Roulette is one of the most popular casino games — and possibly the most iconic — but its history is somewhat shrouded in mystery. Here we try to delve into the past to determine how this very simple but exceptionally entrancing game was created, how it’s developed and even where it may be headed in the future.
Ancient History of Roulette
Like many games and sports, the true sources of roulette are quite open to debate with many historians offering contradictory or opposing theories. What’s apparent, however, is that there were a great number of games during ancient history that was based around a wheel or disk of some description which involved some kind of gambling on a certain outcome. As an example, it’s reported the Romans used to play a match where they fired arrows through the openings between the spokes of wheels and wager on which gap that the arrow will pass. The Ancient Greeks — some of whose gods were partial to a spot of gambling — had a game that included making markings on defense and rolling it, with stakes places where marking would come to rest in front of a mark (like an arrow).
Whether these early games that revolved (pun intended) around a wheel of some kind led directly to the contemporary version of roulette a lot of individuals love today is impossible to say for certain. But they certainly provide the sign that a spinning wheel has appealed to our sensibilities… particularly when money can be made by betting on it.
History of Modern Roulette
The contemporary version of roulette entails a wheel that’s divided from numbers one to 36 with a couple of zeroes (depending on the variant) and the oldest type of such a match is believed to have been created by the French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer, and philosopher Blaise Pascal, who was really trying to invent a perpetual motion machine in the moment! Given that Pascal — who lived a brief life from 1623 to 1662 — was also among the creators of probability theory, it’s perhaps fitting that his name should be attached to such a fascinating game of chance. But he can not take all of the credit for the development of the modern game of roulette.
The game of roulette — that means “small wheel” (or something similar) in French — appears to have developed slowly over around a century from Pascal’s time to the mid- to late 18th century. It developed as an amalgamation of a number of games that were popular from the day such as the English games of Roly Poly, Reiner and Ace of Hearts and the Italian matches entitled Hoca and Birbi. Along with a French board game which was called “roulette”, the contemporary game came about slowly as principles were combined and adapted, instead of in some “eureka” moment by a really terrific mathematician (sorry, Pascal, but you really do have quite a lot credited to you !).
Referenced in a French book — entitled “La Roulette” — by the year 1796, the game of roulette as we understand it in the bricks and mortar casinos of today was played in casinos in Paris from the 1790s and slowly spread around Europe and the world. When brothers Francois and Luis Blanc took the match to Germany in 1843 it grew in popularity — before gambling was banned in the country. That forced the brothers to travel to other countries, taking the match together, and this is considered to have helped spread the popularity (and standardized wheel and principles) across the continent. It spread precisely the same century as immigrants brought the game with them across the Atlantic, and there it became extremely popular too. Since its early days roulette has come to be the sport most associated with casinos around the world, and it has not lost any of its appeal to the masses.
The Future of Roulette
While the basics of the game of roulette haven’t really changed since the early 18th century, there have been many subtle variations through time and — with the arrival of online casinos in the mid-1990s — the sport was stretched and morphed into an assortment of shapes and sizes. Online casino players are now able to enjoy a vast array of roulette (or roulette-style) games in the comfort of their own home. They vary in size: from “miniature roulette” that incorporates only 12 numbers and also the zero to multi-wheel variations where the odds can be enormous (1000/1 for example); they also vary in themes, style, “look” and many have their own distinct set of bonuses, rules or side bets which may be taken up.
With the recent arrival of “live dealer” online casinos, things can be seen to have gone full circle (pun intended, yet again!) To a degree as actual life croupiers are filmed spinning the roulette wheel and ball and players can place bets as they would if from the casino… but over the internet from the comfort of their own home. Concerning future developments, the ability to further immerse oneself in the “live” roulette games is surely on the cards at the not-too-distant future as streaming in HD and even 3D becomes the standard and perhaps even some sort of virtual reality by which it actually does feel like being at the casino itself. Of course, people will still really go to the bricks and mortar casinos for as long as they exist and this terrific game of roulette promises to keep its enduring appeal for centuries to come.