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October 20, 2021

The wheel of luck: A brief history of roulette

Along with Sic Bo and craps, roulette is among the world’s most popular fast-paced casino table games. Its objective is quite simple. Before the dealer will throw the small, white ball onto the rotating wheel, all participating players must first place their bets by placing the chips on the respective numbered betting boxes. 

Many reasons contribute to roulette’s global popularity. From its gameplay features based upon the laws of independent trials to multiple betting options, this page looks back on its interesting long history.

Then: Roulette’s early days

Akin to roulette’s multiple varieties on online casinos like Bitcasino, its origins are shrouded in mystery, with theories spanning across different eras and regions. While the most widely accepted answer came from French polymath Blaise Pascal in the 18th century, here are a few pieces of evidence of early civilizations playing games quite similar to the little wheel. 

Ancient Greeks 

It’s not just sports betting ancient Greeks were fond of. Even their soldiers had a fair share of gambling games, but apart from dodging arrows and spears, they would draw symbols on a shield’s inside. 

Somewhat similar to modern-day roulette, ancient Greek soldiers would put the drawn shield face-down on the ground next to an arrow that served as a pointer. Then, they would bet as to which symbol the pointer will land at while the shield is rotating.  

Ancient Rome

Ancient Greece and Rome don’t really deviate from one another. With both being extremely popular and militarily powerful during classical antiquity, Roman soldiers and commanders also have similar interests in gambling. Close to how modern roulette is played, many of their leisure games involved spinning a shield and chariot wheel.  

The Chinese conspiracy

This Chinese theory is, by far, the most unproven on this list, but it is a noteworthy fact that might interest you. After all, gambling is a ubiquitous social activity not legalised globally. How its games are played, understood, and won differ from one culture to another. For one, here’s how many people believed that modern-day roulette was based on an ancient Chinese board game.

Said to have been discovered by Dominican monks who were deeply influenced by Chinese culture, the ancient Chinese board game involved arranging 37 animal figurines into a magic square with numbers totalling 666. They allegedly changed the layout where they turned the square into a circle and added extra special space for the number ‘0’. 

Roulette: A French origin

Roulette is, without a doubt, from France. The term itself is a French word that means ‘little wheel’, where its mechanism is a hybrid between an unnamed 1720 gaming wheel and the Italian game of chance for low stakes called Biribi. 

Since gambling was strictly illegal across Europe, roulette and perhaps the rest of wagering games were played in small and forbidden gambling houses. It was only in the late 18th century when the little wheel became among the most favourite games of elite Parisian gamblers. In 1796, esteemed writer Jacques Lablee described Palais-Royal roulette in his novel ‘La Roulette, ou le Jour’.

In 1843, the famous single 0 style roulette came out thanks to the innovative twin brothers from a small town in France: François and Louis Blanc. The former became known as ‘The Magician of Hamburg’ because the layout was widely played at the casino of Bad Hamburg. However, that’s not all. 

The Blanc brothers didn’t stop with only one roulette variant. In a while, they created the traditional Parisian version with the single and double-zero house pockets. Like the intriguing Chinese theory, it is said that François himself summoned the Devil to learn the secrets of the game. Whether true or not, the new layout quickly became immensely popular, inviting rich players that led to the further increase of gambling houses. 

Sadly, the Frankfurt government revoked gambling around the 1860s, causing the Blanc brothers to move to a much more flexible place like the Principality of Monaco. With Prince Charles of Monaco facing monetary issues, he had a brilliant way of legalising gambling and setting up casinos to make revenue. From then and now, the sovereign city-state remains one of the world’s most popular luxurious entertainment destinations.

Blanc brothers’ roulette became the most favoured game at several Monte Carlo casinos. This phenomenon gained François his second title ‘The Magician of the Monte Carlo’. Finally, it was in the 19th century that the game became widespread among many European and American casinos.

In North America, in particular to the U.S. gambling houses, the double-zero roulette remains the most popular, whereas the single-zero layout is the most prevalent in Europe. Even more interesting, the gameplay done in the Wild West was placed on top of the table, with a betting system used to prevent cheating by both the players and operators. 

Now: Roulette today

Roulette is as tantalising today as it was centuries ago. It is a successful game of chance that continuously creates a fun and engaging camaraderie among players and dealers. How it remains a global gambling favourite despite its high house edge is a mystery that lives up to its enduring history. One way or another, everyone hopes for the magic between the little wheel and the white ball. 

Online and live roulette

Adding to roulette’s fire is the convenience brought by online and live variants. While both allow you to place bets whenever and wherever so long as you have internet access and a mobile device, they also differ in terms of gaming experience.

Online roulette is simulated using a mechanic called random number generator (RNG). On the other hand, its live counterpart is played in real-time with real-life players and dealers through high-definition (HD) streaming. 

In addition to European and American roulette variants, the automatic roulette quickly rises to the mainstream. It is where, instead of a live dealer, the compressed air spins the wheel and the computer reads the results. 

If, however, you are having trouble sifting through the many, many roulette variants on online casinos like Bitcasino, you can instead decide based on the software provider. Listed as follows are currently the five best companies: 

  1. Microgaming — the most renowned roulette software provider
  2. Evolution Gaming — the best software provider for live dealer roulette
  3. Net Entertainment (NetEnt) — known for high-quality roulette variants
  4. Play’n GO — notable for fair RNG casino roulette variants
  5. Playtech — a great option for world-class features and graphics

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