The origins of one of the most popular casino games, both online and in brick-and-mortar casinos, are both surprising and diabolic. Roulette came to existence through an unlikely coincidence, and its process of creation still has some mystery to it.
The basis for roulette was set in the 17th century accidentally by the French mathematician Blaise Pascal. Pascal was possessed to invent a perpetual motion machine, a device that would run without external energy sources. Pascal based his design on a rotating device, and his finding was to be the basis for the roulette board as we know it.
While Pascal did not intend his invention to be used for gambling, it did not take long for casinos to pick up and further develop Pascal’s rotating wheel. Numbers were added to the device, and roulette, based on a popular European game of fortune Biribi, was created.
By the late 18th century, roulette in its present form was already an established casino game in Paris. It was soon picked up by casinos in all of Europe and the United States. During the 19th century, roulette quickly became a global phenomenon and a standard staple in any serious casino.
As new countries and casinos adopted the game, slightly differentiated versions of the original wheel were created.
The first significant change took place in the mid 19th century in Monaco when the number 0 was introduced in the game for the first time. This was a major break from the original rules of the game, tilting the odds more towards the house.
The latest version, “triple-zero roulette,” was introduced in Las Vegas in 2016, marking the latest step in the long history of the game.
When counted together, the numbers on the roulette wheel add up to 666, giving an air of mystery to the game. While this likely constitutes a coincidence or an insider joke at best, an urban legend has it that the inventor of the original wheel, Pascal, made a pact with the devil, even though the numbers were first added to the game board after Pascal’s death.