The Role of Physics in Roulette: Can Science Help You Win?

by Tim | Jul 28, 2023

The Role of Physics in Roulette: Can Science Help You Win?

Roulette, a classic casino game, thrills millions with its simple premise: predicting the pocket where a small ball will come to rest on a spinning wheel. While online roulette might appear to be a straightforward game of luck, the science beneath it is fascinating. From the motion of the wheel and ball, the friction they experience, to the probability theory that underpins the entire game, roulette is as much a game of physics as it is a game of chance. Let’s take a deeper look.

Principles of motion in roulette

The wheel, the ball, and their motions are central to roulette. Understanding these dynamics provides insight into the complex ballet that dictates the result.

When the croupier spins the wheel and launches the ball, two types of motion are at play: linear and angular. Linear motion concerns the ball’s trajectory along the track, while angular motion describes the wheel’s rotation. These motions operate under Newton’s laws of motion.

The ball initially has a high velocity and travels along the near-vertical track due to inertia, a direct application of Newton’s first law. However, gravity pulls it towards the centre of the wheel, and eventually, it falls onto the rotating surface.

Role of friction

Friction, though a fundamental physical force, introduces an element of unpredictability into the game of roulette. Once the ball is released onto the spinning wheel, it’s primarily the force of friction that eventually brings the ball to rest in one of the wheel’s numbered pockets. 

While it ensures the ball will stop in a pocket, the exact pocket where the ball will land becomes harder to predict with each bounce – a key reason why roulette remains a game of chance despite the physics principles at play.

There are two main types of friction at work in the game of roulette: contact friction and air resistance.

Contact friction

Contact friction occurs between the ball and the wheel. The rotating wheel consists of an array of numbered pockets. As the ball’s kinetic energy decreases due to the effect of friction, it starts to bounce across these pockets. The frictional force between the ball and the wheel, coupled with the wheel’s angular momentum, eventually leads to the ball landing and resting in a particular pocket.

Air resistance

Air resistance, also known as drag, also impacts the ball’s trajectory. As the ball moves in the air, it has to displace the air molecules in its path. The resulting ‘pushback’ from the air molecules, although minor, contributes to slowing the ball down.

Combined, contact friction and air resistance work to dissipate the ball’s kinetic energy over time. As the ball loses energy, it eventually falls from the rim, bounces chaotically among the pockets due to contact friction, and finally comes to rest in a specific pocket.

Probability in roulette

a little white roulette ball inside a wooden roulette wheel has landed on number 32

Roulette is a game of numbers and, inherently, a game of probability. Each spin is an independent event, which means the outcome of one spin does not influence the next. In European roulette, for instance, the probability of the ball landing on a specific number is 1 in 37, since there are 37 pockets.

It’s essential to distinguish between the concept of ‘probability’ and ‘odds’. Probability refers to the likelihood of a specific outcome, whereas odds describe the ratio of successful outcomes to unsuccessful ones.

Wheel bias: A twist in the tale

Despite the perfect randomisation that the laws of physics and probability aim to ensure, a concept known as ‘wheel bias’ can potentially skew the results. This bias refers to minor, often unnoticeable, imperfections in the roulette wheel, which could lead to certain numbers appearing more frequently than others over a large number of spins.

Wheel bias could result from various physical factors, such as manufacturing defects, wear and tear, or even slight tilting of the wheel. While casinos go to great lengths to maintain impeccably balanced wheels, minute deviations are sometimes inevitable.

Leveraging physics to influence outcomes

Understanding the physics behind roulette could, in theory, influence the outcome. In the mid-20th century, Dr Richard Jarecki and, later, the Pelayo family gained notoriety by exploiting wheel bias. They meticulously recorded thousands of spins and identified biassed wheels, leading to significant winnings.

However, leveraging physics in modern casinos is incredibly challenging due to high-quality wheel maintenance and technological advancements. Nowadays, wheels are frequently checked and replaced, making it almost impossible to spot any bias before the casino identifies and corrects it.

You don’t have to be a scientist to play at The Phone Casino

Understanding the role of physics in roulette doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll start predicting outcomes accurately. The casino always has an edge, and the game should primarily be seen as a form of entertainment. And what better place to enjoy testing your newfound understanding than by playing roulette online at The Phone Casino, the UK’s best online casino. 

Register to learn how to play roulette or even open up a world beyond online roulette. Whether you want to play poker, blackjack, baccarat or online slots, The Phone Casino has you covered.

Register today!

NO Deposit Required

Something went wrong!

We haven’t been able to verify your address details.

