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A Brief History of Roulette

At a Glance:

  • Roulette's origins can be traced back to 17th and 18th Century France.
  • While details are vague, several other early games have inspired it.
  • We dig deep to find out when roulette was first played.
  • Find out how the roulette wheel has evolved.
  • See how roulette found its way from Europe to North America, and then online.
 Online Roulette Casino History

Roulette is one of the most popular games for players who log in to web casinos. Not only is roulette a thrilling experience but it also gives Canadian players the chance to win large amounts of cash.

What Canuck players might not know is the rich history behind the game they love. On this page we will dive into the origins of roulette, from its beginnings in France to its rise in popularity in casinos across the world. We also give special recognition to roulette's importance in the emergence of online casinos.

France and the "Little Wheel"

Roulette is seen as originating from France because the word is actually derived from the French for "little wheel". Though roulette as a game wasn't seen until the 18th century, many recognize French mathematician Blaise Pascal as the man behind the roulette wheel. During the mid-17th century, Pascal was attempting to find a perpetual motion machine when he introduced a very basic form of the roulette wheel.

Roly Poly, Even-Odd, Ace of Hearts and other Inspiration

While roulette is a unique game in itself, it is believed that most of its characteristics were a fusion of popular games at the time. Roly Poly and Even-Odd are two of the oldest games that resemble today's modern roulette game.

Even-Odd was an English game, popular in the late 18th Century, that featured a wheel and a ball, but unlike roulette the wheel had 20 sections marked with E for Evens and 20 sections marked with O for Odd. Roly Poly is also English in origin and featured the same concept as both Even-Odd and Roulette. It most likely became more popular after roulette hit it big in France.

Meanwhile, two Italian games - Biribi and Hoca - also have faint traces of the luck and odds seen in classic roulette.

Early Appearances of Roulette

One of the first references of roulette being played in Canada was in 1758. The betting game was mentioned in legal documents created to ban people from playing it. The listing from 1758 appeared in Canadian regulations for New France/Québec which specifically prohibited playing "die, hoca, faro, and roulette."

In the French novel "La Roulette, ou le Jour" by Jaques Lablee, a roulette wheel is described as being in the Palais Royal in Paris during 1796. The book described the house pockets, along with the zero and double zero numbers. The book was published in 1801.

"From 17th century France to Canadian online casinos in 2015, roulette comes with a rich history, and also an abundant history of making people rich."

Original Designs of Roulette

The roulette we have seen referenced in France in the 18th and 19th Centuries was the earliest and most basic set-up for roulette. In this form, red was used for the single zero slot, and black for the double zero. These days, green is used for the zeros to help avoid confusion.

In 1842, two Frenchmen - Francois and Louis Blanc - introduced the single zero roulette wheel to the world. This wheel was created as an effort to compete against casinos that offered single and double zero house pockets. This style of roulette wheel is still used to this day.

The Rise of Roulette in Europe and America

During the 1800s, roulette become more and more popular all across Europe, becoming one of the biggest casino games on the continent. In the 1860s, the German government abolished gambling and the Blanc family moved to Monte Carlo. To this day, Monte Carlo remains arguably the world's top gambling destination.

While the popularity of the single zero roulette wheel in Monte Carlo caused it to spread around the world, it never took a firm hold on the United States.

One early American roulette wheel featured the numbers 1 through 28, a single and double zero, plus an American Eagle slot. The Eagle slot was actually a house slot but eventually lost popularity because it gave the house such an advantageous edge.

North America Leads the Roulette Revolution

With the double zero wheel, roulette boomed across North America. Starting in Mississippi in the east, it traveled west, eventually hitting the west coast.

Due to cheating - both from players and operators - which had become rife at American casinos, the wheel found its place on top of the table in full view of players to ensure safety. By the mid-20th Century American Roulette with its fast-action double zero was the game of choice in the USA, and helped build the new gambling towns like Las Vegas. Roulette soon captured the hearts - and wallets - of Americans everywhere.

Online Roulette in Virtually Every Internet Casino

It should come as no surprise that the flood of casinos springing up in the past few decades has only made people more interested in roulette and its potential for big winnings.

Almost every good land-based casino has a few roulette tables to accompany its other table games, but it's only in recent years that the game has attracted a whole new legion of fans via online Roulette.

The quick thrill and promise of winning big at roulette has translated perfectly into the online world. By simply turning on a computer or flipping on a tablet or smartphone, millions of players can access online roulette games with countless variations. You can play for free, play for micro-stakes and even play with a real-life croupier at the Live Dealer Roulette tables.

The rules may not have changed that much over the centuries but the wealth of options open to gaming fans in Canada today certainly has.