When it comes to casino games, roulette is one of the most popular choices for gamblers around the world. North Carolina tribal casinos offer roulette, either the live version or as an electronic table game. And while online casino gambling is not legal in the state, you can play roulette online in North Carolina at several social and sweepstakes casinos.
Here’s an overview of playing roulette in North Carolina, including information about where to find games and what to expect when you sit down to try your luck with the wheel and ball.
Is roulette legal in North Carolina?
Roulette is legal in North Carolina, but only in the state’s three tribal casinos.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians operates two Harrah’s casinos in the western part of the state, while the Catawba Nation operates another casino in Kings Mountain, about a half-hour west of Charlotte. Both tribes have compacts with the state that permit them to offer a variety of Class III games at their casinos, including roulette.
The compacts permit the tribes to offer both live and electronic roulette. You’ll find both varieties at the two Cherokee casinos, while the Catawba Two Kings Casino just has electronic roulette.
Online roulette games for North Carolina players
Online gambling for real money is not legal in North Carolina. That includes playing real money online roulette. You can, however, play online roulette in North Carolina at social and sweepstakes casinos. These sites use virtual currencies rather than real money and, in some cases, offer the option to redeem winnings for cash prizes.
Such social and sweepstakes sites tend to focus largely on slots, but a few also feature table games like roulette.
For example, Chumba Casino is a sweepstakes casino that offers roulette as well as other table games. The featured roulette game at Chumba is American Roulette X2.
You’ll also find roulette at Pulsz Casino. The roulette game at Pulsz is American Roulette 3D.
These social and sweepstakes casinos feature similar high-level graphics, animation and sound as the games at real money online casinos. As a result, the games do a good job simulating the immersive casino experience. All of which means they do provide those in North Carolina with a fun, legal option to play roulette online for free with an opportunity to redeem winnings for real prizes.
How to play roulette
Roulette dates back hundreds of years to its origins in Europe. Roulette is a luck-based game that unlike, say, poker or blackjack does not involve any particular skill that enables players to improve their chances of success by employing any special strategy.
However, if you learn the rules and how to place different kinds of bets in roulette, you can certainly be smart about how you manage your risk and play the game in a way that best suits how you prefer to gamble.
Start by taking a seat at the roulette table. The wheel will typically be at one end of the table, operated by the croupier who also accepts and manages all of the wagering. In most cases, you’ll have to buy chips directly from the croupier before you start, and then cash out any remaining chips with the croupier when you’re ready to go. Typically, you cannot use the chips you use at roulette tables elsewhere in the casino, nor can you use regular casino chips when playing roulette.
Once you have chips, you’re ready to start betting. The croupier will spin the wheel, and while it is spinning, you can place chips on the table to indicate your bets. See below for details about the different types of roulette bets. At some point before the wheel stops, the croupier will announce that betting is closed.
Eventually, the wheel slows to a stop, and the ball will land in one of the numbered spots to show which bets won and which ones lost. The croupier will then settle the bets, scooping up chips from losing bets and handing out chips to the winners. The croupier will then spin the wheel once more, and the process starts all over again.
American roulette vs. European roulette
Recall how Chumba Casino and Pulsz Casino offered versions of “American” roulette, as opposed to European roulette. The two types of roulette play almost the same, but there is one key and very meaningful difference.
When roulette first appeared in France in the 18th century, the wheel featured slots numbered 1-36, with half of the numbers in red and the other half black. There were two more green slots, as well — 0 and 00. When roulette later found its way to America, that was the version of the game that people played.
Later, the European version of roulette dropped the 00, keeping only the one green 0 in addition to slots 1-36. Thus, when you hear reference to European roulette, that means the wheel has only the single zero:
By contrast, American roulette features the single zero and double zero:
It is a small difference, but that extra zero affects the probabilities in the game in a meaningful way. European roulette is the better game for players, as the house edge is less in European roulette (with just the 0) than in American roulette (with both the 0 and 00).
