Betting on Red: The History and Evolution of Roulette

Betting on Red: The History and Evolution of Roulette

Written by Kenneth Sawyer, In Casino, Published On
October 9, 2023

Roulette is possibly the most recognizable casino table game in the world. The game is a global hit both with land casino and online casino real money players yet its origins can be traced back to the 17th century in France. The word ‘roulette’ itself means ‘small wheel’ in French. Early iterations of the game were inspired by a mathematical invention by Blaise Pascal, a French mathematician and physicist, who was looking to create a perpetual motion machine. While Pascal failed in that endeavor, it wasn’t long before his creation became a popular leisure activity among the French aristocracy.

History  Of Betting on Red

The Fork in the Road: American and European Variants

Betting on Red

While the earliest version of roulette emerged in 18th-century France, it underwent critical transformations as it moved across continents. Initially, the roulette wheels used in Paris in the late 1790s featured red for the single zero and black for the double zero. However, to avoid confusion, the color green was chosen for zeros starting in the 1800s.

In the German spa town of Bad Homburg, the Blanc brothers, François and Louis, introduced a significant modification to the game in 1843. They unveiled a wheel with a single zero, intending to compete against casinos that offered the conventional double-zero version. When gambling was abolished in Germany in the 1860s, the Blanc family moved their operations to Monte Carlo, turning it into a gambling haven and solidifying the prominence of the single-zero wheel in Europe.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the American version took on a distinct path. Early American roulette wheels included numbers from 1 to 28, along with a single zero, double zero, and an American Eagle symbol. The eagle, a house slot, gave the casino an added advantage but was eventually dropped. The American-style roulette developed in makeshift gambling dens across the newly expanding territories and underwent simplifications in layout and positioning due to rampant cheating. As a result, the double-zero wheel has remained dominant in the U.S., while the single-zero version is standard elsewhere.

Technology’s Role in Evolution

Betting on Red

The turn of the 20th century saw roulette confined to notable casino towns, Monte Carlo in Europe with its single-zero wheel and Las Vegas in the U.S. with the double-zero variant. The latter half of the century witnessed a global casino expansion, and by 1996, the first online casino made it possible to play roulette online. Today, the game is flourishing online and casino game developers are continually developing new variants.

Wheels and Pockets: A Closer Look at Variants

Betting on Red

Although American and European versions remain the most popular, as noted, other variants have emerged over time. French Roulette offers some interesting twists, including rules like ‘La Partage’ and ‘En Prison’, which lower the house edge. Mini Roulette, featuring a smaller wheel and fewer numbers, offers quicker gameplay. Each variant offers something unique, ensuring that there is something for every style of player.

An Exciting Future for a Classic Game

Betting on Red

It’s tough to say what the future holds for roulette. With advancements in technology, particularly augmented reality and virtual reality, we might soon be experiencing the game in ways we never imagined. Virtual casinos could become the new norm, blurring the lines between digital and physical gambling experiences.

So, as we bet on red or black, or hedge our bets on a particular number, we are participating in a tradition that has stood the test of time. The wheel keeps spinning, and where it will stop, nobody knows. Yet, this very unpredictability is what makes roulette a timeless game.

Related articles
Join the discussion!