The career of Joseph Oller is indicative of the close relationship between the entertainment world and the equestrian world. Born in Catalonia in 1839, he arrived in France at the age of two. After holding various jobs, he became a bookmaker. In 1864, with the Duke of Morny, the owner of the racetracks in Maisons-Laffitte, he developed the pari-mutuel betting system, which relied on a network of itinerant agencies, venues for entertainment where one could enjoy a drink while listening to songs.
Alongside his career as an operator of parimutuel venues, he worked as a show business entrepreneur, creating the Théâtre des Nouveautés and founding the Moulin Rouge with Zidler. He also founded the Hippodrome de l'Alma and the Nouveau Cirque at the Rue Saint-Honoré, which enabled him to combine his liking for the music hall with his passion for betting.