Although roulette may no longer be as popular as it once were, it’s a timeless classic that’s still available on every reputable online casino. The simplicity, familiar rules, and decent odds make this game a joy to play, but keep in mind that the significantly faster pace of internet play can quickly take its toll on your bankroll if you aren’t careful.
It’s also worth noting that due to how modern casino bonuses work, playing roulette isn’t the best way to clear your bonus – gone are the days of exploiting casino bonuses using safe bets. Still, if you’re interested in playing online roulette for real money or for fun, plenty of online casinos will give you a chance to do so.
How to select an online roulette casino
Most modern casino sites focus on slots rather than table games, which means that you won’t have access to a broad selection of roulette varieties regardless of your casino operator. Most reputable sites spread one or two options for both American and European roulette and that’s basically it. In some cases, you’ll get a chance to play the live dealer variant, which brings the brick-and-mortar roulette experience straight to your home.
Regardless of your personal preferences, always stick to reputable, safe casinos. A slightly more extensive game selection won’t do you any good if the casino turns its back on you the moment you request a cash-out.
The easiest way to vet a casino is to check if it holds a certificate issued by an independent regulatory body. Note that the relevant regulators will vary by region. For example, if you live in the United States, focus on sites operating under licenses issued by state regulators, such as the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, the Nevada Gaming Commission, or the Delaware Division of Gaming Enforcement. Alternatively, you can pick a reputable offshore site, such as Bovada or Slots.lv.
In Europe, local regulations can have an impact on casino availability. In Spain, Italy, and France you’ll have to stick with state-licensed operators, but if you live in a more gambling-friendly country such as Sweden or the UK, you’ll be able to join large international casinos licensed on the Isle of Man, Malta, or Gibraltar.
You can also consult our best roulette casino rankings for a list of the most trustworthy venues.
Roulette games and casino software
Given the choice, you should go for roulette games designed by leading casino software developers, such as IGT, Microgaming, Playtech, Net Entertainment, RTG, and Rival. Their games are guaranteed to be polished and well-designed.
Small-time developers are rarely capable of delivering similar quality, but if one of their games is available on your site, make sure to give it a try in play-money mode before committing your cash.
Keep in mind that the software powering your casino won’t have a big impact on the roulette varieties it can host. This is because there is significant cross-compatibility between platforms and games. As a result, you shouldn’t be surprised to find an IGT game on a Playtech site, and vice-versa.
When it comes to live dealer games, things get slightly more complicated. Because each live dealer roulette provider has its own studio or casino partner, expect to see a lot of variety. However, since live dealer games are considered a premium gambling experience, you can typically expect premium service regardless of where you play.
Finally, it’s worth noting that while the availability of games and software designed by high-profile developers is a good indication of a casino’s legitimacy, it is by no means a guarantee of it. It’s not uncommon for dodgy casinos to operate on pirated software. When in doubt, contact the software provider directly and ask if the casino in question holds a valid license.
Casino bonuses allow you to claim hundreds or thousands of dollars on your first deposits. Typically, the bonus will match your deposit dollar for dollar. Sometimes you’ll receive a better match on your payment, but make sure to always read the bonus terms and conditions. An offer disclaiming a “200% match, up to $500” can mean that you’ll get a match on your first deposit, up to $500, or that you can claim up to $500 in bonus money over multiple payments.
Playthrough requirements are another good reason why you should always familiarize yourself with the rules, particularly if you’re a roulette player. Most online casinos will require you to wager through your deposit a certain number of times before you’ll be allowed to withdraw. A 20x playthrough requirement means you must bet at least $2,000 in order to clear a rather modest $100 bonus. Note that if you cash out before completing your playthrough, your bonus and winnings will be forfeit.
You should also be aware that playthrough requirements will sometimes refer to the combined value of your bonus and deposit, not just the bonus alone. In such cases, a 20x playthrough means that clearing a $100 bonus received on a $100 deposit would require (100+100) * 20 = $4,000 in wagers. This would put your bankroll through twice as much grind.
As a roulette player, always remember to check how different casino games contribute towards clearing a bonus. On most sites, roulette contributes between 10% and 25% of money wagered. If you bet $100 on a site with a 10% roulette contribution rule, only $10 will count towards clearing your bonus. In extreme cases, roulette won’t contribute towards clearing the bonus at all – needless to say, if you’re a roulette player who likes welcome bonuses, you should actively avoid such sites.
