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How is a Roulette Wheel Made?

September 15, 2023

The process of crafting a roulette wheel is more complex than one may think.

There are a variety of games that bring life to any casino floor, from table games to slot machines, players have an abundance of thrilling options to choose from. One of the most popular is clearly Roulette, as plenty of patrons are always seen crowded around its fast-spinning wheel, eager to see where exactly that small white ball will come to a halt. While wrapped up in this anxious anticipation, you’ve probably never considered how the Roulette wheel you play with actually came to be.

However, like all other titles inside a casino establishment, an intricate process of manufacturing gives the games you know and love their final polished look and feel. Read on to learn how Roulette’s most central component, the ‘little wheel’, is crafted.

Step by Step: From Wooden Frame to Metal Handle

Roulette players know that there are two main wheel versions: the French Roulette wheel and the American Roulette wheel, with the latter containing one extra 00 green slot along with the standard red and black alternating fields. With both variants, there are two major parts used in assembly: a static bowl and a wheelhead.

The bowl, or wooden frame (typically 32 inches in diameter), is produced by sanding and polishing wood, with mahogany being the most common material in premium wheels. Textures and edges must look and feel smooth, as the wood’s purpose, alongside its sturdy quality, is to give the wheel a sophisticated, vintage appearance that compliments its historical origins. Although the bowl used in casinos is normally made of wood, its internal elements are produced with plastic materials.

After the frame has been made, a ball track and lower ball track apron equipped with ball deflectors and a special wheelhead-supporting spindle is inserted into the bowl. Then the wheelhead is settled inside carefully, clicking into place evenly so that it can spin effectively.

The wheelhead’s outer edges is what contains the coloured pockets and numbers where the ball eventually lands. At the surface of the wheelhead is the cone which essentially directs the ball towards a pocket when it is thrown onto the wheel. Last but not least, to hide the inner mechanism, a metal handle called a turret is placed atop the cone, bringing everything together in a decorate, stylish way.

What About the Ball?

There’s clearly many components at play in a Roulette wheel’s construction process, but what would the valuable piece of hardware be without the ball that makes it tick? Well, surprisingly enough, the first Roulette wheels used balls made of ivory bone or wood. However, because these materials can easily scratch or damage the wheel’s finish, today’s Roulette croupiers use nylon or phenolic balls not made by real ivory. The size of the ball varies depending on the wheel’s diameter and pocket width, although a ball between 18mm and 21mm is the most common.

Post-Construction Testing

As is the case with most newly manufactured products, testing is the final stage before shipping. The same is true with the Roulette wheel, as it must undergo quality tests to ensure things like spin velocity and ease, pocket size, and more. Mechanical imperfections can alter gameplay in big ways, so it’s best to eliminate them before the wheels hit casino floors.  

Major technological advancements have allowed Roulette and many other casino games to be digitized, taking the process of wheel construction completely online, as providers employ graphic designers over manufacturing companies. Although this may be the future of Roulette gaming, it’s interesting to see how each piece still comes perfectly together nowadays to form that same wheel that was first thought up hundreds of years ago.