July 16, 2020

A Brief History of Roulette

So you may not even know what Roulette is but after you read this article you will have a complete and comprehensive understanding of the game, including the rich history surrounding its origin. Roulette is a gambling game in which a spinning wheel with numbered compartments is spun and a ball is dropped on it with the goal of the game being to guess where it will end up landing. The name Roulette is derived from French and means “small wheel” and this has been universally accepted as the name for the game now.

Origin of the roulette wheel

So the origins of the gambling game like many inventions were created by a complete accident by one eager French inventor seeking to create the perpetual motion machine. The design for the roulette wheel of today was a hybridization of the gambling wheel invented in 1720 and the lesser-known Italian gambling game Biribi. One Blaise Pascal upon creating the roulette wheel in the 18th century, then developed a very primitive form of the game that we now know today.

Early game

The first-ever recorded instance of the game being played was in 1796, La Roulette, ou le Jour by Jaques Lablee is a French novel describing the early version of the game. If this novel is to be trusted, then that would be placing its earliest official record in 1796. With that said there was an earlier record that is worth mentioning but doesn’t specify the existence of Roulette as we know it. This was by a ban made in the year 1758 in New France Québec; the exact wording of this ban specified that it was illegal to play the gambling games “dice, hoca, faro, and roulette”. The original concept of the wheel that was being used in the 1790s had red being used for the 0 slot and black being used for the double 0 slot. In later years they would adopt green for the 0 and double 0 slot, this was to avoid confusion and this began in the 1800s.

Changes throughout the year

The first major change came nearly 50 years later in 1846 1843, in the German town of Bad Homburg another man decided to try and switch up the game with a little modification of his own. This man’s name was François and Louis Blanc and the change that he made to the name was a single 0 style roulette wheel. He did this so that he could stand out against the other casinos that only had the original wheel design with the single and double zero slots. The next major change to the game and wheel came when it breached the mainstream in America, this change created a whole new roulette wheel. The changes that the Americans made to the wheel itself brought back the 0 double 0 styles again, but also added an entirely new slot called the American Eagle slot. These changes also introduced new rules about the old style being readopted and the addition of the new American Eagle tile. In the 1900s the popularity of the game exploded in Europe and America, this brought with it a lot of attention being given to the game and gambling in general. This caused the German government to outlaw gambling in the 1860s, after this happened the last legal casinos in Europe was moved to Monte Carlo and held Roulette games for the social elites of Europe.

Nearly Modern Roulette scene

Around the same time in the United States, the original version made a resurgence starting from New Orleans and sweeping the entire nation now changing the table for a simpler setup. The wheel was also lifted out of the table and placed on top of the table so that there were no accusations of cheating occurring, this of which had been extremely rampantly. During the beginning of the 20th century, there were very few casinos of actual note; these are the Monte Carlo which at the time was sporting the original style developed in the beginning. The other casinos of note were in Las Vegas and had the far more modern now dubbed American style and there are what you are most likely familiar with. After that casino with roulette wheels went worldwide, this made the roulette wheel not only mainstream but a staple of casinos all over the world.

Modern changes

Nowadays the American style now dominates Canada, the Americas, and the Caribbean islands; meanwhile, the older French style is used everywhere else. In 2016 the last change to the game officially occurred at the Venetian luxury hotel and casino in Las Vegas and the change that they brought wat the very first triple 0 roulette wheel.


The history of Roulette is long and complex with lost of changes and some bans even being placed on playing the game, but in the end, it has now brought us one of the most recognizable forms of gambling around.