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History of Roulette: Origin & Evolution




Roulette is among the oldest and most popular games played in land-based casinos and online platforms. Unfortunately, while many gamers enjoy playing online roulette Australia, not many know about the history of this unique game. Here are the most important parts about the history and evolution of roulette.

The Origin of Roulette

While the history of roulette is shrouded in mystery, many believe that this casino game is the first incarnation of a game invented by a French mathematician and celebrated nerd known as Blaise Pascal. The game is said to have been invented in the 17th century, as Pascal was attempting to work hard to develop a perpetual motion machine. 

However, there’s evidence showing that lots of ancient civilizations played a game very similar to roulette.

Other theories surrounding the origin of roulette say that the casino game was most likely invented in the 17th century in Italy. That explains why many encyclopedias until the 1900s called this game with 38 numbers “Big Roulette” or “Italian Roulette”. There was also a smaller version using 18 numbers and was known as “German Roulette” or “Small Roulette”.

The Development of Roulette across Europe (18th & 19th Century)

In the 18th century, roulette became quite popular in France and crossed over to various famous casinos in Europe. The game had a modern and slightly different layout, adding a zero in the late 1790s. The single zero had a red color and there a double zero with a black color was also added. However, the two were house pockets despite the difference in colors. That meant if the ball landed on black or red, you’d still lose your bet if the ball landed in the zero pockets.

To avoid confusion for the players, casinos started labeling the zero pockets in green. The game was originally banned in France by King Louis XV and by 1806, Napoleone Bonaparte only allowed the Palais Royale casino to host roulette. However, Louis Phillipe outlawed it throughout France after shutting down all casinos. That brought the German Casino era in Wiesbaden, Bad Homburg and Baden-Baden.

 In the 1860s, German casinos were outlawed and were only allowed again by the Nazis in 1933. This ban of gambling activities in France and Germany meant that the casinos at Monte Carlo were the only ones operating and thriving in Europe. That’s why the Blanc brothers transferred their operation to Monte Carlo, making the city a mecca of elite gambling. That’s where roulette’s single-zero variant became popular and spread throughout the world in later years.

The History of American Roulette

After flourishing in Europe in the 18th century, roulette made its way to America around the same period. The earliest game features 28 numbers, with a single and a double zero plus an eagle symbol. The eagle gave the casino an extra house edge and every bet would be lost if the ball landed on it or the zeros. This was the version that soon gave rise to the European roulette featuring numbers 1-36 with the zeros offering the house edge.

Roulette was first played in New Orleans after crossing over to America, traveling up to Mississippi and later westwards. However, unlike in Europe, roulette was mainly played in America’s gambling dens. That made the wheel to be put on a makeshift table because of a lot of cheating by the players and operators. The table made sure there were no devices hidden under the roulette wheel to manipulate results and they also simplified the layout to simplify betting options. That also made the game fast-paced.

Read How to become a better casino player

The Development of Online Roulette in the 20th Century

Earlier in the 20th century, there weren’t many casinos globally. The only noteworthy places that casino players could enjoy roulette were either Las Vegas with the American version or going to Monte Carlo for the single-zero roulette. Fortunately, the popularity of casinos flourished in the 1970s and they spread across the world. However, the real boom came after the internet spread as a new generation of gaming platforms were established to allow bettors to gamble online.

The internet revolution brought many changes to the way people placed their wagers to enjoy roulette and players could enjoy the game round the clock. Players could also easily choose the European and American version of roulette, alongside a plethora of other traditional games at the comfort of their homes.

Live Roulette with Real Dealers

While online casinos offer numerous benefits to date, they lack the human connection that most people want to get while playing games in a casino. That prompted some online casinos to stream their games live from traditional casinos with a real dealer handling the game. The first live roulette games used webcams for streaming the games from a traditional casino and players would bet on the games without waiting for an electronic random number generator to determine the outcome.

The first attempt of offering live dealer games in online casinos came with significant issues, as most operators didn’t want to disturb the gamblers in their venues. That meant that cameras could only be mounted at the top of the table and not on the ceiling. That wasn’t ideal for most players as they couldn’t get a clear view of the roulette table because of the camera’s distance.

That prompted operators to start making custom studios for hosting live dealer games and internet connections also increased. This undoubtedly boosted the atmosphere and helped to replicate the real casino experience as much as possible because cameras could be mounted at the right angle and content streamed by players seamlessly.