Joseph Oller

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Joseph Oller
Josep Oller.jpg
Joseph Oller

Died19 April 1922 (aged 83)
Signatura de Josep Oller i Roca.png

Joseph Oller (Josep Oller i Roca in Catalan) (1839–1922) was a Spanish entrepreneur (from Catalonia, Spain) who lived in Paris for most of his life. He co-founded the famous cabaret Moulin Rouge[1] with Charles Zidler and was the inventor of the parimutuel betting.[2]


Born in Terrassa, Joseph Oller emigrated to France with his family as a child. Later, he moved back to Spain to study at the university in Bilbao. There, he became fond of cockfighting and started his career as a bookmaker.

Once in Paris, in 1867, Joseph Oller invented a new method of wagering, which he named Pari Mutuel (French for Parimutuel betting). He successfully introduced his pool method system at French race tracks. Nonetheless, in 1874, Joseph Oller was sentenced to fifteen days in prison and fined for operating illegal gambling. Later, in 1891, the French authorities legalised his system and banned fixed-odds betting. Quickly, Oller's Pari Mutuel spread across most race tracks around the world, but the method was operationalised in engineered systems like that of the automatic totalisator, invented by George Alfred Julius.

In 1870, he moved to London for a while to avoid the Franco-Prussian War. There he came into contact with the world of the stage.

From 1876, Joseph Oller focused his attention on the entertainment industry. First he opened various auditoriums and venues: Fantaisies Oller, La Bombonnière, Théâtre des Nouveautés, Nouveau Cirque and the Montagnes Russes. But it was in 1889, when he inaugurated the famous Moulin Rouge.[1] In 1892, he opened the first Parisian music-hall: Paris Olympia offering new forms of entertainment.[3]

He was buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery.


  1. ^ a b "Joseph Oller, the founder".
  2. ^ "Inventor of the "Pari Mutuel" System Of Wagering" (PDF).
  3. ^ Conway, Kelley (2004). Chanteuse in the City: The Realist Singer in French Film. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520938571.

Further reading[edit]