Joseph Oller

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Joseph Oller
Josep Oller.jpg
Born Joseph Oller
Terrassa, Catalonia, Spain
Died 1922 (aged 83)
Paris, France
Signatura de Josep Oller i Roca.png

Joseph Oller (Josep Oller i Roca in Catalan) (1839–1922) was a Spanish entrepreneur who lived in Paris for most of his life. He c-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 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] Four years later, he opened the first Parisian music-hall: Paris Olympia.

He was buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery.