Roulette, the oldest casino game still in existence, originated from other wheel games popular during the Middle Ages. It gained widespread popularity in Europe, especially in France during the late eighteenth century. By the early nineteenth century, roulette—which is French for "little wheel"—made it across the Atlantic, introduced to the United States by professional gamblers who adapted many European games to suit American tastes.
Roulette attracts a much larger following in Europe than in America. The American roulette wheel averages between fifty and ninety spins per hour, while in Europe the wheel averages 120 spins per hour with more than one dealer usually needed to operate the game. One of the main reasons for roulette's relatively low appeal in the United States is that most American casinos utilize both a zero and a double zero on the roulette wheel. European casinos only use one zero. The house advantage of American roulette becomes 5.26 compared to 2.70 in European roulette, making American roulette the game with the poorest odds for the gambler out of the four basic table games of blackjack, craps, roulette, and baccarat.
The average American roulette table employs one dealer who stands next to the wheel. The wheel, approximately three feet in diameter, consists of thirty-eight individually numbered cups around its perimeter. Half of the cups, numbered one through thirty-six, are black and the other half are red, while the zero and double zero cups are both green. Each numbered pocket is divided from its neighbors by separators. Red and black cups alternate around the wheel, but the numbers are randomly placed. Often the wheel will be semi-enclosed by a clear, plastic shield that guards against tampering by anyone. There are usually five to ten player chairs around the table. The roulette table can become rather crowded, with players reaching over one another to place bets on the table.