Roulette, (from French: “small wheel”), gambling game in which players bet on which red or black numbered compartment of a revolving wheel a small ball (spun in the opposite direction) will come to rest within.
Bets are placed on a table marked to correspond with the compartments of the wheel. Roulette is a banking game, and all bets are placed against the bank—that is, the house, or the proprietor of the game.
As a big-time betting game, it has had its popularity superseded in the United States and the Caribbean islands by others, notably craps, blackjack, and poker.
Fanciful stories about the origin of roulette include its invention by the 17th-century French mathematician Blaise Pascal, by a French monk, and by the Chinese, from whom it was supposedly transmitted to France by Dominican monks.
In reality, roulette was derived in France in the early 18th century from the older games hoca and portique, and it is first mentioned under its current name in 1716 in Bordeaux.
Following several modifications, roulette achieved its present layout and wheel structure about 1790, after which it rapidly gained status as the leading game in the casinos and gambling houses of Europe.
During the years 1836 to 1933, roulette was banned in France.
The roulette table is composed of two sections, the wheel itself and the betting layout, better known as the roulette layout. One has a single betting layout with the roulette wheel at one end, and the other has two layouts with the wheel in the centre. Heading the layout design, which is printed on green baize, is a space containing the figure 0 (European style) or the figures 0 and 00 (American style, although such wheels were used also in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries).
The main portion of the design is composed of 36 consecutively numbered rectangular spaces, alternately coloured red and black and arranged in three columns of 12 spaces each, beginning with 1 at the top and concluding with 36 at the bottom.
Directly below the numbers are three blank spaces (on some layouts these are marked “2 to 1” and are located on the players’ side of the table).
On either side of these or along one side of the columns are rectangular spaces marked “1st 12,” “2nd 12,” and “3rd 12” on American-style layouts. The roulette wheel consists of a solid wooden disk slightly convex in shape.
Around its rim are metal partitions known as separators or frets, and the compartments or pockets between these are called by roulette croupiers.