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Spinning Through The History Of Roulette: A Fascinating Past

ByDave Stopher

Jun 21, 2024

Spinning Through The History Of Roulette: A Fascinating Past

Roulette has captured minds and hearts for decades now, as people fall in love with the thrill of watching the numbers blur and race – and the excitement of waiting for them to settle so they can see if their bet has won. A lot of people, though, despite their passion for the game, don’t know much about how it came to be on our casino floors (and in our digital versions), or how it broke into the world of casino classics… so why not take a stroll down memory lane with us, while we check out how this extraordinary game whirled its way into reality?

Roulette fans gather – it’s time to learn where your beloved wheel emerged from!

Starting Out

As with a surprising number of casino games, nobody knows exactly where roulette came from, but we do generally credit it (among a lot of others!) to the French. And how far back does it go? Well, a surprising distance (which is probably why we don’t know exactly where it was from) – possibly as early as 1720.

If you’ve ever heard of Blaise Pascal, he’s the one who gets generally cited as the inventor of the roulette wheel, but why? Well, he was trying to build a perpetual motion machine (not the first to try that!) and instead came up with a primitive version of what we now call roulette.

But it goes back a whole lot further than the famed Pascal. Some people think that the Romans and Ancient Greeks played some kind of game where they spun swords and shields and tried to guess how they would land. That sounds a little… dangerous to us, but it shows just how long-lasting this idea has been!

And by the late 18th century, the idea of roulette as invented by Pascal (and then honed by others, including two French brothers, called Louis Blanc and Francois Blanc) had spread everywhere, although the name was still up for debate. Check out the wheel-spinning game in England around this time and you’d have found it was called “EO” – standing for Even/Odd. Not a bad name, but we think roulette has significantly more charm to it.

Gaining Fame

It’s not going to surprise you to hear that roulette was exceptionally well-loved as it became better known. There’s something about the simplicity and anticipation it brings that calls us back to the table again and again. And did it gain acceptance throughout Europe and the US? A resounding, thorough, yes.

Indeed, think of the famous Monte Carlo. In part, it owes its existence to Francois Blanc, who we mentioned above – also known as “The Magician of Homburg” for his rather famous casino. But his casino wasn’t managing to grab people in the winter (thank you, cold weather), and so he decided to move from Frankfurt (after an already pretty turbulent journey, since gambling laws kept changing and being introduced), so what did he do? Well, the Prince of Monaco had decided to legalize gambling, and Francois packed up and took his fame to Monaco, creating the first casino operation there. He had to put a lot of money in, but his reward. A new title, as “The Magician of Monte Carlo.”

A name befitting somebody like him – and he helped bring roulette to the masses. He and his brother were the first to invent the single 0 style roulette (back in 1843), so we’ve got quite a lot to thank them for! If you’re planning to play roulette on your next trip to a casino, you might want to say a little private “thank you” to that magician – even if you’re only playing online, rather than at Monte Carlo! And if you’re not sure which online casino you should try, well, there are plenty of good reviewers out there, and here’s how to spot one.

Different Versions

Chances are, you already know that we have a few versions of roulette these days (and the answer to “why” is quite simple: we love it, and different people had different ideas about how to make it fun). 

In a simple run down, you’ve got American Roulette, French Roulette, and European Roulette, each with its own foibles and quirks. That’s great news for those who love to mix it up a bit but do make sure you know which version you’re playing before you watch the table spin – or you could be in for a shock. European Roulette, thanks to our friend Mr. Magician, has only one 0, while American roulette has both 0 and 00.

Always know which you’re playing, especially if you’re online and potentially in front of multiple options – because it really does matter to what bets you place. And bear in mind too that sometimes online games will have quirky rules to attract players who like a change, so always read and double-check.