The History of Roulette – Stroll Down Memory Lane

History of roulette

5 minutes

Posted by: David

If you’ve ever bet on a roulette wheel, you know how mesmerizing and thrilling the experience can be.

Even though it’s a relatively simple and mostly luck-based game, roulette has a unique charm.

It's one of the oldest casino games still played nowadays and only seems to get more popular with each passing year.

On this page, we’ll take a walk through the history of roulette to see when it was invented, how it evolved over the centuries, and how it has prevailed to stay one of the most popular gambling games in the world.

The 17th Century – Invention of the Roulette Wheel

In most history books and credible sites, you’ll find citations referencing how the game was invented by Blaise Pascal, a French physicist and one of the most notable scholars in 17th century Europe.

Still, you should take this information with a grain of salt, as the game’s origin is still not entirely clear.

The roulette concept had been around for a few centuries before Pascal was born.

One typical example is the so-called “Wheel of Fortune,” a philosophical metaphor where the goddess of fate turns the wheel responsible for the rise and fall in the course of life.

Some theories speculate that the game was invented in 17th century Italy. A board game called Biribi was played there, with numbers from 1 to 70, similar to roulette in some ways.

There are other examples, like the old English even/odd game, but there’s no clear agreement on the origin of roulette.

Over the following several centuries, the game continued to rise in popularity, culminating with the appearance of roulette on the internet, which made it available to people worldwide to enjoy it from the comfort of their homes.

Roulette history

The 18th Century – Widespread Popularization of Roulette

During the last years of the 18th century, the game became more famous in France and found its way into casinos all over the country.

During the time, the first standardized wheel found its way into the game, although it still differed from the one we recognize today.

The European Roulette wheel at the time had a red zero and the double zero, which was black. But, to avoid confusion and incidents, the zeros were changed to green color a few years later.

Also, both the zero and the double zero were house pockets. If the ball landed in any of the two, all bets were lost.

However, this was also changed shortly so that the zeros only provide the house edge.

Not only did the game become popular in Europe at the time, but it also found its way to the US during the same period.

As the 18th century brought the game across the pond, the first version of American Roulette was created.

The first versions of American Roulette were very different from today’s version. The wheel had only 28 numbers, zero, double zero, and an eagle symbol.

All bets would be lost if the ball landed on the zero, double zero, or eagle. This made American Roulette significantly more unfavorable than the European version at the time.

Not only this, but roulette in itself attracted very different crowds in the US and Europe.

In European casinos, this wheel game was regarded as a high-end experience enjoyed by affluent people. In the US, the game was mostly played in gambling dens.

The 19th Century – Further Renown in the US, Bans in Europe

The 19th century dramatically changed the landscape of gambling worldwide and roulette with it. In the US, the game continued its steady rise and found more significant popularity across the entire country.

In Europe, the situation wasn’t so promising. Although the game was pretty popular in the first decades of the 19th century, it was outlawed in 1837, when King Louis Phillipe shut down all casinos in the country.

As casinos in France were forced to shut down, the country’s eastern neighbor, Germany, decided to take advantage of the situation.

During the 1840s, German casinos experienced the golden years, as venues in Bad Homburg and Baden-Baden became the most popular on the continent.

Unfortunately, this was also relatively short-lived, as casinos were outlawed in the country only two decades after.

With gambling in France and Germany being illegal, this left Monte Carlo as the only destination in Europe where casinos were still allowed to operate.

It was during the late 19th century that casinos in Monte Carlo built up the elite reputation they’re known for today. Simultaneously, this was the period during which the single zero variation of European Roulette gained wider recognition.

Roulette past and future

The 20th Century – The Full Glitz of Casino Roulette

As the first decades of the 20th century passed, Monte Carlo remained the only destination in the world where fans of roulette could enjoy the game in a legal, trustworthy, and luxurious setting.

After the end of prohibition in the US in the early 1930s, the US gambling industry experienced a massive boom. This was hugely thanks to the rapid development of Las Vegas casinos.

The period between the 1950s to the 1970s marked the golden age of gambling in Las Vegas, with roulette being one of the most popular games in every venue in the city.

As the 20th century brought on globalization, roulette became more accessible to gambling enthusiasts worldwide.

And, as the 1990s approached, roulette fans were treated with a whole different dimension of the game – the ability to play it online without even leaving their homes.

Going Online and Live Roulette Games

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Internet rocked the casino world, as players could now play online, whenever they wanted to, and wherever they were.

In the mid-2000s, the first live casino roulette studios were introduced. The technology brought about an even more convenient experience.

With live roulette, players could feel like they’re playing at a real roulette table without having to physically visit a brick-and-mortar casino.

As technology continues to advance, roulette closely keeps up with the latest gambling trends.

Having evolved and preserved through hardships over the course of its history, roulette remains one of the best and most entertaining casino games in existence!

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