Bunco (also Bunko and Bonko) is a parlour game played with three dice. A winning throw in Bunco is to throw three of a kind of a specified number.
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.
Bunco fundraisers have become increasingly popular over the years, earning large sums for a wide variety of charities. Large groups of bunco players have come together to support their favorite charities by paying an entry fee into the game, holding silent auctions, and by selling raffle tickets; with all proceeds from the event donated to the cause.