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Differences Between European and American Casinos

THE WEEKLY SHUFFLE, 2008-02-03, by Ozone

Europeans who have never visited an American casino and Americans who have never visited a European casino could be surprised by their differences. In general, they both offer the same games with the same rules and house edge. But beyond that, their differences are distinct. This week, we will highlight some of these differences in order to reduce your surprise when journeying to an across-the-pond casino for the first time.

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Ownership and Competition

The governments in Europe as well as the American government both highly regulate casino operations, but in different ways. Although casinos are illegal in many places in America, they are not subject to as much government control. European casinos are not only highly government controlled, but in some cases, such as Casino Holland, are actually government owned. Generally speaking, revenues are taxed more in European casinos than in American casinos.

Many major European cities have a casino, but they often have just one casino. In America, casinos are scarce, but where there is one, there are often several more. Since owners of American casinos know their competition is nearby, they must give patrons incentive not to visit a rival. They do this by investing in player rewards programs that "comp" players hotel stay, food, or transportation. As one might expect, these reward programs are structured so that the longer players gamble, the more free amenities they receive.

European casinos do not offer comps in this manner. In fact, many European casinos charge their patrons a small fee upon entrance. Any American casino that tried to do the same would likely go out of business.

Also, employees at American casinos derive much of their income from tips. Generally, tipping is not expected in Europe.

Differences in Games

Poker

Poker is generally a better proposition for the player in American casinos than in European casinos. Some casinos in Europe rake as much as 10% up to €20 from their poker games. Casinos in France rake 4% with no maximum. Not only is the rake huge, but it also slows down the games since it takes dealers a while to calculate exactly 4% of the pot. Games with this high of rake are impossible to expect a profit from. Rake in American casinos is usually 10% up to $4 or $5.

Some poker rooms in America feature dozens of tables in a spacious room. Typically, European poker rooms are much smaller. One could expect more waiting involved as a result.

Craps

One of the first things any casino-loving American would notice on their first visit to a European casino is the lack of a craps table. It's hard to know for sure why craps is only played in America. Craps is a social game (generally patrons make the same bet and thus win or lose en masse) which lends itself to rowdiness and obnoxious celebrations. European casinos usually have a focus on elegance. A craps table could hurt their James Bond appeal.

Another reason European casinos may not offer craps is because of its low profit margins. Generally speaking, craps has a low house edge and requires several employees per table. From the casino's standpoint, craps, like poker, doesn't directly result in significant revenue.

Roulette

The odds on roulette are much better in European casinos. American roulette has two green slots (neither red nor black wins if it lands on green), while European roulette has just one green slot. Note that some European casinos offer American roulette with a smaller minimum bet than their regular games.

Sports Betting

You generally won't find sports betting in a European casino, but you can place bets at parlors (such as Will Hill or Ladbrokes in England). Sports betting is illegal in all parts of America except for casinos in Nevada.

Reason to Leave

Due to competition, most American casinos have evolved into small cities that provide lodging, several places to eat and shop, and entertainment amenities like movie theatres, nightclubs, and concert venues. Since European casinos need not worry about competition, most of them offer little beyond gambling and perhaps a restaurant or two. Comparatively, most of the largest hotels in the world are located above the gaming floor in an American casino.

The Weekly Shuffle is our Sunday column with our observations and commentary on the poker world. Have an idea for an article? Leave a suggestion on the feedback page.

 


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