mention the french roulette quite a bit so, it makes sense to include this within our comparison argument. French roulette is very, very similar to the European version and the games are pretty much exact. The only slight difference is the zero number outcome on bets, that will allow players to bet again for free without no questions. It's known as the ‘En Prison’ exception and rule to betting. Another option that is exceptional and unique to the French roulette, is the splitting rule. This will allow you to receive your bet back despite losing, should you land on a zero pocket when placing an outside bet.

There is a secret to this bet option that not many know about… Did you know that you can actually lower the house edge should you manage to get the splitting bet rule? It will make the house edge reduce from 2.6% all the way down to 1.35%!

Which game is the best overall then?

So, it has come to the time, where we will need to decide what the best game option is to play on. We came a long way on this journey of comparing the two variants, from history to betting values and types. It is clearly obvious that throughout our elaborations, the American Roulette came out to be the more challenging gaming option to play on. Without an argument it is very clear to see that the odds are always much more difficult on the American variant than the European option and therefore your chances of winning more over time will always stand clearer and stronger with the European standard.

Despite the facts, the American variant is always desired to be played on, due to the thrill and pace of the game overall. Two zero pockets and the extra betting option, make this game a step further to the more older and traditional Roulette standards and it makes complete sense that players wish to top up their experience a notch, should the European variant seem a little bit ‘same old’. Yes the chances of winning are not so clear and high, but if you do happen to win, the payout will be far more larger and have an extra zero on the end too!

Playing strategies based on the American and European variants will of course be different to one another. The best chance you have of winning, is understanding them and playing accordingly. Check out our guides to add to your knowledge of playing with an added edge and do not forget to learn by watching how other players play too! Sometimes the best way to learn, is to see more experienced players strut their stuff!

Many casinos online will give you the option of a free play demo version, where you can play all the tricks of the trade for free and not risk a dime. This often is the go-to for most players as it will provide them the confidence and the experience to take on more challenging betting options and gaming styles.

If you decide to play the American version, European version, or even the French variant, you will be guaranteed many hours worth of fun. Luck always plays a major role in the betting success that you make, so knowing your limits and when it is the best time to stop will help you master the game effectively. Games like roulette and other table games are all created to provide you with entertainment more than anything else, so know when to say no when the gaming takes more from you then you originally expected!


Hi, I'm James

"More than 5 years experience in the online gambling sector and 4 of them working with casinos. I'll share my thoughts relating to what you should be looking for in a casino and whether a site is worth your time and money."

Reviewer since June, 2020