When it comes to cheap thrills, there’s not many bigger than having a spin on roulette at the casino. So, it should come as no surprise that in the pursuit of finding engrossing TV game show formats, executives often look to roulette concepts in order to engage with audiences that are more distracted than ever.
Indeed, roulette has provided the foundation for two of the biggest game shows in TV history: Wheel of Fortune and The Price is Right
Wheel of Fortune
One of the first ever TV shows to embrace a roulette format was none other than Wheel of Fortune, which debuted as a daytime show on NBC way back in 1975. Everyone is aware of Wheel of Fortune, and it has been commissioned across the entire world, always sticking close to its roulette origins, with players spinning the big wheel in order to decide which prize they will win.
Having aired over 6,000 episodes in the United States alone, Wheel of Fortune is the nation’s longest-running syndicated game show.
The popularity of roulette shows no signs of fading. While TV game shows don’t tend to use a ball to show the prize won on their roulette-style wheel (instead using an arrow to prevent audiences getting dizzy), the format is incredibly similar to the versions of the game found in casinos. With the advent of the online casino, even more games that simulate the physics of the roulette wheel have surfaced, with the American, French and European variations of the game on Casinocruise.com also building on the original roulette design created in France in the 18th century.
The Price is Right
Despite using a vertical wheel rather than a horizontal wheel, The Price is Right is another long-running TV show to use a roulette-style feature.
Although the show has been running in various forms since 1956, it was the addition of the Showcase Showdown in 1975, where the three remaining players each spin the wheel to determine a prize, that really sent the Price is Right to a new level of popularity.
Red or Black?
Another program that took inspiration from roulette was British TV show, Red or Black?, which was developed by Simon Cowell and aired between 2011 and 2012, and was the most expensive game show in television history, with a £15 million ($24 million) budget.
The game used the red/black principles of roulette throughout, with contestants selecting a colour prior to each round and being eliminated if they guessed wrong. In the final round, a giant roulette-style wheel was spun, with players winning if they correctly guessed the colour.
Critical response was poor for Red or Black?, despite the show regularly giving away multimillion prizes on every episode, and the show was eventually cancelled following poor ratings. Many people pointed to the vast number of corporate plugs featured in the show, and an overly simplistic format leading to poor viewing numbers.
Despite the demise of Red or Black?, TV game shows have regularly proved successful with roulette-inspired themes over the years – especially when incorporating other features such as quizzes. When done right, there’s no bigger thrill than with a roulette wheel and plenty on the line – even if you’re watching someone else do it.