The requires all Casinos to carry out Customer Due Diligence at certain intervals. As such, you are required to update your address details on this occasion.

To continue and access your account, we now require you to email us with proof of your address.

Please EMAIL one of the following documents to our Customer Support team:

  • 1. Utility Bill
  • 2. HMRC/Council Letter
  • 3. Bank/Credit card statement

The document cannot be older than 3 months from today's date and it

MUST be a complete document showing your name, address and the date of the document.

Internet downloaded documents are also acceptable in a pdf form.

The following CANNOT be used: Mobile Phone or Satellite/Cable TV bills.

Once our team have reviewed your documents they will be encrypted and stored within our secured server.

We do not pass any of your personal details to any third party marketing company.

Please email your proof of address as outlined above to or use the submit button below. Please include your mobile number or account ID.

Support hours are outlined in full here.

Documents will be processed as a priority.

This message will display until your details have been verified.

The requires all Casinos to carry out Customer Due Diligence at certain intervals. As such, you are required to update your address details on this occasion. Please fill in the fields below to access your account.

Always Play Responsibly

To revise any of your play limits at any time just look for the Responsible Gaming links at the footer of the page or in the Main Menu under Know Your Limits.

Also please do not hesitate to contact us or use the help links provided, if you need any further help or assistance.

You are seeing this message because you have hit a standard limit or because you have changed a particular set limit, a number of times.

Please note: Restrictions on your play can be set at any time from within the main menu.

You can limit play, deposit, losses or wins.

You can even set reminders to tell you how long you have been playing for.

Remember gambling should be fun and you should always play within your means.

By clicking confirm you acknowledge that you have understood you are in control of your gambling

Are you aware you have hit certain limits or that you changed certain limits again and again?

Are you aware that Customer Services are here to assist you if you need help?

Are you aware of your current limits and how you can change them?

Are you in control of your gambling?

Indicate the extent this statement applies to you and your gambling over the last three months.

Data Protection and updates

Data protection laws mean that we need the OK from you to keep you protected and to keep sending you news and updates about great things that are coming up, such as;

 First play of our latest games, casino products and innovations

 Exclusive cash and prize giveaways

 Fantastic exclusive bonuses and rewards designed for you

Simply click the button below to choose how you’d like us to keep you updated. Just give us the go ahead and we’ll keep you in the loop.

If you change your mind in the future you can withdraw your consent at anytime by using the stop or unsubscribe option in the message you receive.

To find out more about how we use and protect your personal information as well as your rights, please see our privacy policy.


In order to complete your verification and to process any withdrawal, we require you to upload one of the documents from the list below. This helps us confirm we are paying the right person and protects our players against any authorised use of their account.

Once received, your ID is encrypted and stored within our secured server. We do not pass any of your details to any third party marketing company.

Opening hours are outlined in full on the support menu. Documents will be processed as a priority.

Please email to a copy of your;

  • Driving license
  • Passport
  • National Identity Card
  • Biometric Residence Permit

Great NEWS

It looks like you already have an account with us. The reference number is please either email us or call us on

Please update your mobile number.

In order to continue, we need to validate your current mobile number.

Please enter your mobile number as well as your current pin/password and then select UPDATE to save the changes.

We'll send you a free SMS to validate your mobile number later on.

If you think this message is displaying in error, please click the customer services link at the bottom.

Customer services


Congratulations, The Phone Casino is giving you £200.00 in real cash with no restrictions.

You are seeing this message because you are a valued and VIP customer.

Under the terms of its license, the Gambling Commission requires that The Phone Casino request additional information from its VIP customers to meet its licensing obligations.

The Phone Casino UK license number 00-039397-R-319363-002

All UK regulated, online casinos must abide by the regulations issued by the Gambling Commission and as such, you are requested to provide additional information so that The Phone Casino can meet the Gambling Commission’s requirements for:

  • Prevention of money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism; and
  • Social responsibility regulations.

Customer actions:

In order, to claim the free £200.00 cash and to remove this marker from your player account, you are required to provide one or more of the following types of documentation:

  • Copy of a recent p60;
  • Copy of a recent pay slip;
  • Copy of any other source of income (i.e. your company’s latest accounts, income letter from the government etc);
  • Copy of your most recent tax return payment (if self-employed).

Please email these documents to:

Our team will review your submission and aim to reply to you within 24 hours.

This message will remain in place until the documents have been accepted and you will be notified immediately when this notice has been lifted.

Thank you for your co-operation

The support team is on hand to assist you with any questions you may have. For support click here

 Documents are encrypted & stored securely. Your information is NEVER shared with third party marketing companies.