Are Roulette Machines Rigged?

Pretty much everyone understands that the house has the best chance to win most of the time, and some of us might believe that the house wins all the time. This is why when people play roulette they ask if roulette (particularly electronic or "video") is rigged, because you never know where the ball is going to go. The reality of the situation is that the answer varies greatly depending on what you consider "rigged."

Because everything is electronic on these machines, they're programmed in a specific way that ensures that everything is legitimate. In another sense, all gambling machines are rigged, because they've all got a ratio of wins to losses that ultimately favours the house.

Because of this, the answer to the question "are roulette machines rigged" is multi-faceted. To completely evaluate the topic, we'll consider several aspects of how electronic roulette machines work.

Casinos Control Where the Ball Lands, Right

All legitimate casinos have balanced roulette wheels. This protects both the player and the casino. This is because rigged games (or even the idea that a game could be rigged) is a great way to get a bad reputation and lose customers who probably spend a lot of money.

The good thing about this perception is that it affects all casinos, whether they're online or brick and mortar buildings. Most Internet gambling venues use random number generators rather than actual physical roulette wheels (it's important to note that some casinos do use live dealer betting systems, and these are the exception.) Most online casinos have tougher fairness standards than physical ones because people are still comfortable with the idea of walking into a casino in Vegas; most people are leery of online services.

All casinos know that the game of roulette is always in the house's favour (mathematically speaking), so there's no real point to rig it even further.

Is the House Edge in Roulette "Rigged?"

So, if the game is always in the casino's favour, why would you play?

You're not betting on winning or losing, you're betting on having a smaller percentage of winning on a less likely percentage. Casinos are just offering payouts for bets that have lower odds of winning.

It gets pretty complicated, but the standard roulette board has 38 numbers on it. Your chances for the ball landing on your space are 1 in 37 or 38. If you bet on a single number and win, you lose 35 to 1. That amount makes up for the house edge because the house will win 35 times and you'll win once, on average.

Some people win huge sums, and that's why people keep coming back time and time again.

What About All the Other Bets?

You might think that casinos rig up the tables (like in the movies,) but the house always has about at 5% edge (on American roulette wheels). If 3 players play at once, in an hour, you'll see professional dealers do at least 60 spins. If each player is betting $10, you'll see $600 per player (or $1800 an hour).

The house is guaranteed to win a small amount of that money (about $100 an hour), so they have no reason to rig the games, especially over the long run.

So, are they rigged?

These days, all casinos are regulated by the government to make sure that the number generators and software used are all audited. Because they're guaranteed to win over the long run, they have no real motivators to cheat. More often than not, the real concern is when a casino will pay out winnings rather than winning itself.