The History of the Roulette in Casinos
Written by Phoebe
Published date · March 30, 2022 | Last Updated · Dec. 14, 2022 | Read Time: 4 mins
Roulette is easily one of the most popular wagering games and is readily available in absolutely every land-based casino and the vast majority of online casinos too. Roulette’s origin story is mysterious, and everyone you ask will probably give you a different story. The most common story is that roulette as we know it was invented by French mathematician Blaise Pascal in the 17th Century whilst he was working on a perpetual motion machine. Despite this, there is also evidence that a game similar to roulette could have been common in Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece or even Ancient China. Read on to find out more about the history of roulette!
Roulette in Ancient Rome and Greece
Soldiers in Ancient Rome had a notably tough life. The short life expectancy and witnessing friends and comrades wounded or lost in battle means that low morale was commonplace. To combat this, Roman commanders would encourage their soldiers to enjoy themselves as much as possible, and this often included betting and chance games. Many of these early games involved a spinning shield or even a wheel from a chariot, similar to how roulette is played today. Much like in Ancient Rome, Greek soldiers were gambling when they weren’t fighting. One particular game is fairly similar to roulette. In this game, soldiers drew symbols around the edge of the shield, which they would spin next to an arrow and place bets on which symbol the arrow would be pointing at. However, whilst soldiers in both Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece may have played games similar to roulette, there is not enough evidence to state that this is where the game originated from.
Board Games in Ancient China
A popular story about the origins of roulette that is hard to prove one way or the other is that it is based on a board game from Ancient China. This board game involved 37 animal figurines that needed to be arranged into a magic square to total the number 666. Dominican monks discovered this game and brought it to Europe, where changes were made to how the game was played. Unfortunately, there is no concrete evidence of how the original game was played. Many changes were made when the game was brought back to Europe, including changing the original square to a circle. The only confirmed similarity between this Ancient Chinese board game and the modern roulette wheel is that the numbers in both add up to 666. If you want to learn about the 666 roulette strategy check out our helpful guide!
Roulette in Europe
Roulette, as we know it today, is undoubtedly French in origin. The design of the wheel and how the game is played were influenced by two popular games in Europe during the 17th Century, called “Roly-Poly” and “Even-Odd”. Bettors would spin a wheel in both of these games and bet on the outcome. Gambling had limited popularity at the time as it was illegal in much of Europe; however, this changed in the 18th Century. The introduction of new, strict gambling laws saw wagering increase in popularity in Europe. At the same time, Monaco’s Prince Charles was struggling financially and decided to use the burgeoning gambling trend to solve them. To achieve this, he opened gambling houses in Monaco, where roulette would have been a prominent game. As a result of his efforts, roulette boomed in popularity amongst royalty and the wealthy. The roulette that would have been played in these gambling houses is almost identical to what we know as roulette today.
Two Frenchman by the names of Francois and Louis Blanc, were instrumental in creating the European version of roulette; however, this wasn’t always plain sailing. By 1842, gambling was illegal again in France, and as a result, Francois and Louis moved to Hamburg in Germany. They dropped the double zero pocket, and when the new game was introduced to the gambling community, its popularity exploded. Only having the solitary zero slot brings the house edge down to 2.7%, as opposed to a house edge of 5.26% when playing with two zero slots. The better odds and increase in return-to-player rates means that single zero roulette quickly became more popular than the double zero variation. Popular European roulette strategies include the Andrucci Roulette Strategy, Paroli Roulette Strategy and the D’Alembert Roulette Strategy.
Roulette in the USA
European settlers in the 19th century in Louisiana first brought roulette to the USA; however, the game’s introduction was not as smooth as it was in Europe. Casino owners in the USA were not happy with the 5.26% house edge in double zero roulette and decided that they wanted to increase it. However, as players received low returns, they lost interest in the game. Despite this, gamblers in America unanimously reject single zero roulette, and the double zero version is the most commonly accepted form of roulette today. However, this interest has died off over time as keen gamblers swap to games they can beat, such as blackjack.
Online casinos are booming in popularity, and as a result, just about anyone can enjoy their favourite casino games in the comfort of their own home. Whether you are in Europe or America, you can find your favourite version of roulette online and ready to be enjoyed. As roulette is purely a game of chance, roulette has a unique charm that not all other casino games can offer. The rise of online roulette also gives gamblers the chance to concentrate on their betting strategy without being distracted by all of the hustle and bustle of a land-based casino. Roulette really has been incredibly popular since its creation in Europe, and people have played roulette-style games since the ancient world. Modern roulette may have changed and is now more accessible than ever, but it is still very similar to the game created in France in the 17th century.