The gambling industry has typically been quick to assimilate new technologies as they become available. There’s a two pronged rationale behind this tendency toward ‘early adoption’. The first is to enhance the experience of players. The second and most important, however, is that most upgrades in technology enhance the profits of the casino owners one way or another. When slot and video poker machines got rid of coins and went to ‘ticket out’ payment it allowed them to eliminate change attendants. They also were able to minimize cashiers on the casino floor by bring in automatic redemption machines to pay out customer tickets. Historically, players have been resistant to new technologies in traditional ‘analog’ casino games but that’s no longer the case. Younger players grew up with the technology while older players have started to accept it grudgingly.
A very recent development is the use of technology to reduce labor overhead in casino table games. When blackjack auto-shuffle machines were first introduced they caused a furor with many players refusing to play at tables that used them. Today at some land based casinos the entire game is conducted via a video interface with a live dealer on hand to pay winners. At one point the use of a ‘virtual’ interface for baccarat was unthinkable but today they exist at a number of casinos. Also joining the ranks of ‘digitized’ casino table games is the analog classic roulette.
AN ANALOG GAME IN THE DIGITAL AGE
It’s not surprising that roulette is a primary target for digital innovation. At land based casinos, it’s one of the more cumbersome and labor intensive games. Most casinos employ multiple croupiers (dealers) who are responsible for every aspect of the game. The process of taking bets, spinning the wheel and paying bets is also time consuming. A digitized version of the game can be a benefit in one or more of these areas. The result is that the differences between playing roulette in a land based casino and playing online are rapidly disappearing.
Online roulette can take one of several forms. In some cases, there will be a remote ‘live dealer’ operating the wheel via a video feed. The player will place bets on a roulette layout on his computer and wait for the dealer to spin the wheel. Payouts can be made automatically which not only guarantees accuracy but allows the game to be played at a significantly increased speed. The more spins the casino can get every hour at a house edge of between 2% and 5% the more money they make.
Another form of video roulette involves an automatically controlled wheel. In a land based casino, there might be a big roulette wheel in the center of a group of betting stations or on a video screen. Online casinos have tried to replicate this setup by implementing a chat system where the players can communicate with one another hoping to replicate some of the social environment of the game. Finally, you’ll often find online roulette games where the individual player plays ‘heads up’ against ‘the house’. The player places bets in the same way as any other variety of roulette but there are no other players.
THE BENEFITS OF ONLINE ROULETTE
The distinction between roulette game play in a land based or online casino has been blurred significantly. For the online casino player that’s good news since he’s got it just as good or better than the player at the land based casino. Most casinos offer either the ‘American wheel’ with two zeros or the more player friendly ‘European wheel’ with one. At most online casinos you’ll find both. Live roulette can be somewhat confusing with a variety of bets strewn across a long table by a number of players. Video roulette allows the player to more accurately place his bets making sure that the specific wager and/or stakes is correct before the wheel spins. The player at a land based casino doesn’t have that luxury.
Finally, online roulette is much more convenient and adaptable to your personal preferences. You can play the game anywhere—home, office, on your laptop, etc. It’s also possible for you to choose the ‘socialization level’ you want online. If you want to interact with a live person, you can play live dealer roulette. If you’d rather not but still want some human contact you can go with a game that has a chat feature. There’s also the option for no interaction at all which is great for ‘multitasking’ with work or another game.