Roulette History

Roulette History

Roulette is a casino gambling game of chance. Roulette, meaning “little wheel’ in French, is a game whereby a croupier spins a wheel that has 37 or 38 numbered slots in which a ball must land. The colors red and black are placed alternately on the numbers from 1-36, while the 0 (and 00 for American roulette) is colored in green. The player places bets on single numbers, number combinations, ranges, odds/evens and colors. Depending on the wager, the player can win as much as 35 to 1.

Roulette has been one of the beacons of gambling and casino culture since the birth of the casino world and has recently been reborn in the online form. The online casino industry, which is now just over a decade old, has been offering online roulette from its initial stages. The online casino industry has now spread the much-loved game of roulette to those people in the world who have never had the privilege of experiencing the game. Click for information on how to play, table layouts, wheel layouts and roulette terminology.

Early History

As with many games in the casino world, the precise origin of roulette is shrouded in doubt and many theories exist to the very early stages and origins of the development of the game.

One of the theories to the primary idea of roulette is that the game originated in China. Roulette was played by the Chinese monks who were involved in all aspects of early Chinese life and spread the game to the people. These monks were also an integral part of spreading their religion and met with other monks. It is believed that in contact with Dominican monks the game was spread. In turn, these Dominican monks traveled the world and landed up in Europe for trade purposes. The game of roulette also managed to become part of a trade of cultures between the monks and Europeans at the time.

Other early theories include accounts of Ancient Romans turning their chariot wheels on their sides and spinning wheels as a form of entertainment. Another European origin of the game stems from a carnival-type wheel game that was an essential part of the traveling carnival culture of the early and mid 1500s. Some evidence, however, suggests that the carnival game only loosely resembles the present-day game of roulette.

Inventor of the Roulette Wheel

While the very early history of roulette has several theories, all historians agree on the identity of the person who invented a primitive version of the roulette wheel. Blaise Pascal, a French scientist and mathematician who lived in the 17th century, is said to have been obsessed with trying to invent the perpetual motion machine and one of the by-products of this obsession was the invention of the roulette wheel.

Not many people argue the fact that Pascal was the inventor of the primitive roulette wheel, but many counter another theory surrounding Pascal – it is said that Pascal sold his soul to the devil in order to come up with the idea of creating the roulette wheel. This theory presumably originates from the fact that the numbers of the roulette wheel (1-36) add up to 666, which is meant to be the number of the Anti-Christ.

Roulette Facts

England - 1700s
The first account of a spinning wheel and ball being used as a gaming device was recorded in 1720 in England. The game, Roly Poly, was said to be a game played by the royalty and nobility. The Gaming Acts of 1739 and 1740 banned all games of chance in England, including Roly Poly. One innovative man, Beau Nash, who was the Master of Ceremonies in Bath, managed to evade these gambling laws for a short period of time by introducing a game called “Even-Odd” which was a simplified version of roulette. This game too, however, was deemed unlawful in 1745.

French Aristocracy and Modern Roulette
After a quiet period due to the gambling laws instituted in England and other countries in Europe, roulette was suddenly revived in England’s neighboring country, France. In the late 18th century, Prince Charles of Monaco decided that the introduction of gambling houses would be a good way to alleviate economic problems in the area. The game became very popular with French aristocracy and royalty.

The version of roulette played in the late 1700s is very similar to the modern version we know today. The first modern roulette wheel began appearing in Paris quasi casino / gambling houses around 1796. Most of the elements of modern roulette were already in place – the numbered pockets of 1-36 with alternating red and black colors, similar rules and similar betting patterns.

Blanc Brothers and Monte Carlo
Two enterprising Frenchmen, Francois and Louis Blanc, invented the single 0 roulette game in 1842. At the time, gambling was illegal in most of France, so the brothers moved the game to Hamburg, where its popularity spread like wildfire. Roulette’s history changed dramatically after the introduction of the single 0 because the House’s edge was now reduced from 5.26% to 2.70%. The lower odds game became very popular and replaced the previously popular higher odds game.

A few years later, Francois and his son Camille were responsible for bringing the game of roulette back to French soil, to the Southern France area, at the request of Prince Charles of Monaco III. Louis Blanc accepted the invitation and visited Monte Carlo in order to establish and run the fore-runner of what today would be known as the first modern casino. In 1863 Blanc signed a 50-year franchise contract and built the super luxurious Monte Carlo casino resort. The richest and most esteemed members of European society were extremely attracted to the resort and the game of roulette was reintroduced to the higher echelons of society.

