Roulette is a great game, full of excitement, glamour and, if the ball is bouncing kindly, the potential for huge profits but how did all begin? Here we take a look at the history and origins of this brilliant casino game.
Roulette takes its name from the Old French word roelete, meaning little wheel and may ultimately come from the Latin word rota, meaning wheel. It is widely believed to have been devised in France in the 18th century, although there are some who believe a variation of the game was around in the 17th century.
It is thought to be derived from a blend of various pre-existing games, including Roly-Poly, Reiner and Ace of Hearts from England, a French board game also called Roulette and two Italian games, Hoca and Biribi.
Certainly by the mid-1700s there are several references to the game in literature and it is known that in the early years the single zero was red and the double, black. In the early 1800s this was changed and green was introduced to avoid confusion and in truth the game has changed little since then, at least in terms of the wheel and gameplay.
In the 1800s the game was hugely popular all over Europe but particularly in Germany, France and Italy, spreading through immigration to the USA, where it found the same great popularity. In Europe a single-zero variant was introduced by some casinos to entice players to gamble there as opposed to with rivals and this soon became the norm, although in America the double-zero option remained dominant.
The two versions of roulette have a different order of numbers but this makes no difference to the game itself and by far the biggest change that has happened with roulette since those early days is the introduction of online roulette.
In the mid-1990s online casinos sprung up and although the game itself is fundamentally the same, various new versions of roulette have been created, featuring progressive jackpots and other bonuses to up the excitement even more. More recently live dealer casinos, featuring internet streams of actual croupiers – as opposed to Random Number Generator computer-generated roulette – have become increasingly popular.
Exactly what direction the game takes in the future is unclear but the enduring popularity of the game means it is sure to be around for many more years and continue to thrill and excite the world’s gambling masses.