Russian roulette has become as ubiquitous as the old-fashioned wheel. The game has no prize money and the payout is just one way to describe the payoff in roulette. It doesn’t make sense to pay for the risk or the reward—it’s a game to be played as often as possible to win. The roulette machine is one piece of the casino, and it’s the casino-like slot machine itself that provides some of the risk. And yet, despite the machine’s ubiquity, there’s an argument that the game’s widespread popularity isn’t a good thing.
Why roulette’s popularity may be a problem
It’s not entirely clear how popular Russia’s roulette game actually is. But the presence of the game online is a source of some controversy; several websites make the claim that roulette’s popularity is being manipulated. The website Vedomosti, which runs the Russian government’s propaganda outlet Russia Today, reported in a news note last year that “Russia is the world’s number 1 roulette operator, and with Russia itself at 1.08 million players it can be expected to be number 12.”
There’s no hard evidence to support that allegation. But the fact that roulette is so widely played online suggests that it may have negative effects on both gamers and casinos, and that it might not have been a good idea to take Russia’s casino away from the Russians. As Vladislav Malanin of Forbes has noted, “Roulette has become a popular entertainment for Russians,” and it’s not clear “what Russian people like about this game.”
What does this have to do with the American system of casino regulation?
While roulette may seem to have a relatively benign image for some, there’s the potential that the popularity of Russian roulette isn’t very healthy for the integrity of the American gambling industry. The U.S. gambling industry is an enormous, profitable, heavily regulated business with some of the strongest regulation in the world. But it’s also important that games are regulated to be as fair as possible for both the players and the companies themselves.
That’s why it’s so troubling to see the Russians game so many times a night and to hear some say “Russia is playing roulette more than the United States” at the same time. The Russians, while the only known casinos to actively work behind the scenes to ensure that the game isn’t rigged, seem to be playing roulette just like much of the rest of the gambling industry
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