Know the Real History of Roulette

Roulette is one of the most ancient and popular casino games ever to be invented and documented. But ever took sometime to know about the history of roulette and from where it originated? If you haven’t yet, let me tell you then.

The Medieval Origin Story of Roulette

The inspiration which (is believed to have) paved the way for the invention of the roulette wheel can be traced back to the medieval philosophy of the “Wheel of Fortune” (Rota Fortunae), where the goddess of fate turns the wheel and the rise or fall of the kings is prophesied. 

Origin Story of Roulette

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Well, that being the philosophical history behind the invention of the roulette, let me take you forward in time and elaborate on the hilarious yet, an imperative origin story of the roulette.

The Accidental Invention

It is the mid 17th century, war is brewing between the English and the Dutch in Europe. And in India, Aurangzeb is about to defeat his brother and the war on democracy has spread like wildfire across the globe. 

Meanwhile, in a small town in France, Blaise Pascal, a renowned physicist, mathematician, and inventor is about to rewrite the history of gambling by accidentally inventing the roulette wheel.

the history of roulette

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Having invented the “computer” just 13 years ago, Pascal tries to invent the perpetual motion machine in the year 1655 but fails dramatically.

A machine that was supposed to defy the laws of physics by running on its own, without any external energy, turned out to be, what it’s today known as the “roulette wheel.”

Prior to his attempt to invent the perpetual motion machine, Pascal had written a treatise, which was titled “L’Histoire de la Roulette.”

A formula that could calculate cycloids and involved the rolling of wheels eventually. It inspired him to attempt to invent the perpetual motion machine, and the name “roulette” was taken from this earlier rendition of the treatise.

The Wheel that Reinvented Itself with Time

Want to know something fascinating? Before Roulette was far from being perfect, it had inspired the inception of another game titled “Biribi” (also known as Cavagnole) and roulette had now crossed borders into Italy.

A game of luck and chance, Biribi had a striking similarity with roulette where there were 1 to 70 numbers marked on the board and players were to put their stakes on the number of their likings.

Due to the enormous winning stakes (of up to 40 times the initial bet) and the suspicion of the bankers colluding with the players, Biribis’ reputation took a tumble and the game was later prohibited in 1837.

Roulette was later referenced in a publication for New France (Quebec) in the year 1758 where the games similar to this were banned. The games that were played with “dice, hoca, faro and roulette” were banned in the process.

Rapid Evolution of Roulette Begins

The 1790s saw the game of Roulette flourish when casinos in Paris selected the colour green for the zeros in the roulette wheel and this remained unchanged for the next few decades.

The wheels used in the casinos of Paris up until then had a single zero and black for the double zero, and selecting the color green for the zeros avoided confusion henceforth.

Rightfully named “roulette,” which means “little wheel” in french, the current form of the roulette game can be traced back to 1796 where you can find the description of it in “La Roulette, ou le Jour”, a French novel, which is authored by Jaques Lablee. 

Describing the Roulette wheel in the “Paris Royal” casino book, which was published in the year 1801, the house pockets are described in the quotes that read:

“There are precisely 2 slots reserved only for the bank, whence it derives its sole mathematical advantage….two betting spaces containing the bank’s two numbers, zero and double zero” 

All weren’t rainbows and unicorns for the game of Roulette in France, as the beginning of the 19th century saw backlash for the game when King Louis XV tried to ban the game from being played in casinos across the country.

It was not until 1806 when Napoleon Bonaparte lifted the ban on the game and allowed it to be played only in the casinos of the Palais Royale.

Indulging or playing the game of roulette was completely outlawed in the year 1837 when Louis Phillipe closed down all the casinos in France. But this came as a blessing in disguise for the expansion of the game. 

Smacking lips and pouncing on the opportunity of the ban on casinos in the neighboring country, the German casinos in Baden-Baden, Bad Homburg, and Wiesbaden encouraged roulette and this gave birth to the golden era of gambling in Germany.

In the meantime, a gifted gambler/author from Russia, by the name of Dostoyevsky had penned down a novel titled “The Gambler,” which was a massive best-seller and all he wrote in it was his extravagant experience playing in a Bad Homburg casino.

He incidentally happened to write about the beauty of the roulette wheel in his book as well.

To make the most of the popularity and to leave the competition in the dust, brothers Francois and Louis Blanc, who owned the Bad Homburg casino removed the double zero from the roulette wheel in 1843.

As you can see, the Blanc brothers were nothing short of geniuses to have made a change like this back in the mid-1800s.

The removal of the zero would give the house higher odds of winning, and Bad Homburg was so famous that other casinos across Europe took notice of the change, and soon incorporated the single zero variant of the game in their roulette wheels as well.

For nearly the next two decades, roulette would see great success and no one could foresee what was coming. Casinos across Germany were outlawed in the 1860s. 

But hey, the rainwater must drain somewhere right! This is exactly what happened.

As a result of the ban in France and Germany, Monte Carlo would be the only place in Europe where gamblers could flock to, to quench their urge for gambling, and as a consequence, it would become the gambling capital of Europe, and thrive until 1933.

In 1933, the Nazis would lift the ban on casinos in France and Germany and the astute & intelligent Blanc brothers migrated their business to Monte Carlo.

the real history of roulette

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A stroke of genius as mentioned earlier, it was this decision taken by the Blanc brothers to move their business to Monte Carlo that would cement the city as the gambling mecca and put casino games, especially roulette, on the world map.

Roulette was clearly being taken seriously in Europe and it was time for the colourful game of the spinning wheel of luck to spread its glory across the continent of Europe and step into the United States.

All this progress was before the world wars, and way before roulette crossed the oceans into the US, before the baby boomers, before las vegas, and much before the global digital revolution.

