The history of Roulette

Everyone knows the game roulette, but not many people know where the famous casino game originates from. In this article we give you an overview about the history of roulette. Let's start with the man who invented the first version of roulette Blaise Pascal. 

Blaise Pascal, the man who invented the first version of roulette

Origin of Roulette

Who is Blaise Pascal?

Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician, physicist and religious philosopher, who laid the foundation for the modern theory of probabilities.

Synopsis

Mathematician Blaise Pascal was born on June 19, 1623, in Clermont-Ferrand, France. In the 1640s he invented the Pascaline, an early calculator, and further validated Evangelista Torricelli's theory concerning the cause of barometrical variations. In the 1650s, Pascal laid the foundation of probability theory with Pierre de Fermat.  He died in Paris on August 19, 1662.

Blaise Pascal introduced a primitive form of roulette. 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 history of roulette: 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.

The European roulette game spread over the rest of the world. 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 are 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 (Charles) III of Monaco. This brought up quite an uproar, since the double zero brought the benefit to the house.

the history of roulette
French (European) roulette table

Charles thought to make money by building a casino in Monaco. This 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.

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 carried across the great ocean and 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

In the past you had to be in Europe to play European roulette and in America to play 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 has more options 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 (even naked roulette), we’re very curious to the opportunities of the future.

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