Origin of Roulette


Roulette is a gambling game in which players bet on which slot of a rotating wheel a small ball will come to rest. The roulette wheel has thirty-six compartments painted alternately red and black. A supplementary green division, numbered 0, is present on American wheels.

The game gained traction in Europe more than 300 years ago. Fanciful stories claim that it was invented by 17th-century French mathematician Blaise Pascal.


Various theories are offered regarding the origin of roulette. They range from its invention by 17th century French mathematician Blaise Pascal to its being brought to France by Dominican monks as part of a cultural exchange. Other theories include that the game evolved from the Italian games hoca and biribi while others claim it is based on a Chinese game that was brought to Europe by the monks.

The game’s basic set-up consists of a wheel like that shown above and a table where people place bets. The ball is rolled into one of 38 (or 37 on modern European/Latin American tables) slots in the circle around the edge of the wheel. This is the result of a complex probability calculation by the mathematician Pascal, who was inadvertently creating a perpetual motion machine.