Friday Fun – No Johnny No No No No, 1938

Some Friday No Fun today. It’s not just swearing that was a no-no in the 1930s. Here are some card, dice and wheel games that were designated illegal way back in the midsts of time. They are “Ace of Hearts”, “Faro” (or “Pharoah”), “Bassett”, “Hazard”, “Passage” and “Roly-Poly”.

All the games have hundreds of years of provenance. “Passage” (also known as “Passe-dix”) was an ancient dice game and “Ace of Hearts” and “Roly-Poly” formed elements of what is now “Roulette”.

The card game “Faro” was once the most widely played gambling game in England. My 1950 edition of game bible “Hoyle’s Games” says it is “rarely met with in the domestic circle…..chiefly, it may be said, because the game has for long been in pretty bad odour through the large sums of money that may be lost at it and through the almost unlimited opportunities that are afforded to (and often taken by) an unscrupulous banker to “fleece the lambs”. It is a pity; because Faro, when honestly played, is one of the best of all the banking games.” “Bassett” was a variation of this.

“Hazard” was a dice game mentioned in Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales”, with rather complicated rules – http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazard_(game). Not a million miles from the League of Gentlemen’s wonderful Go Johnny Go Go Go Go:

A judge’s ruling upheld their illegality in 1935, as well as all card games that were not based on pure skill (therefore meaning all card games would technically be illegal according to this judgement, as there is always the element of chance with cards).

Some info on the ruling is here in The Spectator’s archive – http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/4th-october-1935/11/when-bridge-is-illegal

There’s no mention of the games in the latest gambling legislation, however. But they’re not on the list of games approved for play in casinos, although this is probably because they’re not played anymore anyway – http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/pdf/list%20of%20approved%20casino%20games%20%20-%20july%202008.pdf

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