Roulette History: How We Reinvented the Wheel

Join as we take a glance back through history and trace the development of roulette, from its origins as a French man’s failed experiment to the sophisticated pastime we enjoy today.

Roulette was born over a hundred years ago, though the precise date is uncertain. However we know that the original idea for a roulette wheel originated in the 17th Century when Blaise Pascal, a French mathematician and scientist, attempted to create a machine to illustrate perpetual motion. Pascal’s attempts were unsuccessful (the laws of physics are a harsh mistress) but his machine formed the basis for what would later become the roulette wheel.

The Europeans Stamp Their Mark on the Wheel

In the 18th Century, a game using Pascal’s wheel come entered circulation and was being picked up by casinos in Monte Carlo and by several illegal parlours around the globe.

Roulette was one of the most popular games played at Monte Carlo and still has strong ties to the city today. Originally, the roulette wheel was similar to the modern American wheel, including a 0 slot and a 00 slot. Subsequently, François and Louis Blanc developed a version that only included the 0 slot as a ploy to attract more customers (innovative marketing at its finest, hit on a USP and carve out a niche). François and Louis were clearly onto a winner as their wheel’s improved odds were embraced and produced the ‘European’ version of roulette (the default of the time).

You, Me And The Devil Makes Three

It was rumoured that François Blanc sold his soul to the devil for the roulette wheel (funny, as it wasn’t technically his idea. I’d ask for a refund). The theory’s rubbish, but we’re rationalists here, so let’s look at some evidence all the same…

  • If you add up all the numbers on a roulette wheel, the grand total comes to 666: the so-called ‘number of the beast’.
  • If you add up all the numbers in a dozen, you will eventually reach 6. For example, 1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10+11+12=78, 7+8=15, 1+5=6. This can be done for all three of the wheel’s dozens. This  means you will eventually end up with three sixes next to each other…666. We’re wearing out the devil’s number at this point.
  • Doing the same with any three numbers positioned diagonally in a row will produce 6 as well. For instance 28+32+36=96, 9+6=15, 1+5=6. This is the same if you add up each number in a row (1+2+3=6 etc.)

Spooky? Not really. Cool though!

Roulette Evolves

From its humble beginnings as a quack’s summer project, roulette has become a popular game around the world, with several novel variants springing up in different locations.

For a long time, you could only play the game in Las Vegas and Monte Carlo. In the 1970s, gambling restrictions across the globe were relaxed and roulette can now be enjoyed nearly anywhere in the world.

Computerised versions of the game have been available for many years, but it wasn’t until the 1990s – when public access to the internet became widespread – that roulette became popular at home. Using the internet, players could wager real money on roulette from the comfort of their own homes.

Subsequently, casino websites started popping up everywhere. Some were familiar brands (from former land-based casinos and bookmakers), others were completely fresh faces and all of them were racing to find the next big thing in online roulette.

Roulette Goes Live

When broadband became a common in most households, roulette enjoyed the ultimate upgrade.

Faster internet speeds meant that players were able to stream a Live Roulette show from anywhere in the world: a concept that birthed Live Dealer Roulette. In the last decade, Live Dealer Roulette has become the most popular version of roulette played online and is likely to remain top dog for the foreseeable future.

Thanks to modern technology, you can enjoy Virtual and Live Roulette in a variety of different ways. In addition to playing via your desktop, you can also play using your television. TV Roulette involves a live show aired on certain channels, allowing players to bet either by calling in or using their TV remote.

For gamblers on the go, it’s also possible to play both Virtual Roulette and Live Dealer Roulette on your smartphone or tablet. A lot of casinos offer an app which is free to download, allowing players to access roulette games at any time.

The Future…

As you can see, roulette has come a long way in its 200-ish year history, but what does the future hold?

Who could imagine that in the last decade we’d go from playing clunky digital roulette on a big grey monolith of a computer to spinning the wheel on a portable liquid crystal screen during the morning commute?

Given our progress to date, who knows what the future holds? Matrix-style Total-Immersive Roulette that we plug directly into our brains? Smellovision Roulette where you can enjoy the croupier’s Chanel No. 5? The sky’s the limit, roulette fans.