Walk into almost any casino in America or throughout the rest of the world, and one of most popular games in almost any venue you visit will be roulette. Players crowd the table for hours at a time, eager to place their bets in pursuit of big wins. Where did this unique game, which merely consists of a spinning wheel and a ball, come from?
Here we take a look at the past, present and future of roulette.
Roulette first appeared sometime in the 18th Century in France. It was played in Paris and spread throughout other parts of Europe. The game was simple enough then, featuring a total of 36 numbers that alternate between red and black. A zero was also present on the wheel; this zero is what gave the casino its only advantage.
Evolution And Changes
Although the version of roulette that’s played today isn’t drastically different from what was played in Paris more than two-hundred years ago, there have been a few key changes. The most notable is the introduction of the American wheel, which features two zeros rather than the lone zero found on earlier wheels. The introduction of the second zero helped to add to the house edge, although it hasn’t stopped roulette from still featuring some of the highest-odds bets in the house.
One of the more major changes in how the game is played has been the introduction of electronic roulette. There are a few variations of electronic roulette. In one, the croupier is taken out of the setup, although the wheel and ball remain. The ball is automatically spun at a predetermined interval, with cameras lining the wheel used to scan what the result is. Players use touch screens to place their bets, rather than place chips on the table. This version of the game does have its benefits, as the rate of play is consistent and there are no worries about the croupier making mistakes on payouts or other aspects of the game. However, the human element can be severely reduced with the lack of a croupier to interact with and depending on how the seats are arranged.
In another form of electronic roulette, the game can be played online. This might involve a purely digital wheel that’s driven by a random number generator, or it might involve betting on a live wheel located in an actual casino via use of a webcam. In either instance, this allows players to visit the roulette wheel from anywhere. It does hamper the social aspect even more than the automated setup, though, as much of the social element disappears when playing in front of a computer monitor.
Like anything else, roulette isn’t immune to future change. As the world moves more towards technology-driven designs, it’s likely that roulette will evolve to reflect this. More online-based play might be in the future, but the most likely change seems like it will be the disappearance of the croupier. Automated versions of the game haven’t seen a reduction in players, making the croupier much more expendable than he was even five years ago. The disappearance of the single-zero wheel also seems likely, as most casinos have already adopted the double-zero wheel throughout America and other parts of the world.
Roulette is, and continues to be, one of the most exciting and popular games that casinos offer. The thrill of watching the ball spin around the wheel and waiting for it to find its eventual resting place is something that doesn’t go away easily. Players still flock to the game after all these years, and it’s likely that they’ll continue to do so. It’s a tremendous game, and one that’s stood the test of time.