Roulette is the simplest and most popular of casino games, a game that relies on pure chance and has no element of skill. Its origins are obscure, but it appeared in gambling houses and casinos throughout Europe in the late 17th century. The earliest known reference was in a book published in 1716 by the French mathematician Blaise Pascal. The modern game evolved gradually from the older hoca and portique games, gaining its current form by about 1790. The wheel has thirty-six compartments numbered nonconsecutively from 1 to 36, alternately colored red and black. A central compartment painted green carries the sign 0 on European-style wheels; two other green compartments carry the signs 00 on American wheels.
Players bet on individual numbers, various groupings of numbers, colors, or whether the number is odd or even. The game has a small following in the United States, drawing nowhere near the popularity of slot machines, video poker, blackjack, or craps, although it continues to draw crowds at Monte Carlo and other European resorts. Winning bets are paid out in chips; losing bets go into the house’s income.