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What's The Difference Between Online vs. Live Roulette?

Thanks to the rise of the internet roulette fans are spoiled for choice when it comes to the huge range of games they can play with just a few clicks or taps of their chosen devices. However, with so much choice there can be some confusion between the different types of roulette, most commonly between online roulette games and live roulette games. Many players make the mistake of using these terms interchangeably, but they are actually two distinctly different types of roulette - think of them as two sides of the same coin.

In today’s article, we’ll be answering the question of what the difference is between online and live roulette in a live roulette vs online roulette showdown. Keep on reading to learn more.


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Setting the Record Straight: An Overview of Live Roulette and Online Roulette

As they are both most commonly played at online casinos and have increased in popularity within (roughly) the same time, even experienced players are guilty of conflating online and live roulette from time to time, so let’s set the record straight. 

In its most basic terms, online roulette is a form of roulette where the player makes wagers on a digital roulette wheel that operates using random number generation (RNG) to ensure fairness. There are some online roulette games which cater to multiple players at once and others where the player is the sole participant.

Live roulette, however, includes roulette games streamed live in real-time from brick-and-mortar casinos or dedicated studios. Many live roulette variants aim to recreate the most authentic real-world roulette experience for players despite never leaving the comfort of home, whilst others have taken the roulette concept and experimented with new bonus rounds and features in a game show style. In live roulette games, players play alongside others and can interact with them and the real dealer via a live chat feature.

The core components of Live and Online Roulette are enumerated below:

Core Components of Live Roulette

  • Live roulette is played in real-time with real wheel, dealer, and other players
  • Live roulette is live-streamed to the player's chosen device from either a brick-and-mortar casino or a dedicated studio.
  • The majority of games are hosted in English (there are some specialist-language games out there), but players can configure the user interface (UI) to a selection of languages.
  • As gameplay takes place in real-time, the pace of play is controlled by the live dealer.
  • Players can interact with the dealer (such as to ask questions) and talk with other players using the live chat function. 
  • Because of the real-time gameplay, there is no free play or demo play version of live games. However, players do not need to wager every round, and can instead watch a few rounds be played to learn the ropes. 
  • Games are streamed in HD quality with multiple camera angles, however, players can reduce the visual quality to suit the limitations of the WiFi connection. 

Core Components of Online Roulette

  • Online roulette includes a virtual roulette wheel spun by a computer.
  • The computer uses random number generation (RNG) to ensure outcomes are both random and fair. 
  • Some online roulette games can be played in real-time with other players, but communication is limited as not all games feature live chat
  • Most online roulette games feature just the player and the RNG wheel. This means that players set the pace and are in control of when each round begins.
  • Online roulette games closely mimic the rules of real-world roulette, but any additional rules will be outlined in the game information.
  • Online roulette can be played on any device including smartphones and tablets. As there is no live video feed, online roulette games are less demanding on WiFi connections. 
  • Players can opt to configure the user interface (UI) into multiple languages (game dependent).
  • As games are not played in real-time, players can try out online roulette games in free play and demo play modes.
roulette table and wheel


Comparing the Live Roulette and Online Roulette Gameplay Experience

The core gameplay elements of both live and online roulette are very similar, as you’ll see in the following ‘rules’ section of our article. This is probably why the terms ‘live roulette’ and ‘online roulette’ are so frequently confused. While the core gameplay may be pretty similar across both types, the overall gameplay experience has some clear differences which will appeal to certain player types.

Exploring the Gameplay Experience of Live Roulette

One of the largest appeals of the live roulette gaming experience is that it emulates the experience of playing roulette at a real-world casino without the player ever needing to take a step outside their door. Thanks to cross-platform optimisation, players can enjoy and receive a premium and authentic live roulette experience 24/7 on their preferred devices (including smartphones).

Because the player interacts with a user interface as well as a live chat function, they get to personalise their gameplay experience to their liking. They may have a preferred language, want the ability to play certain call bets or look for a social element with the live chat feature. However, on the flipside, players might want to take a more passive route and play a few rounds of live roulette here and there, and spectate upon some rounds in between.

As there are numerous live roulette games being played in the live casino section of your chosen online casino site, you get to pick the game that appeals to you. Do you want to experience the hustle and bustle of the casino floor from your sofa, or do you want a more intimate and exclusive experience, with roulette gameplay being streamed from a private lounge? The choice is yours.

Another factor of the live roulette gameplay experience which has skyrocketed in popularity in the past few years is live roulette game shows. These provide a hybrid experience between real-time authentic live roulette gameplay, with added enhancements such as bonus rounds and multipliers or modifiers to traditional gameplay; such as high-speed gameplay, multiple reel gameplay, and so on.

