It may come as a surprise to some, but roulette as we know it is outlawed in California. Under California law, games in which the outcome is decided by balls or dice are specifically prohibited. The arguments behind this regulation are pretty confusing and revolve around the distinction between games of chance and games of skill.
Card games are traditionally considered games of skill as players may somewhat influence the outcome of the game, while games involving spinning a wheel or throwing dices are considered games of chance and are not looked upon fondly by the legislators of California.
In 2004, however, California legalized a form of roulette called California Roulette, a game that is very similar to the Vegas style roulette, but instead of the ball-bearing wheel it is played with a deck of 38 cards. The cards are numbered identical to the numbers found on the American roulette wheel (as opposed to just 37 numbers found on the European Roulette) and each card has a color and suit similar to a traditional deck of playing cards.
So how does the betting work?
When it comes to the betting system, there really isn`t any difference between the classical roulette and the Californian one – players can bet on colors or numbers in the same way that they bet when playing American Roulette. All the cards are placed in an automatic shuffler operated by a dealer to produce a card. The card so produced determines the winning and losing bets. Players can bet on the suit of the cards as well.
We don`t quite see how this game is not a game of chance and the argument of the Division of Gambling Control published in the Tribal Casino Advisory on April 30, 2004 isn`t quite convincing either: “The Division does not consider California Roulette to be the game of roulette because California Roulette is a banked card game.”
California isn`t the only state to prohibit roulette or craps. The state of Arizona has a similar legislation, but here too, casinos have nicely worked their way around the legislation to create some version of these games like video roulette or the playing card version of the game.