It took a pandemic and economic crisis, but Las Vegas Strip casinos are finally showing some goodwill toward its customers.
Mailers have been more enticing than they’ve been in years, two of the most predatory brands in all of gaming (Caesars and MGM) have done away with egregious self-parking fees, and a swatch of top resorts are offering rooms at or below $100 throughout June and July.
It is the hope that these little acts of kindness will drive customers, many of whom are still leery about contracting COVID-19, back to casino floors. And for what it’s worth, some casinos have extended their goodwill gestures to the felt, by offering low limits on solid games like 3:2 Double Deck Blackjack.
Others, like the Venetian, are back to their old ways, firing up atrocities like Triple Zero Roulette, now in digital form: (See Vegas Advantage for more on the Las Vegas scene)
By popular demand, you can now play video triple zero roulette at Venetian. House edge: 7.69% pic.twitter.com/YSrsID58Tr
— Vegas Advantage (@Vegas_Advantage) June 5, 2020
Now, more than ever, players are in a real position to enact change, and they can start by picking their poisons wisely.
One of gaming’s most sour moments
Triple Zero Roulette first reared its ugly head at the Venetian in 2016, under the guise Sands Roulette. No surprise there, as Las Vegas Sands CEO and chairman Sheldon Adelson is often featured in the same sentence as the phrase “evil incarnate.”
After an initial holdback period, Triple Zero Roulette slowly spread throughout the Strip, first to Planet Hollywood and New York-New York in 2018, then to other MGM and Caesars casinos, and eventually beyond the Strip. By the end of 2019, there were 60 tables brandishing the dreaded “000”, more than double the previous year. We’re confident that the trend would have accelerated if it wasn’t for another virus bringing it to a halt.
000 roulette casinos: 4 Queens, Aria (4), Bellagio (5), Binion’s, Caesars (2), Cosmo (4), Encore, Excalibur (4), G Nugget, Harrah’s, Linq (2), Luxor (4), Mandalay, MGM (4), Mirage (5), NYNY (3), Palazzo (4), Palms, Park MGM (2), Planet H, Trop, Venetian (6), Westgate (2), Wynn
— John Mehaffey (@John_Mehaffey) December 31, 2019
000 Roulette, toxicity be thy name
If there’s one simple piece of advice we’d like to impart on roulette players, it’s this: The more numbers there are on the wheel, the worse the odds.
That’s because the payouts are static. It doesn’t matter if there’s one zero, two zeroes, or 14 zeroes and Sheldon Adelson’s face occupying another spot, you’ll still get paid 35-1 for hitting a number, 17-1 on two-number splits, 8-1 on corners, even money on even/odd or red/black, and so forth.
Because of this, the house edge on Triple Zero Roulette is significantly higher than for Single or Double Zero Roulette:
- Single Zero Roulette: 2.7%
- Double Zero Roulette: 5.26%
- Triple Zero Roulette: 7.69%
Imagine it this way: A casino deals a game where players pick a card, any card, out of a deck. If that card is the Ace of Spades, they get paid 50-1. Right next store, another casino offers the same game, except this time the deck has two jokers, but still pays 50-1 if you select the Ace of Spades. The payouts don’t change, but the odds for the game with the two jokers are significantly worse.
So you might be thinking: “Why in the world would anyone play the game with two jokers?” or more specifically, “How the hell are casinos getting away with something as blatantly abhorrent as a Triple Zero Roulette game?”
The answer lies in two parts. First, roulette is one of the easiest casino games to play. You plunk down a wager on a bet and wait for croupiers to do their thing. The game’s low bar of entry attracts new and recreational gamblers, who quite frankly, may see more numbers on the wheel and think that it’s to the player’s benefit. Some might not even notice the third zero until they’ve bought chips, while others will just gravitate to the table with the least number of players on it.
Secondly, Triple Zero Roulette games tend to have lower minimums, and here’s where we can really spark a debate as to whether these lower minimums justify their existence.
The Triple Zero debate
Let’s say a casino supports two roulette games, side-by-side. One is a 00 game with a $15 minimum and the other a $10 minimum 000 game.
Assuming one spin per minute, the 000 player betting the table minimum would lose less per hour than the 00 player. Thanks to professional gambler MisterDoppy for this quick and dirty analysis:
My unpopular opinion. 000 roulette is rational for some people. Edge is higher, minimums are lower. 60 spins/hr $15 bets @ 5.26% loses $47.34. 60 $10 spins @ 7.69% loses $46.14. If 00 is $25 min, 000 saves $31.56/hr. Increased compulsion risk, higher ROR, but cheaper action
— MisterDoppy (@DoppyMister) June 4, 2020
These players would still receive the same amount of free drinks, and roughly the same entertainment value, all while losing about a buck less per hour. Up the table minimum to $25, and the 000 player now seems like a genius, saving nearly $32 per hour.
Given this, shouldn’t everyone just flock to Triple Zero Roulette games? While we see the argument, our answer is still a firm “No”.
The problem with this argument is two-fold. One, it assumes that every player will stick to the table minimum, when in reality, there are at least three segments:
- Players who bet the table minimum
- Players who start by betting the table minimum, and up their wager as time rolls on
- Players who are there to gamble big, with no regard for the table minimum
Only segment #1 benefits from the Triple Zero Roulette’s game lower betting threshold.
Secondly, and this is a big one, by playing Triple Zero Roulette, players are basically telling the casino that it’s OK to keep these games on casino floors. In a doomsday scenario, this stamp of approval will eventually cause casinos to pull the plug on more and more traditional roulette games until only Triple Zero is left.
Then, they’ll raise the minimums. Hell, maybe we’ll start to see Quad-Zero Roulette proliferate, and the cycle will repeat itself.
How to enact change
Now more than ever, casinos are at the mercy of their players. Getting casinos to phase out Triple Zero Roulette doesn’t require a magic wand, nor do we have any cathartic revelation to unveil. The answer is simple: If you don’t play it, they’ll stop offering it.
If that means skipping out of a casino altogether because the table minimums on Double Zero Roulette are too high, so be it. We can assure you that plenty of Las Vegas casinos still offer American Roulette (00) at reasonable price points.
Also, don’t keep your newfound info to yourself. Talk about it on social, and call out casinos that support these games. Dare we say it, maybe even talk to people at the casino, letting them know that there’s a better game right next store. If they don’t believe you or don’t care, tell them that the Double Zero Roulette game is “hot”. Whatever works.
Of course, from an EV perspective, we’d urge you not to play roulette at all, as even Double Zero Roulette is a high house edge game by carnival games standards. At the same time, we get that it’s a fun, social, and exciting game with the possibility of big payouts. So no judgment here.
Just remember to empower yourself with the knowledge that Triple Zero Roulette is toxic, and it’ll quickly become the new norm if we let it.