Drawbacks of the Live Casino Gameplay Experience

The drawbacks of live roulette won’t be an issue for most players but are certainly worth paying attention to. For clarity and brevity, we’ve listed these below:

  • Games are played in real time so the overall control of the game, the experience, pace of play, betting windows etc, is overseen by the live dealer and out of the players’ hands. This can lead to longer downtime when compared to online roulette games.
  • Being played in real-time, players cannot test out these games in demo play or free play mode, but they can watch some rounds elapse and ask some questions via the live chat.
  • Live roulette games also have higher operating costs, they tend to feature higher minimum wagering requirements, which means low-budget players might feel as though they get less bang for their buck. 
  • Live roulette games can be more demanding on not just players' attention (as they will need to be able to listen to events) but also their devices. While streams are created in HD quality, players can opt to downgrade the visual quality to suit the demands of their device. This can ruin the overall immersion intended by many live roulette games, and be frustrating to the player. 
  • A stable WiFi connection is needed as malfunction will not only disrupt the experience but can also void your plays and pays.
  • While many live roulette games operate 24/7, some games might have limited streaming hours. 
  • Most of the games are also streamed in English, and you’re less likely to find niche regional variants.

Exploring the Gameplay Experience of Online Roulette

Not all players are social animals or need the bells and whistles of a live casino experience. This is where the convenience and increased control of online roulette games have their strengths. Available 24/7 as a single player (or multiple players) vs. the RNG software, players can experience the rules and gameplay elements of roulette in its most simple and straightforward form. 

In games where the player rides solo, they get to decide the pace of play. The betting window ends when they have confirmed their wager, and they can start the next round as soon as the winning outcome has been revealed. Alongside this, players can more greatly customise their gameplay experience such as changing the language of the user interface, as well as controlling sound settings.  

Because there is no live stream involved the gameplay is less demanding on devices and as the overall operation costs are lower, the overall betting thresholds tend to be lower. Players will also find a larger range of roulette variants which may include some niche or regional variants.

Online roulette games are aimed to appeal to a specific player base, and have a selection of drawbacks which are explored below:

  • As the roulette wheel presented is virtual there are typically lower visual presentation values, which are not as immersive or as visually stimulated as those offered by live roulette.
  • Because most online roulette games are solo affairs and the dealer is virtual, playing online roulette games can be a lonesome experience, and not suited to those who like to add a social element to their gameplay. 
  • As the live casino industry is taking the online casino industry by storm, players are likely to find a selection of interesting and engaging promotions. However, though they have a dedicated following, online roulette game have fewer promotions and are commonly overlooked by sites in favour of slot games. 
  • While intentionally simple to play, online roulette games will require the player to be savvy with the general rules of roulette as well as how to navigate the UI and enter your wager.  While there are online guides and FAQs, players do not have access to the instant support of a real dealer as seen in live roulette games.

The Rules of Live and Online Roulette

Roulette is about guessing the number/colour the ball (pill) on the spinning wheel will land on.

European and French roulette has 36 red and black segments with one green segment for 0. American Roulette has a different layout from the other variants and has an extra green segment for a double zero (00)

Most roulette bets comprise of Inside and outside bets. Inside bets are those based on specific number(s) and include; straight up or line, street or split bets. Outside bets cover general categories and include; Column, Dozen, High or Low, Red or Black, and Odd or Even.

The layout's ‘racecourse’ displays available call bets. These are side bets that vary between versions, such as a basket bet in American Roulette and Voisins du Zero in French Roulette.

The basic rules of play for both online and live roulette games are as follows:

  • Place Bets: Put your chips on any number or empty space on the table.
  • Wagering Time: Place your bets before the dealer says, "No more bets."
  • The Spin: Once the wheel starts to spin, bets can't be changed.
  • Winning Number: The winning number is the number of whose segment the ball has stopped in. 
  • Payouts: All losing bets are collected and all winning bets are paid out.

Some Live Roulette Rules to Note

As many live roulette games seek to truly reproduce the real-time roulette experience via an HD live stream, you shouldn't have trouble playing most live roulette games if you know the basic rules:

  • The bet selector lets you set a chip value and place chips on any layout number or space.
  • The live dealer sets the wagering time, and you can change your bets until the dealer says ‘no more bets’, and wagers are locked in.
  • In live roulette, a real dealer will manually spin the wheel. When the wheel stops and the winning outcome is revealed all bets are collected and paid before the next betting window opens.
  • The dealer starts another round of wagering, and so forth.
  • Make sure your connection is stable, as disconnection may forfeit your wager.

Several live roulette games add bonus rounds and game show flair to the essential aspects of roulette action. Check the game page or ask the live host about your title's rules and features.

Some Online Roulette Rules to Note

Live and online roulette have the same rules and style, but the visual presentation differs. The layout (for regular wagers) and racecourse (for call bets) may differ between sites, game kinds, and developers so check the game information before playing.

  • In general, online roulette players should remember these rules:
  • Select numbers or bet types on the virtual table using the bet selector.
  • Use “undo” to change your wager before “no more bets” is declared.
  • In multiplayer games, the game controls the betting time and displays a countdown to let you know how long before the wheel is spun.
  • Wheel spin and outcomes are RNG-determined.
roulette wheels


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V: 1.38.0 All rights reserved. August 2021