Sometimes there are
stories heard that the game was created in China and brought to
Europe by Dominican monks who were trading with the Chinese.
There are accounts of
ancient Romans tipping their chariot wheels on their sides and
spinning one of the wheels for games of diversion.
Earlier versions of
Roulette, like the carnival wheel game, were in use throughout
Europe, as early as the mid-1500s.
A very primitive version
of roulette was introduced in the 17th century by the famous
French scientist, Blaise Pascal, who is also accredited with the
probability theory. It is said that this was a by-product of his
perpetual motion devices. Blaise Pascal's invention of the
roulette is sometimes rather seen as a tale.
The first account we have
of a spinning ball and a rotating horizontal wheel being used as a
gaming device was in a game called "roly-poly," in 1720.
The Gaming Acts of 1739 and 1740 banned roly-poly, as well as many
other games of chance, in England. An innovative Beau Nash, the
Master of Ceremonies at Bath, England, evaded these laws by
introducing "Even-Odd". EO was a simplified version of
Roulette, but that too was outlawed in 1745.
During the next 50 years
(from 1745 onwards), the game evolved into the one that we can
recognize today. The modern roulette wheel began appearing in Paris
casinos around 1796. The familiar elements were already there –
the numbered layout of pockets 1–36 with alternating red and black
colors, green 0, and green 00. The 0 was actually red in color and
the 00 black, and the rules were the same. Eventually these colors
would be changed to green to avoid further confusion on color bets.
Roulette was introduced to
the United States of America in the 1800’s, by way of the many
Europeans found in the Louisiana city of New Orleans. Due to the
greed of certain gaming establishment proprietors, who were not
content with a 5.26% edge, people soon stopped playing roulette,
particularly those roulette wheels which these enterprising
businesspersons had reduced to just 31 pockets in order to benefit a
staggering 12.90% advantage. Of course, people ended up only playing
the original double zero wheels. The game became popular in the old
west of America during the California Gold Rush.
Francois and Louis Blanc (brothers) invented the single
"0" roulette game in 1842. Roulette’s history changed
dramatically at this point, particularly the House’s edge, which
was now reduced from 5.26% to a 2.70%. The game became a smashing
success. Because gambling was illegal in France during this time,
the game was introduced in Hamburg (Bavaria), Germany where it
became very popular and replaced an earlier version that featured
of "En Prison" was offered, further lowering the house
edge, on even money wagers, down to 1.35%. No wonder the game
accounts for over 50% of revenues in European casinos as compared
to about 5% in U.S. casinos. Casinos today in Atlantic City, do
offer En Prison for even money bets on their double zero wheels.
This effectively reduces the casinos' edge from 5.26% to 2.63% for
When history led the
Principality to financial problems toward the end of the 1800s,
Prince Charles, ruler of Monaco at the time, decided to bring
gambling to Monaco. Although he allowed the gambling venture to
proceed, he was not sure how well it would do.
When gambling was eventually banned from Germany, Louis Blanc
accepted an invitation from the Prince of Monaco, Charles III, to
visit Monte Carlo to establish and operate the casino that today
sets the casino standards for everyone across Europe. In 1863 Blanc
signed a 50-year franchise contract and built the luxurious Monte
Carlo casino in a manner to attract the richest members of society
and hence brought the game of roulette back to France. Blanc
persuaded French authorities to build a highway to Monte Carlo and
to extend the railway from Nice, which opened Monte Carlo to the
Although over time gambling became legalized throughout nearby
France, the game of Roulette remained exclusive to Monte Carlo until
1933, which kept not only the luxurious Monte Carlo Casino popular,
but also the game of Roulette.
Roulette did enjoy
popularity stateside around the turn of the century up until World
War II. As Americans learned to lose less at craps and subsequently
became interested in the notion that black jack was beatable,
roulette declined in popularity. Roulette is the oldest casino game
still in existence.
both the American (double zero) and the European (single zero)
versions of the wheel were invented in France, the double zero
wheel has come to be known as the American Wheel, since, contrary
to its fate in Europe, it has survived in the United States.
The single zero version
has maintained itself as the European favorite, and has come to be
known as the French Wheel. Other European nations have adopted the
single zero version as their own. For example, there is the
“British Single” Roulette.