The History of Roulette
Roulette is one of the most popular online casino games in the world. Here at 21.co.uk, we play all forms of roulette, from live roulette to simulated versions. But how did this game become a casino phenomenon? We did some digging into the game’s past, and it turns out that roulette has a rich and fascinating history. The origins are not entirely known, but there are several interesting theories floating around - some with more credit than others.
What is Roulette?
Roulette, as we know it today, is a casino game consisting of two key elements: the roulette wheel and the number board. Players place their bets using this board, by putting chips on the grid to place a bet on a particular outcome. There are a variety of outcomes you can bet on, the most well-known being red or black. The roulette wheel is spun by the dealer, and if the ball lands on a wagered number, you win a payout.
Roulette has become just as popular in the online casino as it has in land-based ones, with new technology producing more innovative and immersive games. For example, Live Roulette lets you play against a real dealer with real cards, and Online Roulette performs with little human interaction needed. However, roulette wasn’t always available in its current form. When it comes to the origin of roulette, there are competing theories. Here are the three most popular.
Theory 1: A Taste of Tibet
One of the most popular theories out there is that live roulette was developed in the Dominican Republic by monks. You probably wouldn’t associate the online casino with monks, but it seems that there may be a distant connection between the two. It’s thought that roulette was based on an old Tibetan game, in which the aim was to arrange thirty-seven animal statuettes into a magic number square of 666. Apparently, this game originally came from China, but the method of play is unfortunately not recorded. It is thought that monks transposed the statuettes to the numbers 0 to 36, arranging them randomly around the rim of a revolving reel.
Theory 2: A Monk’s Pastime
The second most popular theory is that a very early form of roulette was invented by a monk who wanted to alleviate the monotony of life in the monastery. It’s no secret that monks live a simple and modest lifestyle, and this game was a way to pass the time and add some variety into daily life. Much like you may turn to the online casino to have some fun, this monk is said to have invented live roulette as a form of entertainment.
Theory 3: In the Name of Science
The most popular, and probably the most credible theory is that roulette was invented by French scientist Blaise Pascal. Dating back to 1655, Pascal is thought to have introduced the earliest form of roulette during his monastic retreat. He was in search of a perpetual motion machine, so it’s very possible that roulette was never meant to be a game at all. It was this perpetual motion machine that provided the primitive form of the roulette wheel. It was in fact a numerical wheel calculator, designed for the purpose of solving mathematical problems. It consisted of eight movable dials that could add up to eight figured long sums. Named the Pascaline, this contraption helped Pascal’s father, a a tax collector, count taxes.
Roulette in the Casino
Live Roulette was first played in its present form in a casino in Paris, as early as 1796. The wheel consisted of 30 pockets, which were numbered 1-28, 0 and 00. The 0 and 00 pockets were reserved for the banker, who we might now call the dealer. This meant that if the roulette ball landed on one of these pockets, the banker won all bets placed on the table.
A French entrepreneur and operator of casinos named François Blanc and his brother Louis introduced the single zero wheel that has become popular today in order to compete with other casinos, essentially offering a lower house edge. He offered this new version of roulette in a casino located in Bad Homburg, Germany in 1843. However, when the German government abolished gambling in the 1860s, the Blanc family were forced to set up elsewhere. They decided to move to Monte Carlo, and became the first person to establish a casino operation in Monaco, where gambling had recently been legalised.
François Blanc became known as “the Magician of Monaco”, and left his mark on the history of the country, greatly contributing to its reputation as a gambling mecca. Interestingly, a rumour circulated that Blanc bargained with the devil to obtain the secrets of roulette. These rumours stemmed from the fact that the sum of all of the numbers on the roulette wheel totals 666 - the “Number of the Beast.”
The wheel used in American roulette was a little more varied than European roulette. Not only did it include two pockets for 0 and 00, it also contained a pocket that featured a picture of an American Eagle. All three of these pockets belonged to the banker. Whilst the single 0 roulette wheel created by Blanc has dominated European casinos, American roulette has dropped the American Eagle, but still continues to use the double zero concept today.
It’s clear that roulette has a rich and mysterious past. It’s origins are not confirmed, and there are many theories as to how the game was invented in its very early forms. A lot of these theories make sense. Some are more credible than others. But what we do know, is that roulette has come from another country, another time and was probably built for another purpose.
Today, we can play roulette whenever and wherever we like. It’s very interesting to look back into the past and consider how our favourite online casino game came into existence in the first place. The online casino may not exist today without the likes of Blaise Pascal and François Blanc. Roulette has advanced alongside technology, bringing us an immersive experience without having to visit an actual casino.
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