If you have a curious mind, you may have pondered how the roulette wheel came about and how it is constructed. The game has been around for more than 200 years but which came first? The concept of the game? Or the roulette wheel? The truth is that is was probably a mixture of both.
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The quest for perpetual motion
The spinning wheel which is a feature of the game was evolved from a 17th-century invention by a French mathematician, physicist, inventor and writer named Blaise Pascal. Having already built many calculating machines as a teenager, he attempted to invent the perpetual motion machine. The design involved a wheel mounted in a wooden housing that could be spun by hand.
The perfect solution
The machine did not achieve perpetual motion but it offered a different form of innovation. At the time, games of chance similar to bingo and roulette were becoming popular. One game, in particular, called Biribi, was played in Italy and France but it required numbers to be drawn from a bag by a banker which left it vulnerable to foul play. Pascal’s wheel offered the perfect solution.
Numbers were marked on the wheel and small indentations were made for a ball to come to rest. Once the wheel was spinning, the ball could be thrown into the wheel where it would dance around before settling on a random number. The system was transparent and players could be sure that the number was chosen completely at random.
Evolution of the roulette wheel
The system evolved into the more sophisticated version that is used at physical casinos around the world today and also at online casinos which use live dealers such as the ones you can find here. It is a testament to the design of the roulette wheel that after years of technological transformations in the industry, the traditional wheel, with its numbers in red and black, is still being used at online casinos.
How roulette wheels are constructed
The best roulette wheels are mainly constructed from wood, just like the originals. Mahogany is the most popular wood and is popular because it can be polished to give a classic finish. Non-magnetic metal dividers separate the painted numbers from the ball pockets and the ball track. In the centre, there is a spindle that helps with balance and also provides decoration. The wheel slopes away from the spindle to guide the ball away towards the pockets.
Beneath the shiny surface, there are upper and lower ball-bearing mechanisms made from metal. These ensure that the wheel spins smoothly with as little friction as possible. Like any mechanism, this requires maintenance at regular intervals. Modern wheels often use dozens of separate pieces which are attached to make the final product and the very best roulette wheels can cost many thousands of pounds. Learning how to spin a wheel and release the ball correctly is important for any live dealer.
Online roulette wheels
Online casino games that do not feature live dealers often use sophisticated graphical representations of roulette wheels which are powered by random number generators (RNGs) which use complex algorithms to replicate random spins. These RNGs are audited and regulated to ensure fairness.
The roulette wheel has changed little in the 300 years since Blaise Pascal built his first machine and it remains one of the most iconic symbols of the casino industry today.