The Roulette wheel, as we know it, was invented by French mathematician Blaise Pascal in 1655. Pascal was an avid gambler but didn’t create the wheel on purpose – in fact, he was trying to create a perpetual motion machine. His idea was that he could defy the laws of physics and invent a machine that continued to operate without drawing energy from an external source.
However, alternative forms of Roulette have shown up all over history – from the Ancient Romans playing gambling games that would involve spinning a shield or chariot wheel, to a Chinese board game that involved arranging 37 animal figurines into a square with numbers that added up to 666, much like the Roulette wheel.
Read on to find out more about the development of the iconic wheel and how it has evolved into what we know today.
The French invention
Roulette is named after the French word meaning ‘little wheel’, and since the 17th century, games that may have inspired Roulette have been popular in Europe. ‘Roly Poly’ and ‘Even-Odd’ were games that both involved spinning a wheel and betting on the outcome.
The first Roulette wheel featured both the zero and the double zero pocket, and it wasn’t until two Frenchmen called Francois and Louis Blanc got involved, that the single zero European version of the Roulette wheel came about.
The strict laws of the 18th century
Throughout the 18th century, gambling was frowned upon and even made illegal in many countries in Europe. Prince Charles of Monaco, however, sought out ways to get round this, and attempted to fix his money issues through the use of gambling. He opened many casinos in Monaco, and these gambling houses saw Roulette become one of the most popular games, as it soared in popularity with the likes of aristocrats and royalty. The Roulette wheel played in these establishments was almost identical to the one we play today, with numbers ranging from one to 36, with red and black pockets alongside the green zero and double zeros.
It was thanks to Francois and Louis Blanc that European Roulette took the world by storm. They removed the double zero pocket, lowering the house edge and making the game even more appealing to players. In 1842, gambling was still illegal in France, so they took their new variation of the game and moved to Hamburg, Germany, where their version of Roulette became so popular it would soon completely replace the version with the double zero pocket. When Prince Charles of Monaco III requested that they bring the game back to France, their new version of Roulette became a centerpiece at the casino they established together – the iconic Monte Carlo Casino.
So, why do we still see the double zero game today? Well, in the early 19th century, some Europeans took the game over to the shores of Louisiana, in the hopes of showing this newer variation to America. The lowered house edge wasn’t quite as popular here, though, as casinos were unhappy with the idea, leading to the whole of the gaming community rejecting the single zero version of Roulette, and turning back to the double zero pocket to add a little extra thrill to the game.
The virtual wheel
In 1996, online casinos opened their doors to the digital nation, and with it bought the virtual Roulette wheel. Being able to play Roulette at an online casino for real money really was a gamechanger, and whilst a computerized Random Number Generator (RNG) became responsible for generating the outcome of the spins, rather than a casino croupier, the wheel – with all its variations – became more accessible than ever before.
Now, you can even play Roulette live, with themed games and real-life dealers being streamed from a specially-designed studio, directly to your device. From spinning shields to portable wheels to being able to immerse yourself into casino gameplay from any device – it really is incredible how much technology, and the Roulette wheel, have advanced and evolved over time.