The History of Punchboard Gambling: From Prohibition Era to Present Day

Prohibition Era

During the Prohibition era in the United States, the sale and consumption of alcohol were banned. This led to the rise of underground gambling establishments where people would gather to play various games of chance, including punchboard gambling. Punchboards were a popular form of gambling during this time, as they allowed for quick and easy payouts for the players. The games were often played in saloons, speakeasies, and other illicit establishments.

Regulation and Decline

After the end of Prohibition in 1933, the regulation of gambling became more widespread, and punchboard gambling began to decline in popularity. Many states passed laws restricting or prohibiting punchboard gambling, and the practice became associated with illegal and unregulated gambling activities. However, punchboards continued to be used in some legal gambling establishments, such as casinos and bingo halls, albeit in a more controlled and regulated manner.

Modern Resurgence

In recent years, punchboard gambling has experienced a resurgence in popularity, particularly in the form of charity fundraising events. Non-profit organizations and community groups often use punchboards as a way to raise money for various causes, such as youth sports teams, schools, and charitable organizations. The games are typically played at fundraising events, where participants can purchase punches on the board for a chance to win prizes.

Regulation and Legality

While punchboards are now commonly used for fundraising purposes, there are still regulations and restrictions on their use. Each state has its own laws regarding punchboard gambling, and organizations must obtain permits and adhere to specific guidelines when using punchboards for fundraising purposes. In some states, punchboard gambling is still prohibited, while in others, it is allowed under certain conditions.


From their origins in the Prohibition era to their modern-day resurgence as a fundraising tool, punchboard gambling has a long and storied history. While the practice has faced regulation and restrictions over the years, it continues to be a popular and legal form of gambling in many states. Whether used for entertainment or charitable purposes, punchboards remain a unique and enduring aspect of American gambling culture.

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