Can a Dealer Control Where the Roulette Ball Lands?

min read
Croupier hand placing a ball on a roulette wheel.
BetMGM Sep 11, 2023, 9:41 AM

Roulette is one of the oldest and most popular casino table games in the world and is considered by many to be the ultimate game of chance. However, over the years, a debate has emerged centered around the question: Can a roulette dealer control where the ball lands? 

This blog post explores that fascinating question, examining the facts and debunking the myths. It also investigates the rigorous security measures that have been put in place in many land-based casinos, as well as the role played by random number generators (RNGs) in online roulette

Roulette Origins

Before going any further, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of this classic game and where it came from. The exact origins of the roulette wheel remain a mystery to this day. Some claim it came from the ancient Greeks, others that it originated in ancient Rome, while others insist that it must be French in origin because the name translates as “little wheel.” 

Bizarrely, some individuals claim that it comes from the devil himself since the combined total of all the wheel’s numbers is 666. However, players can be quite confident that Satan was not involved and that the French have a strong claim. 

A Game of Chance

A roulette wheel typically consists of 36 numbered pockets, half of which are black and the other half red. In addition, there’s either a single green zero (on a European wheel) or a double zero pocket (in American roulette.) Players bet on where they believe the ball will land. This can be individual numbers, groups of numbers, fifty-fifty shots like odd and even, or black and red. 

The roulette dealer rotates the wheel in one direction and throws the ball onto the wheel in the opposite direction. It bounces around the wheel until it finally comes to rest in a numbered pocket. All very random so far. Winning bets are paid out, the losers may leave the table, and the winners get ready for the next round. 

The Crux of the Debate

That said, there are two conspiracy theories about roulette that just never seem to go away: dealer manipulation and casino game rigging.

Dealer Manipulation

Some say that, with a great deal of practice, dealers are able to manipulate where the ball lands. As a result, people believe that by studying the “dealer’s signature,” one can predict where the ball will end up.

The theory is that, while a dealer may not be able to pick a specific number, they can target a section of the wheel. That way, there’s at least a better probability of a number in that area being the winning number. 

But this is not plausible. No amount of practice can account for the multiple variables involved when the ball hits the wheel. It’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, for any dealer to master the art of “sector targeting.” A fair wheel is simply too unpredictable. 

Casino Security

Modern roulette wheels are rigorously tested to ensure complete randomization. There are too many factors for anyone to truly control where the ball will land. Not only is the wheel spinning, but the ball travels at a different speed and in the opposite direction.

Gravity certainly remains a constant. But the rivets on the roulette wheel aren’t just for decoration — they’re designed to send the ball in any number of directions, which are just impossible to predict. You also need to take into account the wheel’s own unique imperfections, which only add to the randomness of the outcome.

In addition to all this, it’s also true that, over time, dealers develop their own style of spinning the ball with subtle hand or wrist movements. If the dealer gets into a rhythm, it’s not impossible that they could end up robotically spinning in the same consistent fashion. And then, in theory, they could become somewhat predictable.

But even if this were true, shifts are intentionally kept short. Casinos change the dealer frequently to avoid this very situation.

Game Rigging

If the dealer is not able to manipulate the ball, can casinos control the roulette wheel? For example, magnets could be used to rig the outcome. Well, reputable casinos test their wheels regularly to ensure every outcome is completely fair. A casino has too much to lose when it comes to game rigging.

Not only would people stop playing at a casino if it became known that they rig their games, but game tampering is illegal and will result in severe penalties, including the loss of their casino license and criminal charges for the owners.

Preventing Ball Control

Casinos do whatever it takes to ensure that roulette is fair, including: 

Rigorous Surveillance

Trustworthy casinos employ advanced surveillance systems to monitor any suspicious activity and promote transparency. In addition, dealers are highly trained individuals who take their profession seriously and wouldn’t want to risk their careers or reputations.

Speed Variation

Dealers are encouraged to ensure there’s no consistency in the speed at which the wheel is spun, or the ball is thrown. This deliberate variation puts a stop to any “sector targeting.” 

Ball Change

Casinos use balls of different sizes, which are changed regularly. This also helps to prevent any consistency from creeping in, making it impossible to predict where the ball will land. 

Watching the Wheel

Dealers are instructed to look away from the wheel as they deliver the ball. Again, the idea is to prevent the dealer from accidentally getting into a consistent rhythm. 

Online Roulette vs Land-Based Roulette

With the evolution of online gambling, many casinos now offer live dealer tables. You can now immerse yourself in the authentic world of a live casino with professional dealers without leaving home. There are so many things you can do at online casinos compared to their land-based equivalents.

From playing slots and bingo to classic table games and live lotteries, you have a much wider choice. It’s even possible to play online casino games for free and practice your strategy — but how can you be sure that an online roulette casino game is as fair and legit as a bricks-and-mortar alternative? 

Fair Gaming

Well, trustworthy casinos utilize third-party auditors who rigorously test the RNG software of games to ensure fair play. 

An RNG (Random Number Generator) does exactly what the name says. It’s a computer program that produces a vast sequence of independent numbers with no pattern. All online casino games use these to randomly determine their outcomes.

Casino Odds

So, you may ask, do online casinos have better odds? It depends. Since they have lower overheads, they can, in theory, certainly offer better odds. However, online casino payouts differ from site to site.

Classic live dealer games, like roulette and blackjack, typically offer the same house edge. After all, they use the same rules and equipment as a physical casino. Animated games powered by RNG vary wildly, depending on their programming or the casino’s business model. 

Fair Gaming at BetMGM

Hopefully, this post has made it clear that neither dealer nor casino can predetermine the outcome of a game of roulette. At online casinos, it’s even less likely because of the use of RNG software. Register with BetMGM to try live dealer roulette and a host of other popular casino games. What’s more, there’s a fantastic welcome bonus waiting for you.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.