The term "Roulette" is derived from a French word meaning small wheel. The origin of Roulette is not very clear. while some sources state that Blaise Pascal, a 17th Century French mathematician invented the roulette wheel, other sources state that the game originated in China and was brought to Europe by Dominican monks who were trading with the Chinese.
The first games that we would recognize as modern roulette were introduced in Paris casinos around the end of the 18th century. This game contained all of the features that we have today with the one exception, the single zero was colored red while the double zero was colored black. This led to some confusion for players and the color green was introduced for the zero and double zero to alleviate the confusion.
When gambling was outlawed in Germany the inventor of the single zero machine (Louis Blanc) accepted an invitation to go to Monaco to establish and operate a casino. The casino set the standards for roulette in Europe, and roulette remained exclusive to Monte Carlo until 1933. This led to the gambling and resort industry in Monaco as many of Europe's rich were attracted to the luxurious Monte Carlo casino.
When roulette came to the U.S. in the early 1800s, the improvements were deleted, and a double "00" returned. The game became popular in the old west of America during the California Gold Rush.
In American Roulette, the perfectly balanced roulette wheel consists of 38 identical slots, individually numbered from 0, 00, 1 through 36. In total, 38 numbers are represented on the betting layout. On the standard roulette wheel the numbers are not arranged consecutively. By design, they alternate between red and black and exactly opposite each other number is the corresponding higher and lower number. Look straight across one side of the wheel to the other and you will see that the O is opposite the 00, 1 is opposite the 2, and so on up to the 35 being directly opposite the 36. All red numbers are opposite the black numbers.
The roulette wheel is kept spinning all the time and sped up once a game is about to begin. The croupier rolls a little ivory ball along the inner edge of the wheel in the opposite direction of its spin. As the wheel turns, the ball loses momentum and it bounces among the slots and finally falls into one of the numbered slots. Bettors can place their bets right up until the time the wheel slows down and the ball drops into place. The number that the ball rests on is the declared as the winning number for that game.
The European roulette wheel with its single 0 has a house edge of only 2.70%. The player has a 1 in 37 chance of winning and still gets paid 35 to 1.
The procedures at the European table are slightly different than the American game. While American dealers sweep the layout with their hands and arms, European croupiers use a long stick known as the rake to sweep in all bets. In Europe, roulette games do not use the non-value chips. All players use the standard casino chips, which can cause great confusion when there are a multitude of bets on the layout. If you're playing in Europe, you have to be wary of exactly what you have bet.