Single Zero Roulette
Single-zero roulette is the only way you should be playing online roulette games. People in the United States who don't have ready access to Las Vegas or Atlantic City might have to play double-zero roulette for their gaming wheel entertainment. Gamblers who play in brick-and-mortar casinos on this side of the Atlantic might have to make do, but no one in an Internet setting should ever have to choose between European roulette and its American spin-off.
Single-0 roulette, often known as European, Euro, or French roulette, was the original game and it's a far better option for gamblers. The innovations of the Las Vegas game designers meant a secondary game came about with bigger wheels and (more importantly) the inclusion of a 00 slot on the wheel. Don't let this fool you into thinking that's a better game.
Euro Gambling History
The history of European roulette stretches back into the 18th century. In German resort towns like Homberg in the early 19th century, people could enjoy roulette which used a double-zero, but the distinctive single-zero game had not come to the attention of the masses. Francois Blanc, at the time known as "The Magician of Homburg", introduced the world to single-zero roulette in the German resort town of Homberg in 1843. Francois was the most famous operator of casinos in the 19th century. Blanc and his brother, Louis, a sometime politician, were entrepreneurs in several casinos over the years.
The single-0 game first became well-known on the continent when Monte Carlo began to attract gamblers. In the 1860s, gambling was starting to be outlawed in many parts of Europe. It was the Victorian Age and reform movements of all kind where underway. Several areas in western Germany had traditionally catered to the wealthy arisocrats and tradesmen of earlier areas, but with the increasing unification of Germany by the Prussians, the German landscape went from about 200 jurisdictions ruled by princes and electors, to one central authority ruled by the Prussian king (and German kaiser). With a new period of consolidation and the building of railways, canals, and telegraph offices, travel became easier than ever before.
Monaco, Monte Carlo, and Roulette
Some years before, the house of Monaco realized they were bankrupt and began looking for a way to create revenues. Monaco decided to create a haven for leisure gamblers in their small principality in southern France. Francois Blanc built his own casino there, as Monaco was the last place in Europe which allowed gambling. The resort town of Monte Carlo was created and Francois Blanc became known as "The Magician of Monte Carlo".
One of the reasons this worked was the popularity of single-zero roulette, which the Blanc brothers brought from their Homberg operations. Within a few years, wealthy travelers and well-to-do tourists were flocking to Monte Carlo. Soon enough, the spinning wheel game of roulette became a favorite of visitors. At the time, the wheel had significantly fewer slots on the wheel--often between 25 and 30. In time, the current European roulette wheel could take shap, with 36 slots between 1 and 36 and a single-zero. As the 1860s moved into the 1870s and beyond, the last age of European imperialism got underway, as countries like Britain, France, and Germany looked for colonies and imperial possessions overseas. As they expanded, colonialists and imperialists from these countries brought with them their favorite games. Single-zero roulette was one of these games, which is why European roulette is the game played throughout most of the world.
Only in North America did the original double-0 game persist. In both games, the amount of numbers expanded from the 19th century version, to bring the odds more in line with modern standards of fairness. But as Las Vegas got famous, their casinos' 00-version of roulette meant their game became known as Las Vegas roulette, while the game played in Monte Carlo became known as French, Euro, or European roulette.
Single Zero Roulette Odds
Single-zero roulette has much better odds than American roulette. Taking out one extra losing number means the odds are affect by 2.5%, a large number in gambling. Single-zero roulette has a house edge of only 2.70%, while double-zero roulette has a house edge way up at 5.26%. This means that anyone who plays 00-roulette is going to lose $2.70 for every $100.00 they wager, while someone who plays 0-roulette is going to lose 5.26% for every one-hundred bucks wagered (on average). It's always in your best interest to play European roulette.
Online Roulette Sites
Strangely enough, most casino software offers both single-zero and double-zero roulette. These gaming variants usually are offered side-by-side at an online casino website, so playing one or the other is a matter of pointing and clicking with your mouse. This begs the question of why anyone who has the option of the two would play Vegas-style roulette. The obvious answer is they don't understand roulette odds. If all gamblers understood the implications, no one would play online American roulette.
This is only if the traditional rules apply, though changes to the rules can be made which makes American roulette better to play than Euro roulette. For instance, in Atlantic City, imprisonment rules mean you only lose half your bet on double-zero roulette (but not single-zero games), so the house edge is lowered to 2.63%. So if the ball lands on the zero or double-zero (and you lose because of this), you only lose half your original wager.