How roulette works
Roulette is played with a wheel divided into 37 or 38 pockets. 36 of those pockets are assigned numbers ranging from 1 to 36. Those numbers are additionally assigned colors – red and black. The remaining pockets are assigned the value of 0 (zero) and, in the case of certain game varieties, 00 (double zero).
A round of roulette starts with players placing their bets. Possible wagers include betting on a single number, betting on a group of numbers, and betting on a particular color. The dealer then spins the wheel and throws a ball inside.
When the wheel comes to a halt, the outcome of the game is decided based on where the ball landed. Players who bet on a color receive a payout only if the ball landed on that same color, and players who bet on a number receive a payout only if the ball landed on that number.
If the ball lands on a zero or double zero, players who made an even bet (see glossary below) lose their entire stake.
Is land-based roulette different from online roulette?
There are several differences between electronic roulette as offered in online casinos and live roulette, which is available in land-based gambling establishments and on live dealer casino sites.
The most important difference is the pace of the game. A real dealer will wait for all players to place their bets before spinning the wheel, which makes for a rather slow-paced experience. A typical online casino roulette game is played solo, and the outcome is provided by a random number generator (RNG). This means that online players can place dozens of bets per hour, which would be impossible with a traditional roulette wheel. Most online roulette variants allow you to disable animations, which distills the game to its most basic mathematical form and picks up the pace significantly.
Another difference is that in the past, some poorly manufactured roulette wheels were found to be “biased.” This meant that one side of the wheel was heavier than the other. These “biased” wheels had a slight preference for certain numbers, which could be exploited by observant players. Note that finding such wheels in a modern casino is next to impossible, particularly in the United States, as present-day casino equipment is manufactured to a much higher standard. What’s more, the casinos and live dealer studios test their wheels before making them available for real money play and monitor game results for inconsistencies with their mathematical model. This minimizes the risk of exposing players to faulty equipment even further.
- American roulette: standard American roulette is played with a double-zero wheel, which puts the house edge at 5.26%.
- European roulette: European roulette is played with a single-zero wheel, which lowers the house edge to 2.70%.
- Atlantic City roulette: played with a double-zero wheel. However, if the ball lands on 0 or 00, you only lose 50% of your even-money (1-18/19-36, odd/even, red/black) wagers. This rule, called La Partage, lowers the house edge on even bets to 2.63%.
- French roulette: a single-zero variant that employs the La Partage rule described above. The house edge on even money bets is only 1.35%.
When it comes to live dealer games, European roulette is the standard outside the United States. In the US, American roulette is still more prominent, although some gambling establishments offer European roulette tables to high-limit players.
Types of roulette bets and roulette odds
WAGER TYPE / PAYOUT / EV on $1 BET (EUROPEAN) / EV on $1 BET (AMERICAN)
Red / 1 / -$0.027 / -$0.053
Black / 1 / -$0.027 / -$0.053
Odd / 1 / -$0.027 / -$0.053
Even / 1 / -$0.027 / -$0.053
1 to 18 / 1 / -$0.027 / -$0.053
19 to 36 / 1 / -$0.027 / -$0.053
1 to 12 / 2 / -$0.027 / -$0.053
13 to 34 / 2 / -$0.027 / -$0.053
25 to 36 / 2 / -$0.027 / -$0.053
Six line (6 numbers) / 5 / -$0.027 / -$0.053
First five (5 numbers) / 6 / n/a / -$0.079
Corner (4 numbers) / 8 / -$0.027 / -$0.053
Street (3 numbers) / 11 / -$0.027 / -$0.053
Split (2 numbers) / 17 / -$0.027 / -$0.053
Any one number / 35 / -$0.027 / -$0.053
Short-paying roulette games
Some online roulette games offer poorer payouts than the standard ones listed above. This is mostly a problem in electronic games and is rarely, if ever, encountered in live dealer roulette.
The impact these altered pay tables can have on the house edge is quite severe.
For example, if a single-number bet pays 34:1 instead of the standard 35:1 in a double-zero game, the house edge grows to a whopping 7.89%. Paying 30:1, while very rare, causes the house edge to skyrocket to 18.42% – this makes for a significantly less profitable game than slots.
