Casino House Edge Explained

Casino House Edge

Ever been to a casino and thought, like so many people have, that the casino simply can’t lose? Well, strictly speaking, the casino, you’d be right. The casino can’t lose.

However, many people don’t understand why that is. Some say that it’s fixed, which implies that the casino is cheating, which isn’t the case. Yes, both physical casinos and online casinos don’t tend to lose in the long run, but that’s not because they’re cheating. At 888goals.com, we certainly don’t cheat.

Casinos win over the long term because the games that they offer are set up in a way that ensures that the casino has a slight mathematical advantage. As an online casino, we do not cheat, and we certainly don’t make the house edge a secret. We make it known that if players continue playing over a long period, then their chances of winning are slim.

The mathematical advantage held by casinos on casino games is commonly referred to as the ‘House Edge’. That’s what we’re here to talk about, so let’s get down to business.

What is the house edge?

Every casino has a house edge. It’s as simple as that. The house edge is a term that describes the in-built mathematical advantage that every casino game features.

What does this mean? Well, it means that the casino has what is known as an assured percentage return on all of the games that it offers. This ensures that the casino makes a profit in the long run. In other words, the way casino games are built means that it is a mathematical certainty that players lose a percentage of what they bet over the long term.

Now, the house edge does not mean that you will lose every bet. In fact, that is far from the truth. Lots of players win money, and plenty of players stay in profit over a period of time, make no mistake about that. You could, of course, walk into a casino for the first time, place a few bets, strike it lucky and walk out with a profit. If you never returned, you’d always remain in profit.

However, the house edge merely means that if you were to continue playing consistently for a long time, say every single day for a year, you’re highly likely to lose a percentage of what you bet over time. The house edge guarantees this.

This is not cheating; it is simply a basic mathematical advantage that we as a casino hold.

Let’s look at roulette as an example:

Each number on a roulette wheel pays 36 to 1. The numbers go up to 36, and thus lots of people assume this to be a fair payout. However, that’s not strictly true. There is a ZERO on the wheel, which means that there are 37 possible numbers for the ball to land on. This means that there is a less than 36 in 1 chance that the ball will land on any of the numbers, which in turn results in odds of 36 to 1, offering the bettor a negative value.

Having one more number than the payout suggests is how the casino obtains a slight mathematical advantage when it comes to roulette.

Of course, this advantage does not mean the casino makes money on every spin. There are many spins of the roulette wheel where we, as the betting operator, lose money. This happens all the time, and there’s nothing stopping you from winning on any given spin. After all, nobody, not us nor the players, knows where the ball is going to land, which is what makes the game so exciting, but the above setup merely ensures that the casino holds a slight advantage if players play enough over a long period of time.

The typical house edge for roulette, where there is a single zero on the wheel, is around 2.5%. Relatively speaking, compared to some other games, the house edge on single-zero roulette is quite small.

Does the house edge change?

The simple answer here is yes. Not every casino game available has an equal house edge. The house edge, or rather the assured percentage that the casino has on some games, is very small. On other games, it’s quite a bit bigger.

Blackjack is often favoured because it is one of the main casino games with the lowest edge.

Typically, the house edge on blackjack is around 0.5-1%. This suggests that over a long enough period of time, playing consistently, using roughly the same stakes, a player will lose around 0.5-1% of their money.

Again, this does not mean that we win 1% from everybody who plays blackjack. Lots of players leave having made a profit from playing blackjack, but the house edge just means that over a long enough period, we’re likely to make 1%, while the player is likely to lose 1%. This is because we have a 1% advantage built into the game, as do all casino operators.

As mentioned above, the house edge varies depending on which casino games you play. Slots (up to 10%) typically have a higher house edge than the popular traditional casino games such as the aforementioned blackjack and roulette.

Casino House Edge FAQ

Do Casinos cheat?
How big is the house edge?