History of Roulette

Roulette has remained a popular game for centuries because with simple rules, anyone can play it. You might guess that the concept of this game has an interesting history, and you would be right.

Roman soldiers of the Greco-Roman period were the first to spin a chariot wheel to determine the winner of a game. The history of roulette also reveals that Greeks practiced a similar game but used a shield instead of a wheel. After the wheel or shield with an attached arrow was spun and stopped, whatever spot the arrow marked on the ground was considered the winner.

Roulette in Europe

As the game of roulette evolved through Europe in 1655, it became widespread when a French scientist named Blaise Pascal designed the first perpetual motion machine on which to play the game. In French, the word roulette means "small wheel." Initially it was played for entertainment in monasteries, but its popularity quickly spread to all the casinos in France. Playing roulette was considered a chic and intelligent pastime even then.

The history of roulette includes two important names, Francois and Luis Blanc. In 1843, these brothers opened the first casinos in Hamburg, Germany, using a single-zero roulette game. This means there was only one "zero" slot. As they became dedicated to learning all the secrets of roulette, a legend grew around them. It was said that they had "sold their souls" in their pursuit of a game that some people believed was unchristian. When all the numbers on a roulette wheel are added together, they total 666 -- the number of the Biblical equivalent of the "beast" or the devil.

Roulette met opposition in Germany in the 1860s, when gambling games were banned. This action forced the Blancs to open casinos in Monte Carlo, where they turned the entire country into a fashionable European gaming center. Their version of single-zero roulette prevailed even though the other roulette version, with the extra double-zero slot, gave the house a higher edge.

Roulette in America

It wasn't until the late 1800s that roulette found its way to America, where it became instantly popular. Casinos were quick to use the double-zero game because of the extra edge it gave the house. The history of roulette suggests that the first American roulette wheels displayed an extra sign of the American Bald Eagle, an obvious tribute to and symbol of American liberty.

As the game spread around the country it underwent some changes. When casinos realized that the game attracted cheaters, the design of the table and the roulette wheel were moved on top to help prevent and detect fraud. The table design was also simplified to make it easier for players to place their bets and for the croupiers to receive and make payouts. Eventually, the American style roulette was accepted as the standard around the world.

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