One of the reasons that we love roulette so much, and why it’s our favourite game, is because of its colourful history. The actual game is great fun as well, of course, but of all the games that you’ll find in Las Vegas, Monaco, or online – roulette is the iconic game that many people think of first- there are so many myths, stories and individuals associated with the game, it has become legendary- a game that stands apart from other Vegas classics like craps and blackjack.
In this section, we run through some of the more famous stories and myths that have built up over time, or are relatively recent like the biggest roulette bet in Vegas for example, and we take look at some of the players that have shaped the game over the decades and centuries. Stories like the biggest roulette fraud, for example, or the Eastern European team who won £1.3 million clocking the Ritz Club Roulette wheels.
Roulette has a heavy French influence of course (the name comes from the French for “Little Wheel, after all). At one point in its history, it developed into the two main variants we see today- the 37 pocket French/European roulette variant and the 38 pocket American Roulette version.
Games existed in Europe that were the precursors to roulette such as Roly-Poly (an English game that was probably imported from France), but roulette as we know it today emerged in France in the 18th century, and drew heavily on the work of Blaise Pascal in 1655, who was working to develop a perpetual motion machine. Pascal didn’t invent roulette (he didn’t succed in building a perpetual motion machine either), but it is likely that he inspired others to build something similar, albeit for different purposes!
The game became popular in the casinos of Paris in the 1790s- the wheels had 2 zero pockets at this point, and the game became popular through Europe and North America. As it spread though America, a wave of fraud by both players and casinos in the Wild West days influenced the evolution of the game – the wheel began to be positioned above the table so that everyone could get a good view of what was going on.
Single zero roulette (or European roulette) had a boom in the new gaming town of Monaco on the French Riviera in the 1860s, and it was this variant that became the main version of the game in most parts of the world except for the US, where 2 zero roulette remained the most prevalent.
Some of the early characters who managed to “Break the Bank” with various schemes include Joseph Jagger who took the casinos to the cleaners in Monaco in the 1870s, Charles Wells (‘the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo’), and later Gonzalo Garcia who won over a million dollars by successfully mapping out inperfections in roulette wheels which gave hime an edge over the house. Another guy (the man who took Vegas to the cleaners) managed to do this in the 90s. Then there’s the Eastern European team in 2004 who took the Ritz Casino in London for £1.3m by Roulette Clocking.
Roulette continues to draw crowds to this day, and the development of the game has undergone something of a technological boom, with many new online variations such as mini roulette, 3 wheel roulette and triple bonus roulette sprouting up. You can find a big selection of new variants in our free roulette games section. Try them out for free!