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Why Is It Called Roulette

Roulette is one of the most popular casino games ever, but do you know the game’s strange origin story? 

Officially, Roulette came about in the 17th century in France and the name literally means “little wheel”. The roulette wheel itself grew out of a failed experiment by Blaise Pascal, a philosopher, physicist, theologian, and all-round genius. 

Pascal, you see, was trying to create what is known as a perpetual motion machine – a device that would run indefinitely without needing to be powered up by an external energy supply. Like every other attempt to make a perpetual motion machine, Pascal’s was a failure (perpetual motion is, as it turns out, quite impossible) but this device, which consisted of a wheel on which a ball would roll along a pair of connected tracks, turned out to have another use.

Pascal, who became a born-again Christian in later life, probably wasn’t happy with what became of it but this failed perpetual motion machine was combined with the Italian game known as Biribi and, voila, roulette was born. In no time at all, it spread across Europe and later the rest of the world.

In truth, though, roulette was only the latest version of gambling games that had been around since Ancient Greece in the West and Ancient China in the East. In fact, many of these other countries and civilizations blamed France for taking credit for their own inventions. To be fair to the French, though, these other games had similarities to roulette, but were very much not the same game. Plus, it was roulette that had the famous wheel, none of the other games.

Whatever the truth is, though, about its origins, there’s no doubt that it is roulette that really made an impact. It was so successful right off the bat in France, in fact, that almost no changes have been made to the game in the centuries since then.

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