The Intriguing History of Gambling in Pubs

A pub is a popular place for socializing among the young and the old alike. This is where a lot of interactions take place over a few drinks. Modern pubs are open to the public and one doesn’t need any membership to enter them. It’s not necessarily a place to have food, although the pubs may serve meals as well.

 Pubs provide a good social environment and some also have pub games made available to their patrons. You’ll also get to enjoy the screenings of sporting events, such as football. It’s often said that the concept of pub originated in England. However, the history of pubs date back to the Roman era.

The origin of pubs

Around the 1st century, the earlier form of pubs appeared in the form of ‘tabernae’. This word eventually became ‘tavern’. The taverns came up when the Roman road network was being constructed. In the 5th century, the Anglo-Saxons constructed ‘alehouses’ after the fall of the Roman-British kingdoms. It is believed that these alehouses grew out of dwellings.

Over a period of time, they evolved into places where people could meet and gossip. Alehouses also gave them the chance to interact with people within their communities. A survey conducted in the late 16th century recorded the presence of over 14,000 alehouses.

History of Gambling in pubs

Soon, it was not just the promise of drinks and opportunities for socializing that brought people to taverns. Gambling and betting had become an integral part of the experience in these establishments. Some amusing games like ‘dwile flonking’ were introduced.

A game of dwile flonking involved dancing while trying to avoid a cloth soaked in beer. People began wagering on how long it would take a person to walk, run, or hop a particular distance. By the 18th century, these taverns evolved into the more modern version of the pub. Many of them became thriving spots of some cruel and bloody games.

Some of today’s friendly pubs once witnessed games like duck-baiting. In this game, the wings of ducks were constrained before releasing them into a pond. This made them incapable of escaping the pond. A dog was then released into the pond for a bloody battle.

A much darker past of pubs

Some of the pubs introduced bloodier tournaments involving cocks fitted with sharp spurs of steel. These birds were bred in such a way that they had high levels of strength and stamina. Bets were placed on these birds during the tournaments.

The birds would attack one another for almost half-an-hour until the weaker fell dead. Attempts were made to put a stop to these cruel tournaments through law, but they continued into the 20th century. Finally, such sports were officially banned in the United Kingdom.

The modern pubs

Towards the end of the 20th century, many public houses were owned by breweries in England. The brewers couldn’t grow their business any further and went for amalgamations and buy-outs. As a result, only six large brewers remained in the UK.

They created branded pub chains that allowed round-the-clock drinking. This was mainly the result of the Licensing Act of 2003. The act allowed the pubs in England and Wales to apply for an extension of their opening hours.