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Roulette Wheels

The game of roulette was invented in a French monastery in the 17th century. Stories vary as to who and how the game was invented, but historical references to the game exist from the 1700s in both England and New France, otherwise known as Canada. The word "roulette" means "small wheel" in French.

A roulette wheel consists of a wheel that revolves inside of a bowl. To play roulette, a ball is rolled inside the bowl until it comes to rest on a number marked inside a division on the edge of the wheel. Before the ball is rolled, players place bets on the what number they think the ball will land on. Betting in roulette is complicated and can be done in many different combinations, with different odds for each type of bet.

Antique roulette wheels were made of wood with metal spinning components. High end woods were used, including walnut, mahogany, and others. The ball was often made of ivory. When plastics became common, roulette wheel materials were changed. Manufacturers were also able to improve the precision of roulette wheels as technology improved.

Quick Facts

  • Over 80 percent of the world's roulette wheels are manufactured in England by two companies: Cammegh Limited of Kent and TCS John Huxley of London
  • A "gaffed wheel" is a roulette wheel that has been altered to allow cheating by the casino. Gaffed wheels are rare because they were usually destroyed when they were discovered by gambling authorities
  • A BC Wills & Co. roulette wheel with side table from the 1920s sold for $3250 in 2011. The wheel was made of mahogany and walnut

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