If you have no choice but to play a short-paying game variant, avoid all bets that have been altered and stick to those with standard payouts.
Try the games for free
Most casinos allow you to test their games for free, which is a good way of finding (and then avoiding) short-paying games. This also lets you get used to the interface without putting your hard-earned money on the line, which is particularly beneficial for inexperienced online casino enthusiasts. Note that this applies exclusively to electronic roulette games – we’re not aware of any free-to-play live dealer roulette games being available.
Glossary of roulette terms
- Betting systems – predetermined ways of placing bets which are supposed to defeat the house edge. Such systems are usually grounded in logical fallacies. Never trust a betting system that claims you can make a living playing roulette.
- Expected value – the expected average value of a long series of bets, often abbreviated as EV; bets that are expected to benefit the player are referred to as EV-positive, and bets that are expected to benefit the casino are referred to as EV-negative. In roulette, all bets are EV-negative.
- Gambler’s fallacy – a false belief that isolated random events can influence the outcome of other isolated random events.
- Even money bet – a bet placed on either of the following: Red or Black, Odd or Even, and 1-18 or 19-36.
- Inside bet – any roulette bet placed on less than 12 numbers.
- Outside bet – any roulette bet placed on 12 numbers or more. All even bets are considered outside bets.
- The grind – the effect of the house edge chewing through your bankroll in fast-paced games over prolonged periods of time.
- House edge – the ratio of the gambler’s expected loss to their initial bet.
- RTP (return-to-player) – the expected percentage the game will pay back to the player over the long term. If a player wagers $1,000 on a game with a 97.5% RTP, he or she can expect to receive back $975 – the remaining $25 goes to the house.
- Safe bet – a bet designed to advance your bonus playthrough in a safe manner – a good example would be betting on both red and black. This helps limit variance and reduces your risk of short-term ruin.
How to beat roulette
Beating roulette over the short term is possible – in fact, if you stick to even money bets, your odds will be very close to a coin flip.
Despite the game being purely luck-based and requiring almost no strategic thought, the European variant of roulette compares very favorably with slots and most other casino games in terms of RTP. Even the American version of roulette, with its 94.74% RTP, compares favorably with many slot machines.
Avoid American roulette
The double-zero spot in this variant of the game doubles the casino’s edge relative to other popular choices and therefore doubles your expected losses. Focus on European and Atlantic City roulette, which come with a proper-play RTP of 97.3% and 97.37%, respectively.
If you can find a French Roulette game at a suitable casino, go for it – the house edge in this variant can be as low as 1.35%.
Play speed and the grind
As mentioned above, with 47.37% probability to win on an even pay spin, anyone can be a short-term winner, even with a 5.26% house edge. This is true if your session consists of a single spin, ten spins, or even a hundred spins.
However, as the number of spins grows, the house edge inevitably rears its head and starts chewing through your bankroll. There is no escaping the laws of probability over the long term – the more you play, the more likely your bankroll is to reflect the game’s RTP. This phenomenon is called the grind.
The grind is less of a problem in live dealer games, where the number of spins per unit time is necessarily limited – the industry standard is about 38 spins per hour, or a little more than one spin every two minutes. At this slow pace, the grind is likely to go unnoticed for a long time and variance is more likely to play a role.
Unfortunately, electronic roulette is much faster paced. You can easily rack up a few thousand spins over a single week, particularly if you disable game animations and keep hitting the “Repeat bet” button. Under these conditions, you’ll be exposed to the grind much sooner than in a live setting.
Adjust the size of your bets
When it comes to exploiting variance, roulette is a pretty decent game to play. This is because it allows you to wager a lot of money on a single spin, and your odds of turning a profit can be adjusted to match your personal penchant for risk.
As discussed above, minimizing spin volumes is always more advantageous to the player than going through spins as quickly as possible. Therefore, if you’re more interested in a short-term win than in having long-term fun, the best strategy is to make a few very large bets and trust your luck.
The type of the bet is up to you – if you’d be satisfied with doubling your initial bankroll, go for an even play bet. If you’re after that life-altering payout, make large inside bets or bet everything on a single number. Just keep in mind that the odds on any particular bet are always stacked against you.
