Roulette is one of the most recognisable casino games in the world, probably due to its iconic wheel and its cheery clickety clack as it spins. It’s basically a rule of filmmaking that if a movie has a scene set in a casino, a roulette wheel must feature. It is iconic.
It isn’t just recognisable however, it is also one of the most popular games and it has remained consistently popular since its invention. Some games, such as whist, were incredibly popular only to have almost completely faded away. Others, such as baccarat, have maintained a steady low level of popularity with occasional faddish spikes. For baccarat, the original Casino Royale prompted a major spike, but the recent film changed the central game to poker since audiences were no longer very familiar with baccarat.
With the commercial gaming industry hitting record highs for generated revenue across all sectors of the market, now is the perfect time to reflect on why roulette has remained so popular throughout its entire history.
History of roulette
Roulette can be traced back to the late 18th century. It was a French game, possibly modelled on an Italian one, that quickly caught on in popularity following the French Revolution. This early version originally used red for the zero and black for the double zero, though green was quickly introduced to prevent confusion.
The game rapidly spread across Europe. The single zero version of the game was added in Germany to make the casinos there more attractive to gamblers. As harsh gambling laws were implemented across Europe, Monaco became a roulette outpost and many gambling operations were moved to the United States.
As gambling legislation has relaxed and casinos have spread around the world, roulette has always been one of the games that has been included. You can now find roulette wheels wherever you find a casino, on land and online.
The two main types of roulette are the single zero and the double zero. For a short time, there was also a triple zero, but this gave the house too much of an edge to make it appealing. There is also a version called California roulette, though this differs significantly since it uses cards instead of the wheel.
There will always be people who want to up the ante and this has led to the creation of two new roulette varieties. The first is double ball roulette, which as the name makes fairly obvious, adds a second ball. This is a niche version of the game and is mainly found in Las Vegas or at online casinos.
Online casinos have also created multiple wheel roulette where you bet on the outcomes of multiple wheels at once. You can read more about the different varieties of roulette and perhaps give one or two of them a try.
Serious card players might look down on roulette the same way they do on slot machines because winning is entirely down to luck. Others argue that the odds just aren’t quite good enough to justify playing. However, most people can overlook these arguments because roulette is a lot more fun to them than other casino games.
One of the most engaging aspects of roulette is the social one. It isn’t like slot machines, which are for a single player and quite isolating, or poker, where you’re competing against everyone else at the table. Playing roulette, you are playing against a wheel and a little bouncing ball — even the dealer isn’t really “against” you. This leads to a very friendly, social game where everyone can share in the excitement and commiserate when they lose.
One of the other primary reasons that roulette has remained popular is because it is immediately recognisable and simple to play. For people who are inexperienced with gambling, walking into a casino can be a total sensory overload. Besides all the bright lights and noises from the slots, how do you know which tables have which games and how will you know the rules?
A roulette wheel is a bit like a lighthouse in this case, it’s obvious what it is and even without any betting or strategy knowledge you can still bet on red or black. A new gambler can confidently bet on a few spins to help them find their bearings and get settled in before exploring other games.
The fact that roulette has survived and even found new audiences with the rise of online casinos suggests that it will remain popular no matter how the gaming industry develops.