Here’s one quick example to show why this is the case. When you bet on red or black, you are betting on the ball landing in one of 18 spots. In European roulette, you have an 18 in 37 chance of that happening (48.65%). In American roulette, your chance of winning is 18 in 38 (47.37%). However, in both cases, a winning bet pays the same — you double your money.
It’s a small difference, but over the long run, the house reaps the rewards with its greater edge in American roulette. (See more discussion of the house edge in roulette below.)
Note that in North Carolina casinos, you’ll probably only see American roulette wheels, with both the 0 and 00.
OK, so you’re ready to start making some bets in roulette. What are your options? Often, when people talk about different kinds of roulette bets, the discussion will mention the following:
- Inside bets
- Outside bets
Inside bets refer to bets that you place inside the main box that contains the numbers 1 to 36. Outside bets refer to bets that you place in the smaller boxes positioned around the main box. Generally speaking, inside bets have longer odds and bigger payouts, while outside bets have shorter odds and smaller payouts.
The odds and payouts for different roulette bets are good to know since that helps you decide how risky you want to be with your wagering. Here is a list of inside bets explaining what they are and what winning wagers pay:
- Straight up — Betting on a single number from 1 to 36 (winning pays 35-to-1).
- Split — Betting on two numbers at once by placing your chip(s) on the line between them (17-to-1).
- Street — Betting on a row containing three numbers (11-to-1).
- Corner — Betting on four numbers at once by placing your chip(s) at the intersection between all four (8-to-1).
- Basket — Betting on five numbers at once — 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3 (6-to-1).
- Line or double-street — Betting on six numbers (two rows of three numbers) by placing your chip(s) on the intersection of the two rows (5-to-1).
As you can see, those are some nice payouts. Keep in mind, though, that inside bets are harder to win than outside bets. Here is a list of common outside bets with their payouts:
- Red/black — Betting on the 18 red numbers or the 18 black numbers (winning bet pays 1-to-1; that is, you double your money).
- Odd/even — Betting on the 18 odd numbers or the 18 even numbers (1-to-1).
- High/low — Betting on either the numbers 1-18 or 19-36 (1-to-1).
- Dozens — Betting on the first 12 numbers (1-12), the second 12 (13-24) or the third 12 (25-36) (2-to-1).
- Column — Betting on a column of 12 numbers (2-to-1).
Notice the payouts are less for outside bets, but you’ll win your bets more often.
What exactly is the “house edge” in roulette?
Let’s talk more specifically about the house edge in roulette. To keep things simple, we’ll focus only on American roulette, which uses both the single zero and double zero (which gives the house a bigger edge than in European roulette).
Take the outside bets on either red or black, odd or even, or high or low. For all of those, you are betting on 18 numbers at once. Your chance of winning that bet is 18/38 or 47.37%. That means the house has a 20/38 chance of you losing, which is 52.63%. Do a little subtraction, and you can see the house edge is about 5.26%.
That’s a nice edge to have for a bet that pays 1-to-1. You only double your money if you win. If you were betting on a coin flip where your chance of winning was 50%, there’d be no edge. But your chance of winning is less than 50%, so the house does indeed have an edge.
One fascinating aspect of roulette is the fact that for nearly all the available bets, the payouts are set in a way that ensures the house enjoys that same 5.26% edge.
For example, take the corner bet on four numbers that pays 8-to-1, which means you get your bet back plus 8x your bet. Your chance of winning that bet is 4/38 or 10.53%. However, for an 8-to-1 payout, “true odds” would be 4/36 (1 in 9), not 4/38. Once again, those two zeroes on the wheel are giving the house an extra 2/38 chance of winning, or 5.26%.
That’s going to be the same edge for nearly all common roulette bets. There is one bet, though, where the house has an even greater edge — the basket bet on 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3 (which pays 6-to-1). The house edge for that bet is almost 7.9%.
Another thing to know is that the house edge in roulette is much larger than it is in games like blackjack, video poker, baccarat or craps. However, in those games the way you play can change the house edge, and if you play a certain way, you can make the house edge much greater.
But in roulette the house edge never changes. You cannot affect it by the way you play.
