History of roulette


The genesis of Roulette (a French word meaning small wheel) is shrouded in mystery. This aura of mystery is reinforced by the belief that Roulette is a "demonic" game. In fact, if you add up all the numbers in the game from 1 to 36, you get 666: the devil's number.


However, this is an "ancient" origin. The history of roulette seems to begin in the time of the ancient Greeks. In fact, it seems that they were the first to invent a rudimentary form of roulette using wagon wheels.


Even the ancient Romans, especially the legionaries, are part of the history of roulette: in fact, it seems that they played roulette using a shield that was spun on the tip of a spear. Other sources on the history of roulette say that the Greeks played with the shield and the Romans with the wheel.

It is likely that both played both games.


 There is also a hypothesis about a Chinese origin of Roulette : it seems that in ancient China a game with 37 animal statuettes arranged in a "mystical" way was widespread.


Roulette is most likely a fusion of two games:


  • The Italian game "Goose
  • The English game "EO" ("Even" - "Odd", even and odd)
  • Other games also seem to have had some influence on the birth of Roulette: Roly-Poly, Reiner, Ace of Hearts and the Italian Biribi.


The prototype of modern roulette is attributed to the French scientist Blaise Pascal, known for his studies on probability. While researching perpetual motion, he created the first roulette in 1655.


However, the first "official" reference to roulette as a game comes not from France, but from Canada. In 1758, a law banning certain games in Quebec included roulette. This "Canadian appearance" contributes to the doubts about the true origin of the game. However, many believe that the term roulette in the Canadian case refers to an old table game and not to a "type" of French roulette.


The first complete description of the game is found in a book published in France in 1801. It is a French novella, La Roulette, ou le Jour, by Jaques Lablee, which describes the game at the Palais Royal in Paris in 1796. Yes, it was a cylinder with alternating red and black numbers, zero and double zero. The zero was red and the double zero was black; but the colors were not paid with the publication of these combinations.


At the beginning of the 19th century, the color green was used for both zeros to avoid confusion.


In 1837 Louis Philippe ordered the closure of all casinos and gambling houses in France. Many managers emigrated to Germany. Among them, we remember the brothers Francois and Louis Blanc: in 1840, they arrived in Hamburg and acquired the local casino. They also had a winning idea: in 1843 they decided to abolish the double zero, which forced the opposing casinos to follow the same policy in order not to see their customers run away.


In 1856, he opened the Monte Carlo Casino, but it did not have the desired success, so much so that Princess Carolina called on Blanc to revive its fortunes. After an initial refusal, Blanc accepted the proposal and in 1863 founded the Société des Bains de Mer et du Cercle des Etrangers (the company's investors included the Bishop of Monaco and Cardinal Pecci, who would become Pope Leo XIII). The company received the casino concession for 50 years, until 1913.


Here is an excerpt from a very beautiful book that cannot be found in Italy, fundamental for understanding the history of roulette.


Gros Jeu - histoire secrète de Monte-Carlo (1953), which gives an idea of the situation of the game at the beginning of the 20th century:


"Between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, after a series of exceptional years, peace finally reigned in Europe. The Boer War, which took place in a part of the world far from Monaco, did not affect the tranquillity of the Principality or its own situation. England was rich, the United States was prosperous, France was recovering from the hardships of the war of 1870 and the heavy indemnity demanded by Prussia.


The French no longer pay inheritance taxes and relatively little income tax. The world is full of rich and idle people with no other purpose in life than to have fun, with no other passion than gambling. Nightclubs were not yet known, there was little dancing, very little tennis and golf, and no bridge at all.


Gambling techniques, especially trente-et-qurante and roulette, were the most popular topics of conversation at the time, as was canasta around 1950. Newspapers and magazines devoted a series of articles to the various playing systems and their respective effectiveness........"


The closure of the German casinos helped to attract more users to Monte Carlo, helping to create the myth that still exists today.


Roulette was introduced in America at the time of the French Revolution. In fact, some French immigrants brought roulette to Louisiana, and New Orleans became the American gambling capital, exporting roulette to other cities.


"Primitive" American roulette had 0, 00 and a sort of "triple 0" represented by the image of "Eagle A". There were also numbers from 1 to 28. Soon the numbers were increased to 36 and the eagle was removed. Even today, the double 0 remains, although in the main casinos it is possible to find some single 0 roulette (European Roulette), where the minimum bets are usually high.