So, sit tight and read the rest of the article as I narrate the roller coaster ride the roulette wheel witnessed in the 19th and the 20th century. 

Crossing the Continental Borders

You may call it fate, fortune, or serendipity, but as the ban culture pushed the European gamblers towards Monte Carlo, there were also vast migrations of the French citizens into the United States, which trickled down their affinity of gambling to the “land of opportunity.”

Appearing first in the state of Louisiana, in the city of New Orleans, gambling made its way into the hands of the business-minded patriotic elite who quickly changed the appearance of the roulette wheel that could yield a higher house edge.

The earlier, modified American roulette wheel had 28 numbers, 2 zeros, and a symbol of an American Eagle, as opposed to the 38 numbers which were counted from 1 through 36, 0, and 00 in the European roulette wheel. And if the ball landed in any of the zeros or the American Eagle, all bets on this would be lost.

So, you can imagine, this higher house edge, at a staggering 12.9%, didn’t play well with the casino players, as it would give them a lesser chance of winning a higher amount and as a result, the American Eagle was removed from the wheel and the European wheel variant spread across the country.

America Welcomes Roulette with Open Arms

By reading through this, you can see that gambling was approached by the Americas in a different light, a different perspective of a lucrative opportunity and as the gambling culture made its way up the Mississippi river coasts, the west wasn’t too late to pick it up.

In Monte Carlo, gambling was more of a high-end experience for leisure gamblers but this took somewhat of a dark turn in America. 

Gambling games mostly took place in territorial dens where they were closely monitored for foul play and the roulette wheel was placed on a makeshift table to avoid any device that could manipulate the results.

This foul play was rampant enough and famous enough to make it into various movies and television shows across the world.

Although some parts of the United States changed their roulette to that of the European style, the American variant of double zero wheels were still prevalent in Canada, South America and also in Canada.

The United States can be currently called “the gambling capital of the world,” as the glitz & glamour of Las Vegas and the lesser-known gambling town of Atlantic City attract the impulsive, the intelligent and for the lack of a better word, eccentric roulette lovers towards the make it or break it fanaticism. 

The Modern Era of Gambling

A few decades into the 20th century, the gambling culture was growing at a linear pace and gamblers only had Monte Carlo in Europe or Las Vegas/Atlantic City in the United States where they could travel to indulge in some RnR.

But the 1970s saw a sudden boom in the popularity of casino games & gambling and people imagined that this would be the extent of the growth of the gambling culture. And boy, were they wrong.

Enter the Era of the “Internet”

InterCasino, the first online casino opened in 1996 and takes the cake for delivering the experience of gambling to every household’s doorstep. But online gambling was far from what it is today. 

The advent of the internet meant that anyone, at any time, from any corner of the world could play casino games but the transition from live casino games to virtuality wasn’t as seamless as you can imagine.

Lacking the physical experience of personally being present at the casino, casinos initially streamed live view of the gambling table and this made the gamblers at the table anxious, uncomfortable, and annoyed.

The casinos countered this by installing cameras high in the ceiling but this was counterproductive to gamblers at home who were watching tiny, and sometimes barely visible cards, wheels, tiles, and dice.

VueTec” was the first company to undertake the streaming of online gambling fad, but unfortunately, an evolution in the online gambling realm was impending. 

“Software,” the second only famous word to “internet,” which was on everyone’s mouth and mind, took over the whole world by surprise.

In the early 21st century, gamblers were attracted to the flexibility provided by the online casinos where they could switch between the American style and the European version of roulette at the click of a button.

When physical limitations are overcome, new and uncharted territories open up for exploration and the advancement of computer technology, smartphones, and high-speed internet paved the way for innovative iterations of online casino games to be developed.

Mini Roulette, Pinball Roulette, Multiball Roulette, and Multi Wheel Roulette are some of the creative iterations of the said innovation and a myriad of similar casino games began to mushroom gradually.

But strong bandwidth and stable residential internet connections were few and far between until 2006.

Post 2006, live casino studios were introduced. This revolutionized gambling, and roulette, yet again. By introducing real dealers to online gamblers, the company “Evolution Gaming” had built a goliath in the online casino gaming industry and became a force to be reckoned with.

The advantages of creating a studio exclusively for streaming live & interactive games are as follows:

  • Placement of cameras that could give you an optimal, clear view of the wheel or the table.
  • Placement of cameras from different angles to provide different perspectives and vantage points was possible.
  • Camera technology had evolved enough to give a zoomed-in, close up view of the casino game at any given time.
  • There were no other players in the studio which meant that the dealer and the player could gamble in peace without any hindrances.
  • One-on-one interaction with the dealer was never before as personal.
  • Provided the players an atmosphere as close to a real casino as possible.
  • A glamour quotient that is always synonymous with the gambling industry was also introduced by adding attractive women who interacted with the players.

When some providers took the route of introducing modern games like Sports Roulette and London Roulette, some providers gravitated towards bringing back the nostalgia by providing the classic French game that was played with a single zero on the wheel.

roulette history

A fad for immersive roulette that existed a few years ago has now evolved into:

  • Virtual Reality
  • Augmented Reality
  • Mixed Reality

Through technological advancements, you can sit at the comfort of your home and wear your VR headsets and gamble with a virtual dealer and play with real money online.

roulette's history
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And that’s where everything stands today. 

From biblical inspiration to accidental inventions, from the ban culture to the lucrative, underground business opportunities, from the alleyways of New Orleans to the comfort of your couch, roulette has witnessed a marvelous evolution of nearly 400 years and shows no signs of stopping.

Luck is when opportunity knocks and you answer. Even you can turn your fate by trying your hand in a game of Live Roulette at any of these top-rated Indian online casinos.


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