The History of Roulette

By: Tony Christopher / Last Update: 14 Apr 2015

The Game of Roulette Through the YearsIt has been a long journey since the game of roulette was invented in France back in 1796. This article will tell you the exciting story of roulette in details. Read on to learn how the game gained popularity, crossed the ocean and even went online in recent years.

Many of you will find it surprising that the current form of roulette with a single zero was created after the one with two zeros, even though the game originated in Europe.

The Very Beginning

The 17th century can be considered as the prehistoric period for roulette. Blaise Pascal, a genius French mathematician and philosopher, known for his numerous discoveries and his significant contribution to philosophy, mathematics, physics, literature, certainly a man ahead of his time, has a very significant role in the history of gaming and casino games, in particular roulette. Namely, during his quest for a perpetual motion machine he developed a primitive version of what we now call roulette.

The roulette wheel as we know it today came about as a result of an interesting fusion. Namely, there was already a board game called roulette at the time and it was popular in France, and when it was combined with other board games popular in Italy and few wheel games popular in England (the most notable being Roly-Poly) – voila: here comes roulette! We mentioned the game was also known in modern-day Canada at the time, however, the first written description of the wheel and the rules of the game happened later on, in a book published in the beginning of the 19th century, where the roulette wheel of the famous Parisian palace – Palais Royal is described.


Black and Red-Zero RouletteWHEN ZEROS WEREN’T GREEN: Interestingly, the double zero, which is now a trademark of American Roulette and absent in European, was also featured in the 18th and 19th century French Roulette wheels. In these days, the double zero was black and counted as odd and passe (19-36), while the single zero was red and counted as even and manqué (1-18).

An interesting fact is that the ‘en prison’ rule, which applies in some casinos, is actually tied with this old tradition. Namely, according to this rule, when the ball stops on zero, all the players who betted on even can keep their bets for another spin, when if the balls ends on even, they win their bets back. This is due to the fact that the single zero was considered to be even. But, the coloured zeros which qualified as manqué/passe and even/odd were rather confusing and that’s why, in the beginning of the 19th century green zeros were introduced.


Roulette on the Other Side of the PondROULETTE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE POND: The American Roulette of the time was quite different from its modern counterpart. Namely, it had only 28 numbers, one single zero, one double zero and an American Eagle – the symbol of liberty, or 31 pocket in total. The eagle’s purpose wasn’t merely patriotic or aesthetic, but it brought an extra edge for the house.

The roulette version with the Eagle symbol was soon abandoned and nowadays there are less than 5 copies of the original wheels which featured an Eagle pocket. In the United States and Canada, the original version with two zeros persisted, despite the increased popularity of the single-zero roulette in Monte Carlo. The credit for the simplification of the layout, or the betting table, also goes to the American casino operators from the 19th century.


Single Zero Roulette IntroductionINTRODUCTION OF THE SINGLE-ZERO ROULETTE: The modern version of the European Roulette wheel, featuring only a single zero, was also developed by Frenchmen, the Blanc brothers, and was used for the first time in a casino in Germany. The purpose of the introduction of this new wheel was quite simple, it was designed to lure bettors with a lower house edge.

Even today, European Roulette is more attractive for players simply because it has a lower house edge in comparison with American Roulette. In fact, researches show that roulette is the most popular casino game in Europe and Latin America, where the European version is predominant, and only second or third most popular game in North America and the Caribbean, where the American version is featured in the casinos. Later, the Blanc brothers moved their casino to Monte Carlo. This small country remains to be the heart of the casino gaming in Europe and beyond. Due to the glamour and high level of prestige associated with Monte Carlo’s casinos at the time (and even today), the game of roulette was crowned as ‘King’ of all of the casino games.


Popularisation of the Game of RouletteTHE POPULARISATION OF ROULETTE: During the first half of the 20th century, casinos and roulette with them were limited to few cities/areas, such as Las Vegas and Monte Carlo. In the second part of the century casinos started appearing in many parts of the world and the game achieved even greater popularity.

Then, when the first online casinos emerged near the end of the 20th century, the popularity of roulette reached a new height. Today roulette is definitely one of the most popular real-money games on the Internet and is features in many different variations in every single online casino.


Roulette - New and Exciting VariantsNEW VARIANTS OF ROULETTE: Besides American and European, other versions of roulette have also been developed. One of them is the California Roulette, which is similar to American Roulette but instead of pockets the wheel features cards. Also, instead of a ball a pointer is used. When the wheel stops moving the pointer points the winning card.

Of course, the most modern interpretations of roulette can be found on the Internet. At online casinos you can play Multi-Wheel roulette, Progressive Jackpot Roulette variations, 3D Roulette games or Pinball Roulette. You also have the possibility to play online roulette with real dealers via video stream.


Interesting Facts about RouletteAN OLD TALE: Finally, here’s one curious fact about roulette: if you sum the numbers on the roulette wheel, they add up to 666 – the number of the beast. This fact gave birth to one of the most interesting myths. Namely, a legend which was quite popular in the 18th century claimed that Blanc sold his soul to the devil in order to acquire the rules of roulette.