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European Roulette History Lesson

Roulette has been capturing gambler's imaginations for centuries. That is why it is the king of casino games today. The reason we speak of European versus American versions of the game is that it was actually invented in Europe. In this article we would like to give you an overview of its history and development as well as trying to explain why it has remained so popular.

The European version of the game is the more traditional one as it precedes the American roulette game. As we have already outlined elsewhere it features only a single zero which make its odds slightly more favorable for the player and is typically announced in French.

Roulette comes from the French for little wheel and was the only game of roulette going until it spread to America and was altered slightly in order to give a greater advantage to the house. Today we distinguish the two versions by saying either European (sometimes French) or American Roulette. Initially it was invented by the French mathematician and philosopher Pascal who developed it almost entirely accidentally when working on a proposed perpetual motion machine.

The game was then developed, after the invention of the wheel by Pascal in Germany where the numbers and notches in the wheel were added.

Although the differences between the versions are relatively slight, it is still worthwhile analyzing them here in order to make sure that beginners know exactly which variation they are playing.

  • Zero - In the European version of the game there is only one zero, this means there are only 37 places the ball can land (0 + 1-36) rather than 38 as in the American game (0 + 00 + 1-36). As a result the European version has slightly better odds for the player.
  • Layout - On the actual roulette wheel the numbers are distributed differently depending on the version of the game. In the European they are randomized, in the American they appear consecutively.
  • Zéro-rule - The zero rule on even money bets differs from version to version. In the American version if a zero is drawn all even money bets are lost, whereas in the European version a drawn zero means each player who wagered on even money only looses half of their wager.
  • Larger tables - Not particularly relevant to the online game but interesting nevertheless: The European game features a larger table that can accommodate more concurrent players.

What are the Odds?

So, how does such a small difference of an extra zero on the wheel affect a player’s odds? What kind of difference to your average game of roulette could this extra zero possibly make?

The extra zero was specifically added in the European version in order to increase the odds of a player loosing so it does make a difference. Even that extra number (having 38 rather than 37) makes a great overall difference to how much of the players' money remains with the casino. As a result we would advise you to opt for the European version where possible.

Other than this statistical difference that tips the balance ever so slightly more in the houses direction the two variations are essentially the same, with the same rules and the same payouts.


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