Whether you class yourself as a casino connoisseur or are just embarking on your gaming adventure, you’ve probably heard of Roulette. But did you know there are two main variations? The European and American wheels have separated players for centuries, but due to its lower house edge, the single zero European Roulette wheel is often deemed a firm favourite amongst beginners and avid players alike.
So, join us as we delve into the history of European Roulette to find out exactly where it came from and why it’s become so popular, so the next time you play online Roulette at Betfair, for example, or at a land-based venue, you know everything you need to sound and feel like a pro.
The first Roulette wheel
In 1655, French mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal made an attempt to defy physics and create a device that, once set in motion, could continue in motion forever without any additional energy required to maintain it; otherwise known as a perpetual motion machine.
Pascal’s invention failed, but as an avid gambler, he was able to adapt his creation into what became credited as the primitive version of the Roulette wheel.
Francois and Louis Blanc
50 years or so after the first recorded game of Roulette had been played in Paris, in 1806, French brothers Francois and Louis Blanc were born. As children, they loved the circus, and as adults, they didn’t stray far from the entertainment industry, delving into the casino world as a way to make a living. Eventually, they saved enough money to open a bank, but their practices were questionable. Due to this, they were arrested but got off lightly with just a fine. Nevertheless, the Blanc brothers decided to move to Paris.
That was, until King Louis Phillipe outlawed gambling at the time, and so they crossed over the border into Germany, where they found themselves settling in Hamburg. The town was struggling financially at the time, and the brothers sought out a new opportunity to make money and find some stability. To do this, they opened a casino but needed something to make them stand out from the rest of Europe. In 1843, Roulette was forever changed.
Enter the single zero Roulette wheel.
By removing the green double zero pocket from the game, Francois and Louis Blanc lowered the house edge from 5.25% to just 2.70%, causing this new variation to soar into popularity.
It didn’t take long for this single-zero variation to spread throughout Europe, but when Louis sadly died in 1852, Francois packed his bags, and moved, with his fortune, to Monaco.
The first modern casino
It was in Monaco that Francois Blanc struck a deal with the royal family at the time, promising stability in exchange for his help boosting their economy. And so, he invested all his savings into improving transport links so that visitors could get around the fairly isolated country. With this, he opened The Monte Carlo Casino – the first modern casino of its time – in the prince’s honour. Here, the single zero Roulette wheel took centre stage.
European vs American
When the single zero wheel made its way overseas and onto American shores, its popularity didn’t quite catch on, as it seemed players and casinos alike, preferred games with higher stakes, and so gravitated towards the more familiar double-zero variation. Due to this, the single zero version became known as European Roulette, and the double zero, American Roulette.