The earliest recorded game of Roulette, as we know, was devised by the famed mathematician, Blaise Pascal, in 1655. This rather early form of the game was stumbled upon as the Frenchman was searching for a machine capable of perpetual motion.
Although Pascal was never to conceive his dream of such a device, the wheel he created gave birth to a primitive version of the game that we know today. It is thought to be a combination of the English games of Roly-Poly, Ace of Hearts, Reiner and E.O. as well as the Italian games of Biribi and Hoca. The influences of these games were added to an existing French originating board game called Roulette.
An early reference to the Roulette wheel that we use today is described in La Roulette, ou le Jour, a French novel, and refers to a wheel at the Palais Royal, which is in Paris, around 1796. The novel was published publically in 1801 although regulations for New France (Quebec) dated back to 1758 are said to have outlawed games of ‘Dice, Faro Hoca, and Roulette’.
The game evolved in 1843 in Homburg , Germany, where Frenchmen Francois and Louis Blanc partnered together and introduced a Roulette wheel with only one ‘zero’ instead of the traditional ‘double zero’ numbers. The Frenchmen wanted to provide competition to other casinos and are thought to have introduced the single ‘zero’ to attract gamblers by reducing the advantage that the house had over its customers.
Folklore suggests that Francois Blanc made a deal with the devil to gather the secret of Roulette based on the fact that the numbers on a roulette wheel add to a total of 666 – The supposed number of the beast!
Towards the end of the 19th century, the game has spread across Europe and over to America where it became one of the most popular forms of casino entertainment. The European game was firmly established when Germany declared gambling illegal in the 1860’s. The Blanc family relocated to Monte Carlo – the only place left in Europe allowing casino operations, where they quickly grew a gambling empire that attracted Europe’s high society in huge numbers. The single zero format became very popular and was hailed as the ‘King of Casino Games’.
The American game developed in Mississippi where the wheel was placed high on the table to stop operators and gamblers cheating. It soon moved westwards and became the American Roulette style that we know today.