Betting limits when playing roulette in North Carolina
Typically, the minimum you can bet at roulette tables in North Carolina casinos will be $5, although sometimes the only tables running will have higher limits of $10 or $25. Maximums vary as well, ranging from $300 to $1,500.
Whenever you sit down at a roulette table or log onto an online roulette game, you’ll want to make certain you know the betting limits. At a live table, the casino will post these so all players can easily see. Online, the limits will appear on the screen in a similarly obvious way.
All roulette players should be aware of how betting limits apply when talking about inside bets as opposed to outside bets. Let’s say you are playing at a roulette table where $25 is the minimum bet. If you make an outside bet (outside the numbers box), such as on red or black, you have to bet at least $25.
However, when you make an inside bet (on the numbers), you can divide your bet into multiple smaller bets. If betting the minimum of $25, you could, for instance, bet $5 each on five different numbers, or distribute your chips in other ways. You can’t simply bet $5 only, but you can spread out your $25 among different bets.
Sometimes you’ll see roulette tables where the maximum wagers are higher for outside bets than for inside bets. Casinos will generally want to avoid making an enormous payout on a straight up bet.
Where to play roulette in North Carolina
You can play roulette at all three North Carolina casinos, although in one case the only option is electronic roulette as opposed to live roulette. Here are the casinos:
- Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort
- Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River
- Catawba Two Kings Casino
Both Harrah’s Cherokee (in Cherokee) and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River (in Murphy) have live roulette among their available table games.
Harrah’s Cherokee usually offers around eight roulette tables while Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River typically has around six roulette tables available. Betting limits vary, though sometimes the minimums go as low as $5. All of the live roulette tables have double-zero wheels (American roulette), although you may find single-zero roulette among the electronic table games.
Speaking of electronic roulette, that’s all you’ll find at North Carolina’s newest casino, the Catawba Two Kings Casino in Kings Mountain. The Two Kings property has no live table games at present, although there are plans to expand and eventually add over 50 table games, including live roulette. As noted, you’ll find electronic roulette at Two Kings in the form of 12 Dual Roulette machines.
A product of Interblock Gaming, Dual Roulette features two electronic roulette wheels (or “roulette generators”), one red and one blue, sitting side-by-side. Players place their bets on video screens and are able to make all of the same types of bets as in traditional roulette, plus a few unique ones as well as special side bets. The spins are timed so players can play two roulette games at once, placing their bet on one wheel while the other completes.
The games allow multiple players to play at once, and the option to play just one wheel or both. Essentially, electronic roulette plays almost identically to live roulette, although without the personal interaction of a croupier managing the game.
FAQ about North Carolina roulette
No, there is no winning strategy for roulette. Like the lottery, roulette is entirely based on chance. You’ve probably heard a lot about various “systems” of betting or predicting numbers based on recent spins and/or patterns, but none of these systems is valid. Every spin of the wheel is unique and random. The only real “strategy” you might want to bring to the roulette table is a plan not to gamble too much or to stick to the bets with which you are most comfortable.
The “cover the table” strategy involves making many bets at once, combining both inside bets and outside bets. By making many bets, including some that have a better chance of winning (the outside bets) and some long shots (the inside bets, especially the “straight up” bets on single numbers), you do affect your overall risk. But you can’t overcome the house edge. This way of playing involves betting a lot more at once, which may or may not be something you want to do.
Yes, just because someone else has bet on a number (or combination of numbers), that doesn’t mean you can’t make the same wager on the same spin.
French roulette uses the same single-zero wheel as European roulette. The table layout is slightly different, though, and French roulette also introduces a couple of potential variations that only affect even money (1-to-1) outside bets in those rare instances the ball lands on zero. If you’re playing “En Prison,” you don’t lose your bet, but you have to play the same bet again. If the game is “La Partage,” you lose only half your wager if the ball lands on zero.
If you add up all of the numbers on a roulette wheel — 1 through 36 — you’ll discover they total 666, the so-called “mark of the beast.” That’s why the game has been dubbed the “devil’s game,” although those who morally object to gambling might have other reasons for doing so.