Tales are told of ancient Romans using chariot wheels to spin during games of chance but the true shaping of the game that ended up in casinos all over the world was in France. The most likely origin is the one that tells of the famous French mathematician and scientist, Blaise Pascal. Legend has it that he went on a retreat and while there went gambling in a Parisian casino. He then created the original roulette game in 1657.
The version that is the precursor of our modern roulette appeared in Great Britain around 1720. Called roly-poly, the game was banned in England by The Gaming Acts of 1739 and 1740. The Master of Ceremonies at Bath, Beau Nash, circumvented those laws by inventing a simplified version of the game called EO or even-odd. That was quickly discovered and banned as well, in 1745.
In the late 1700s, we see the first roulette wheel that looked like the one we are all familiar with. Back to the game’s country of origin, the wheel found in casinos in France had the black and red numbers along with the same table layout. The French roulette had two zero numbers on the wheel, the single and double zeroes.
In 1842, two brothers named Francois and Louis Blanc left France where gambling was illegal at the time and moved to Germany where it was not. The created a single zero wheel which was a great hit due to the reduction of the house advantage. Eventually Germany also outlawed gambling so Louis Blanc went to Monaco where he founded the famous Monte Carlo casino for the price of 2 million francs.
Frenchmen brought the roulette to the United States by introducing it in New Orleans around the turn of the 19th century. The 00 wheel has remained popular in this country and is now known as the “American wheel” while the 0 wheel remains the version of choice in Europe and is called the “French wheel”.