Finally, if your goal is to maximize the chances of a successful hit-and-run, avoid short-paying games at all costs.
Roulette betting systems
Before we move on to discussing examples of betting systems, we’d like to emphasize that none of them can ever influence the game’s odds or house edge. Simply stated, these systems do not work – and the ones that require you to place a lot of small bets will most likely put your bankroll at risk by exposing it to unnecessary grind. If you don’t take our word for it, here’s what Albert
Einstein had to say: “No one can possibly win at roulette unless he steals money from the table while the croupier isn’t looking.”
Hot numbers and the gambler’s fallacy
Some people believe that tracking the outcomes of roulette spins is a great way of beating the game. They check for “hot” and “cold” numbers to test the wheel for biases and base their bets on such observations. For instance, if they feel the ball is landing frequently on Red, they’ll bet as much as possible on that color.
In the case of electronic roulette, this approach is a waste of time – the outcome of each spin is decided by certified random number generating software.
Tracking numbers in an electronic game is a prime example of gambler’s fallacy, which is the false belief that one random event, such as a roulette spin, can influence the outcome of a completely unrelated random event, such as another roulette spin.
In short: unless you’re participating in a live game with an antiquated, mechanically-flawed wheel, number tracking will never have a positive influence on your bankroll
The Martingale technique is the most widespread roulette betting system – in fact, it was developed specifically to beat roulette.
The strategy boils down to doubling your bet progressively after every defeat. The underlying assumption is that the doubled bet will cover for your previous defeat, while simultaneously allowing you to turn a profit in case of a hit.
Unfortunately, the Martingale is not a “surefire” system. This is because even the wealthiest player will have a limited bankroll, which means that anyone using the Martingale technique long enough will go broke.
The overall return-to-player of a gambler employing the Martingale technique will be the same as the RTP of someone who always bets the same amount. However, by forcing you to make large bets relatively often, this strategy can definitely increase your variance.
Clearing bonuses on roulette
Back in the “wild west” days of online casino gambling, roulette used to be the go-to game for gambling enthusiasts engaged in bonus hunting. Those players would hop from site to another and clear bonuses by placing the safest bets possible, then withdraw what they were left with.
This practice caused online casinos massive financial losses and plenty of grief. Needless to say, casino operators weren’t happy and responded by introducing rules that limited these activities.
Nowadays, clearing bonuses on roulette is significantly more difficult. As briefly touched on earlier, most sites have lowered roulette’s contribution towards bonus clearing to a measly 5% to 20%. Some casinos went as far as to prevent roulette from contributing to bonus clearing altogether. What’s more, many online venues prohibit their customers from clearing bonuses by placing so-called safe bets, which include betting on both red and black.
If you’re planning on clearing your casino bonus through betting on roulette, always read the terms and conditions and make sure that you didn’t skip any fine print.
Tips for playing online roulette
The information provided above can be distilled to a number of simple tips that will improve your roulette experience:
Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose
As mentioned above, roulette is an EV-negative game. This means that you’re more likely to lose than to win on any given spin. As a result, you should never wager more than you’re willing to lose.
Treat roulette as entertainment and never assume you’re going to beat the odds, or that you will recuperate your losses down the line. If you’re looking for a game that can be played professionally, try online poker instead.
Remember: you’re there to have fun
This rule is an extension of the previous one. The primary reason to be playing roulette is fun and entertainment. Think of it as paying a fee to the casino in exchange for a decent dose of thrill and excitement.
Avoid roulette games with the highest house edge, pick a title that’s visually appealing and which matches your expectations in terms of pacing.
Don’t fall for any “winning” betting systems
As explained in previous sections, no betting system can “beat” roulette – the RTP will always be lower than 100%. The only way to turn a profit is to get lucky and then quit while ahead. If you’re looking to become a regular roulette player, the house edge will get your bankroll sooner or later.
Avoid short-paying games
If you find that your roulette game doesn’t offer fair payouts on single or double-number bets and you’re even remotely interested in placing bets of this type, look for an alternative game. Failing to follow this advice can result in your RTP dropping to as low as 80% – and that’s neither entertaining nor profitable.
For the details of typical roulette pay tables, see the “Types of roulette bets and roulette odds” section above.
Online Roulette FAQ
Q: Can you really win money playing online roulette?
