Roulette (derived from the French word roulette - small wheel) is without doubt one of the most popular games found in casinos. Millions of players worldwide enjoy playing it. The spinning ball could just as well be orbiting planet Earth with the amount of roulette that is played every day. Despite its popularity, surprisingly little is known about the origin of this popular game.
The origin of roulette - Viva la France
Practically everything you read about the history of roulette is speculation. What we know is that it originated at the end of the 18th century (roughly around the year 1790) in France. Many theories claim that very similar games were played in ancient China, by Roman legionnaires during their crusades, as well as by English lords who sought entertaining ways to pass time.
The fact of the matter is that the French mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal is widely acknowledged to have been the inventor of roulette. Yes, the exact same person whose theory of probability you rely on when playing. It is true, however, that it not possible to directly say that he was behind the idea of roulette as a game. The wheel and spinning ball were just a by-product of his efforts to build a perpetuum mobile and a random number generator in the process. It all turned out a bit differently.
Proof has also recently surfaced that in 1758 (i.e. 40 years before the "invention" of roulette), a game that went by the name roulette was prohibited in Quebec, a country which at the time was known as New France. The question is of course, which game was in fact called roulette and whether it had any similarities to the new age roulette.
Development and origin of various forms of roulette
While Pascal did invent the wheel, the rules still had to be made. The rules gradually developed and apparently combined those from a multitude of games, such as the English games of Roly-Poly, Reiner and Ace of Hearts, as well as influences from older Italian games such as Hoca and Biribiso. To make the gambling scene a perfect mess, we also have to add the relatively small influence of French board games at the time. International cooperation indeed.
Another falsely interpreted myth is that the Americans were the ones to invent roulette with double zeros (the most common roulette game in the USA). This is not true. The original game of French roulette had both single and double zero pockets. Casino owners were behind this innovation because they wanted to ensure that they had the statistical probability of winning.
A change came in 1843. The brothers, François and Louis Blanc, attempted to break into the German market after the forced closure of their Parisian casinos. They opened the small Kursaal casino in the spa city of Bad Homburg. To bring in guests, they did something unimaginable. They removed the double zero pocket from the roulette wheel. The game became more attractive. Today, the general conclusion is that by doing so the brothers influenced the future of roulette games too.
The interesting thing is that although they invented this solution for their German casinos, the game with only a single zero became known as French roulette. People began referring to the original French roulette with double zeros as American roulette. American casino owners were tough businessmen and would not give up on the profits which the game of roulette with double zeros yielded.
François Blanc later became a sort of ambassador of roulette (as well as gambling as a whole), due to which the game experienced massive expansion, particularly in smaller casinos, like in Monte Carlo. It was to here that Blanc transferred his business from Bad Homburg and literally from scratch created the gambling capital of the world for the next few generations.
As previously mentioned, roulette followed the waves of immigrants to the USA, where its beginnings were equally as penetrative. Despite the market being strictly controlled, roulette found its place and contributed significantly to the making of the iconic gambling paradise - Las Vegas.
The golden era of roulette
Roulette experienced its biggest boom during the latter half of the 20th century when strict laws became more relaxed, allowing roulette to also expand into gambling arcades in smaller towns. Developments in technology practically lead to the automation of the roulette wheel, thereby no longer requiring human interaction.
Roulette and the online era
The golden era of roulette gained new impetus with its massive expansion over the Internet. The online platform fits the roulette concept perfectly, which is reflected by the quantity of virtual roulette games. Internet casinos, and in particular good software, can award players plenty of tempting bonuses, which has led to players flocking to play roulette online.