22 Mar: Let’s Ban Gambling!

For most of America’s history, gambling has either been outright banned or incredibly tightly controlled – a tradition that began on 22nd March, 1630 when the Puritan colonists in Boston issued a decree that “all persons whatsoever that have cards, dice, or tables in their homes make away with them, under pain of punishment”.

It was one of many habits banned during this time, including smoking, celebrating Christmas, and wearing clothes with more than two slashes in the sleeves.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explore why moral crusades to control the ‘vice’ of gambling have always ultimately failed across the centuries; reveal why King James himself had spoken up in favour of skittles; and consider the merits of whist, cribbage, and dog fighting…

Further Reading:

• ‘The Puritans Ban Gambling and a Whole Lot of Other Things’ (New England Historical Society, 2021): https://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/puritans-ban-gambling-and-whole-lot-things/

• ‘How protectionism and puritanism put paid to online gaming industry’ (The Independent, 2006):


• ‘Why was Christmas banned?’ (The Guardian, 2020):

We had EVEN MORE to say about gambling in olden times. To hear bonus material this and every week*, support the show NOW at Patreon.com/Retrospectors!

(*top two tiers only)

The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Emma Corsham.

Copyright: Rethink Audio / Olly Mann 2022.