Everyone knows the game roulette, but not many people know where the famous casino game originates from. In this article we give you a quick overview about the history of roulette.
Blaise Pascal, the man who invented the first version of roulette
So much that we know, is that the first roulette game was designed in the 18th century in France. There is, however, evidence that the monk Blaise Pascal introduced a primitive form of roulette a century before that. The design of this game shows direct similarities with his proposal of roulette wheel in his search for the so-called perpetual motion machine (a machine that can work indefinitely without an energy source). How the wheel is actually put in the game is still unclear.
The Rise of Roulette in France
In its current form, we recognize roulette originating in 1796 in Paris. The European variation of roulette is still oft called French roulette to this day. This is a rather flustering fact, seeing as that the European roulette as we know it arose in Germany.
An early description of the roulette game was found in a French novel named ‘La Roulette, ou le Jour’, by author Jacques Lablee, who describes the origin of roulette to be a roulette wheel in the Royal Palace of Paris in 1796. The description goes as follows “There are exactly two slots reserved for the bank, whence it derives its sole mathematical advantage”. Rather ironically, this French description is of a roulette that we would now call American roulette, with two zero’s. The novel was published in 1801.
The roulette wheels that were used in the casinos of Paris in the later years of 1790 only had one zero in front of the red numbers, and the double zeros in front of the black numbers. To remove confusion, they decided to change the colours of the zero’s to green around the 1800s.
The Origin of the Single Zero (European Roulette)
In 1843, the wheel with a single zero was introduced in a German casino in the city Homburg. This was introduced in order to compete with the casinos that used the double zero version. This was the origin of the European roulette that we know now.
A quick video documentary about the origin of roulette: In the 19th century, the game roulette spread through all of Europe and was brought to the USA, where it became one of the most famous and popular casino games. When the German government forbade gambling around the 1860s, the de Blanc family moved to the last legal place for casinos in Europa: Monte Carlo. Monte Carlo thus became a gambling heaven for the elite of Europe. Even now the casino of Monte Carlo has remained the most famous and largest casino in all of Europe.
From there on out, the European roulette game spread over the rest of the world, except the USA, where the American version with the double zero is still upheld. Countries that have maintained the American roulette version are the USA, Canada, South America, and the Caribbean.
The History of Roulette: the invention of the zero
The invention of the zero – we’re not suggesting that the number zero didn’t exist until the 1800’s – is a good anecdote in the history of roulette. The zero did not exists on the wheel until the middle of the 19th century. The original roulette wheel, the one invented by Pascal Blaise, has stayed the same throughout the centuries. This changed in 1842, when Francois and Lois Blanc designed a roulette wheel with only one zero, exclusively for King Karel III of Monaco. This brought up quite an uproar, since the double zero brought the benefit to the house.
This design on its own wasn’t enough though. The kingdom was confronted with multiple financial difficulties afterwards, so Charles built a casino in Monaco to bring attention to this new wheel. The wheel generated a high amount of income for Monaco and quickly became an important symbol for Monte Carlo’s culture of upscale gambling.
Roulette could not be restricted to the borders to Monaco of course, and so it couldn’t escape the American influences. The French-American relationship in the 18th century were an important factor in the history of roulette. Especially after the French revolution in 17890 where many Americans looked up to, leading to many Americans visiting France. In the 1800s roulette was also carried across the great ocean and was brought to the American coast. To give the American casino house the greater advantage however, the wheel was given an extra zero. To this day the American version of roulette still uses the double zero to the house’s advantage.
Roulette: the past, the present, and the future
Now it’s clear where roulette originated from. Starting in the 21 century, roulette was also introduced in the online casino, and became highly popular. Before then, if you wanted to play European roulette, you had to go to Europe, and vice versa with the American roulette. This has now all changed through the introduction of online roulette. No matter where you live, online casinos now offer everyone the same opportunities in playing both variations of online roulette. In fact, online roulette is being discussed more than regular roulette nowadays, and mobile roulette is peeking around the corner. We believe that the future of roulette may lie in the palms in our hands, or mobiles. With more different versions of online roulette popping up, we’re very curious to the opportunities of the future.