Blanc also convinced the French authorities of the economic potential of Monte Carlo and persuaded them to build a highway to Monte Carlo and to extend the railway to Nice. This move opened up the gambling houses to the rest of the world and ultimately the spread of roulette outside the borders of France.

Roulette Arrives in America
Roulette arrived in the United States in the early 1800s via the European settlers who landed in New Orleans, Louisiana. The style of play was different on American soil because many of the gambling proprietors had decided that they wanted to increase their house edge. These proprietors were not content with the 5.26% edge and as a result, people got annoyed at their low earnings and stopped playing the game.

The single 0 game was soon rejected by mainstream gambling society and the introduction of the double 0 became the accepted form of play. This version of the game became very popular during the California Gold Rush period. The game was a breath of fresh air for gamblers who until this time had mainly been playing with cards in order to win money.

Roulette in the 20th Century
Roulette continued to enjoy popularity around the world, particularly in France and in America at the turn of the century and the beginning of the 20th century. Up until World War II, Americans enjoyed spinning the wheel and placing bets on the revolving ball. However, as more Americans began being exposed to betting cultures outside of the borders of the United States due to travel incurred in World War II, they began loosing interest in roulette. Craps and blackjack became more popular than roulette because Americans began realizing that they were potentially beatable.

American versus European Roulette

Roulette History

Through differing betting preferences, two forms of roulette have emerged over the years. The American roulette wheel contains 38 numbers including 0, 00, and 1-36. The added double zero gives the house a 5.26% advantage. In layman’s terms, this simply means that for every $100 gambled, the betting establishment will make a $5.26 in profit.

The European roulette wheel contains 37 numbers including 0 and 1-36. Having only one zero gives the house a 2.70% advantage – in other words for every $100 gambled, the betting establishment will make a $2.70 profit.

Other differences between the two forms of roulette are the color of the gambling chips. American casinos give each gambler different color chips, which makes it easier for the croupier to distinguish one person’s bets from another. European roulette casinos rely on a person’s memory as all the chips are the same color. In European roulette the croupier will use a long stick known as a rake to sweep in all the chips, while American croupiers will use their hands.

One advantage that European roulette offers is that if the spinning ball lands on zero, the gambler is given the option of utilizing the en prison rule. This rule allows the gambler to either surrender one half of his outside wager or to leave it for the next game.

Click for information on how to play and roulette terminology.

Online Roulette

With the advent of the online casino industry about a decade ago, it was never doubted that one of the world’s oldest and most respected casino games would be included in the online casinos’ games line up. The inclusion of online roulette allowed players from around the world the opportunity to play both the American and European version of the game from the comfort of their own home, regardless of which country or continent they were based.

One of the obvious differences between roulette at land casinos and that played at online casinos are the outside distractions and ambiance of a noisy gambling establishment. Some bettors may prefer to play solo and not have to worry about the distractions which could cause confusion when placing bets and calculating the best odds. Online roulette is also generally fully automated so a player does not have to keep track too closely on the croupier and the chips sweeping.

Like in most online games, roulette uses the technology of a random number generator that spins the wheel and lands the ball down totally randomly. Roulette wheel in land casinos often have added pegs and obstructions to the wheel which ensure that the ball is knocked around a bit before it settles. While this aspect is missing at online casinos, there is generally nothing to worry about if a player selects a reputable and recognized site that uses an established software provider. The published odds of the online casino can and should be examined before deciding to play on the site or not.

One of the superb features that online casinos offer is bonuses, which are not a regular aspect of land casino culture. These bonuses encourage a player to sign up to a specific casino and then a player will have almost double their intended playing money for using at the roulette wheel. With the correct combination of bonuses and luck, a player could even gain an advantage over the house.

With online casinos being so popular in the United States, roulette has certainly made a comeback after being sidelined for many decades. Given the fact that Americans can now play the more advantageous European version of the game, online roulette has gained some respect amongst North Americans. Online roulette is now a game that offers any player around the world the option of enjoying the thrill of spinning the wheel and watching the ball land on their potentially fortune making number.


Roulette Today
Today roulette enjoys more popularity in European land casinos than it does in American land casinos simply because of the single zero. Bettors are aware that the European casinos have less of an advantage when playing with a single zero and tend to prefer this version of the game.

Posted by CCJ Team

Roulette Resources

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