Who invented Roulette?

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The origin of the game roulette is shrouded in mystery as different nations and people are accredited with inventing it. No one really knows who invented it and the common belief is that modern game of roulette is probably a result of many incarnations of the game as it traveled around the world.

The Chinese Connection

Some game historians attribute the original roulette game to ancient China where a stone spinning wheel was used, but instead of having numbers it had animals drawn on it. In the middle of the spinning device there were the numbers 666. Surprisingly enough when adding the total numbers on the modern roulette wheel the outcome is also 666.

It is rumored that Dominican monks changed the animal symbols into number symbols and took the game with them in their travels to Europe.

The Roman Connection

Expanding the Roman Empire was no small feat and many soldiers were killed or wounded in battle. The commanders had to keep the troops’ morale up and did so by allowing the soldiers to play gambling games. They would use a chariot wheel or spinning shields to play their gambling games in a manner similar to the way the Wheel of Fortune game works.

The French Connection

France is the country that the modern game of roulette is most associated with. The name roulette comes from the French words meaning “little wheel”. It is believed by some that the roulette was invented by French mathematician Blaise Pascal around 1655 as part of his attempts to create a perpetual motion device. Others attribute the game to bored Dominican monks who invented it for entertainment within the confines of the monastery.

However the game only gained popularity after the French Revolution and since the late 18th century it is played in a way that is identical to the French roulette game played today. Many claim the modern game is a combination different games including the Italian Hoca and Biribi, the English Roly-Poly, Ace of Hearts, E.O. and Reiner. Even the French board game named “Roulette” is associated with the invention.

International expansion

By the end of the 18th century the game traveled to Russia and Turkey and in the early 19th century it reached England. Later in that century a zero was added to the numbers by two Frenchmen, Louis and Francois Blanc and increased the house advantage and they are also part of the “666” myth that surrounds the game. It is claimed they struck a deal with the Devil in return for being taught all the secrets of the game. Francois opened a casino in Monte Carlo after the French banned gambling and turned it into the most popular game in the casino.

French refugees, escaping France since the beginning of the revolution, brought the game with them to Louisiana that at the time served as the gambling capital of the recently formed United States. The initial version they played was different than the one played today but had to be changed as its house edge was too high.

The American operators did not give up their advantage easily and created a wheel with an added double zero. By today the American roulette with the double zero is popular in the US, South American and the Caribbean, while the European roulette continues to dominate in Europe.

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