Roulette is an exciting and fast-paced game with a long tradition. Like most games with enduring popularity, the rules of the game are simple: the roulette wheel has either 37 or 38 slots, depending on whether the American or European style is used. The wheel is spun and a ball is dropped on the wheel, coming to rest in one of the slots. Players place bets on where the ball will land, and win money if they guess correctly. Although stories trace the origins of the game to ancient China or Rome, and games of chance based on a spinning wheel can be found at carnivals and travelling shows dating back to antiquity, the first modern casino roulette wheel was invented in the 17th century by Blaise Pascal, as part of his attempts to develop a perpetual motion machine. Appropriately, the game has been popular ever since with people who want to try to cheat the mathematical laws of the universe.
The earliest description of a modern roulette game is from a novel by Jaques Lablee, which describes a game of roulette being played at the Palais Royal in 1976. An earlier reference to the game by name is found in 1758, in regulations for the colony of New France, but the game itself is not described. In 1843, two French brothers introduced a roulette wheel with 37 slots instead of 38, eliminating one of the zero slots to reduce the house edge slightly and make the game more attractive to bettors. The single-zero wheel soon became popular across Europe but, when the game was introduced to America, casino owners restored the second zero slot to improve their own profit margins. Throughout the 19th century, the development of the game followed a two-pronged path. In the more stylish casinos of Europe, the game gained its reputation as a game of refinement and gentility, while the gambling dens on the American frontier established the fast pace and simplified layout that has made the game popular. Since the American casinos were only lightly regulated at best and frequented mostly by people of lower social status, cheating was a common occurrence by both house and patrons. This led to the development of many security measures which are now an inextricable part of the game wherever it is played.
The advent of the Internet has made roulette and other games of chance accessible to a much wider audience. Customers can play roulette online in real time, placing bets via phone or computer against a croupier operating a live roulette wheel, or the game may take place entirely within the computer with players betting against electronically generated random numbers. With its long history and elaborate structure of traditions and rules, the game of roulette is one of the most popular games of chance in the world. The imagery of the roulette wheel is often synonymous with gaming in general. This game is certain to continue to delight people around the world for years to come.