AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 ICONIC ITEMS - THE ROULETTE WHEEL

Nothing epitomises the chic, high-rolling lifestyle of the world’s top casinos like roulette and the famous roulette wheel. From a James Bond thriller to Elvis’ Vegas and the old Music Hall classic ‘The Man Who Broke The Bank at Monte Carlo’; all classic casino scenes require a roulette table and a spinning wheel.
 

You might argue that, in this digital age, you can have any number of gambling apps nestling on your phone, including plenty with a virtual roulette wheel. But, for sheer style and spectacle, you just can’t beat the real thing. And, naturally, if you’re cruising to Monte Carlo itself then a trip to what is, perhaps, the world’s most famous casino, is, simply, de rigueur.

 

How Did The Famous Spinning Roulette Wheel Come About?
Roulette translates as ‘little wheel’ in French and, for some, the evolution of roulette as a game is closely bound up with the work of Blaise Pascal and his search for a perpetual motion machine. By the late 1790s roulette was regularly being played in Paris and is referenced in a number of books from the period. By the 19th century the game had spread throughout Europe and, in a slightly modified form, to America too. Dostoyevsky’s ‘The Gambler’ focuses on the game and its technicalities in some depth whilst P. G. Woodhouse’s brilliant character, Bingo Little, rides his luck and his system to emerge with substantial winnings, despite – and because – he has to conceal everything from his wife.

 

Roulette And The Making Of Monte Carlo
Understandably, given the potential for huge losses and fraud, gambling was not always welcome within certain communities. A series of laws passed by governments in France and Germany banned gambling in their territories, leaving Monte Carlo as a magnet for entrepreneurs and gamblers and contributing hugely to swelling the coffers of the previously impecunious Royal House!

 

The Man Who Broke The Bank At Monte Carlo
The famous music hall song ‘The Man Who Broke The Bank At Monte Carlo’ was written at the end of the 19th century by Fred Gilbert and, most famously, performed by Charles Coborn – it was an international hit that Coborn performed around the world in a number of languages. There were a number of gamblers (and con-men) who people have speculated that the song was based on and similar stories of gamblers defying the odds – either legally or less so – persist to the day.
Successful systems based on the mechanical – rather than statistical – nature of roulette have involved people wearing computers in their shoes, employing laser scanners and bringing an intricate understanding of the Newtonian Laws of Motion into play in order to tip the odds in their favour. This in turn led to a kind of roulette wheel arms race with manufacturers developing ever more sophisticated designs of wheel. Most of these companies are British with some 80 – 90% of the world’s roulette wheels being made in the UK.

 

On An MSC Cruise The Casino Comes With You
These days you can, of course, play roulette on your phone but, for sheer cachet, a real casino is a must – well, you can’t imagine James Bond fiddling with his phone when he could be ordering a dry martini and saving the world, now, can you? Fortunately, on an MSC cruise, you can play roulette on your cruise ship at a sophisticated floating casino every night if you wish.