According to the World Bunco Association, Bunco began as a progressive dice game in England, later being imported to the American West as a gambling activity. It was not until after the Civil War that it evolved to a popular parlor game. The Association states that during Prohibition, Bunco as a gambling game was re-popularized and the term "Bunco-Squad" was born, referring to law-enforcement groups that busted up Bunco Gaming. Bunco as a family game saw a resurgence in popularity in the 1980s. Although re-released in 2005 with a tagline reading "The game that's sweeping the nation," sales were initially low though senior citizens and young adults alike have found interest in the game.
In recent years, the game has seen a resurgence in popularity in America, particularly among suburban women. As it is played today, Bunco is a social dice game involving 100% luck and no skill (there are no decisions to be made), scoring and a simple set of rules. Women who are part of a Bunco club take turns as the Bunco hostess, providing snacks, refreshments and the tables to set up the games. The hostess may also provide a door prize. Small amounts of money can be involved as well. The object of the game is to accumulate points and to roll certain combinations. The winners get prizes (provided by the hostess or pooled from the club resources) for accomplishments such as the highest score, the lowest score, or the most buncos. Prizes frequently center on themes associated with the game such as fancy dice, dice embedded in soap, t-shirts featuring illustrations of dice, etc.
Rules can have house variants. But the standards widely recognized nationwide are: Players alternate turns. A turn consists of rolling 3 dice aiming to obtain the specified number. Players gain one point for each of the specified number. If the player gets three-of-a-kind of the specified number they get twenty-one points. The round stops when a player obtains twenty-one points. Then the next round starts. There are six rounds. They progress in order from one to six, inclusive. Note who wins each round. Whoever wins the most rounds is the total winner and usually receives a token prize.
A Press Release issued by Procter & Gamble who feature the game in a 2008 advertisement for their Anti-Heartburn medicine Prilosec OTC, stated in 2006 that over 29 million people play Bunco regularlyCINCINNATI, Feb 10, 2006 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX News Network links
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