A: Yes. You can exploit variance and turn a profit as long as your gambling session is reasonably short and Fortune smiles your way. Keep in mind that regardless of what you do, roulette will still be an EV-negative game.
Note that the longer you play, the smaller your chances of coming out ahead. This is due to the compounding effect of the house edge, which becomes more prominent over time.
For more details, refer to the “how to beat roulette” section from earlier.
Q: Which roulette games will give me the best odds?
A: Any European roulette game is going to give you better odds than American roulette. If you’re looking for the cream of the crop, look for a casino that offers Atlantic City or French roulette.
Remember to never prioritize game selection over the reputation and trustworthiness of a casino.
Q: Are the numbers on a roulette wheel distributed randomly?
A: No, number placement is deliberate. Most numbers are grouped in pairs, with a third one placed between them. Each pair adds up to either 37 or 39. This means that the sum of the numbers on any given section of the wheel should be more or less equal to the sum of the numbers from a different section of a similar size.
The sum of all numbers in roulette is 666 – the Number of the Beast. According to a roulette-related legend, Francois Blanc, a famous 19th-century casino operator, sold his soul to the devil in exchange for the secrets of roulette.
Q: How do I deposit money with an online roulette casino?
A: Any legitimate online casino will give you several payment options. E-wallets such as Skrill and Neteller are ubiquitous. Credit card payments and region-specific payment processing services are also very common. Note that while some sites do support PayPal deposits, you shouldn’t expect them from every online casino.
If you live in the United States, consider avoiding credit card payments. This is because US-based financial institutions tend to reject gambling-related transactions even when dealing with legitimate, state-licensed sites. The rejection rate can be as high as 45% in some states.
Q: If I win at roulette, how will I get paid?
A: Much like with deposits, the availability of withdrawal options will depend on your jurisdiction and the casino in question. Furthermore, in certain cases, your bankroll or banking history may be taken into account. For instance, many sites allow e-wallet cash-outs only if the player has already used the service in question to load up their account.
Withdrawal limits, on the other hand, shouldn’t be a problem, unless you score a big winning streak or are a super-high-roller. In such cases, emptying your bankroll may require initiating more than one transaction, unless you’re willing to accept a slow (14+ days) payment by check.
The typical withdrawal processing time is a few hours to 3 days.
Q: What happens if I get disconnected in the middle of an active game?
In the case of electronic roulette: either your spin doesn’t go through and your bet is returned to you, or your spin does go through and its result is reflected in your bankroll as soon as you reconnect to the casino. This is because the RNG software generates the outcome as soon as you click “Spin” – the actual wheel animation has no bearing on the results of your bet.
Disconnecting during a live dealer game can be more problematic.
Policies for handling connection losses vary from casino to another, so you should get in touch with your provider for details. Generally speaking, disconnecting should not result in a disadvantage.
Q: Are there any casino welcome bonuses available exclusively to roulette players?
No. Roulette isn’t popular enough, and experience shows that players are eager to exploit the game’s relatively low house edge to quickly clear and withdraw bonuses. In fact, most casinos will make it harder for you to clear your bonus if you stick exclusively to roulette. For more information, refer to the “How to beat roulette” section above.
Q: What about cryptocurrencies? Can I use Bitcoin to fund my casino account?
This depends on your area of residence. The number of trustworthy casinos that process Bitcoin deposits is very small. US-based casino enthusiasts can play on Bovada, while their European friends can try Bodog. Finding a crypto-only casino is somewhat easier, however, most of them are not licensed, which makes them a risky proposition.
A brief history of roulette
The first roulette game was devised in France in the 17th century. Some historians believe that the first roulette wheel was designed by Blaise Pascal in the process of attempting to devise a perpetual motion machine.
The first modern roulette games were hosted as early as 1796 in Paris. The game was even mentioned in the contemporary novel “La Roulette, ou le Jour” by writer Jaques Lablee. The earliest known reference to the game was found in a 1758 legal document from New France (Quebec), which banned the games of “dice, hoca, faro, and roulette.”
Throughout the 19th century, roulette spread to other European countries and to America, quickly becoming one of the most popular casino games in the world. The Monte Carlo casino was particularly instrumental in making the single-zero variant of the game a de facto standard in Europe.