Roulette History: A spin down memory lane

Canadian Roulette History

Roulette has a very colourful history, dating back hundreds of years, and the game has developed in different ways across different countries. If you thought Canadian online roulette had changed a lot over the last few years, that is nothing compared to the developments made throughout the pre-internet age.

Major Roulette Milestones

  • 17th Century: Roulette invented by Blaise Pascal
  • 1796: First recorded roulette games at Palais Royal, Paris
  • 1843: First single-zero roulette table at Bad Homburg, Germany
  • 19th Century: First roulette tables to arrive in the United States
  • 20th Century: Roulette wheels arrive at new casinos across the world
  • 1994: First online casino launches

17th-18th Century

The first roulette wheel has been traced back to the 17th century, with French mathematician Blaise Pascal widely credited as the inventor. Indeed the name 'roulette' comes from the French for 'little wheel'.

However it took some time for that invention to lead to the gambling game we recognise today, with the first games of roulette believed to have been played in Paris' Palais Royal more than 100 years later, in 1796 (although references to the game had been made earlier in the 18th century). The version played at the Palais Royal is known to have had two numbered slots for the house, essentially the zero and double zero recognisable from today's American Roulette tables.

19th Century

Even the earliest recorded roulette wheels split the numbers into red and black, though initial versions also used these colours for the zero and double zero respectively. This changed in the 19th century, with the 'house' numbers becoming green, and the period also saw roulette spread far and wide across Europe and beyond.

It was in 1843 that the first single-zero version of roulette arrived, with French brothers Louis and Francois Blanc bringing the variant to the German town of Bad Homburg. Up until that point, roulette had been an exclusively French pursuit, confined mostly to Paris' growing casino scene.

Coming to America

Roulette made its way to the United States in the second half of the 19th century, as well as to other European countries, with some notable additions to the French original and the Blanc brothers' adaptation. Early American Roulette wheels had the following set-up:

  • The numbers 1-28, coloured red or black
  • Zero
  • Double zero
  • An American Eagle symbol.

However savvy players soon wised up to the fact that this supposed symbol of liberty was just another way for the house to gain an edge, and it soon disappeared for the most part (though some old tables with the feature remain, largely in the hands of collectors).

However as the double-zero variant remained popular in the USA, European casinos followed the example of the Blancs, who by 1900 had upped sticks and moved their single-zero roulette game to Monte Carlo. The single-zero version was ultimately exported all over the world, though the American market persisted with its own version.

20th Century

20 Century History

The 20th century saw widespread growth of casinos all over the world, including in Canada. It also witnessed the continuation of these differing approaches on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

While you will be likely to find double-zero roulette wheels at casinos all over Canada and the rest of the Americas, Europe and much of the rest of the world continues with single-zero play. There are certain cosmetic and rule differences, particularly in France where the la partage and en prison rules add an extra element of gambling, which can pay off for the player.

Online Roulette

The first ever online casino software came into being in 1994, thanks to Microgaming. The industry has gown exponentially in the years since, with online roulette one of the most popular games on most downloadable or instant play casino sites, and remains popular in live dealer online casinos.

The internet has allowed casinos to add features which would not be possible in roulette games at land-based casinos. These include things like multi-ball roulette and free-play games, which might not be financially viable for casinos, as well as new hybrid games such as Spingo.

The Future

The future

The most recent significant development in online gambling has been the growth of the mobile casino market, with roulette playing a big part. Touchscreen features work well with the game, with certain apps allowing players to use the technology to virtually spin the roulette wheel themselves.

With mobile and tablet technology always improving in 2024 and beyond, we can anticipate a great number of new innovations when it comes to roulette. It's amazing to think how far the game has come from its humble beginnings.

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