Gambling has been part of the human experience for as long as civilization has existed. In ancient times, we have evidence of dice and other game-playing objects, and the roulette wheel is one of them. Here we are looking into the history of roulette, from its humble origins to where the game is today.
Since you’re researching roulette, you probably want to play some yourself. Fortunately, you can play roulette games now that casinos have taken to the Internet, so it’s possible to play from the comfort of your own home on real pokie apps.
There is a widely accepted origin of the first game of roulette. Before we get to that, there are other theories as to where the roulette wheel came from, think of them as proto-roulette games. These were typically civilizations that played very similar games, namely China, Rome, and Greece.
In China, a board game was alleged to have been brought to Europe that involved placing animal figures onto a square to total 666, the same as a roulette wheel. Some think that monks took this game to Europe and formed the basis for later roulette games, but this is an apocryphal story with no proper sources.
In Rome, many gambling games were played by the Roman battalions that marched up and down the continent of Europe. With them, they took many different games to keep them occupied and keep morale up. Some of them involved placing a shield or chariot wheel flat and spinning it, though we don’t know for sure what they did with it. Some think it was an early form of roulette.
In Greece, they also played with shields, though their version was much closer to modern roulette than the Romans’. Symbols were drawn on the inside of a shield, then it was spun on the ground with an arrow next to it to point to a symbol. Bets were taken on which symbol the arrow would point to. With both classical civilizations, we don’t have enough evidence to make definitive judgments on if they were the origin of roulette.
The Origins Of Roulette
If the name wasn’t enough of a giveaway, roulette is typically believed to have come from France. It’s a French word that means “little wheel” and seems to have been created by Blaise Pascal, a 17th Century mathematician, which makes sense for one of the most numbers-heavy games you’ll find in a casino.
However, this origin does become strained when roly-poly and even-odd are considered. These were two spinning wheel gambling games that also existed in 17th Century Europe and Pascal was a gambler, so he would have definitely known about these games when creating roulette.
Remember that this was when gambling was illegal, so all three spinning wheel games would be played in underground establishments away from the law. This changed later on where many European powers realized there were profits to be made from legalizing and taxing the betting crowd. Monaco specifically became the home of roulette, giving it a more elite appeal over card or dice games.
European Roulette was then created in 1842 when Louis and Francois Blanc removed the double zeroes from the roulette wheel. Unfortunately, gambling had been made illegal so they had to move around Europe while promoting their new take on the game. Removing the double zeroes halved the house edge, to the point of becoming dominant in Europe.
Roulette returned to Monaco when the Blancs were requested to open an establishment there. They created the Monte Carlo, often considered the first modern casino in the world, in 1863.
Roulette In America
Like many cultural traditions, roulette made the journey across the Atlantic along with European settlers. It seemed to have landed in Louisiana in the early 1800s but didn’t fare so well. While European roulette reduced the house edge, American casino owners wanted to increase it. This killed interest in the game for America’s emerging gambling community but they would later accept the original, double-zero version of the game instead of European roulette, to the point that it’s called American roulette.
When the Internet came along, many online casinos put roulette front and center among their games. This allowed any type of roulette to be played by anybody, no matter where they are in the world, and with fewer distractions. With current developments involving cryptocurrency, roulette is one of the games that can also be played for a pot of crypto coins instead of cash.