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Pick Your Casino Classic Favourite - Roulette vs. Slots

Roulette vs Slots

On the surface, roulette and slots seem to have very little in common. One involves placing bets on a spinning wheel while the other involves betting on three or more spinning reels. However, online casinos are filled with automated casino games making both more convenient than ever to play. Some automated games even cross roulette and slot machines together to make a hybrid variation of the two classics.

Which game is your best bet? Find out how each compares in terms of potential winnings, odds and special features offered by different variations. Both games are a very popular worldwide and are a staple in both physical and online casinos.

Online Slots Explained

Invented as early as the 19th century, slot machines typically have 3-5 reels covered in symbols. Early versions were coin-operated and required gamblers to pull an 'arm' to spin the reels. Certain combinations of matching symbols awarded payouts according to a pay table.

Most traditional slots require matches of at least 3 of a kind, left to right across the reels, to win. Modern day casinos devote the majority of available floor space to video slots, and online casinos have hundreds of automated slots to choose from. Both are preprogrammed with random number generator technology ensuring that each spin has the same chance to win as the one that came before and the one that will come after.

Many online or video slots also include special bonus payouts or mini games with bonuses. In addition, there are progressive jackpot slots which have made millionaires.

An Odds Comparison

Depending on where you play, slots can either have a higher or lower house edge than Roulette. RNG technology gives each slot a fixed house edge which is usually communicated in terms of RTP or return to player. At physical casinos, the house edge for slots is significantly higher with only 65% RTP in some Las Vegas casinos. Online casinos tend to offer a much better RTP on slots-as high as 98%.

Roulette's house edge can be as low as 1.35% on even-money bets when playing French roulette, or as high as 5.26% on all bets when playing the American variation. This gives roulette an RTP range of 94.74%-98.65%.

While betting strategies don't really change the theoretical odds to win in roulette, the many different bet options allow players to maximize the payout potential of winning streaks or offset losses brought on by losing streaks with a bit of luck and strategic planning.

Slots are about as random as the lottery with limited bet options that only allow players to increase or decrease the cost of each bet. Some do allow players to choose the RTP with game settings that activate some or all of the possible lines that could potentially produce a payout. Usually, this directly impacts the total cost of bets with cheaper bets giving a lower RTP and more expensive bets raising the RTP. However, this doesn't really involve any strategy making roulette a better fit for players that like to think through each move.

Variations of Slots and Roulette

Roulette has 3 main variations including American, European and French which offer different house edges due to differences in zero pockets on the wheels or rules applying to certain bets. Online, several sub-variations exist including multi-wheel, Spingo, Premier Diamond Roulette, live dealer roulette and even no-zero roulette which claims to have no house edge but skims a percentage of your total winnings instead. Most of these stick with the original rules but offer different bet options, layouts or even odds to win.

"Roulette can be picked up fast, but it's complex. There are many betting options and mastery is something that takes time and persistent practice to come by."

Slots are divided into several variations as well mostly differing in terms of volatility and payout potential. Slots have 3 to 5+ reels and can potentially include a bonus jackpot, progressive jackpot or bonus game. Players that like a different take on traditional slots can always find a 'pay all ways' or 'pay any way' slot which allows numbers to match from multiple directions. However, keep in mind that no matter which variation you play, the RTP and volatility are both the most important features to consider when choosing a slot that best suits your preferred gaming experience.

Potential Winnings for Each Game

Progressive jackpot slots can award millions giving slots a much higher payout potential than roulette. Many also provide players with the opportunity to win big off of very small wagers. Of course, keep in mind that the odds of hitting a progressive jackpot are similar to the odds of winning the lottery. In other words, it is very unlikely!

The potential winnings to be had from a session of roulette or slots depends on different factors for each game. For roulette, luck and the type of bets chosen have a lot to do with how much is won or lost in an hour. Online, there may be a minute or less between each bet making it possible to place around 60 wagers in an hour. If wagering primarily on outside bets, you're much more likely to walk away with a profit than when using mostly inside bets.

Depending on whether or not you play with the animations switched on, slots allow players to make, win or lose wagers just as quickly if not more quickly than roulette. Low volatility slots produce frequent, small wins. High volatility slots produce big wins infrequently. Choosing a low volatility slot will likely allow you to lose less in an hour than a high volatility slot, provided you don't hit a big win on the latter.

Have a look at how each game of chance compares below.

Casino Game RTP House Edge
American Roulette 94.74% 5.26%
European Roulette 97.30% 2.70%
French Roulette 98.65%-97.30% 1.35%-2.70%
Online Slots 85%-98% 2%-15%
Land Based Slots 65%-97% 3%-35%

Note that Canadian players can access slots with a range of 85%-98% RTP online!

How Do I Decide?

While roulette isn't exactly the most difficult casino game to master, it does have more of a learning curve. In addition, the wins associated with roulette don't come close to matching those of progressive slots.

Betting fans enjoy slots because they're easy to play, require very little effort and have the allure of very large jackpots always on the horizon. Roulette is a little different in that most players stick with outside bets which have comparatively modest rewards. It is possible to place lots of inside bets in the hope of reaping a large real cash prize, but you won't get the intermittent wins that most slot machines reward players with.

The big advantage roulette has over many casino games, slots included, is a relatively low house edge. That house edge increases when you're making inside bets, but outside bets have odds of close to 50/50. You could search far and wide and still probably never find slots with odds of 50/50 on every spin.

Fortunately, there's no need to choose between the two as the games actually complement each other quite well. After an intense session of roulette, spinning a few reels at the slots can be a nice way to unwind, spend some extra chips and, if you're really lucky, win yourself a great prize.

Freeplay Options at Online Casinos

Most slots and roulette games have free demo versions available at online casinos. We recommend taking each game for a spin with play money before using real cash. Many casinos give away free spins on new slots or giveaway bonus cash that can be used on either roulette or slots. It's all about choosing the right casino with the best bonuses. Fortunately, we can recommend several credible, online casinos that offer free demos, bonus cash and free spins.