'Roulette' actually means 'small wheel' in French, which leads most historians to believe the game originated in France despite some evidence to suggest it was first played in China.
Although it's exact history is unknown, roulette is generally thought to have originated in 17th century France, whilst mathematician Blaise Pascal was supposedly experimenting with perpetual motion. The game has been played in it's current form with a wheel and a ball since 1796, and in 1842 a '0' was added to the wheel by Louis Blanc in order to give the house an edge.
Roulette was introduced to the United States in the early 1800s, where a second green pocket - '00' - was added to the wheel to increase the house advantage, and American roulette was born. In some instances, an American eagle replaced the '00' as a patriotic touch.
Louis Blanc also introduced roulette to the casinos of Monte Carlo, where it was known as the 'King of casino games'. A little known fact is that the sum of all numbers on a roulette wheel is 666 - the number of the beast. Legend has it that Blanc made a bargain with the devil when he created roulette, hence the strange coincidence.
To most oservers it would seem that the numbered pockets on a roulette whel are placed randomly, but they are actually carefully ordered in pairs totalling 37 or 39, alternating two odds and two evens around the wheel.
In years gone by it was sometimes possible to find biased roulette wheels that were not quite weighted evenly, meaning one side of the wheel would end up with the ball more often than the other. Since gaming equipment technology has improved, you will be hard pressed to find an advantage in any casino these days, unless the dealer is tired and not varying their spin correctly.
Internet roulette first appeared online in the mid to late 1990s. Online casinos typically offer both European and American roulette games. Due to it's simplicity roulette has proven to be a very popular game online, especially since the play is much quicker than waiting for dealers to clear the felt, payout bets and spin the ball as at a live casino.
Both American & European roulette can be played for free at Go Casino.